Productivity for Profits: Killing Off Quality Jobs

One of the problems with overripe capitalism is that as it promotes increased productivity to enhance profits, it simply kills off both unskilled and quality jobs–obviously, without dispersing throughout society the benefits of the increased productivity (or you wouldn’t increase profits–concentrated wealth).

These charts from the US Aerospace Industries show one example of capital destroying high-skill, quality work (R&D science and engineering) as it has ramped up production and profits.

This finance-led profiteering strategy–putting productivity increases on steroids and hoarding the resulting concentration of wealth–eventually results in crisis, as capital smothers to death a huge portion of its consumption base, as well as desiccates labor’s skills, innovative capacity and even its social reproduction. Consequently, capital creates the conditions whereby its profiteering strategy is largely reduced to primitive accumulation.

Primitive accumulation doesn’t just ravage non-elite capacities and the environment, it stifles entrepreneurial rationality. In “A Generation of CEOs Who Don’t Know How to Raise (Employees’) Wages,” Dean Baker dryly comments on the puzzling complaint, heard occasionally on the NYTimes and from the Democrat leadership, that the economic problem in America today is that there is a skills shortage (!):

“CEOs apparently do not know how a business is supposed to respond to the inability to find qualified workers. According to standard economics, when businesses can’t fill job openings, they are supposed to offer higher wages. If these businesses offered higher wages, then they could lure away workers from their competitors. They may also be able to attract workers from other states or even other countries. If these CEOs raised wages high enough, then these workers would be willing to work for their companies.

However, they have not chosen to raise wages to the market clearing level for some reason and therefore can’t get the workers they want. Apparently, these CEOs do not know how to raise wages.

This is a problem that could be easily remedied. The government could offer short courses to CEOs and other top executives that would teach them how to raise wages and why this would be beneficial to their firms. These raise-waging instruction sessions should not be very expensive; even the thickest CEO could probably learn how to raise workers’ wages in a day or two. Most state and local governments could afford the cost, which should be easily repaid in stronger growth when employers learn how to address their skills shortage.

Companies should not have to forego expansion and workers should not have to be unemployed just because CEOs don’t how to raise wages.”


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