Skip to main content

Creating jobs without economic growth

Note: quick translation of the original in spanish.

Interview with Cospedal ELPAIS.COM
I would like to make some considerations regarding Mrs. Cospedal (president of Castilla la Mancha) interview.

One idea is, that to create jobs we need to work more hours. Certainly not just Cospedal says this, any friend or family member may think that too. But I do not think it's that simple. There is a problem of productivity in Spain, it seems so, but paradoxically we work the most hours in Europe, maybe Greece too. I do not reach the same conclusion. There are other problems that can affect it, such as the extravagant Spanish work schedules. In Portugal they have a 42.5 hours per week schedule. She advocates for something similar in Spain.

These statements, "we have to work more hours" are great slogans for elections, very hearty, but I do not think they would work as you may expect. The fact is that without growth the current economic system can not generate jobs. While the economy is declining you make people work more hours, production which is decreasing is divided among fewer people ultimately generating more unemployment. To me these statements make me imagine the Mayans sacrificing more people to appease the "wrath" of the gods that came in the form of drought. I think it's a superstition. This crisis has many causes, but you could resume that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. Of course better or worse management, the banking issue, but really everything is related, is essentially the ecology, resources, energy. This website provides a lot of documentation and links to know more. As we are currently overshooting, and the current system requires exponential growth to not become dysfunctional, this is creating a huge tension. The chance to continue economic growth without an increase in the energy input is 0. We may still have a periods of economic growth, but these will become shorter and shorter in time and the periods of recession will become longer and longer.

In the face of the process ending economic growth as we know it the chances to create employment do not go through the measures adopted and surely to be adopted. The solution is painful for many, is to work fewer hours, and distribute that work and that wealth better. The solution is a good degrowth. It's going to get tough. We will likely reach 6 million unemployed, and the end it's not in sight. How long are we going to be able to continue paying subsidies? Are we condemning unemployed to a permanent situation? I am not in favor of subsidies if they can work. In an economy that is going to decline distributing work is the most humane solution. What about people who have mortgages, how are they going to deal with this? The system is broke, we should be talking of partial defaults of everyone, as they will have to work less hours. We are rescuing banks, but why not rescue people instead? Who makes the first move? For it is clear that the elites are happy for now, the only time shit is for the people below. In a sense it is like the prisoner's dilemma.

I worry about that we are not identifying the causes and consequences of this crisis. We are wasting time, and the consequences will aggravate if we persist in the impossible.