Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon

Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon Employment Levels

How does the economy impact the number of people who have jobs or who are unemployed at any given moment? This page compares Capitalism and Parecon vis a vis implications for employment levels.

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“Child with a toy hand grenade
in Central Park, 1962″
by Dianne Arbus

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“Ferris Wheel”
by Red Grooms

Introducing Capitalist Employment Levels

In a capitalist economy, employment varies for a number of reasons. On the one hand, people change jobs for their own desires, and there is transitional unemployment. On the other, however, firms fire people. This can be warranted, as in people not doing their work — of course, their work being alientated and subordinate in most instances makes a shambles of responsibility to do it, but, that aside. Or, firms fire because they are seeking to reduce costs to maximize profits even at the expense of people’s work — by exploiting others still more.

Unemployment, in capitalism, is a whip wielded against workers to force their compliance with speed up and other incursions against their well being. They must put up with degradation due to the threat of the even worse condition — no job at all. This means, as well, that the conditions of people, working people (not so much coordinators, but to an extent them too), while unemployed, needs to be much worse than their conditions while employed. It also means that once fired, it needs to be difficult for people to regain work. Thus, benefits and guards against temporary layoff must be quite limited and unemployment must be high enough to create a serious deficit of options, both of which hold in capitalism save when working class bargaining power is great enough to compel better conditions.

Introducing ParEcon Employment Levels

In a parecon, unemployment is always temporary. Generally it is due to people changing jobs, sometimes it is due to being fired — either because of incompetance at some workplace, or because a workplace had to cut back due to lack of desire for its products. Such decisions, however, are made collectively, of course — with all affected having appropriate say. Generally, people wishing for a change are the ones who decide to leave a workplace, or cut back on time working somewhere.

For all the unemployed, presumably, a parecon would provide full income benefits while in transition. Though any particular economy could choose to handle such matters any way it prefers, there is never a structural push to worsen the conditions of those who are between jobs, or to increase their number. And everyone has an interest in the insurance against unemployment that good treatment provides.

Evaluating Capitalist Employment Levels

Unemployment in capitalism reduces output, as in any economy, but it also directly reduces the quality of life of those suffering the condition, and indirectly reduces all workers’ quality of life both by the tension of the threat, and by the need to succomb to assaults that could otherwise be refuted, but for the threat to be fired.

It is about right from the point of view of owners, hurting overall output, but ensuring the profit shares will be high. It is horrible from the point of view of workers, hurting their income and status, whether they happen to be unemployed or not.

 

 

 

Evaluating ParEcon Employment Levels

Unemployment in a parecon reflects lack of socially productive involvement in a past position, or desire to find a new position. In neither case is transition between jobs a debit for the economy. Unemployment is never a whip to reduce a sector’s income, nor that of a whole class.

While various policies will exist in any particular parecon bearing on levels of support, means of changing jobs, terms under which people can leave and begin new jobs, means made available to help with training, searching, etc., there is no reason for any of these policies to be other than conceived in the interests of the entire community, and especially those who undergo temporary inconvenience in unemployment.

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