What if We Focus on Boosting Employment Rather Than Growth?

Although it is remarkably difficult to come up with decent data, from what I can tell, the Japanese bubble was considerably bigger relative to the size of its economy than the US debt binge was. Yet even though the Japanese aftermath has been remarkably protracted, and arguably worsened by a slow and cautious initial response, visitors to Japan find the country wearing its malaise remarkably well.

One of the reasons may be the Japanese preoccupation with employment. Entrepreneurs are revered not for making money but for creating jobs. Japanese companies went to great lengths to keep workers, cutting senior pay to preserve manning. That was done largely for cultural reasons, since companies are seen as being like families.

But was this preoccupation also good economic policy, and might it have played a more direct role in buffering the worse effects of the bubble aftermath? In this interview, Pavlina Tcherneva argues that the way policymakers think about growth, that demand drives employment, may be backwards.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. F. Beard

    “Please sir, can I have another [job]?”

    Pathetique. The population’s real jobs have been outsourced and automated away with their own stolen purchasing power and the best to be offered them is some kind of government make-work?

    How about justice instead?

    “Jobs create aggregate demmand creates jobs” is what Pavlina Tcherevna is saying but it is just as true that “Aggregate demmand creates jobs creates aggregate demmand.” The difference is the kind of jobs created – government make-work vs real work that someone genuinely wants done.

    1. Ignacio

      “The difference is the kind of jobs created – government make-work vs real work that someone genuinely wants done”

      You appear to distinguish between “real jobs” and “government-made (¿artificial? jobs” as if public contractor is a false one or intrinsically unproductive whereas private jobs are the only real and productive by definition. Both propositions are false of course.

      This bias is typical of the conservative-libertarian… err, let’s say… “””thinking”””.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Ignacio;
        There are two concepts here: (1) the job as job meme, and(2) the job as fulfillment meme. Which of the two would you prefer? I for one vote wholeheartedly for the latter. Yes, it’s quite Cloud Cuckoo Land Economics sometimes, but what’s a culture to do if it doesn’t have some yearnings with which to define itself?

        1. skippy

          Still… no mater how you dress up a librarian, Cindy gets a new bike (bail out), the pedophilia is still there (private issuance of currency). Cindy I do love you, come and sit on uncle Koch lap… I have some pretty currency… ummm.

          Skippy… so much grooming… barf!

          1. F. Beard

            the pedophilia is still there (private issuance of currency). skippy

            97% of the money supply is already privately issued – by the banks as so-called “credit.” And what does the population get for it? Resonably priced goods and services? An equity share? No. What we get is price inflation and onerous debt.

          2. skippy

            Make banking a utility… fixed!

            Skippy… speculators can go back to their dens of inequity… see some biblical reference or Sunday sermon.

          3. F. Beard

            Make banking a utility… fixed! skippy

            So the rich get big loans of counterfeit money, the middle class gets medium loans of counterfeit money and the poor get small or no loans of counterfeit money?

            You are a moral genius! NOT!

          4. skippy

            Morality? You have the audacity to wrap yourself in a morality argument.

            A guy that is good with killing ( genocide ) if its biblically justified ( seek one [ or handful] verse[s out of 31 thousandish? ). But god gave them a chance to repent or change thingy?

            A guy that makes material mis – or – intentionally misstatements, yet can’t retract them when empirical fact is put under his nose. Whom when factually challenged links to some bias site that has zero relevance to the fact[s – astrophysics – cosmology vs. linguistics.

            A guy that has only one agenda, private monies[?], that can’t or won’t elaborate on any details ie, churches, company’s, groups, three legged dogs, printing. Whom reiterates over and over again the counterfeiting aspect ( your moral judgment ) of today’s issuance. Yet is totally blind to the historical record with regards to multiple issuance?

            Do your home work please, see:


            Skippy… in_your world_the rich issue the money… no need to bribe politicians or capture governments… sovereign in their own right… whats your point again?

            PS. Yves brought up utility to Summers at a confab… whats a body to do? BTW books make bad pets.

          5. F. Beard

            A guy that has only one agenda, private monies[?], … skippy

            Is inability to count another of your short comings? What about the universal bailout I advocate?

            But hey, forget the private currencies if you wish and just:

            1) Put the banks out of the counterfeiting business.
            2) Bail out the entire population of all credit debt.

            That still leaves the problem of usury since you won’t allow non-usury forms of money but at least it banishes the counterfeiting.

            Still have a problem? I’d bet you do.

          6. skippy

            When your bailout is premised on private issuance, no. Seemingly free one day and full slave down the road, so much libertarian economic rationality…shezzz…its like reinventing the company store.

            How about looking for a better reward mechanism than profit…eh. The ability to subjugate other humans with wads of cash. too bat above ones ability buy it, the need to affix a price (electrons of value) to everything that shape shifts_now_in milliseconds, and zero long term responsibly ( the dead don’t do court rooms, we payed to make it legal, the clock on that has run out ).

            Sadly we need to get from here to there, carrying capacity is the first step. If you can’t allocate resources without an eye to sustainability the rest is just mental masturbation ie humans are the greatest thing ever, tech will always save the day, its some deity’s will, the past is a good indicator of the future ( hint we have never been HERE before ), the past is what got us here… why replete?

            Skippy… the peoples republic, I’m holding them to it. Even if the original term *people[s* is debatable. Truth in advertising or all bets are off.

            PS. why do libertarians always wave the banner of personal freedom for all yet, are the first to shove everyone in a pit whence they get a wad of cash?

          7. F. Beard

            PS. why do libertarians always wave the banner of personal freedom for all yet, are the first to shove everyone in a pit whence they get a wad of cash? skippy

            Because they think (often erroneously) that they earned that money honestly. Many bankers incredibly believe that they are libertarians!

      2. citizendave

        The private sector doesn’t want to engage in economic activity which is unlikely to generate a profit. But there are certain things which need to be done which are highly unlikely to generate profits. I am part of a market for a service which does not yet exist in my area: light rail from my city to Milwaukee and Chicago. Similarly, our governor Walker vetoed $810 million from the feds for 110 mph commuter rail between Milwaukee and Madison. The “conservatives” insist such expenditures would be unprofitable. Many business and civic leaders in the region support construction (on existing tracks) of these two rail lines. They say that from the viewpoint of society, the money would be well-spent, and would boost economic activity in the area.

        I believe I understand Randall Wray’s employment pool idea, that would offer WPA-type jobs at the low end of the wage spectrum to anyone who wants to work. The WPA make-work projects provided many people with jobs, and produced some good works. (I have a WPA-produced book on the history of Portland, Maine, given to me by my grandfather when I was living in Portland in the early ’70s.) But beyond make-work jobs, there are some things we could be doing, such as building a modern clean energy infrastructure, and building a new rail-based transportation infrastructure, that will not be undertaken by the current incumbent capitalist regime, due to direct competition with incumbent corporations, or lack of near-term profitability.

        If you look at China’s build-out of new infrastructure, particularly high-speed rail, it would seem fair to say they moved too rapidly. A case in point is the recent collision of two high-speed trains, which some observers said was a consequence of revolutionary design and construction, rather than a more deliberate, incremental evolution. But if you believe the majority of climate change scientists, you would call for public-sector-driven change that cannot wait for the private sector to find ways to make such economic activity profitable. The fascisti view that as akin to communist central planning, rather than as in the public interest or necessity.

        It seems impossible for the current corporate regime (including their subsidiary government functionaries)to take the long view. We need a balance between public sector and private sector, so that we as a society can take action in the public interest, despite the immediate short-term high cost.

          1. Barni

            With vital infrastructure in America in such a bad state of repair that even a blind person could find enough urgently needed repair, reconstruction, replacement work that would add to the value of our productive pubblic assets. When government builds/repairs roads, bridges, sewer and water infrastructure ec. not only are more people employed, the economy picks up as demand grows and private employers again start considering expanding their businesses and employment, which creates more demand etc. etc.
            Demand comes from employed people spending money and demand doesn’t differentiate between government subcontractors and private sector subcontractors; except that the private sector wants to pay wages incapable of sustaining life without food banks and substandard housing while government contractors can be forced to pay reasonable middle class wages which will allow workers to become consumers and provide economic demand. Corporations would be happy to employ Americans if they are willing to accept Chinese worker’s remuneration of a few dollars a day which would prevent such employees from consuming anything but food and at best add a big zero to economic demand. As lower wages and unemployment during an economic disaster are pro-cyclical and will only increase the severity of the resulting economic malaise; the only available way of exiting an economic depression (A recession is when workers are laid off and can be amelioriated by giving employers tax breaks; a depression is when the jobs leave town, and brother the jobs have left town, state, and country) is to create jobs and employ workers at a sufficiently high pay that they will again begin consuming above the margin of life support and government works programs add to the “assets” owned by and benefitting all citizens and taxpayers wealth. As corporations are only willing to create either Wall Street or barely subsistence wage jobs the government must step in if we are to increase consumer demand and begin to re-grow our economy.

