Google CEO Larry Page was asked how society should deal with unemployment that may arise from technological advances.It's amazing how much foolishness can be wrapped into just a few sentences. Let's start with the "society" chimera. A society does not "deal" with anything. A society is not some kind of thing that has the ability to think, choose and act. Human individuals act.
His answer is surprisingly French. He says companies should consider hiring two part time workers to do one full time job. This way more people are employed, which is better for society.
If there are individuals who no longer have a job, due to technological advances, it is not a problem for "society." It's a problem for those individuals. Everyone else can carry on with satisfying consumer without a hiccup.
In fact, there are so many variables at play, that it may not be a problem for some individuals who have lost their job because of a technological advance. Suppose some of the layoffs have accumulated a large amount of savings and were going to retire soon anyway? Losing the job just sped up the process for them. They get to hit the Florida sunshine sooner then anticipated! Suppose there are other individuals who hated the job that they lost, and the layoff breaks their inertia, leading to a search for more satisfying work?
The scenarios are endless...There isn't one problem that "society" must fix.
What is the best scenario for those who have lost their jobs due to technological advances? Surely, one can giggle at Larry Page's suggestion that companies hire two part-time workers to do one full-time job! Wasting resources and human energy are not the answer! With that kind of answer, Larry Page would have no problem getting a government position somewhere.
The best scenario for those who have been laid off is complete economic freedom. That is, they should have a completely unfettered opportunity to work for whoever they want, at whatever price they and their new employer agree upon. They should be able to start their own business without asking anyone's permission. They should not be forced to pay anyone for any type of licensing fee.
Employers, likewise, could hire whoever they want, for whatever reason they want. They wouldn't be forced to hire anyone because they are a certain age, a certain race or a certain sex. They could hire a person for the lowest wage that they could find someone to agree to. After all, prospective employees are at the same time trying to earn the highest wage that they can find an employer to agree to.
Under economic freedom, the market forces of supply and demand set all prices. As long as the agreements are voluntary, and no aggressive force is used, there can be no "exploitation" from either employer or employee. Employers can fire employees for whatever reason they want, and employees can likewise quit whenever they want. As long as contractual obligations are not broken, there's no need to consult a lawyer.
This is called liberty & peace. Under such a scenario, losing a job does not have to be a life-crushing event.
Unfortunately, we live in a time of force & coercion. The monopolist of aggressive force, called "government," has created bottlenecks to new employment and new jobs at every turn.
What if you don't have the skills to earn government's arbitrary "minimum wage"? You're forced into unemployment! No one can legally hire you for the skills that you have. Do you to become a real estate agent, a financial consultant, a doctor, lawyer, a hairdresser, and countless other occupations? You better have enough money to pay those licensing fees.
Lemonade stand? Do you have a permit for that?
Want to start a business? Have you filed every B.S. form under the Sun correctly? Read that fine print carefully. One false statement on that form, and fines will rain down on you faster than you can say "Proud to be an American"!
Force & coercion ultimately lead to a point where the first question a person asks when getting laid off is: "I wonder how much government will give me for unemployment." Instead of unemployment being a natural part of life, it becomes the equivalent of getting shot in the leg.
Government only makes things worse .... "Society" is an illusion and a statist euphemism for government .... and Larry Page surely doesn't have a clue.
So where's the door out of this mess?
It's called liberty & peace. There are no shortcuts.
Chris Rossini is author of Set Money Free: What Every American Needs To Know About The Federal Reserve. Follow @chrisrossini on Twitter.