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The waste of human potential is staggering. The purpose of the economy should be to enable making full use of it. Instead we focus on profit.



You have to work out a system, then, to figure out who pays to employ the people doing unprofitable work. Not as easy as it sounds.


The government should become a temporary employer of last resort for workers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. They could clean up parks, tutor children, paint over graffiti, update public records, provide child care for other workers, etc. Stuff that would be of value to society but which we often can't afford to pay regular government workers to do. This would help to keep unemployed people in the workforce and doing something productive while they retrain for jobs in higher demand.

And we should subsidize vocational training to a greater extent so that students aren't forced to take on financially crippling loans.


All of the examples you gave of jobs that government should be paying people to do are jobs that are already done in the private sector. Tutoring and child care alone are very large industries.

The biggest issue with your proposal is that if those employees paid by the government to do these jobs are paid less than the private sector, you'll put the private sector out of business. If they're paid the same or better, you would need strong incentives to make them go find a different job instead of keeping a market rate job that is assured to never go away.


You could just as well argue that we should eliminate existing government jobs and contract them out to create more private sector businesses. It's just a matter of degree.

I would propose that the temporary government employees be paid minimum wage. This isn't intended to be permanent.


That minimum wage government child care worker would put a whole bunch of private sector child care workers out of a job because the government can sell their child care services for cheaper than that for profit child care company can even ignoring the fact that the government run child care will be entirely tax payer funded.

There's quite a few jobs for which the government rightfully has a monopoly. I certainly wouldn't want the fire/police forces to be private. We had that and saw the problems it created. Same goes for the military. I'm not aware of an example of a private IRS or judicial system at a national level but I can't possibly see that going well either.

So yes it's a matter of degree but I disagree with you strongly on where to draw the line.


Lots of things are profitable but never absurdly and increasingly profitable, which is the trap we are now in.

There’s no credit given for having a tidy business with steady profit. Instead you have to have “growth” and other this-quarter-must-be-better-than-last-quarter-or-else crap that “investors” want.


What sort of credit are you looking for? There are millions of tidy small businesses with steady profit. Just because you don't see newspaper articles about them doesn't mean they don't exist. Look around.

Small businesses are often able to get credit in the form of bank loans once they have established a track record of profitability.


> but never absurdly and increasingly profitable

You are in a tech bubble. Absurd profitability is not required elsewhere.


Yes but also the entire definition of "profitable" vs "unprofitable" work is messed up.

Simple example: The real, measurable costs of pollution - illness, polluted drinking water, etc - are externalized and so companies doing said polluting are "profitable." Would they still be profitable if those costs were not externalized? I suspect not.

Similarly I suspect there are externalities not being accounted for, for self-interested reasons on the parts of those collecting the profit, when assessing which types of work are profitable or not.


Hmm, in your incentive system, human exterminator might be the most profitable job title.


> The purpose of the economy should be to enable making full use of it. Instead we focus on profit.

Please define what "making full use of it" means, without referring to profit.

Because without that definition your sentence doesn't actually say anything.


Here's a radical idea: get rid of the stock market and public ownership of stock.

The only way to become an owner of a company is by being an employee. Essentially, all companies become co-ops. Investment of capital would happen through long-term relationships with banks, not through selling pieces of the company off to creeps who want outrageous returns at the expense of the employees/customers.

Instead of short-term gains, people now focus on 10, 20, and 50-year plans. Employees can democratically elect their leadership (or any other internal system can be set up).

The stock market and public ownership in general seems like an incredible waste of resources and focus.


I don't think these two things have to be mutually exclusive. Much of the retirement savings people do have is invested in the stock market. I created tons of wealth for Americans, it's just not distributed fairly. I'd like to see more Americans represented by unions. Unfortunately, the recent Supreme Court decision will make that much more difficult. Germany strikes me as good example of letting people share in the economic growth of their country. Some businesses are employee owned, many are unionized, and union reps make up some of the board members on public companies. That kind of thing is almost unthinkable in the U.S. but it benefits the average person greatly.


Human Potential is worthless if it is not profitable. A lot of third world countries have jobs programs where they pay one group to dig holes and another group to fill up those holes.

What US currently lacks is the entrepreneurs who would come up with new products and services and then employe the unemployed, old people etc. But given the restrictions on immigration of highly skilled individual this is going to be tough to achieve.


The education system and social expectations have not changed WRT entrepreneurship since the pre-1950s era, so naturally a model designed for producing cannon fodder factory workers in 1900 isn't going to work well in a 2020 economy. In that way the first half of your comment is correct. It'll be a cold day in hell when corporate funded clickbait journalism permits anything positive to be written about entrepreneurship. All big government retraining programs revolve around giving tax credits to big corporations for participating in taxpayer funded programs to retrain people to work for those big corporations. In exchange for campaign donations of course. Its always a scam, and its never to primarily benefit the individual participants.

The problem with the second half of your comment is its multiple applications of the magic dirt theory, in that somehow there exists a magic dirt in some countries that grows great entrepreneurs who are also magically forbidden from success in their own lands, yet supposedly magic dirt in other countries produces the opposite effect of people who cannot create business while in the conditions for great success. And somehow the solution to this magic soil fertilization issue is to take a solution that works for 1 person, such as moving around the world, and scaling it by 7.6 Billion to move the entire world population to Silicon Valley. The exact biochemistry is also mysterious, in that moving people around is implied to be a perm fix, although its more likely that moving people from "where X is broken" to "where Y is broken" will merely result in a larger quantity of "where Y is broken" people after a short amount of time, essentially re-enacting the slave trade to harvest a perpetual supply of human capital. Or maybe its a weird varient of old fashioned imperial era colonies complete with mercantilism. Move all the unemployed orange growers from Florida to Alaska, the only economic result will be a larger number of unemployed orange growers in Alaska rather than FL. Likewise there is no number of experienced profitable Maine fishing boat captains adequate to import and create a lobster fishing boom in Nevada, South Dakota, or Wyoming. Problems that don't scale have to be solved at the root of the problem, rather than brute force. On an individual basis, of course its nice when immigrating entrepreneurs work out, but for a variety of reasons it's not a scalable or long term solution to the very large scale overall economic problem.


A lot of third world countries have jobs programs where they pay one group to dig holes and another group to fill up those holes.

That pretty much describes most of humanity, resource extraction to landfill with a brief stop off in our living rooms.


Immigrant entrepreneurs aren’t going to magically start hiring elderly and other under employed cohorts.


No, may be they will hire all the young ones and native born will hire the elderly. The idea is to unleash creativity.




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