          2. falun bong

            When did we all conclude that there is no longer any such thing as “the public good”?
            Dwight Eisenhower naturally understood the concept, and built a fantastic network of interstate highways. Those have generated private sector profits far above their costs as public works.
            But wait: we need to pay for endless war in foreign lands before we pay to keep the lights on here at home. Huh?
            Oh wait: we are spending billions already to build bridges and roads; only those roads and bridges happen to be in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
            Can we please just give the Pentagon the GPS coordinates for CLEVELAND or DENVER or HOUSTON and have them keep working…? Huh? Who could possibly object to that? (Oh, I know, ideologues who insist the private sector does EVERYTHING better. Like I am sure Burlington Northern is going to lay thousands of miles of track…or Consolidated Freightways is going to be building us some great new highways…) Idiots.

        1. F. Beard

          I have no problem with legitimate governent infrastructure spending. But make-work is repugnant. It is better to just give people money and let them find their own useful work to do.

          1. citizendave

            How much of our current economic activity is make-work — that is, not necessary — which serves to give the serfs a way to pay the rent and eat, while enriching the OPOOP (as a commenter here recently put it, the One Percent Of One Percent)? It’s all very serious, and wars are fought because of it, but very little of it is actually necessary for us to live. The rest is make-work which mostly benefits Richie Rich.

          2. Lambert Strether

            “Make work is repugnant.” Like the entire health “insurance” industry? Is that what you mean?

            Anyhow, I’m with a great post from a long time back by Jack Crow: “Why can’t we all just take it easy?”

          3. Jane Doe

            (a) Just because capital considers it to be “real” doesn’t mean what Wall Street does has much value.

            (b) Your whole conception of “real” or “value” is wrong. If I value a public transit system, but can not afford to build one, does that mean it has any less value?

            (c) Even if you answer the above differently than most normal people would, let me ask you this final question- in what reality do you live in where we don’t have a need for massive infrastructure development in the U.S.? We are falling behind the rest of the world in this, and you are running around worried that we don’t need it?

          4. rotter

            Im not sure we would agree on many things policy, but no matter. You could have told them that the F22 was a great big multi trillion dollar “make work program” that didnt employ very many people real5tive to its cost. Now that idiotic program has been cancelled. They should give given those trillinos of dollars to every houselhold in the coutry. That would have been some rocket fuel stimulus. Every household gets about 150,000 bucks. The Economy, as well as employment would have exploded like an H-bomb ans they would ahve gotten it all back int productivity and taxes. As it is, where are those trillions now? How about the “Bradley Fighting Vehicle” the “defense” “industry” is full of them…if they cant find one why you should you do all the googling?

        2. F. Beard

          I have no problem with legitimate governent infrastructure spending. But make-work is repugnant. It is better to just give people money and let them find their own useful work to do. And there is plenty of legitimate reason to give everyone money since banking has cheated everyone.

          1. Jane Doe

            (a) You can’t define your terms without indicating you are an ideologue rather than someone worried about economic issues of value.

            (b) You seem to think we are living in a world where the U.S. has been heavily investing in infrastructure and this pork.

          2. skippy

            I dub thee the “Beard Solution”.

            Throw the biggest pile of money ever envisioned in human history at – a population that has been kiddy fiddled with for generations ( see manufactured desire ).

            Stand back and watch the market magic happen!

            Beard if you have a problem set of 20 _ focusing on only one _ will not give you a solution. Your an ex-engineer?

            Skippy… BTW the market is just a veil, a cloak to obfuscate, a place from which to wash the invisible hand from all responsibility.

          3. F. Beard

            Throw the biggest pile of money ever envisioned in human history at – a population that has been kiddy fiddled with for generations ( see manufactured desire ). skippy

            97% of our money supply is illegitimate debt to a counterfeiting cartel. I advocate abolishing that cartel and replacing the debt money (so-called “credit”) with real legal tender in a fair, orderly, non-inflationary manner.

            Theft is theft whatever the moral character of the victim. Also, it is not fair to judge someone who’s birthright has been stolen and accuse them of being only interested in a “mess of pottage.”

          4. skippy

            As a utility that aspect ( illegitimate ) is removed.

            Skippy… individual freedom vs. societal – environmental well being. I choose the latter – altruism.

          5. F. Beard

            As a utility that aspect ( illegitimate ) is removed. skippy

            Wrong. Some will always be considered more “creditworthy” than others. Thus some (typically the rich) will receive the benefit of the new money created at the expense of others (typically the non-rich).

          6. skippy

            IE. credit worthy. Same – same with private issuance, see counterfeiting. Usury and egregious debt, yeah bad. Although we can’t just snap our little fingers and make it go away. I prefer a rational glide path, slow unwinding, transition. Or we could do the Stalin thingy?

            Skippy… BTW Trust_ is _the big issue – a subset of responsibility, the private sector sold theirs and with the proceeds… bought the government. I would suggest getting a representative government back first, informing people of the wide spread misinformation injected into their cortex from birth and take it from there. Where you just want to privatize the world… further… since its worked out so well to this point.

          7. F. Beard

            Although we can’t just snap our little fingers and make it go away. I prefer a rational glide path, slow unwinding, transition. skippy

            That’s exactly what I have been advocating – a non-inflationary, universal bailout. To do that will require putting a muzzle on the banks to prevent them from causing run-away food and commodity inflation with the new reserves.

          8. F. Beard

            IE. credit worthy. Same – same with private issuance, see counterfeiting. skippy

            Not necessarily. Common stock as money is spent, not lent, into circulation. “Credit worthiness” does not come into play.

    2. jake chase

      Well, you seem to forget how many jobs in the hallowed private sector involve misrepresentation, deceit, manipulation, thuggery. Spend some time in a major corporation, advertising agency, law firm, accounting firm, investment bank, real estate brokerage, car dealership… must I go on?

      What we need is a mechanism to employ people in useful work as opposed to either work that is profitable although socially cancerous and nonwork which is merely a sop to the unemployed. How can we do this? A start would involve breaking up financial and industrial monopolies, taxing corporations on capitalization at progressive rates. Of course the business elite is committed to moving in the opposite direction: slashing employment, cutting wages, boosting profits. That should tell you something about which alternative makes sense.

      1. Andrew

        It’s interesting what different people call “productive” work. Of course, there is always Bertrand Russell’s take:

        “Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.”

        I think most people who are worried about unproductive work tend to do the second kind of work that Russell describes.

    3. Frank Speaking

      Put a face on your straw man F.

      Please tell us which “government make work program” you keep yammering about.

  2. Wyntunnel

    The only aggregrate banksters and economists should be made to understand is of the concrete variety. Of course I’m thinking more about walls than shoes but…

  3. Brick

    I think this post is addressing two different things and don’t see the choice between growth and jobs being an either or situation. Firstly I see the cultural attitude difference between Japan and the US in that executive compensation is the first to go not employees as probably a positive for Japan. To emulate this then you need regulation that makes it harder for firms to get rid of employees on mass and perhaps linking top executive pay to the number of employees and average wage would be the right kind of incentive.
    The choice surrounding jobs and growth is more complicated and I see as a seperate issue. We have all seen policies that suposedly focus on growth which don’t really do anything for aggregate demand over the short term. I see the question surrounding jobs as more complicated. Does long term growth benefit more from education or from some menial job? Do you focus on a childs long term prospects or the adults and are there situations where it might be better for a child if a parent is not working? How much does the employment cost and how much of the employees money is spent on US goods rather than imported goods ? Would you cause inflation in other world economies which would mean that economy taxes some of the benefits out of the system before it comes back in export demand?
    The ideal in my view is to focus on jobs which likely help demand somewhat in the short term and benefit the wider economy in the longer term. So in my view you should think about jobs for growth and perhaps infrastructure projects might be a place to start.I guess thats still more of a focus on jobs, I just worry that the cost of maintaining the job might exceed the amount of demand created, if most of the demand leaks abroad and is not allowed to return. Making the jobs more growth focused probably tips the scales more in the local economies favour.

