Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A link for Mr Reed.


(I did think of posting this in a comment to MW's "Women Still Do A Lot More Housework Than Men, Study Finds" post - but overall, I thought that'd be a waste)


DBC Reed said...

(It would be a shame to disappoint you.)
The original Keynes' prediction that we would be working less than half the hours as now, thanks to the wonders of technology, warrants an explanation as to why it has n't happened.But it is the techno enthusiasts who should supply it:for those who have read Major Douglas, it is obvious that it hasn't happened because industry needed to pay people to work long hours to supply the demand that would pay for goods produced.Worstofall tries the old switcheroo by implying that techno-beneficence, the dream that machines could be the slaves toiling away to support a prosperous Athenian democracy (as envisaged by Oscar Wilde most notably) has somehow by-passed industrial production and gone into "production" in the home.But every attempt has been made to get women out of the house to double the size of the family mortgage so different imperatives were made to apply.

Derek said...

In my opinion the effect of machines on people is linked to land ownership and monopoly patterns. Basically if only one person owns the whole country then machines can put nearly everyone out of work and they all starve. On the other hand if everyone owns a roughly equal share of the country then machines can put nearly everyone out of work and they all live a life of leisure (or do whatever they want to do).

Of course we live in a world where the ownership patterns are intermediate between these two extremes, so the effect of machines is intermediate as well. But it's worth bearing in mind that when the concentration of land ownership increases, the benefits of machines become more concentrated and the drawbacks become more widely spread. And vice-versa when land ownership becomes less concentrated.

Of course LVT/CI can change situation A into situation B partly by automatically redistributing the output of the machines and partly by changing the land ownership pattern. Yet another reason why it should be seen as a Good Thing.

Mark Wadsworth said...

D, good point. It's not machines in particular but anything which increases economy which tends to go to increases in land values.

Bayard said...

"But every attempt has been made to get women out of the house"

I'm not sure that much effort has been made. As a result of greater equality for women, more middle class women started to work (having a large female working population is nothng new, except that in the past it was generally mainly domestic service). The banks then took the quite reasonable step, when assessing mortgages, of taking into account a second income if another in the potential household had one. This wasn't specifically aimed at women; any two people proposing to share a house were treated the same. The net result of this was the increase in available funds pushed house prices up and then it became essential for a household to contain two wage earners.
A similar thing happened to carpenters, when small portable electric mitre saws were introduced. At first those who had the saws made lots of money, as they could fit skirtings and architraves much more quickly than they could before, but then the rates paid for this work started to be reduced, which meant that to make any money, all carpenters had to have one of these saws. By no stretch of the imagination can this situation have been engineered by either the carpenters' clients or the manufacturers of the saws.

DBC Reed said...

Fair enough but there are times when social pressures start to coincide and a party political steer one way or another can avert or reinforce destructive trends.My memory of the Sixties is women journalists and letter writers in the posh liberal papers like the Observer complaining that it was gender discrimination by the building societies not to include their earnings in household incomes for
mortgages.The building societies and others pointed out that this was storing up trouble for women when they had children and long- term problems with family health.
The building societies caved in and house prices began to climb to roughly double their previous level,the Tories having previously abolished the Tax on imputed rent (Schedule A) before going on to abolish Domestic Rates.All of this conspired to force women out of the house even when they weren't that keen, though I agree there is no single enactment of policy that you can point to.(It is not the only time Feminism, a noble, freedom- seeking cause, has been subverted by those bent on repressing freedom. Emmeline Pankhurst converted the WSPU into
a First World War recruiting drive, handing out white feathers and" bobbing up and down at meetings shouting Intern them all!"according to her dissenting daughter Sylvia Pankhurst, a much better person.)
Does anybody know how the situation was created by which the building societies lost their pre-eminent position in the provision of mortgages to the leveraged up banks?

Bayard said...

"it was gender discrimination by the building societies not to include their earnings in household incomes for mortgages"

Whether it was depends on whether the "second income not being taken into account" only applied to women and not if, say, two men decided to buy a house together. If it didn't, the building societies would have been better off pointing that out, rather than coming out with some patronising remark implying that women suffered from inferior health.

DBC Reed said...

I rather think the issues surrounding two-income households are even more fraught than meets the eye. The key figure appears to be U.S.Sen Elizabeth Warren ,who used to be a Professor of Law specialising in personal bankruptcy who researched thousands of bankruptcy cases and used her findings for a popular spin-off book called The Two Income Trap written with her daughter.She/they argue that two income households have caused a huge increase in Americans going broke.Doubtless those who just about survive are often in real trouble for the reasons I skated over and which Fiona Phillips tried to raise when she ran into trouble over high-powered work-family conflicts.
Warren is now a star of the Democrat party and there is talk of a Presidential run in 2016 instead of Hillary Clinton. (Not a lightweight then.)