September 04, 2017

Professor Summers, more than unions representing the have-jobs, we need someone, anyone, representing the have-not!

Sir, Lawrence Summers, acting more like a union lobbyist, writes that "America needs its labour unions more than ever" September 4.

He does so blithely ignoring that “The shrinking of the union movement to the point where today only 6.4 per cent of private sector workers — a decline of nearly two-thirds since the late 1970s” sort of evidences an irrelevance of the unions. Does he want to make them relevant by force?

Also, when Summers writes “Consumers also appear more likely now to have to purchase from monopolies rather than from companies engaged in fierce price competition meaning that pay checks do not go as far” that squares little with the current low inflation.

Years ago, I wrote an Op-Ed titled “We need decent and worthy un-employments”. In it I argued that politicians are giving too much relative importance, and spending too many tax dollars, on creating jobs, and that it is high time to start thinking about what to do with those who will never ever have access to what we now consider is a job.

So in that respect I am certainly not too much keen on having unions fighting for those blessed by jobs, if that hurts in any way shape or form those who would want to have jobs but cannot get jobs.

Universal basic income seems to represent one alternative of how to face the challenge of structural unemployment. Finance professors would be much more useful thinking about smart ways how to fund an UBI than getting teary eyed nostalgic about union power.

Summers also writes: “The central issue in American politics is the economic security of the middle class and their sense of opportunity for their children”

Sir, anyone who keeps mum about how current risk weighted capital requirements give banks incentives to not finance the riskier future, but only to refinance the safer past has, as I see it, no right to speak about our children’s opportunities.