  4. Blunt

    At base it seems to me that economy is always to be analyzed locally: small areas and growing to larger areas. It seems like the beginning of the current implosion was set 30-40 years ago when the major corps and the financial sector began to imagine that somehow the base could be eroded yet the structure itself would not only stand, but continue to rise.

    Not sure why that particular brilliance took hold and has been used as foundational opinion.

    The economy has become nothing but a fiction for most people. Unemployment at probably 20% and likely growing in USA. Yet, a social structure that revolves around worth being tied to work? Self-defeating all the way round. Insane, in fact.

    Question the premises of the economy. Discover how it’s all mainly a balloon kept afloat by captured helium that drains from the balloon. Expect crashes constantly and deaths resulting from them.

    Those who manage to climb over everyone else will survive longest, no doubt. But the fact remains that with the figurative and literal looting the entire edifice is collapsing and there appears no one as yet with the sense to suggest that perhaps the way to go is back to local, very local.

    It’s more difficult to loot those who are one’s neighbors and whom one sees frequently and has a sense of interdependence with. The levels of abstraction and “globalization” have allowed the minds and hearts to run to criminality because there is no connection to anything solid and real.

    Ironic for a materialistic culture, no? Gossamer as material. Mist as substance. Sorcerers’ apprentices and fantasists have become the guides and sages. No wonder everything grows worse and worse.

    1. Dan B

      Localization appears the best answer and is perhaps the only answer given that grwoth is no longer possible due to resource scarcities, water and oil as prime examples. When (if) history is written of this era one major question will be: What took them so long to figure out perpetual grwoth on a finite planet is impossible?

      1. Blunt


        I would imagine the answer will be the same answer that one sees for all sorts in seemingly intractable human problems, Dan B. We humans appear to believe that we should continue along a path until the path disappears and then to hack our way through a jungle until something halts all momentum an we die.

        I don’t foresee an end to this sort of foolishness until it is forced on us. I’ve become a pessimist and a sceptic when it comes to human abilities to manage our outcomes.

        The fools currently ensconced in positions of power, wealth and influence seem completely captured by the posh circumstances in which they reside. To skew Upton Sinclair: “A person is unlikely to invest in a new way of doing business when his wealth flows nicely investing in the old way.”

        It will require serious breathing issues and lack of water for the Kochs, Dimons, Geithners, Boehners, and Cantors of this country before they see the need to change the paradigm. By then most of us will either be dead or will have managed to attain the 4.5 acres and water required to live reasonably debt and money-free. Hopefully we’ll be among neighbors who have complimentary talents and we can form a cohesive community in a place not ravaged completely by the huns.

        1. citizendave

          I fear it will be necessary to persuade the huns to change their ways, else no corner of the globe will be safe from the ravages of their economic growth engine of death and destruction.

    2. aletheia33

      “there appears no one as yet with the sense to suggest that perhaps the way to go is back to local, very local.”

      where have you been? there are plenty of people working and thinking hard on this very way, and suggesting it quite loudly all over the place. the question is merely who is paying attention. just poke around, these practical thinkers are easy to find, and hard to even keep up with. the link below might be a place to start; i just googled “local economy” and it came up third. a lot of very smart people have been thinking about the local way and putting it into practice, since at least the 1960s. it’s not an easy or quick undertaking, but those who started early are going to be better situated as the crisis escalates.

      it’s only a matter of time before the current system breaks down at we reach the point where everyone must quickly learn, for example, exactly how much animal protein their local area can produce for each of its resident men, women, and children. we would be well advised to learn that now, i would suggest, and start getting our municipalities ready to pick up the work that will be needed (speaking of work). my town’s director of planning can cite this number (it’s an ample 0.7 pounds per day in our mostly agricultural area) off the top of his head. can yours?

      (wendell berry: the idea of a local economy)

  5. Max424

    Thank god we’re not living in the Time of the McCarthyites; back then Pavlina Tcherevna would have been found guilty of Communism in the first degree, and blackballed for all eternity.

    Now, in our more democratic times, there is a venue for her to express her views, openly and without fear of reprisal;* the obscuranet.

    Now, will a Chuck Todd/type news/personality ever give an economist with such “radical” views, an interview on the Big Stage?


    The subtlety with which the Corpo-Fascists gained –and maintain– control of everything is the greatest “human” advancement I’ve seen in my lifetime. Seriously. Our corporate elites polished and perfected –and then applied– Total Fascism without anybody really knowing it. It is a tremendous achievement.

    Note: If every citizen had a decent job, at a living wage, the economy would naturally –almost predeterminately– flourish? Is that what she’s saying? What a crazy idea.

    *As long as you remain obscure, you’re safe. But you gotta be careful. There are lines that should not be crossed. They did just pass a law, completely unnoticed by our watchdog media (bark!), called The Black Van Law, which allows “officials” to whisk you –and your loved ones– away to never-never land, in a paid-for-by-taxes government caravan, and they can do it all, legally.


    1. timotheus

      Having actually lived under military dictatorship for an extended period, I think we should apply more rigorous criteria for the use of terms like “fascism” so as not to lose sight of important remaining protections, fragile though they may be. When you know people who have been rousted out of their beds, taken out in the country and shot in the face, the fact that that is not yet likely to happen here in the U.S. is not a minor detail. There is certainly creeping authoritarianism afoot in the land, and we should be highlighting it vigorously as, IMHO, rampant illegality in the finance world is the exact parallel to the destruction of our civil protections from the arbitrary power of the state.

      1. Max424

        Like I said, this is not Fascism of our fathers; this Fascism is subtle, and therein lies its greatness.

        Or, as my boy Jello says,

        It would be a little obvious
        To fence off all the slums
        Hand out machine guns
        To the poor in the projects
        And watch ’em kill each other off
        A more subtle genocide is when
        The only hope for the young
        Is to join the Army or slowly die
        Wall Street or Crack Dealer Avenue
        The last roads left in the American Dream

        Embrace the Red, White and Blue Reich (12 X)

      2. Jill


        Jose Padilla and John Walker Lindh were taken and tortured by US authorities. True they were not killed, but Padilla is no longer functioning mentally. Bradley Manning has also been taken and is still held illegally. It would appear he has been tortured as well. These people are all citizens.

        The US govt. renders people to black sites around the world where they have been both tortured and killed. This was before NDAA.

        1. ScottS

          Indeed, Obama’s objection to the latest NDAA is that it restricts his power to detain people. The NDAA says it has to be a military detention, which is too constraining for his taste.

        2. timotheus

          Jill, I am aware of all that, am duly horrified by it and still maintain that we do not live in a fascist state. Or as the Lebanese said during their civil war, “No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.” In Syria 600 people have died under torture since the revolt — we have a long way to go yet.

    2. Frank Speaking

      wow a jello biafra fan on Naked Capitalism—who would have thunk it?

      Full Metal Jackoff—lyrics by Jello Biafra

      Mein Kampf the mini series
      Oliver North, “patriotic” hero
      The leader of tomorrow is yours today
      Finally gotcha psyched for a police state

      On the Washington, D.C. beltway
      Around and around I go
      In a black van with no windows
      And a chimney puffing smoke
      My van’s a mobile oven now
      That burns the bodies you never see
      Just like in Chile or Guatemala
      People just seem to disappear

      Just like Rome
      We fell asleep when we got spoiled
      Ignore human rights in the rest of the world
      Ya might as well lose your own
      As the noose of narco-militarism
      Tightens ’round our necks
      We worry about burning flags
      And pee in jars at work
      To keep our jobs

      But if someone came for you one night
      And dragged you away
      Do you really think your neighbors
      Would even care?
      Do you really think your neighbors
      Would even care?

      Embrace the Red, White and Blue Reich (12 X)


      …and now you can get it as a ring tone…who says life isn’t sweet? USA! USA! USA!

        1. Frank Speaking

          1999, Seatlle…good times

          I don’t think—I doubt too many others thought—then how much worse things good get…and now I just don’t think much any more…wacks out the blood pressure…and then I foolishly start perusing the web…just when I think I’m out they drag me back in…

          1. ScottS

            Those protests turned me on to politics in general and neoliberalism in particular. The way the TV news covered the violence but refused to say what was the cause of the protests piqued my interest.

            I’m quite hopeful things will improve in the long term now. Until the financial crisis in 2008, I felt a bit like Cassandra. Now a majority of people I talk to see what’s going on.

