Saturday, November 19, 2016

Does A Good Life Depend on a Good Job?

Some months earlier, Michael Lind at the NYT (HT Miles Kimball) asked, "Can You Have a Good Life if You Don't Have a Good Job?" I was encouraged by the post title because - for me - that was the right question to ask, in a time when good jobs are increasingly hard to find.

However, regarding the earned income tax credit he highlighted: it helps to be cautious, in supposing this subsidy can play more than a limited role to assist small wages. In and of itself, the E.I.T.C. is not enough to suffice for the production and consumption requirements of today's general equilibrium. Regular readers know I believe that alternate equilibrium design for production and consumption, could provide better options in some instances. Too many government programs obscure the fact, that today's non tradable sector organizational capacity is basically out of reach for lower income levels.

Indeed, some commenters at Lind's post, stressed that high wages are necessary for a good life. Which may help to explain why so many politicians promise "good jobs" to citizens, despite the fact policy wonks are now less convinced the "good jobs" expectation still applies. Even the best policy intentions may not generate well paying or meaningful work, and warnings in this regard surfaced prior to Ryan Avent's concerns in "The Wealth of Humans". Just the same, many continue the necessary preparations, for what they hope to be a high level of economic access. Will the societal response worsen, should too many become blocked from the middle class?

Yet the frustrations of those with a reasonable start in life, are echoed by those who lack a similar beginning point. Indeed, I probably should have weighed in on the subject of earned income tax credits shortly after beginning this blog, since I benefited from the E.I.T.C. for a while after losing access to normal office work (mid seventies to mid nineties) with normal benefits. The earned income tax credit is mostly experienced as a once a year benefit, with little real impact on spending decisions. Helpful though it may be at tax time, this approach is hardly in the same league with other forms of basic income, which of course is a poor "solution" in a broader sense. As a long term approach, basic income would be deleterious to self esteem.

Michael Lind summarized his article with these thoughts:
Until most American workers are persuaded that they will not be worse off in a system characterized by flexible work arrangements and partly socialized benefits, they may continue to make unrealistic demands that 21st century politicians restore something like the occupational structure of the 20th century. Politicians should tell working Americans what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And what they need to hear is that it is possible for all Americans to have good lives, even if they can't all have good jobs.
Fortunately, higher wage contract workers - even though their jobs aren't quite equivalent to earlier forms of decades long employment - can still access much of the complicated welfare system as it currently exists between today's public and private U.S. providers. It's the lower wage contract workers who do not have these same options, and consequently could use better means to devise production and consumption realities that are better aligned with their income potential.

Update: Basically, lower wage workers are losing too much of their lives too quickly, and they can no longer wait for either governments or businesses to address the cronyism which has made welfare systems so complicated in the first place. Which is why this blog addresses specific potential solution sets for those with limited income who seek a better life - one that could be independent from government handouts altogether. Why so? Political factions waited too long, to address the cronyism which now contributes to social unrest. I honestly don't know if it's too late to turn back cronyism in the U.S., since it was not tended to in the years that counted most, years which might have preserved free markets for all income levels. Which is why I wrote above that (at least) upper level income contract workers can still maneuver the welfare maze. However, lower income levels need a new lease on life potential, in which they finally have the chance to innovate non tradable sector activity to create free markets for services and asset creation, for the first time. From the National Review, the quote which prompted me to add this update, from "It's Time for the Right to Get Serious about Tackling Cronyism":
In healthcare, federal policy frequently privileges large, consolidated hospital systems at the expense of smaller provider groups, and Obamacare is packed full of corporate welfare, particularly for insurers and hospitals. In agriculture, farm subsidies are almost pure corporate welfare. They now cost taxpayers some $20 billion each year, much of which involves upward redistribution from taxpayers to both corporate and family farms whose owners are generally wealthier than most Americans. 

No comments:

Post a Comment