This transcript of President Obama’s speach published in the Social Europe Journal is a MUST READ. Check it out!
via Inequality Is The Defining Issue Of Our Time – Social Europe Journal.
As usual there are fine words from President Obama but the acid test is that inequality has increased significantly on his watch.
If you interested in other recent important articles on inequality see an excellent blog from Paul Krugman and his followed up, both published in the NYT. For another perspective, see the viewpoint of Oxford economist, Simon Wren-Lewis; Wren-Lewis’s blog examines inequality in the UK.
For convenience, let me restate my views on Wren-Lewis’ article:
Whilst I recognize the thrust of Wren-Lewis’ argument, I disagree that the right wing are necessarily painting poverty as laziness.
Surely, the less fortunate are suffering from having the wrong skills in an increasingly globalized labor market? Most public and private sector organizations have endeavored to simplify their product or service offering – this has led to widespread outsourcing and off-shoring. Along with technological improvements, there is just not the same need for unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.
On the other hand, I strongly endorse Wren-Lewis’ views that UK austerity has been excessive. Recent statistics have shown that investment, both in the public and private sectors in the UK, has collapsed in 2013 – this is because George Osborne did not provide the fiscal incentives. Stimulating inflation in private property with government guarantees is a poor substitute for real investment.
Large swathes of the unemployed are effectively unemployable. One solution is to create more jobs, with investment in infrastructure etc. BUT in the main, the problem is to do with a mismatch of available labour and demand from business. The skills mismatch is often the reason that highly-skilled immigrants get the UK’s available jobs.
Whether it’s a left or right-wing UK government, there are some clear things that are required.
The UK Government needs to take a hard, strategic look at UK competitiveness, identifying sectors for growth and sectors for slow withdrawal. The growth sectors should be encouraged to invest for growth and exports. Most importantly, there should be a clear strategy to increase the UK labour market‘s skill-set to meet growth sectors. Sectors that are effectively the “dogs”, like UK healthcare, need to be heavily transformed based on global best-practice. Jobs in the “dogs” industries need serious attention to increase productivity or be replaced by outsourcing, offshoring or mechanization.
Similarly, a strategic review is required of the indigenous labour market, analyzing age, skills, location, potential for relocation (including offshore) – two important sectors that need urgent attention are the millennials and the baby-boomers.
Finally, if you are interested in a response to my own recommendations above, see John Gelmini’s proposed policy recommendations for the UK.
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President Obama is good at making speeches talking about “defining issues” and failing to deliver on his promises.
Dr Alf has already said as much in more measured words than I would tend to use but the issue of widening inequality has arisen from a series of deliberate acts including the banking crisis which have been designed to remove money and assets from 99.9% of the population and transfer them to the tiny plutocracy that remains.
President Obama, those that put him into power, and the heads of Europe and the UK, have all connived to make this happen and to conceal from the vast mass of their respective peoples what has been done and what is still going on (the process has not stopped and is going to get much worse).
What none of these leaders or the heads of big business will talk about is the rate of job destruction through computerization, robotics(Google has just purchased Boston Dynamics which makes fighting robots for the Pentagon and DARPA), AI call center software, expert systems, speech recognition, automation and the elimination of blue collar manufacturing processes.
The pace of this is so fast that even efficiently run Governments and good education systems cannot keep up which leads us to the problem of what to do with the economically impoverished who are now rendered economically useless and what to do about the next generation of young people (the so called Millennials).
So far 2 years worth of Millennials have been largely sidelined and now we have David Cameron talking about the benefits of “volunteering”.
Young people eventually become older people who marry, form relationships, have children and buy houses.
Without money, they cannot do this yet Cameron, Obama and our tired European elite act as if these problems did not exist.
Currently, a “lot of frogs are being boiled” but no-one is prepared to say so or that without changes in policy inequality will widen to the point that Bertrand Russell, a member of the Committee of 300 wrote about and dreamed of, which was that the poor and disenfranchised would become a separate species.