    3. Barni

      Capitalism is where the individual takes the risk and the individual gets the rewards; socialism is where the government (you know, We The People…!) takes the risk and the government gets the rewards; fascism is where the government takes the risk and the individual gets the rewards.
      The first thing that Hitler did upon gaining government was to guarantee (on the backs of taxpayers) all debts of the German industrialists and their corporations – this is fascism. What was it that just happened on Wall Street? The major players who wrought this economic depression on us all have had their debts paid by American taxpayers while the Wall Street perpetrators are getting fatter bonus cheques, biggers expense accounts. The average yearly remuneration for the top 10 arbitrage corporations’ CEO’s (some of the very culprits who created the mess in the first place) last year was more than $3,000,000,000!
      If one wants to see fascism at work(?)(there’s an oxymoron) just breeze down Wall Street; if one wants to see no one at work just breeze down your local main street!

  6. craazyman

    More sentimental yada yada yada from the university library. :) But she seems like a nice lady.

    so what’s her plan?

    There is not one economist alive who understands what money is, because they can’t channel. They may have been able to as kids, but after the sledgehammer of their liturgical indoctrination the reality filter is so think with conceptual mind smoke and the personal comfort level is so high theyrz no way to see. -Mr. Monkey :()

    1. rps

      The federal reserve dollar is not money it’s debt; an IOU passed around.”This note is legal tender for all Debts, public and private.”

      The bought and paid economists separated labor from it’s byproduct that is labors value is now measured in debt issuance;dollars. In the end it’s truly the labor that is the most important, yet the economist aided and abetted the financial flim flam wizards and turned it on it’s psychological lying head and claim that “money” is more valued than labor.

      The truth is that money whether its paper, gold,silver, or beanie babies are a illusory collective psychosis agreement. Tomorrow’s wealth could be seashells. As always since the survival of humankind, real wealth is the labor of people. Even the wealthy need someone to pickup their garbage and rot out their drain lines. We’ve allowed the financiers to disconnect the most necessary labor of daily life and replace it with paper creation that they designate with “value” over the necessary labor for the common good.

  7. RanDomino

    We don’t need jobs, we need MONEY, and there’s plenty of that. If the productivity gains of the last 30 years had been distributed like they were in the previous 30, we’d all be working 20 hour weeks!

      1. Frank Speaking

        and now F. if you would only “get it”

        please, please identify a “government make work program” that provides no value

          1. F. Beard

            LOL! Good one!

            Also the TSA.

            Also, even in government bureaucracies that do useful work it is said that “20% of the people do 80% of the work.”

            And if we are going to do make-work I want finger painting and my nappy too.

          2. skippy


            All examples of private sector influence upon the government, not a peoples referendum.

            Skippy… its not called a trough for nothing.

        1. aletheia33

          environmental “protection” [preserving blanket permission to pollute] agency

          nuclear “regulatory” [preserving blanket permission to radiate] commission

          office of the controller of the currency [giving lots more of it to just a few people]

          “securities” and exchange commission [keeping that door revolving, that’s real work]

          department of “justice” [turning away any of the 99% who apply]

          “internal” [suspending any obligation for companies that offshore jobs] “revenue” [writing numbers on paper that some poor idiots still think represent something of value to the public] “service” [go along when your boss mr. prez tells you not to look into any of those punky mbs trust agreements]

          all public relations work

      1. ScottS

        Their web site hasn’t been updated since 2005, it looks like. Apparently, they’ve been taking some time off.

    1. skippy

      Its where and what the money goes – is for… societal purpose. The direction of monies is the problem, not the amount, see 15ish trillion smack a roos down the tubes.

      Want more pollution too?

      Skippy… more money shezzz… its just electrons of price.

      1. F. Beard

        – is for… societal purpose. skippy

        What you mean is YOUR idea of society.

        Maybe you can work for one of the new feudal lords if your idea of society agrees with his?

      2. F. Beard

        And btw, a sufficient and equal distribution of currency would GREATLY reduce relative wealth disparity. Against that, are you? Hair shirt, much?

      3. citizendave

        – its just electrons of price – Skippy

        Thought experiment: from MMT, a sovereign government that controls its own currency can create money without limit. Suppose we try F. Beard’s proposals to give government fiat money to citizens to bring them up out of poverty, out of dire working-class circumstances. For one thing, it would undermine the oligarchy’s desire for a lifetime of debt for the lower classes, the better to propel the serfs out of bed to go to work for a pittance every day. Too bad for the oligarchs.

        What would happen to the global economy if all of the sovereign nations worked together to issue fiat money in unlimited amounts to every human on the planet? The necessary work would consist of growing food, transporting the food to people, heating and cooling housing units, health care, and a few other things essential for life.

        Maybe my house needs new paint, but I can’t do it myself, or I don’t want to do it myself. Could I pay anyone to paint my house? They don’t need my money, or anybody else’s money, on acount of they have a Brazillion shekels on account. Could we compel farmers to grow enough food to feed seven billion people? Probably not.

        The economy would contract or collapse with too much austerity. But there would also be dire consequences if too much wealth is injected into the economy. It would be fun to play with an economic modeling program equipped with a slider to inject wealth into the global economy. Too little: death spiral; too much: nobody needs to work except to survive. Goldilocks: too cold, too hot, just right.

        How to get it just right? We don’t want a global desire for economic growth to consume the planet. Perhaps the concept of retirement would be useful. It would be like having worked and saved for a lifetime, so that you have a long lifetime of sufficient funds to pay for your baseline cost of living. But instead of breaking your back all your life to get to that point, you would have that fund given to you, perhaps upon your birth, or to everyone who has a social security number, paid for by government fiat money, and held in trust by the Department of the Treasury (or some suitable agency). If you don’t want to draw it down, you could seek economic opportunities to earn money. But even if nobody wants to hire you, or pay for your discordant, tuneless music, you could still be sure that nobody could kick you out of your house, or deprive you of your ration of bread. How do we find the balance that allows Nature and the planet to survive for 10,000 generations, while allowing every human to live a healthy, comfortable life?

        1. citizendave

          I should add that to avoid inflation some kind of limit would be placed on annual expenditures so that all that money would not flow into the economy instantly. Perhaps it would be like Social Security, but rather more generous.

          1. Blunt

            Add thinking outside the capitalist box, Dave. Sounds like your idea presupposes a continuation of the same system with a different set of profiteers. A lot more profiteers who will then sit on their cans for eternity?

            My guess is they would not. Most people don’t have the desire for riches untold of a material nature. Most folks want a few creature comforts, a good life for themselves and their children (by whatever lights they define “good,” and some decent and productive work that doesn’t last from daylight to midnight so they can then have abundant social relations with those they live among.

            Why is the importance of connection and relationship always discounted although we know in our own lives how good it feels and how much we desire it?

            Yet the meme propagated by the neo-lib cons that “money changes everything” and that everything is a market and everything’s marketable to someone has overturned even our perceptions of our lives.

            That’s why I am a sceptic when it comes to our ongoing survival and the end of the feudal-fascist organization of today’s earth. Indeed, the huns will eat the last grain and crow over their success as they starve to death.

          2. citizendave

            Sounds like your idea presupposes a continuation of the same system with a different set of profiteers. A lot more profiteers who will then sit on their cans for eternity? – Blunt

            I think you are correct. Buying off everybody’s private debt wouldn’t do much to fundamentally change the system. But it probably would cause an increase in the PBR — the Planetary Burn Rate. In fact, suppressing the PBR is one of the few salutary effects of the Great Recession.

            Who should be the arbiter of what happens to the planet? The neo-lib-cons would have the Magic Market solve all our problems. The money would flow precisely where it’s needed. Eventually. Maybe. Not. Even if we could get the money out of the political process, or devise some more democratic Internet-based open source direct democracy process (#OWS!), we still might not find the wisdom to do the right thing in the face of what many people still deny is a crisis in Nature. I certainly don’t want to leave the outcome of this public policy struggle to the corporations. Public policy should be established by the Public, by We The People, and then communicated to and expressed by our Representatives in Congress, who will make it so. It could happen.

            Our situation is still relatively stable. It affords us the opportunity to do philosophy, to try to work out solutions before the financial system crashes us again. We need to believe we can engineer our way out of the age of dinosaurs, burning coal and oil, and into a modern era of clean energy and clear skies. We know what needs to be done, or we know the direction. If we had unlimited funds, (federal government has the power to create unlimited amounts of money) we could just buy the incumbent economy, like a leveraged buyout, strip off the assets of the worst offending corporations, and then build a better, cleaner economy. Instead, the incumbent oligarchy has enough political power and financial wherewithal to perpetuate their existence, even though they are not righteous, like zombies that refuse to die.

