Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Happens When All Labour Becomes a "Special Allocation"?

While such a designation may seem impossible (one hears "We'll always have jobs"), enough of this form of hiring could eventually occur that - without an active societal response - many more of us could find ourselves unemployed in the decades to come. And should this unfortunate circumstance occur, one's ability to work in a normal (or formal) context, would increasingly become the exception rather than the rule, as traditionally defined labor is replaced by automation wherever possible.

In other words, the ability to work and provide for oneself and others on personally meaningful terms, would become a special privilege! Only consider how relative formal work circumstance has already become, given the fact many of us have lived in places (yes, in the U.S.) where those who are fortunate enough to gain paid work, are consequently deemed "special" human beings and treated accordingly.

Hence ultimately, we all need to become more cognizant of work which is defined on exceedingly "special" terms. Only remember these often amount to arbitrary limits, in which one's level of skills capacity means efficiency gains strictly for organizations, rather than personal efficiency which occurs through active negotiation, to gain comparative advantage for ourselves and others. It is not beyond our means to create institutions which would honor (on formal economic terms) the comparative advantage we seek among ourselves for time based product.

After all, comparative advantage for personally determined time value, would exist as a broader economic landscape which represents a wide spectrum of time value and skills capacity. Only think how carefully "special" is presently defined. For instance, is what we personally deem "special", even on offer in graduate level university economics courses? I compared dozens of offerings more than a decade earlier, before realizing that economic exploration (beyond the core) was quickly capped, towards the end of one's formal studies.

Should we continue to allow "special" to mostly exist as exclusive and determined outside of our own personal input, then perhaps economics is not even about people at all. Indeed. If so, what point is there in blaming capitalism, if the real culprit is ourselves, for forgetting our basic worth? Whatever one may think of Tim Worstall's approach in the above link, he has a valid point:
The destruction of jobs isn't something which defines capitalism. It's something which defines economics. 
Our basic starting point is that human desires and wants are unlimited. We also note that we have scarce resources with which to sate those desires and wants. Economics is about the allocation of those resources to meet them. 
Sometimes, it makes sense for certain job functions and categorizations to be destroyed when resource capacity outside of ourselves is an integral part of the process. Automated job designations do not destroy the potential of our time value. Rather, they reduce production functions which in some instance are no longer the best means by which to derive product.

What many have forgotten is that time value is both product and production means. Even more important, is the fact our time is the most scarce resource of all. Our focused attention (in the form of personally designated time) is central to specific skills settings and knowledge based services capacity. Yet we still lack the formal economic space to use it as a basic commodity. As such, one's time would gain value in use qualities which make elements of personal choice, a valid component of normal economic exchange.

By making room for the scarce allocation of our time, individuals would once again become integral to economic life, via markets for our own time value in relation to that of others. Time value as a basic commodity or good, would become a valid economic component of the very efficiencies we seek.

When I watched the presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, two words especially came to mind, within a matter of minutes of the discussion: broaden trade. In other words, the definition of what trade actually consists of in the marketplace, so as to move away from today's national "beggar thy neighbor" inclinations. Perhaps Miles Kimball was thinking along similar lines, for he has a quote from Henry George today which serves as a suitable way to end this post:
When we consider that [labor] is the producer of all wealth, is it not evident that the impoverishment and dependence of [labor] are abnormal conditions resulting from restrictions and usurpations, and that instead of accepting protection, what [labor] should demand is freedom? That those who advocate any extension of freedom choose to go no further than suits their own special purpose is no reason why freedom itself should be distrusted. For years it was held that the assertion of our Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, applied only to white men. But this in nowise vitiated the principle. Nor does it vitiate the principle that is still held to apply only to political rights. And so, that freedom of trade has been advocated by those who have no sympathy with [labor] should not prejudice us against it. Can the road to the industrial emancipation of the masses be any other than that of freedom?

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