The labor market in France has been offering less and less job security for decades. Today, 85 percent of new hires are temporary employees and the duration of their work contracts keeps shrinking — 70 percent of new contracts are for one month or less.
JUNE 8, 2016
They replaced horses, didn’t they? That’s how the late, great economist Wassily Leontief responded 35 years ago to those who argued technology would never really replace people’s work.
As the idea sinks in that humans as workhorses might also be on the way out, what happens if the job market stops doing the job of providing a living wage for hundreds of millions of people? How will the economy spread money around, so people can afford to pay the rent?
What if, say, the bottom quarter of the population in the United States and Europe simply couldn’t find a job at a wage that could cover the cost of basic staples? What if smart-learning machines took out lawyers and bankers? Or even, God forbid, journalists and economists?
Last November, Lawrence H. Summers — a former Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton... made an unlikely admission: Perhaps economists were not always the smartest people in the room.
In a world in which many Americans do not work during large chunks of their lives, we might have to conceive of Social Security and disability much more broadly than we do today.
That, Mr. Summers said, “could start to look like a universal income.”
JUNE 7, 2016
Say, for example, 20 percent of all such profits were split equally among all citizens, starting the month they turn eighteen.
In effect, this would be a basic minimum income for everyone.
The sum would be enough to ensure everyone a minimally decent standard of living – including money to buy the technologies that would free them up from the necessity of working.
Anyone wishing to supplement their basic minimum could of course choose to work – even though, as noted, most jobs will pay modestly.
This outcome would also be good for the handful of billionaire executives and owner-investors, because it would ensure they have customers with enough money to buy their labor-saving gadgets.
Such a basic minimum would allow people to pursue whatever arts or avocations provide them with meaning, thereby enabling society to enjoy the fruits of such artistry or voluntary efforts.
We would thereby create the kind of society John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d achieve by 2028 – an age of technological abundance in which no one will need to work.