        2. F. Beard

          Suppose we try F. Beard’s proposals to give government fiat money to citizens to bring them up out of poverty, out of dire working-class circumstances. citizendave

          Technically, what I advocate is a ban on further counterfeiting by the banks and an equal bailout of the entire population metered to just replace existing credit as it is paid off and lasting till all private credit debt is paid off. That is completely fair and zhould not cause price inflation either.

          1. citizendave

            For a long time I’ve wanted to get clear on certain points you’ve been making. For example, by “counterfeiting” I believe you refer to fractional reserve lending, but not to Federal Reserve Notes? I believe your contention is that the money lenders charge usurious fees for the privilege of borrowing their money, which is how we become debtors.

            How would you fund the bailout of the entire population? I assumed you would accomplish it by fiat, for example with the trillion dollar platinum coin beowulf, Scott Fulwiller, and others were discussing last summer in the context of the made-up debt crisis. If you have described your mechanism in the past, I’ve either forgotten, or I missed it.

            Anyway, I’d guess Big Money would oppose a universal bailout because it would reduce their supply of cheap serf labor — unless they would realize that a large supply of money would quickly come into play, which they would certainly want to get their little hands on.

        3. Fiver

          MMT’ers, so far as I can tell, simply ignore the fact that the environment trumps everything else, that there is no possibility whatever that we can continue on the current consumption-driven course absent massive global conflict leading to a population, perhaps civilization, crash, or ruination of the biosphere (oceans, forests, soils, fresh water, atmosphere) leading to the same outcome.

          1. F. Beard

            MMT’ers, so far as I can tell, simply ignore the fact that the environment trumps everything else, FIVER

            Possibly true but the Great Depression is an object lesson in the damage just a shortage of money can do. And what was used to cure that money shortage? World War II is what!

        4. Tim

          Awesome. Another person that gets that all societal decision making should be predicated on the impact to motivations (carrot) just as much as laws and regulation (stick), and finding the balance of those affected.

          Extreme Socialism (Communism): no motivation to work, society decays.

          Extreme Libertarianism: so much motivation (succeed or die!) that it turns to greed/crime/corruption, and society decays as it is oppressed the few most powerful.

          People seem to consider that political philosophy/platforms resides on a 1 dimensional spectrum (left-right, liberal-conservative) when in reality I believe there are more dimensions, and at the extreme in any one direction is not a good place to be.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      That’s right, Ran. The key is to re-build the DE-CENTRALIZED Real Economy of We the People, ready to do real work for the healthy use of labor and goods. Just “Show us the money.” Our treasury should invest in the grounded work of We the People, we who have the ability and the WILL to develop the Real Economy C.21.

      Not one more dime should be wasted on the CENTRALIZED OLD REGIME * Bubble Economy* of Banks and other Old Regime sets of unproductive monopolies. Let the Devil Balloon drift into outer space, with no connection to the REAL US.

      We the People are ready for the Regime Change in the *Homeland*. The MODEL for the process and praxis of efficacious transition to the Real Economy C.21, through the decentralization of money and work, has been worked out to perfection, on the ground, in reality, at the Open Society Foundations.

      George Soros is the enemy of the Old Regime for Tyrannical Government. He has been a committed Freedom Fighter and Enemy of Fascism all of his life, hence he is commonly reviled by the .01% GLOBAL “NOBILITY” who despise Jews even as they exploit them. He is no Saint, but, with Aryeh Neier’s leadership of the OSI-OSF, he has provided We the People with the MODEL and the INFRASTRUCTURE for our rapid transition to the DECENTRALIZED Real Economy C.21 that we now crave. Now, the new director of the OSF, Christopher Stone, will show us how to bring JUSTICE into the Real Economy.

      Let’s get this show on the road. Let Old Regime bankers go their way into oblivion, APART from us. Then GIVE US THE MONEY to create Good Work on the ground, to develop the Real Economy C.21 writ large. Then We the People will once again become, by example NOT by dominance, the “Leaders of the Free World.”

      For decades, the Open Society Foundations have indeed worked out the “open [original Athenian] democracy of Pericles” and the “open society” democratic dream of Karl Popper, a fluid, MATURE, cooperative democracy of the We the People, who no longer require “Great Men” or kings to tell us what to do.

      For those who live by the Bible, this evolution is that foreseen by JacobIsrael on his death bed in Genesis, when he used the phrase, “when Shiloh comes” [Shiloh is the place of the Tent of Meeting]. This is an allusion to the time of the Nation “before there were kings in Israel;” that is to say, at the time of the Judges. Samuel was the last Judge to guide the Nation; he yielded to the Nation’s DEMAND for a KING. He warned the nation that this was the turning point in their lives: that they had demanded the end of their sovereignty, that they had demanded to become effective slaves to kings and their retinue.

      Is it not time for We the People to “return to Shiloh” – to return to JUST SELF-GOVERNMENT- now as a fully-fledged open democracy, such as that of Athens at the time of Pericles? Can we not relinquish our slavery to Kings?

      Will the Open Society Foundations ACT NOW to “show us the money” to fund our creation of the Real Economy C.21?

      As for our next NOT-King but President and Cabinet to SERVE US, whom might We the People elect to guide us justly in Shiloh (the Tent of Meeting)? Conside: William K. Black, Chris Hedges, Susan Webber (Yves), Catherine Austin Fitts, Michael Hudson, Paul Krugman, to name a few of our friends.

      DISCLAIMER: I have never been, and am not now, nor do I expect to be in the employ of George Soros or the Open Society Foundations. I am an avid believer in We the People’s self-government without recourse to kings.

      Nova Bernard Thriffiley, Ph.D. (Indiana University, Bloomington)

  8. MacCruiskeen

    “visitors to Japan find the country wearing its malaise remarkably well.”

    Probably because visitors don’t generally go to places where the malaise is more apparent. The Japanese government tries hard to keep places like Kamagasaki unseen by outsiders. Poverty rates have been rising in Japan.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Compare it to Detroit, or Cleveland, or mill towns all over the Upper Midwest. We are much less far through working off our smaller bubble, and the apples to apples comparison still holds up. Just look at Japanese social indicators, ex suicide (which was always higher in Japan partly due to more accurate reporting as well as a bit of cultural glorification of suicide). Way better than any other advanced economy, and vastly better than the US.

  9. Jeff

    One mysterious difference is that everyone in Japan is Japanese. That is where you get the concept of “family”.

    It is impossible in a “diverse”- “multicultural” and
    “-hyphenated society” to have the feeling of national family.

    That’s why the Powers That Be promote these divisions, to keep us from banding together and repudiating their takeover of our economy and our national policy.

    1. ScottS

      That would be news to the ~900,000 Koreans living in Japan, as well as the ethnic Ainu and Okinawans.

      Japan’s cohesiveness has less to do with race, though there is a myth of Japanese genetic uniformity. It’s more to do with an emphasis on harmony. I believe the myth of uniformity comes from the drive for harmony, not the other way around.

      We are all the same race, though we may have different cultures.

        1. ScottS

          That’s what I was referring to.

          One mysterious difference is that everyone in Japan is Japanese.

          That would be news to the ~900,000 Koreans living in Japan, as well as the ethnic Ainu and Okinawans.

  10. ScottS

    Japan has 100% employment because they have functionally useless intermediaries in their supply chain. Why pretend that we haven’t had the productivity gains that we have had? Why employ people we don’t need? The problem is in the distribution of resources.

    While the west would be lucky to manage its bubble deflation half as well as Japan, I’d prefer we confront the post-scarcity of labor and go for 100% unemployment — that is, no one needs to work unless they want to.

    1. F. Beard

      I’d prefer we confront the post-scarcity of labor and go for 100% unemployment — that is, no one needs to work unless they want to. ScottS

      Bingo! That way people can do the work they are best suited for and when, where and how they wish to do it.

      1. Neo-Realist

        But who will pick up the garbage? Who will sweep the streets? Who will shine shoes at Grand Central Station? Who will ask, “Would you like fries with that?”

        1. ScottS

          That’s it? That’s your best defense of the crappy system we have? “Who will sweep the streets?”

          Now that automation has hit white collar jobs — ask accountants if they’re scared — the rapid ramping-up of productivity will lead to revolts if we don’t find a more equitable way of distributing resources. Why not head that off at the pass?

