24 March 2004

Federation economic policy

Matthew Yglesias says with charming directness something that has been my sentiment about what we should do about this high growth / low employment paradox in the current US economy.
I would say the answer is socialism -- have the government capture a larger share of the GDP and use that wealth to employ people. The obvious candidates here would be the hardy liberal perennials of health care and education -- sectors which, not coincidentally, are largely immune to our technology-driven productivity growth. My other proposal would be to spend more on infrastructure. Infrastructure in this country is all crappy -- if you go outside a gated community or major business district where the private sector is (at least partially) financing basic things like keeping the streets clean and non-broken and trimming the goddamn tree branches, everything is all messed up.

It doesn't need to be like that. You know those science fiction movies where everything is all shiny and clean everywhere? It's not because they developed some special technology that makes everything shiny. On the contrary, technological improvements led to productivity growth, led to the creation of wealthy societies and the government decided to harness much of that wealth toward paying people to clean and fix things. Just like in early 21st century Finland. We could do it to and I, for one, would welcome a world in which stuff wasn't broken and dirty all the time.

But I gotta ask: does that mean that the crew of the Enterprise really consists largely of janitors? I do wonder what all of those folks wandering the corridors are supposed to be doing.

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