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Russ in Redding: The Human Face of The End of Work

“The end of work” structural unemployment will not be solved with failed policies. We as a nation need a Plan B: social innovation aimed at rebuilding autonomy and community.

Those who have been jobless in this “jobless recovery” or in previous recessions know how dispiriting and crushing it is to be unable to find paying work. It’s remarkably easy to discuss tens of millions of unemployed people in the abstract, and quite a different matter to respond to the human face of “the end of work” structural scarcity of jobs.

If you are unemployed, then you must respond to the natural cycle of despair and anxiety you will feel. If you have an income, or job, then you may have the opportunity to respond to an individual who is personally experiencing the consequences of sustained, grinding joblessness.

I was jobless (and income-less) during both the 1973-4 and 1981-2 recessions, and was down to less than $100 on more than one occasion.

Our problems far exceed anything resolvable with a “class war” mindset, but it is nonetheless instructive that a recent study found wealthy people tend to be very self-satisfied with their own merit while lacking empathy for those without their connections: The wealthy lack empathy, are self-centered: Because the rich gloss over the ways family connections, money and education helped, they come to denigrate the role of government and vigorously oppose taxes to fund it.

As I have made clear here many times, Plan A–millions of jobs appearing out of thin air, magically called into existence by the incantations of cargo-cult Keynesians and their Wall Street banker brethren who think all our structural unemployment will go away if only the Federal Reserve shoves another couple trillion dollars into the banks and speculators’ hands every year–has failed. We need a Plan B, and we have no models for Plan B.

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