          1. Frank Speaking


            accountants, doctors, lawyers, teachers, college professors and just about any other professional occupation that has thought itself safe from offshoring or being replaced by a software program.

            much of the resistance to computerizing of medical records is doctors looking over the horizon and recognizing what software can do to diagnostics predicated on 50 years—even ten years—worth tens of millions of patients records.

            factor in growing appreciation that a doctors’ humaness too often gets in the way of accurate diagnosis and you don’t have to be clairvoyant to see the doctor’s roll of diagnostician going the way of the buggy whip.

            great for bringing down health care costs and improving outcomes but clearly will cause some serious dislocation and discomfort for docs.

            same implications for education from elementary school all the way through undergrad.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            The theory of Maria Montessori, M.D. was that those in society who performed the most unpleasant, onerous jobs that benefit society should be paid more than the Bosses who will not do the dirty work.

            What do you think, Scott and Frank? Can we change our point of view?

          3. ScottS

            I think janitors should be paid more than CEOs — janitors do more worthwhile work. Plus, I’m sure the sociopaths would still line up to be CEOs just for the sadistic thrill of authority.

          4. tech98

            I know an honest auto mechanic who is worth more than a dozen of the useless paper-pushing, credit hogging, egotist corporate-bureaucrat managers I’ve worked for over the years.

      1. ScottS

        I know. In some respects, we’ve surpassed Star Trek. In others, we’re not far behind.

        Ammonium nitrate fertilizer has solved the hunger problem. The distribution problem is the one that needs to be fixed.

        1. Fiver

          Sorry, but the food problem has NOT been solved. That fertilizer is destroying soils, watersheds, estuaries, and sizable chunks of ocean. The “Green Revolution” in India and globally is already known to be reversing, i.e., crop yields are falling even as more fertilizer is applied each year, because the soil is over-loaded with salts. We’ve essentially grown 6 billion people from oil, are expecting another 2 billion (to make 9 altogether) and there’s not a chance in hell of sustaining it.

    2. jonboinAR

      Well, I’ll tell you, I’m not gonna want to work if I can get paid to stay home or otherwise goof off. Neither is anyone I know, barring a couple, maybe. I still think either most everyone has to be made to work, or no one will. I’m for trying out a 30 hour work week, myself. I currently work 50 -55 hours. Mainly, for the sake of my own security, I’m hoarding work that someone else could be doing. Also I’m able to manage my bills more easily with this amount of income.

      With a 30 hour workweek unemployment would pretty well go away. In that low unemployment environment people like myself would be less tempted to hoard work. But to restate, I can’t see making work optional uhh,… working.

  11. rps

    Japan is a dying society with extremely low birth rates. Why? Because there is no hope or future when people are blindly robbed by government policies that enrich the one percent and deprivation for the rest of us. The economy in the US is also stagnating due to the generations born after 1978 who have been yoked with outrageous student debt. The burden is overwhelming with stagnated wages or worse a worthless piece of paper that cost $120,000, for a job at Payless. The US birth rate has dropped too, but is disguised with legal and illegal immigrant populations.

    The life cycle of marriage,family, house buying, and all its accessories has been brought to a standstill. The younger generation refuses to participate in anymore extraneous debt or produce children into a rapacious debt life cycle.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Boy, do you have that one wrong.

      Every advanced economy sees falling birth rates, save the US, due to Hispanic immigration. Italy and Australia also have super low birth rates, but no one makes noise about that the way they do with the Japanese (in part because Australia is more open re immigration, which has countered its crappy birth rates).

      With Japan, it is that young women don’t want to marry. And they don’t want to marry because being a housewife in Japan sucks. The role is worse than in the West. Now that women have much more access to work, young women enjoy a much better life living with their parents. They are referred to as “parasite singles” but they refuse to budge in light of a lack of pressure on men to change behavior (unlike here, where there has been a shift in social norms to have men treat women more as equals, albeit not to the degree that PR and romantic comedies would lead you to believe).

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Yves, how will that turn out, when so many “defeated” Japanese men choose sex dolls dressed like school girls?

        As for the birthrate for Hispanics, this is performance of the agenda of their Roman Catholic Church and its dream of R.C. hegemony in the U.S.A. He made advances on his visit here, when Pres. Bush publicly expressed his will that the Pope be “the moral arbiter” of American society.

        Peer relationships between men and women is what is required in order for this nation to move forward as “We the People” with determination to rebuild our Real Economy for C.21. History shows that it is a losing proposition to “go back” to a dream gone bad, to regress into deep sleep.

        We the People must “walk forth” together audaciously, as our ancestors did. Like your ancestors, mine, ours, we must once again remake ourselves, as we “crash through the iron gates of life (Marvell) to seize our places in the sun.

        We have done it before. We will do it again, in a whole new way. This is the thrill of life lived well. Otherwise, what’s it for?

        Yves, wouldn’t you like to be a leading citizen in the White House with Bill Black or Chris Hedges, bringing our version of a Brave New World into existence? To allow its citizens to advance from “nobody” to “somebody” through merit and hard work, this is the most valuable gift of the open democracy under duress–when true representatives of the common weal must rise to the occasion to perform for all of us, guiding us to our proper evolution as a nation.

        You built the forum of Naked Capitalism. Now, pick your role in the White House or the Treasury, and get your team together. We don’t have much time.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That’s a nice vote of confidence, but I don’t want to be running anything. I hate meetings and I hate managing people.

  12. rps

    the validity of currency has been separated from its’ primary function; labor compensation utilized as a universal bartering tool for trade, goods, and services. The religion of economics has subverted it into a measurement independent of its original blueprint. The interdependency of compensation and exchange has been dragged into the alley, beaten, robbed, and stabbed. Currently economists argue, theorize, and postulate on how to get the staggering, under-compensated laborers back into a homeless shelter living on debt.

    Unemployment is useful for the capitalists: it causes competition among the workers for jobs and keeps down wages. High unemployment, as in the present economic crisis, intensifies this competition and helps the capitalists increase the exploitation of the workers, who face a greater threat of firing. The capitalists have no intention of doing away with this tool for exploiting the workers.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      rps, don’t leave out that poverty and scarcity leads humans reduced to beasts and all those “civil wars” that reduce the population. They don’t require so much human energy (except as fuel when they can pull that off: e.g. “Soylent Green” as fuel from people), now that robots can accomplish so many tasks to serve the .01-1%.

      See “Georgia Guidestones” on You Tube.

      George Carlin’s legacy to us: “They don’t give a F%$! about you! They don’t care about you at ALL! at all, at all.” We can still hear him, after “death,” on YouTube.

  13. Glen O

    I think it is all about incentives. Corporations behave as they do because, by law (at least in the US) they have to put priority on maximizing shareholders’ stock value. There is no reason why other types of corporations could not have a legal formulation, which would have different priorities (and therefore different incentives). For instance, I think there are a lot of people who would invest in entities that have public stock but which have different priorities, such as maximizing employment, improving commons (energy, environment, etc) with shareholder value growth somewhere down the list.

    1. curlydan

      Aww, shucks, corporations are just collections of friendly, neighborly people sharing money and jobs, or at least, that’s what Mitt has told me.

      “Now, corporations, they’re made up of people, and then, of course, the buildings that people work in. The buildings don’t pay taxes. The only people that—the only entities that pay taxes are people. And so, corporations are collections of people that are trying to have good jobs for themselves and promote the future. And so, corporations are made up of people, and the money goes to people, either to hire people or to pay shareholders. And so, they’re made up of people. So, somehow thinking that there’s something else out there that we could just grab money from and get taxes from, and everything could be better, that doesn’t involve people, well, they’re still people. And what I want to do is make America a place where those corporations that have that money decide to invest here.”


    2. F. Beard

      THe problem is not profit. The problem is that the profits are distributed unjustly. And that is a result of the government backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system.

      All this emphasis on jobs for the victims of theft is morally revolting. Do the rich need jobs or is their wealth and income sufficient?

        1. F. Beard

          Let them buy shares! Frankly Speaking

          Ironically that might not work so long as we have the boom-bust cycle which is caused by the government enforced/backed counterfeiting and usury cartel, the banking system.

          The true irony is that the banks damage themselves too with their (inherently) thieving ways.

          And then we have the central bankers who think they have finally figured out how to cure the business cycle except they haven’t and never will unless God is mocked.

          1. F. Beard

            What’s with you Frank? Don’t like to “share”? Would you rather the corporations continue to loot us via loans from the government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel?

    3. tech98

      On January 1 California implemented a law allowing the registering of “benefit corporations”, whose goals, rather than profit-maximization, are

      1) create a material positive impact on society and the environment,
      2) expand fiduciary duty to require consideration of non-financial interests when making decisions, and
      3) report on its overall social and environmental performance using recognized third party standards.

