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The Growth Trap, Ecological Devastation, and the Promise of Guaranteed Employment

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  • Jon D. Wisman

Abstract

The legitimacy of governments in all wealthy countries critically depends upon generating employment. The most widely embraced strategy for doing so is to induce more robust economic growth. Pressure to stimulate growth at practically any cost has been greatly augmented by the current crisis. Tragically, this relentless pursuit of growth is occurring when significant coordinated international responses to the threat of ecological catastrophe are urgently needed. Humanity is institutionally and ideologically trapped in the view that not only is growth necessary for creating employment, it is the panacea for most of our problems. There is a way out of this trap: Guaranteeing employment and where necessary reskilling all capable of work. The immorality of consigning a portion of the workforce to the degradation of unemployment would be eliminated. So too would welfare and its debasement of those able to work. Guaranteed employment would also reduce inequality, the second major force behind the compulsion of growth at any cost. Freed from the social compulsion to pursue growth, humanity could more readily coordinate to address ecological devastation, perhaps the greatest challenge humanity has ever collectively faced.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by American University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012-17.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2012-17

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Web page: http://www.american.edu/cas/economics/

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Keywords: Ideology; employer of last resort; inequality; material progress vision; ecology;

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  1. Jon D. Wisman, 2008. "Household Saving, Class Identitiy, and Conspicuous Consumption," Working Papers 2008-19, American University, Department of Economics.
  2. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  3. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  4. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Antoine Godin, 2012. "Guaranteed Green Jobs: Sustainable Full Employment," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_722, Levy Economics Institute.
  6. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  7. Mathew Forstater, 2006. "Green Jobs: Public Service Employment and Environmental Sustainability," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 49(4), pages 58-72, July.
  8. L. Randall Wray, 1998. "Modern Money," Macroeconomics 9810002, EconWPA.
  9. L. Randall Wray, 1998. "Government as Employer of Last Resort: Full Employment Without Inflation," Macroeconomics 9802006, EconWPA.
  10. Leibenstein, Harvey, 1978. "General X-Efficiency Theory and Economic Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195023800, September.
  11. Jon D. Wisman & James F. Smith, 2011. "Legitimating Inequality: Fooling Most of the People All of the Time," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 974-1013, October.
  12. Jon Wisman, 2003. "The Scope and Promising Future of Social Economics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 61(4), pages 425-445.
  13. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  14. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-23.
  15. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do About It?," NBER Working Papers 5451, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Oecd, 2011. "National Broadband Plans," OECD Digital Economy Papers 181, OECD Publishing.
  17. Jon Wisman, 2010. "The Moral Imperative and Social Rationality of Government-Guaranteed Employment and Reskilling," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 68(1), pages 35-67.
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