Have faith in the human race by fixing unemployment
This petition had 7 supporters
"A story begins when something unexpected happens."
This is a message to the entire world. It explains why economic injustice exists despite technological progress and how to fix this problem, but there are no villains to be found here except our own assumptions and prejudices.
One assumption is that it's easier to spend money than it is to earn it. For some people, this is just not true, because they earn money by doing literally no work or at a rate that vastly exceeds what's reasonable to spend in everyday life. Anyone who's been in this position, whether in the real economy or a simulated one, knows that the work required to spend money can easily exceed the work required to earn it.
Partly for this reason, the people of the democratic nations of the world have been content to allow wealth to accumulate in a small number of individuals, which effectively makes inequality someone else's problem and responsibility. The problem with this approach is simple: do people who deserve help need it despite being able to accomplish their goals on their own or because they cannot accomplish their goals on their own? If the former then there will always be questions about better uses for that money, while if the latter then there are already serious problems with society because some of the people who deserve help will inevitably not be recognized or receive any. Inequality is not something the rich can fix on their own.
So this turns into a question of how to make becoming rich more difficult so the average person doesn't just assume "someone else will fix it" when they encounter a problem but instead have the ability and opportunity to do something about it themselves. Furthermore, the strategy which leads to this situation should strengthen the society which adopts it, as well as any businesses or individuals that decide to direct their actions towards this goal.
This may seem like a difficult demand but it is achievable, due precisely to the tendency for people to avoid doing something which seems to be harmful to other people without any definite agreement on this from the rest of society. For as long as inequality has existed, workers have avoided being as efficient as possible unless there was an obvious benefit to the society in which they lived, such as the risk of society's destruction from war or the growth that can occur after one.
For those who doubt this inefficiency exists, consider these questions:
• if doing a certain task or spending effort does not result in a significant change in opinions of other people, to what extent will that task be done?
• who is most aware of the importance of a task or able to understand the quality of its execution (not the same)?
In any complex work environment, there will inevitably be something that someone could do to help the business without anyone else knowing of its importance or even that it was done at all. There are various ways to attempt to measure these things or simplify the work process so that mistakes and efficiency can be more easily recognized, but these changes can introduce their own problems and are not suitable for all work environments. For tasks that completely lack any kind of reward or recognition from within the business, the most likely reason for doing them is that they help society or expand the capabilities of workers who choose to do them.
A key recognition is that while higher productivity itself is good for a business and can lead to higher rewards for an employee, it can be bad for society when the share of profits going to workers decreases and capital owners are unable or unwilling to reinvest this money in a socially beneficial way. Therefore, it helps to have a system where higher productivity by some workers can be rewarded without giving the management of a business any excuse to lower wages for less productive workers because it allows the more productive workers to feel that their efficiency, or doing tasks that go unrewarded but reduce inefficiency for all workers, is not harmful to society.
Conceptually, it's simple: being more efficient would give you the option to have more free time, but earn slightly less. This means there would be no excuse to lower wages for either the productive employees or the less productive ones, since the total income or ability to support themselves has not gone up for anyone as a result of addressing specific inefficiencies that the management of the business was unaware of. An employee who worked less would gain a higher average wage with this system, but with a lower total income that employee's increased difficulty of paying for fixed costs of living would mean that a business could expect that most employees would be agreeable to working more or less as the business requires, within reasonable limits, in response to changes in demand.
With this basic description of the concept, it seems people have contentions on two points: whether it would lead to any decrease in the average time spent working for employees of businesses where it was adopted instead of the opposite effect; and whether a decrease in the total income of efficient workers could ever lead to a decrease in unemployment or a reduction of inequality.
For the first point, it should be noted that businesses already have incentives to hire as few workers as possible, to reduce the complexity of management and to prevent people from quitting or complaining about a lack of hours that the business allows them to work. This can even lead to requiring overtime which allows a lower base wage than people would normally accept, with two examples being workers at Foxconn in China before wages were raised after a string of suicides and the pay and conditions of many temporary warehouse workers for logistics companies contracted by online retailers in the US today. Any movement toward lower hours must therefore come from workers themselves, and a higher wage rate would give people a clear reason to do so as a socially acceptable way to live as part of mainstream society.
For the second point, it's just a matter of taking two common fears and looking at them in a different way. Outsourcing or moving jobs overseas is seen as being a threat to the American middle class and way of life, but only occurs because the lower standard of living in developing countries allows workers in those countries to accept lower wages; the way to take advantage of this is simply to buy items at lower prices when other countries make this possible. The wealthy, or 'American upper class' are sometimes seen as having antagonistic interests to the somewhat-less-rich and the relatively poor, but in fact represent an accumulation of consumer demand that is significantly limited only in the rate at which purchases are made, allowing the economy to be sustained even if the income of the typical consumer falls.
The prediction of the effect on the world, then, is that Americans who choose to work less can do so allowing the large number of unemployed and underemployed college graduates to enter the occupational fields they studied for. The middle class continues to sell to the rich, those in less-skilled but still essential occupations sell to the middle class and the rich, while everyone buys products from developing countries that depend on American ingenuity and expertise to maintain a high level of efficiency and product quality. Many countries view food self-sufficiency as an essential goal but retaining the knowledge needed for a revival of its manufacturing base should be more important to the US than worrying overly much about where the products that we use are made.
"being honest would be more viable than it is now"
Proposed law to fix unemployment in the United States
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