      One of the first registrants was the clothing company Patagonia, long known for its involvement in environmental issues.


      Six other states have B Corporation laws, and four others have legislation pending.

    1. rps

      Profits are due to the contraction of employment and seeking the lowest common denominator; slave labor whether it’s minimum wage in the US or outsourcing to third world dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, etc…countries without Fair labor and Standards, EPA, OSHA, pensions, social security, etc…

      In fact I’d state that “profits” truly don’t exist but are the result of underpayment of labor, resources, and government assistance whether it’s feeding at the taxpayer trough in subsidies and/or tax exemptions that are picked up in the majority’s increase in property, local, municipal, state, and federal taxation.

      1. Frank Speaking

        minimum wage looks pretty good if you are making 25 cents an hour as prison labor in the USA…

        Prison Labor: Outsourcing’s “Best Kept Secret”
        Since 1999, private corporations in the U.S. have outsourced a variety of business services to federal prison inmates, who today earn around $1 an hour for call center work. Proponents of the practice claim prison labor is a low-cost alternative to offshore outsourcing, but critics say it takes jobs away from law-abiding U.S. citizens.

        By Stephanie Overby
        Thu, May 27, 2010


        this is what corporate america’s jobs program looks like…want a job? want health care?…do the crime, do the job

        1. James

          In an upside down world this seems all too fitting. Wanna work as a galley slave for a corporate criminal enterprise? Become a convicted criminal and welcome aboard matey! Full gruel rations for PRODUCTIVE crew members ONLY!

  14. Susan the other

    If what Stiglitz says is true, that productivity outpaced the need for labor and unemployment is therefore created by high productivity, it makes sense that jobs will have to be created without demand. The most likely jobs to be so created are environmental cleanup jobs. In a sense, we did not have such fabulous productivity and growth at all, we just trashed the planet and there is now a lot of work to be done to fix it. Problem solving jobs. Like Fracking. If we were truly productive we would frack for natural gas in a way that did not cause the problems it now causes. But to do this would be expensive; it requires better technology and therefore better knowledge and maybe better science. Or like genetic migration (Monsanto). Monsanto’s “solution” is to let it blow and sue innocent farmers. That is a big problem that could employ lots of people. Or land fills now full and overflowing into the oceans. Recycling. Toxic estuaries. Antibiotic resistance. Clearly we never actually had much, if any, “growth” at all. And in this process which turns out to have been more loss than gain, unemployment became the real profit of the corporations. Just ask Mitt.

  15. Frank Speaking

    if it is good enough for the folks in “live free and die” new hampshire it is good enough for the good ole USA by golly by gum!

    sounds like a national prescription to me.

    “The Truth About New Hampshire: It’s the Government Spending, Stupid”
    JAN 5 2012, 10:15 AM ET

    “New Hampshire, scene of the upcoming GOP presidential primary, seems like the perfect illustration of the Republican low-tax philosophy. With no state income tax and one of the lightest tax burdens in the U.S., New Hampshire enjoys an 8.3% poverty rate, the lowest in the country, and an unemployment rate of only 5.2% as of November, far below the national rate.

    “But here’s a surprise: The “Live Free or Die” State, having lost much of its manufacturing base, seems to be thriving mostly on a steady diet of government spending and public jobs. For one, government employment in New Hampshire is up 14% since 2000, compared to 6% for the country as a whole.

    “What’s more, real personal income growth in New Hampshire over the past decade has been driven almost entirely by government spending. Here’s how it breaks down: From 2000 to 2010, real personal income in the state rose by $4.6 billion, in 2005 dollars. Out of that, $3 billion, or 66%, came from the growth of government transfer payments such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Another $1.4 trillion, or 31%, came from increased wages and benefits to government employees (numbers are rounded and in 2005 dollars).”


    take that Nackey Loeb—hope your enjoying your after life in what ever circle of hell you’ve been assigned to.

  16. Northwest Matt

    You might enjoy (I did) knowing that “family” is derived famulus… which means: wait for it… wait for it…


    So yes, companies are just like families.

    1. Frank Speaking

      well once upon a time when the slogan “the customer is always right, particularly when they are wrong” was not just a slogan but a corner stone to the notion of a business’s mission.

      if the business was servant to the customer that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      but that was back in the day when villages, towns and cities had honest to god entrepreneurial, small, family owned and run business on Main Street.

      and once upon a time there were large companies—even corporations—that did value their employees.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        That changed abruptly in the 70’s when Corporations decided greed was good. Then, Wal-Mart’s putsch to “eliminate the middleman” brought us under the boot of the greediest monopolies, then GATT, NAFTA, and the elimination of The People’s protection, Glass-Steagall. Then we were robbed blind by Big, while the “poor” were driven to drug addiction and dealing in desperation (like the “Opium Wars”).

        But, are We the People dead yet? Time to get up and change the game, like the Roadrunner. “Bee-beep.” Americans come from a flock of tough birds.

  17. constant

    “In the bubble era, whatever led to consumption was good and people measured their worth by money,” Fukasawa said. “But herbivorous men don’t buy things to show off.”

    Partly, at least, that’s because they can’t afford to.

    Their generation joined the work force after deregulation measures helped to swell the ranks of contract and other non-regular employees to about one-third of all workers.

    Roshinante worked part-time until two years ago, when he took a full-time post at a hotel chain. But he’s still anxious about the future.

    “At my previous workplace, a whole bunch of managers in their 40s and 50s were laid off,” Roshinante said.

    Marriage isn’t on his agenda at the moment, but he couldn’t afford it even if it were.

    “I think there are many part-time workers who cannot get a full-time job and cannot plan their life and marriage. That is also the case of romantic relationships. While they don’t want to follow the traditional model, they don’t know what to do,” he said.

    Japan’s “herbivore” men shun corporate life, sex

    But the term resonates with a generation struggling to make sense of profound social disruption rooted in economic changes. Wealth disparities are corroding Japan’s meritocracy and poverty is rising. A 2007 OECD report showed that relative poverty in Japan is the second worst in the developed world, after the United States.

    Business magazine Weekly Diamond recently noted that more than 80 per cent of 35-year-olds in Japan live on an annual income of two million yen – a key poverty benchmark. “I don’t think the lives my parents had is an option for us anymore,” laments Kai Ishii, a 26-year-old broker in Shizuoka Prefecture. “I want to eventually get married and buy a house. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to do that, even if I’m still in a job.”

    About one third of the Japanese workforce is now casual or part-time, and confidence in the future is at rock bottom. For many young men, the post-war dream of lifetime employment, home and family, with all the sacrifices it entailed, is fading. In response, some have turned their energies elsewhere, toward the once feminised sphere of consumption – or away from life altogether.

    Millions remain at home as “parasite singles”, meaning they live with, and off, their parents. The pressing need to find a partner has been alleviated by the ubiquity of porn, sex toys and virtual sex on bedroom computers – one reason, say analysts, why consumption of condoms has been falling for a decade. Even those who opt for conventional marriage find their old role of main breadwinner is no longer available: men and woman increasingly share the roles of work and home.

    Japan’s Generation XX

  18. barrisj

    As far as what one considers “government make-work programs” in this era, it is not about New Deal-style WPA projects, for example, but rather enormous “defence” boondoggles like billion-dollar fighter planes, huge aircraft carriers, “weapons modernisation” programs and the like. “Corporate welfare” and “make-work” are a conflation of a significant prop in US economy: the “defence” and “national security” industries which parasitise national wealth and have formed self-replicating organisms sustained by taxpayer dollars that will continue well into the future to consume an inordinate and obscenely disproportionate share of America’s economic resources.

    1. citizendave

      I wouldn’t know what to do with the shipbuilders when they become unemployed. I’m certain we don’t actually need 11 Carrier Strike Groups, so we should mothball about half, as a start. That would be about 150 ships idled.

      As for those who build warplanes, maybe they could manage to build high-tech train sets, that would be so safe they would never collide with each other, or with anything else, nor jump the tracks, would be fuel efficient, and fly along the tracks at over 200 mph. Building modern trains would be useful, not make-work.

  19. abprosper

    Given the social and educational conditions in the US creating good jobs is not exactly easy.

    Junk jobs that pay low wages and no benefits help no one except as a step ladder to better things and with the US having basically no social mobility, its not going to happen.

    Lets use Detroit as an example, almost 50% of the city is functionally illiterate, nearly 1 in 5 are in the state of Michigan . How are they going to be employed at a decent wage?

