avatar
Soc student…Sixth


> In his model, Albert argues for balanced job complexes instead of a labor market.

Balanced job complexes replace corporate division of labor – not labor markets. Hiring and also firing of workers is not a market exchange because the terms are not governed by competitive bidding…it is planned, but they do exist in a parecon.

> I am confused about how different firms are able to recruit interested and qualified employees without a labor market.

You are confused about what a labor market is – what you think is needed – people applying for jobs, being interviewed, etc. etc. — exists in a parecon.

> For example, suppose after going through the iterative planning process, hospitals realize there are not enough nurses to care for the sick (or, rather, not enough medical employees whose jobs partly entail nursing functions.) They could increase the wages of these nurse-like workers in the hopes of attracting more applicants, the rational being the nursing must be undesirable work, therefore requiring more sacrifice, and therefore warranting higher pay.

First of all, people who nurse have, overall, a balanced job complex – not worse or better than others. It may be that nursing tasks become more onerous for some reason…in which case if they couldn’t be balanced they would have to be remunerated, as you say, but more likely the balancing would just alter to take it into account.

What happens is there are simply more nurse jobs – but there will be offsettingly less jobs elsewhere. The plan doesn’t plan to have more workers than there are.

> But in this instance it seems that the social utility of the job’s outputs, as much as the inherent unpleasantness of the job, is causing the scarcity of employees and the necessary increase in wages.

There is no necessary increase in wages…but you are right that the desire for the output, relative to others, is what causes a shift in output up, relative to others, and thus need for more nurses.

> The shortage of nurses stems from the combination of the job’s unpleasantness and its importance to consumers.

No – the need for more people doing nursing than last year is a function of society having more need for that output, the care…but the value of it to each person need not change. And whether the work has become more or less pleasant is another matter as well.

But yes, if it became less pleasant, and the labor wasn’t reapportioned for balance, and if it wasn’t remunerated for the extra onerousness, people would want to switch out and there would be a shortage even with no change in demand for the product…and we would realize what happened and make changes.

> The value of outputs, Albert maintains, however, is not a morally sound basis on which to determine pay.

Correct. If you nurse someone and save his life, we don’t pay you the value of the life…

> My basic concern here is that the participatory economy seems unable to efficiently respond to shifts in demand for labor from sector to sector, and from firm to firm. This brings me to my second point:

This is perfectly reasonsable except, as with all the other cases, why wouldn’t the student say on pages so and so albert takes up this issue and says such and such – but I find it uncompelling for these reasons…

? 2. How to get people to act like Albert wants them to act? In the case listed above, it seems to me that a firm experiencing a shortage of labor, if the employees working there had in interest in rectifying the situation (of course, they don’t have such an interest since they nor anyone else owns the firm, but assuming for now that they do),

But of course they have an interest. If the firm is not doing socially valuable work they don’t get remunerated. If it doesn’t fulfill its output with its assets, likewise. And so on.

? then they would want to raise the wages for the jobs that are unfilled. But this move, as explained above, would violate the principles of parecon. There are countless other occasions where the parecon system only works when people act the way that Albert wants them to act.

More accurately, there are countless instances when parecon, like any system, only works if people act as the system’s roles require of them. True enough, and not a criticism. If the student wants to make a case that people will have reason to violate the role expectations and requirements of the system they are working within, fair enough…but the case hasn’t been made, or even offered.

? How do we ensure that workers are rewarding people for effort and not for bribery? How do we ensure that people aren’t trading on the black market? In general, what are the specific incentives people have for making the system work?

If these students came up with these worries on their own – that is, if they didn’t copy them from the book – then why can’t they read the answers offered and have an opinion about them, critical or not, is my question?

? (We need not assume that people are entirely self-interested, but I think it is important NOT to assume that people will be marketable more altruistic under parecon than they are under capitalism.)

Parecon doesn’t assume altruism, whatever precisely that is, or any other general behavioral pattern. You can’t read the book closely, I think, or even loosely, and not read that. What it does is create a context that rewards and facilitates and propels behavior that is quite social, rather than a rat race.

> Too many times, it seemed like Albert was saying, “In parecon people would do this” or “people would do that,” without explaining why they would, at least without the strong arm of the state forcing them to.

I would love an example from this student – quoting the book saying a person would do x or y – and then showing that there is no accompanying description, probably right there, but certainly nearby, of why the claim is made. It would be a debit, each time it occurred, I agree. But there is no evidence here it has occurred at all.

Leave a comment