Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Fixing the Global Jobs Crisis: time to leave assumptions behind

Posted by jembendell on June 6, 2012

Mass unemployment is becoming a headache for all world leaders. At the World Economic Forums (WEF) in Davos, Bangkok and Istanbul, people were talking about how to address growing unemployment.

To find real solutions to this global jobs crisis we need to be clear on the cause of the problem. The conversations I heard at the WEF revealed widely shared yet false assumptions about key causes of unemployment. The key myths are, as follows:

Myth 1: “Unemployment is due to falling demand.”

Are people’s needs really falling? Or just the amount of money in circulation to employ people/assets to meet those needs?

Myth 2: “Unemployment is due to technology displacing human labour.”

Could we not design systems of ownership and revenue distribution so that the income from technology frees us to work creatively and caringly for each other? How can we govern technology to release us to a world of service, not a life of redundancy?

Myth 3: “Unemployment is due to the cost of hiring and firing.”

Why then do some countries with high wages and labour standards, like Scandinavia, have less % unemployment? Where would competition between nations to lower costs of hiring and firing lead us?

Myth 4: “Unemployment is due to a lack of skills and appetite for the new types of work.”

The world has more skilled labour than ever before, and more labour mobility than ever before, and many people with Masters degrees can’t get a job.

Myth 5: “Unemployment is due to the option to claim benefits.”

Why then was the existence of benefits not keeping people out of the workforce before the recession? Why do some countries with the most supportive welfare states, like Scandinavia, have less % unemployment?

These assumptions arise from a general lack of understanding about the first key function of a currency, which is to help connect assets, including people’s time, with needs. If a currency becomes scarce in an economy, then there is less ability for exchange. That means needs go unmet, and assets go underutilised. Its called unemployment.

I recorded a short interview for the social media corner of WEF in Istanbul to explain where we need to start looking for real solutions to the global jobs crisis.

3 Responses to “Fixing the Global Jobs Crisis: time to leave assumptions behind”

  1. For a currency to be ‘sustainable’ it must encourage, incentivise and reward sustainability by the individual (what gets measured gets done).
    In my experience, those of you who work in the field of alternative currencies fail to understand the importance of personalisation. When individuals can record the time they give to the community, then the community can reward the individual in return. The system simply needs to convert the time into points. Then transfer points to their ‘bank’ account for the time given to the community. It is a measure of their contribution.
    Government can then begin to link contribution to entitlement. So can business organisations. Everyone can see who deserves what.
    Fixed pricing worked well in the industrial age economy. A knowledge-based New Economy needs dynamic & personalised pricing that incentivises behaviour change.

    • Jem said

      I recommend the paper we wrote on helping sustainable currencies to scale. It describes how hundreds of “mutual credit” currencies are already influencing behaviours in sustainable ways, and how new technology enables opportunities for scale. http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/your-thoughts-helping-sustainable-currencies-to-scale/2012/05/17

      • steve said

        thanks for your work
        Aljazeera interview most illuminating
        i can help with a couple of assumptions
        expansion is the medium for the banks to temporarily escape consequences. 48 forward gears and no reverse. human population expansion, the biggest problem on earth. woe betide us if we dont find a gentle way, immediately, to reverse this. centuries of dark ages, out-and-out loss of intelligence, culture and wisdom. What underpins a reversal of pop. growth? sharing children; sharing land; decentralisation, shrinking house sizes, shrinking cities. re-establishing small pockets of wild nature everywhere in farms and towns. educating for recognition of parasitism and predation.
        you are right to fight shy of the gold standard. We have to learn not to lust after any of the facilitating mechanisms. Clutching leads to being divided and picked off. Giving and sharing is foundational in culture.
        your publicisation of the small co-ops is the best news!
        Power to you and your excellent alignment with high values

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