Friday, July 17, 2015

Rumours of capitalism's death are greatly exaggerated

Paul Mason spins a compelling yarn at the Guardian site today about how we have entered the era of "postcapitalism." Capitalism as Adam Smith knew it died some time ago, and our smart-phones and smart apps are taking us into a brave new world wherein a new generation of humanity will use their smartphones to ring up... a brave new world!

A sharing economy! You know... like with Uber allowing you to share a ride!

Or something...


That "brave new world" of which Mason pontificates is old news out here in the colonies. Regular readers of the Globe and Mail will be familiar with my favorite economist, Todd Hirsch, and his manifold ruminations about how unemployed loggers will reinvent the economy once their pogey runs out. They'll be inventing new ways of delivering pizza!

And just today Hirsch was joined by Philip Cross, who was given prime Globe and Mail real estate to lecture the readers on how great it is that the economy only provides part time jobs. Cross is way ahead of Mason; in this post-capitalist era, most folks only want part time jobs!

Sure they do!

And self employment is increasingly the choice of older workers!

Well, ya, but that's because a) they just lost their job, b) their pogey ran out, and c) there are no real jobs for 55 year olds. Anywhere.

I guess you could face this reality honestly, and admit that capitalism is failing more and more of us every day, or you could try to paint a happy face on this tragedy and claim we're witnessing the birth pangs of some brave new post-capitalist world.

Mason at least has the courage to suggest that our transition to this new reality could take decades.

Here's a suggestion; maybe, while we're trying to negotiate these jobless decades between the old world and the new, our governments could provide an annual guaranteed income to those who find themselves disenfranchised in the interim.

When Mason, Hirsch, and Cross are advocating for a guaranteed annual income, I'll be joining them in heralding the brave new world.

In the meantime, I'm not holding my breath waiting for the death of capitalism.

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