Monday, February 6, 2017

Jobs Are Also a Cost. How to Respond?

"Also" is part of the title, as I recently emphasized investment as a cost. Given the fact today's organizations completely depend on the Solow Residual to realize production gains, both public and private institutions can be expected to return to this basic principle - in spite of the occasional diversionary tactic such as Trumponomics.

Consequently, how to generate more output via fewer (costly) jobs, even while building an environment which could provide means for individuals to remain economically viable? While I continue to stress a marketplace for time value as an option, a recent post from Mark Perry encouraged me to consider some specifics. Perry (of AEI) highlights several individuals in his arguments against "jobism", and I'll include a previous quote from Richard McKenzie:
Job creation (and protection) is a favored goal of our leaders because it appeals to existing political interests and is seductively misleading and counterproductive. It is also one of the easiest goals to achieve. To create or kill jobs, all Congress has to do is to obstruct progress and kill or retard opportunities for competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit.
Ultimately, we need to juxtapose traditional job creation with mutual forms of reciprocity, on formal economic terms. Given the slowing pace of worldwide economic growth, the employment constraints of the Solow Residual especially compel us to look for new options. Mutual employment would be different from the jobs offered by present day institutions, in part because efforts to create social and economic value would extend both ways.

Mutual employment means more choice for all concerned, than offering one's time for hire to institutions that are in search of specific skill sets. One reason for the versatility of time arbitrage, is the fact one's time (for services production and consumption) is like one's own money to spend. The process is backed by newly generated money, if and when others accept one's offer via their own newly generated time commitment. Each unit of time becomes a new source of commodity wealth, which allows compensation to take place via internal means.

A marketplace for time value, would allow individuals to transform time value for services into a formal means of economic quantification. What's particularly important is the fact this process doesn't rely on money as the sole means. Should time value gain the ability to serve (alongside money) as a medium of exchange, unit of account and medium of account, new incentives for economic growth would be unleashed. Participants would gradually be able to build welfare enhancing nets of social support, which can be difficult to realize through monetary representation, alone.

In some respects, it's difficult for money to provide safety net functions for all incomes at a comprehensive level. Why so? Money represents the totality of what is both fixed and random resource capacity. This wide range of resource capacity continues to grow, in relation to the fixed scarcities of time use potential. If that weren't problematic enough, a wide range of time aggregate potential, is only being lightly mined by today's institutions.

Even though money - as the sole representation of all wealth - has provided tremendous value as an economic tool, it lacks the depth to capture the full potential of time use. Even though time value has infinite potential for product differentiation, its fixed scarcities make it difficult for time product to compete directly with other resource potential. Consequently, individuals find themselves compelled to select from time production and consumption options which feel oddly limited, in contrast with the possibilities our minds suggest.

Time value as a measure of wealth, would more closely mirror the variety and differentiation, which a massive degree of investment in human capital has made possible. The gains in product quality over time from a fixed point of time aggregates, would provide production gains in a context which isn't really at odds with the Solow Residual, as is today's uncertain services quantification. Granted, the time we choose to commit to others, would remain a cost in the ultimate equation. But it's a cost that we ourselves would choose to bear, from the resource capacity which would already be ours to spend.

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