Monday, August 10, 2009

Paul Krugman Nailed It: Big Government Did It! Now what?

Paul Krugman nailed it this morning in his New York Times column:

So it seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.
It's not over yet, of course, and the right-wingers will paint the future (without Bush-Cheney) as black as they can imagine it... hyperinflation, a new Weimar era.. but it's self-serving bullshit.

At the end of his column Krugman writes:

There’s still, I fear, a substantial chance that unemployment will remain high for a very long time.
One question nobody raises in the U.S. is where all the new jobs are going to come from now that we have outsourced manufacturing to China and white collar jobs to India. Maybe the jobs won't return, because of automation, outsourcing and information technology. Why not then cut the workday/workweek, and share the work that still needs to be done? A crazy idea? Of course, about as crazy as the idea that the workday should be 8 hours and not 11 or 14 or whatever. Was 8 hours a day/40 hours a week written in stone on the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain?

If you have a job that needs to be done, and you need to feed the whole clan (humanity), which way do you prefer?
1) Let 80-90 percent of the people do the job, and let the rest rot (after all, aren't there workhouses, Uncle Scrooge would have said?)
2) Reset the standards so that more people can share the work and the pay. It doesn't have to be completely egalitatarian and non-capitalist, but could be done by simply resetting the standard. 30 hours a week, and for those companies, countries that don't comply, there are always fines, taxes and tariffs, like we would do for those employing child labor.

Hans Sandberg

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