    The answer is, they can’t.

    There is no practical way to bring back the old inefficient job creating industrial system so what we need to do is come up with something else.

    We also need to fix other things, corruptions, families, etc. Also complex and difficult.

    I’d suggest Social Credit as a standby myself

  20. Hugh

    I just spent a good chunk of the day writing on the BLS jobs report covering December. For those who are interested you can find it here:


    I’m all for anything that increases jobs. Most economic concepts like growth, productivity, efficiency, and utility are either unquantifiable or vastly over rated because they quite simply to do not correspond to anything like a society worth having. I mean how efficient have financial markets really been? They produced the housing bubble, the meltdown, and a good part of the euro crisis. Productivity has become a negative, a synonym for job cutting. GDP doesn’t mean much if all the increases go to feeding wealth inequality. And utility? Define that in a way that doesn’t involve unicorns.

  21. Shane536

    I`ve been living in Japan for 17 years and I agree with the main premise here that Japanese corporate and company values have a lot to do with it. Being “rich” is not seen as particularly socially desirable, whereas creating jobs is. Buying a firm and doubling earnings per share by firing half the work force is probably not illegal or difficult. It`s just that everyone would see you as a total dick. Creating a firm from scratch and employing a bunch of people gets you a lot of respect, way more than almost anything else. If you have an entire nation that thinks that way, you`ll get a lot more employment.

    There is a lot of cynicism from visitors to Japan (and from me when I first arrived) about the clearly extraneous staff and jobs that exist here. Say (for example) the guys who stand on the street waving people into car parks or some of the train guards, bank greeting staff etc etc.

    But what happens is these people are probably not capable of doing much else honestly. In our countries they would be sitting on a couch smoking bong hits or under a bridge drinking. But in Japan they put them in a snazzy uniform, give them a set of detailed (yet simple) duties and (more importantly) treat them with respect and as valued members of society. Therefore they get up everyday, ride the train, buy lunch, pay taxes……do all the things that keep them connected to society. The population as a whole is healthier. That fact plus the fact that they have no long term unemployment benefits and a small jail population means everyone works.

    Re Everyone being Japanese: The Japanese census form has no “racial” component. Just “Nationality”. Therefore if you are ethnically Korean (say your grandparents were bought to Japan as slaves in WWII) you still tick “Japanese” on the census. Even the Govt has no idea of the true proportion of the population that is truly ethnically Japanese.

    Re Suicide: Japan does not perform autopsies as a matter of course. Many many deaths are attributed to “suicide” here that are not. Unless the cops catch someone standing over a body with a bloody knife or someone sees you clutching your heart, slumping over the wheel and driving into a bridge pylon, they just label EVERYTHING as suicide. There was a Minister here who “committed suicide” the day before he was meant to testify in a corruption case as a witness. He “jumped” off his balcony. No witnesses. How did they know it was suicide? Well, because his shoes were neatly lined up on the outside balcony. Someone picked him up, tossed him over and then lined up his shoes? Nope. “Suicide”. Happens all the time.

    1. ScottS

      Sounds familiar…


      Tracy Lawrence, the notary public who blew the whistle on a massive foreclosure fraud scheme, was found dead in her Las Vegas home on Nov. 28, MSNBC reported.

      Cause of death has not yet been determined, but Officer Jacinto Rivera, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said the case was not being investigated as homicide. She was 43.

      Witnesses commit suicide all the time. No need to investigate!

  22. Fiver

    1) As noted by Constant, Japan is under very severe economic and social stress. It’s corporate, for-life employment model has been effectively destroyed by its own bubble burst (btw: Japan’s bubble was largely due to inability to invest its huge surpluses productively outside the country – the US and rest of the West were exceptionally hostile to Japanese success and WTO-type trade/investment rules were but a glint in Goldman’s eye in the ’80’s) but also the intense globalization explosion in the 2 decades since. Were it not for these enormous US and Chinese bubbles, Japan would’ve been in serious crisis well before now. Savings is about to turn negative and stay there for quite some time as the older generation starts to spend JGB rather than purchase them. Should Japan fail to deliver substantial trade surpluses for any length of time, it is in deep, deep trouble, and absent a vigorous global rebound, that day is coming soon.

    But note: this is not a consequence of employment strategy, rather the simple fact that Japan ran smack up against the limits of US tolerance for real competitors – especially defeated and still garrisoned ones.


    2) “Growth” should be jettisoned completely – not just because it’s more than evident that economies such as that of the US can “grow” while disparities and societal well-being get worse and worse, but because “growth” as defined and operating in debt-based capitalism is premised on unlimited pie, no physical or environmental restraints of any sort – which is just plain crazy. In only 100 years we have turned oil, water, and newly cultivated (habitat destroying) land into another 6 billion humans, all living longer, all wishing to consume at the obscenely wasteful levels of the top fifth (both from a global perspective and within the developed world). Anyone who believes we can actually support 9 billion by mid-century is in an alternate universe.

    3) We keep “innovating” people out of work through huge corporate-induced change aimed at meeting the desires of the advantaged minority faster than small business can find useful, productive, and REWARDING things for them to do and still somehow make money. How is someone cleaning a motel room for minimum wage (or less) supposed to believe in any meaningful way that she/he is valued, is on an equal footing with the guest, etc., compared to that same individual’s sense of value as part of a family farm, or in working communities of old (lumber, mining, fishing, milling, manufacturing “towns”)?

    It seems to me that if we were actually interested in making life better for half the population, employed and unemployed, we’d make some sort of effort to construct an economy wherein what they have to offer is valued because we ALL depend on it – not sit in our offices or towers thinking up new ways to first redundify them, then just hand it off to “government” to figure out what to do with them, if anything, like they were so many surplus chickens.

    1. James

      Affirmed. And your “net worth” is? Undervalued (by current standards at least) for sure.

      Good stuff.

  23. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, I hope you will have a leading role in the revolution. Your involvement with the INET is significant. My replies on NC blogs suggest leading roles you might play, center stage in your turn. You are an important model for us as a “peer of illustrious men” in C21–a “woman of virtu” in Machiavelli’s best sense.

    Your time has come.

  24. Ransome

    I don’t you need a revolution, you need to update, expand and revitalize a book published by the Life Extension Institute called “How to live”. Create a 26 volume Book of Knowledge about better living in today’s society. Then convince people to try it out. Wikipedia is probably 3/4s of the way there, providing the background material for the “How to” section. The problem with revolutions is you need to prototype first. The Neocon-Neoliberals put their agents in key places and then overturned the status quo, creating a lot of destruction, displacement, derailment and disparity as exceptional America expanded globally pursuing free market Imperialism or domestically, predatory capitalism. We don’t need any more stealth regime changes.

    For example of best practices, business might employ an additional 10% of an optimal workforce to provide needed jobs to maintain the country at maximum employment, if maximum employment is a preference. In fact only 5% of those jobs may be occupied with maximum employment. These jobs may be dispersed across workers as mentoring time. Twenty percent of group’s workload is mentoring new workers, cross training, or instructing new managers. These jobs are not productive nor make-work and will have a payback period measured in years. Call it a college within a company, “how to live” within the company. We had this informally where I worked, back in the days when companies invested in workers and cross trained them.

    When workers became costs and liabilities, these trained people were able to start their own very successful businesses the day after the severance check arrived, or they worked independently. Those that followed were not trained, they were consumed and eventually their positions outsourced. When they got their severance, they were shell-shocked and in a fix because they were micro specialized and no one wanted them and even if hired, there was no chance for advancement.

    I read a post yesterday complaining of the business unfriendly Administration and how government needs to work with business to provide the skilled workers business requires and to provide business incentives. Well, business got what they wanted and deserved, incompetent management and a shortage of trained workers. Like land, workers require a certain amount of husbandry.

  25. tech98

    cutting senior pay to preserve manning

    It’ll be a frosty frigging day in hell before that happens in a US corporation.

  26. Leverage

    Humanity should aim to eliminate employment not to encourage it. Self-employment and creative work is encouraging, but the current structure just perpetuates the status quo of stupidity.

    With increasing productivity and decreasing resources, and a new demographic trend ion developed nations, the consumption society is plain stupid, ‘increasing aggregate demand’ is a done deal, and we don’t need useless jobs provided by governments creating new layers of inefficient burocracy like most of the FIRE sector consist in the private sector (economy of bubble speculators, bankers, lawyers and other energy wasting jobs).

    Move forward.

Comments are closed.