If you see just ONE graph this decade…
Dec 8, 2011 – Unsurprising, but jaw-dropping – this graph which George Monbiot linked to a few weeks ago. A continual rise in productivity, matched by a rise in wages… until around 1980. Hold in mind the perpetual rise in productivity, and consider…
Polly Toynbee recently tweeted about Robert Skidelsky’s Occupy LSX talk: “Modern capitalism over produces work and under produces leisure…Skidelsky speaking sense… says 25 hr [working] w[ee]k… Citizens income for work/leisure choice.”
In his new book (on Keynes & the economic crisis), Skidelsky quotes a paper by Thomas Palley, which argues that under the neoliberal model (starting around 1980): “the commitment to full employment was abandoned as inflationary, with the result that the link between productivity growth and wages was severed.” With productivity growing and wages falling in real terms, consumer demand was built upon increasingly high levels of household debt.
All true, of course. But what many accounts leave out is the staggering level of technological advance since 1980. (Advances which ultimately wouldn’t exist without public funding/infrastructure). This enormous technological component of productivity doesn’t translate into wages for human labour, hence the necessity of solutions such as a Citizen’s Income.
It’s good to see commentators such as Robert Skidelsky and Polly Toynbee talking about a Citizen’s Income. This is the same proposal that goes under the names Basic Income, UBI, National Dividend, etc (I’ve written about these proposals in more detail here). I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about Citizen’s Income in the months/years to come.
Meanwhile, I think the graph should be tattooed onto our brains…
Sources of graphs: