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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon D. Wisman, 2012. "The Growth Trap, Ecological Devastation, and the Promise of Guaranteed Employment," Working Papers 2012-17, American University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2012-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    5. 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.
    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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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