One of my favorite blogs is “Billy Blog” produced by Professor Bill Mitchell. He somehow manages to knock out several thousand words a day of readable economic analysis – no mean feat. This is great for nerds like me, but it does mean you need to invest a lot of time reading it to absorb it all. So for those without the time to devote to reading long economics blogs, here’s a short extract from Monday’s Billy Blog on unemployment and the demonisation of the unemployed:
“…there is no secret to solving unemployment – produce jobs. There is no financial shortage to fund the necessary jobs – a sovereign government can do that whenever they choose. There is no shortage of productive things to do. There are millions of jobs that I could define which are not currently being done and which would improve the quality of our societies or communities.
The only thing missing is the political will or political leadership necessary for the government to announce that it was serious about eliminating unemployment.
The reason is that the dominant elites, which are increasingly being dominated, in turn, by large financial interests, which themselves are inherently unproductive, have developed a narrative to convince us that it is better to have millions of people doing nothing than advancing societies commonwealth.
If a person is not advancing private profit-seeking behaviour then the work is unproductive. We have bought that narrative from the elites. We have also bought the narrative that the unemployed are in some way letting themselves down – they are lazy, unskilled, lacking in something or other.
The idea that the lack of jobs is a systemic constraint imposed on individuals who are largely powerless to respond has been lost. Now we are somehow meant to believe that the individual – the micro scale – is all dominant and can overcome a macro scale shortage of jobs.
Why, you just create your own job, that’s entrepreneurship! But what would you “sell”? Anything that has a market? But if all the spending by buyers (irrespective of the particular products they buy) doesn’t add up to the total output being produced then isn’t there going to be some sellers who cannot sell anything? That’s competition. And so the denial goes on.
But the point is that the most disadvantaged citizens among them the unemployed are rendered as almost inanimate objects with all-defining characteristics – all lazy, all without entrepreneurial zeal – all just living on welfare.
We don’t publish stories about the huge welfare spending on corporates, which dwarfs the social security payouts to the poorest citizens. That would be too challenging for the narrative.”