[Econ Talk] Daron Acemoglu on Shared Prosperity and Good Jobs

Daron Acemoglu on Shared Prosperity and Good Jobs

09/09/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=80607733
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Acemogluprosperity.mp3

Economist and author Daron Acemoglu of MIT discusses with EconTalk host Russ Roberts the challenge of shared prosperity and the policies that could bring about a more inclusive economy. Acemoglu argues for the importance of good jobs over redistribution and makes the case for the policies that could lead to jobs and opportunities across skill levels.

Listen Date: 2019-11-27 to 2019-11-28

Notes:

  • Maybe UBI as opposed to jobs is more popular among the young, because we are accustomed to leisure abundance rather than leisure scarcity. Instead of 99 channels with nothing on, we’ve got 1 channel (Netflix) with everything on and an infinite queue.
  • Look, I get that the issue of CPI deflators and quality is important, but I think the meat of what Daron Acemoglu had to say was good jobs vs bad jobs, and they spent barely any time on that.
  • This is tangential, but every time UBI etc come up, I remember the Google engineer who quit and joined a startup which “focuses on the future of work and dignity without jobs”. I wish that startup well, assuming I understood what it was talking about. And I wish I could remember that guy’s name. Oh, right, Yonatan Zunger! Let’s go take a look. The startup is Humu. Somehow I imagined that it was going to be working on liberating people from their jobs being their only source of meaning. Clearly not; but maybe somebody else can start working on it?
  • Star Trek imagined that everybody would just become artists or musicians or craftsmen since replicators would make everything.
  • I wish Daron Acemoglu had given his examples of what he considers as government success in transformative technologies. Just green tech?
  • OK, let me see if I’ve got his definition of a good job straight, and the sequence. Sequence is: as a shareholder / manager I want to maximise shareholder value. Therefore, I structure my investment and automation and skills requirements such that wages occupy a lower share; so I also hire only lower wage workers.
  • The part which wasn’t clear is why lower investment automatically means lower scale and lower wages
  • Speaking from personal experience, getting out of the low skills – low wages – low productivity is such a challenge that it might be a trap. I’d love to have highly productive, highly skilled (but fewer in number) workers at my factory, but there’s no clear path to get there.
  • Interesting point about how minimum wages are less distorting than unions. Maybe it’s not so much that they distort less but that they distort in predictable ways.

 

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