Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Monday, March 7, 2011

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE

Faithful readers of this blog will recall the fun we had some while back with what logicians call The Fallacy of Composition. I invoked it to explain why education is not the solution to the growing and disastrous income inequality in the United States, and then several readers spent a good deal of time and effort correcting my errors in the explanation of the Fallacy [although they graciously conceded that the thrust of my argument was undiminished by those errors.] Now, as Marinus notes, no less a notable than Paul Krugman has worked his way around to the same conclusion, although not, as it happens, for the same reason. [See his column in the NYTIMES today.]

Krugman points out that many of the relatively well-paid jobs now held by college graduates are either (a) replaceable by automated computerized systems or (b) easily outsourced to comparably well-educated but much cheaper workers located elsewhere in the world. [My favorite example, which he does not cite, is the outsourcing to India of the task of reading MRI and XRay results, with no noticeable delay whatsoever. I find it genuinely weird that a technician in Chapel Hill can perform an MIRI scan on my sinuses -- say -- and a little later receive back from Mumbai or wherever the report that I seem to have a blocked sinus over my right eye.]

Krugman then goes on, I am delighted to say, to draw the correct conclusion, which is that if we want to improve the wages and living conditions of American workingmen and women, we need to do it from the bottom up by labor solidarity and collective bargaining. Here is the money quote, as they say in the trendier blogs:

"So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen."

Right on! I take this to be a bit of fallout from the demonstrations now taking place in Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere across the American MidWest. Do I sense something blowin' in the wind?

3 comments:

Murfmensch said...

For the same reasons just covered here, we can't plan for full employment. Collective bargaining is a right but these collectives will have to negotiate in light of globalization and digitalization.

I think about the fifty kids in my high school who trained in architectural drawing for a couple of hours each day. They were playing by the rules and putting in the work. Of course, none of them are employed as drafters anymore.

Full employment requires making no mistakes like this.

The real answer is a guaranteed income for all, independent of employment. Such independence for all would surely have a radical impact all its own.

Mo said...

The idea of a guaranteed income, replacing our current welfare systems has actually been bandied about here in Canada a bit. But with the Tories in power federally, nothing has come of it, yet. I'm hoping that one day something does come of this idea.

Murfmensch said...

I was just at a conference in New York on BIG which had a large Canadian presence. They have gotten good press recently.

James Mulvale would be a good contact. http://www.arts.uregina.ca/dr-jim-mulvale

So too would be the group Canada Without Poverty:
http://www.cwp-csp.ca/Blog/eliminating-poverty