36 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Prof. Quiggin

    Do you still believe that full employment (conservatively defined to mean an unemployment rate of 3 per cent) is feasible and desirable?

    Kind Regards,

    Senexx

  2. Senexx, do you really think that Professor Quiggin sits alone in his lair, stroking his beard, (in my imagination he saved it after shaving and keeps it in a glass case and takes it out when he has ‘Doctor Evil’ moments) and saying to hmself, “Mawh HA HA HAHA! I want more unemployment! More suffering! That is what is both feasible and desireable! Mawh-Ha-HAHAHAHAHA!”

  3. Senexx, the context is that very few people in this world would think a job for everyone who wants one, or for at least 97% of people who want one, is not desireable. This is similar to the way that very few people in this world think harming kittens for fun is desireable. In fact, unless I see evidence to the contrary, such as someway saying, “Kittens! I wish I could slowly kill them all!” I automatically assume that everyone I meet is not in favour of harming kittens for fun. In much the same way I think we can automatically assume that Professor Quiggin is in favour of a job for everyone who wants one, unless of course you have some evidence to the contrary. For example, perhaps you were talking to him the other day and he said something along the lines of, “Gosh darn it! I hate these sniveling proles who think they deserve a job just because that have children to feed!” while twirling the ends of his moustache which he had removed from its glass case.

  4. Since I never do what I vow to do, I vow to blog even more than I have today. (There, that should slow my blogging down.)

  5. @Ronald Brak

    You’ve had some fun lampooning Sennex’s “feasible and desirable” remark but I rather suspect that by “desirable” Sennex was intending “desirable in practice as distinct from in theory

    Yes, in theory, we’d all like full employment — defined by the standard that everyone could as soon as they needed, secure adequately rewarded, ethically robust, safe employment.

    Sennex may mean that in practice, that’s not possible or sustainable over time without consequences that would create conditions that would fail general utility.

    Of course, I’m just speculating.

    FTR, in theory, I prefer the end of the wages system and a world of material abundance in which people do as they please, exploring their possibility for all of their lives from now until the end of time. I’d trade that for full employment in a heartbeat.

    I suspect strongly that’s not in practical prospect on any timeline meaningful to me.

  6. Fran, I won’t speculate on what Senexx desires, but let’s say that technological change results in ONE MILLION Australians being kicked out of the workforce. To give all these people 20 hours of work a week at minimum wage (say $20 an hour) in businesses and volunteer organisations by paying their full wage would only cost about $20 billion dollars a year. That’s about 1.3% of GDP and would require Australian taxes to be raised to about the same level as Canada’s but still much lower than the UK’s. So leaving aside whether or not it is desireable, it is fairly obvious that employing everyone is feasible and I’m sure Senexx is capable of doing primary school maths and so is aware of this, and so I’m pretty sure this isn’t what he’s asking.

    Technically any increase in taxes to subsidise employment should be paid by those who benefited from the improved technology that threw ONE MILLION people out of work, but in the interests of fairness it should instead be paid by the middle class. (Admittedly I haven’t seen any middle class for quite some time now, but I’m sure they’re still out there somewhere.)

  7. @Ronald Brak

    To give all these people 20 hours of work a week at minimum wage (say $20 an hour) in businesses and volunteer organisations by paying their full wage would only cost about $20 billion dollars a year.

    Probably closer to twice that in practice when you include other non-wage costs, and it’s doubtful if all those million in practice could afford to work for only $20 per hour.

    It’s probably the case of course that there would be some clawback in expenditure on taxable goods — perhaps we could call this “trickle up theory” 😉 — and personally I’d have no problem with this.

    That said, it would be better to give them all decent welfare provision and such retraining and support as needed and likewise invest in actual areas of need (rather than subsidising charities to employ them).

  8. Hi John,
    you posted a little while ago about Bitcoin. At the time I thought that you were ignoring the illicit uses. Matt Yglesias has a post about it recently and it turns out “[i]t is being used right now by Chinese people as a means of evading that country’s exchange-rate controls.”
    So it seems there is some value other than as a purely speculative good.
    Love your work, keep up the thoughtful columns.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/12/02/bitcoin_my_mind_hasn_t_changed.html

  9. Put it this way, there’s a lot of economists saying the macroeconomic conditions are about right.

    Very few economists that say we always tend to get macroeconomic conditions wrong.

    Unemployment is rising & whenever it is, the second lot are correct.

    Unemployment is a good bellwether for the economy. GDP growth is not. That is just numbers on a spreadsheet. Unemployment is about real people trying to have a sustainable living at a bare minimum a subsistence living.

    FWIW if these MMB go up as often as they should and I catch them I intend on repeating the question ad nauseam until it gets an answer. You never know I might even provide the original context.

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