Once you have a nice solution set up and working, there are still lots of things that can go wrong. We discuss them here under the metaphor of "leaks" in an otherwise "watertight" system. Note that in talking about "plugging the leaks" here, we're assuming that we've already plugged The Great Leak Upward, the trickle-down flood-up effect on spending power of the huge officially denied labor surplus, which is handled by the core of Timesizing (Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4) that we're flatteringly calling an "otherwise watertight system."
We're also assuming that in the ramp-up to Timesizing we have plugged the major internal leaks such as
the rate-setting function of the central bank (Phase 1 starts the long process of transferring the Fed's rate-setting powers to public referendum and guards against the emergence of a Hugo Stinnes, the monstrous central-banker who engineered the German hyper-inflation of the early 1920s - see Max Shapiro's *Penniless Billionaires).
So what are we doing in Phase 5? We're addressing the possible external leaks. These we call the "population variables." The human-population branch of environmentalism offers many examples of the kinds of decisions we need to referendumize quickly, such as maximum overall population - Does ecology indicate that we need an overall maximum human population in this country (or state, or town)? If not or if controversial, do we want such a maximum anyway for lifestyle, cultural, or quality-of-life reasons? If so, what maximum overall American population do we want? If we don't want a decision now, under what conditions of stress, and stress for whom, do we want a decision?
The population variables fall into three categories -
- Imports are "proxy immigrants." This opens up the whole "free trade" controversy. Basically, foreign trade is good but you can get too much of anything, even a good thing. A nation can ruin itself by importing everything, because then it has nothing to offer in exchange. Trading, after all, implies exchange, meaning a balance of imports and exports, not just imports and a huge trade deficit. Conservatives like the idea of private property at the level of individual citizens, but these days they've dropped the traditional conservative policy of private property at the level of nation states, called "fair trade." Instead, calling it "free trade," they've embraced communism at the nation-state level. Globalization is boundaryless. There are no national property rights. As we're finding out, this policy is a fast ticket downward into the Third World. However, note the many exceptions to the would-be seamless American ideology of Free Trade (at least for other countries, sort of like a "Rape Me" sign); for example, "U.S. sock makers asked the government to impose a quota on Chinese imports, which they say threaten to gut the industry." pointer blurb (to B7), 6/29/2004 WSJ, front page.
- Immigrants are incoming jobseekers. Immigrants in measured amounts are good, but again, you can get too much of anything, even a good thing like immigration. Similar to imports but contrasting with the delayed impact of births, immigrants have an immediate impact. Either they get a job and have an immediate downward impact on wages and benefits, or they get on welfare and have an immediate upward impact on the tax burden for welfare and services, or both. Bringing up the subject runs us straight into a huge controversy centering on the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of "America, the immigrant nation." Though with the best of intentions, France actually did America a lot more harm giving us this giant statue than in refusing to go along with Bush Jr's "madman strategy" of pre-emptive attack on Iraq.
- Births are 20-year "delayed immigrants." Birth policy is another huge controversy. The basic question here is, How do we switch from quantity to quality of long-term human continuity without limiting reproduction to the wealthy and locking out the diversity offered by everyone else?
Environmentalists and ecologists will be delighted to see population variables integrated into a comprehensive economic design - as far as we know, the Timesizing program the first and so far the only economic design in print to integrate them. (Neither Kenneth Boulding not Herman Daly integrated their long-term idea of exchangeable birth licences into a comprehensive economic design - or outline such a design to integrate it into in the first place.)
- Imports - How far do we allow our domestic economy to deteriorate before we back away from the dogmas of globalization and 'free' trade? At what times, in which industries and at what levels do we limit imports before we ruin home-grown industries, jobs and markets - or major political donors - with competition from the low wages and standards of the Third World or from more efficient industries in the First World (eg: single-payer healthcare in Canada)? Currently, despite pushing free trade on everybody else, the USA is making dozens, possibly hundreds, of exceptions to free trade, for example, with the extraterritorial income deduction (1/26/04 WSJ, A4), mining subsidies, agriculture subsidies (especially for corn, sugar, tobacco), steel tariffs, textile quotas (Cambodia vs. China, 1/24/04 NYT, B1), and low-cost medicine bans & slanderings as 'unsafe' (eg: drugs from Canada, 1/24/04 NYT, B1).
Timesizing.com suggests that constituencies deciding and finetuning trade issues (preferably by secret ballot in regular public referendums with a default of zero trade deficit +/- c.0.5% of GDP) reject the double standard of private property within nations and communism (alias 'free trade') between nations that allows more experienced CEOs to homogenize and drain the rest of the world, instead implementing self-balancing currency-specific trade policies.
"Getting too much of a good thing." Another practice that has a point of diminishing returns is exporting jobs alias offshore outsourcing alias offshoring (job-openings outgoing). The only sustainable principle-of-response is, "We let firms access our American consumer base only to the degree in which they maintain it with jobs and wages." We either design automatic mechanisms to enforce this principle or we join the Third World in a race to the bottom.
- Immigrants (and robots and volunteers) and outsourced jobs -
Background & ramifications - what are our current legal and illegal immigration rates? Is there any effective maximum already? If not, why not? Do we want qualifications for immigration such as speaking and/or reading knowledge of English? Are individual immigrant's American sponsors paying for immigrant orientation now? If not, why not? Who should pay for this orientation: all taxpayers nationally, or state-wide by host state, or town-wide of host town - or back to individual immigrant's sponsors? Major organizations in this area are Craig Nelson's *Project USA and Roy Beck's *NumbersUSA.com.
- What's our maximum national population? How should we determine it - annual public referendums?
- What's our optimum national population? = Another annual referendum?
- Do we want a maximum immigration rate per week, month or year? Again this should all be determined by regular, binding, public referendums, with a default value of replacement; in other words, number of immigrants admitted into the American economy per year equals number of emigrants leaving the American economy per year.
The Timesizing.com suggestion to developed nations as they confront their own spreading poverty and violence is to reject, via secret ballot in regular public referendums, the media's politically correct but increasingly unecological reflex on the matter (unenforced immigration policies) and instead to design, implement and model the next great stages in economic design and the technology of worksharing as mounting unemployment requires when not undercounted by repeated politically motivated redefinitions. The refusal of cheap-labor-loving conservatives and politically correct liberals to discuss this issue without name-calling (e.g., "racist!" - see "The sacred cow of immigration," letter by Ronald Bleier of NYC, 7/26/2004 NYT, A18) has succeeded only in tossing the whole topic to the extreme right - Le Pen in France, Pym Fortuyn in Holland (recently assassinated), and Pia Kyaersgaard in Denmark ("Denmark: Cut link to Sweden," Agence France-Presse via 5/23/2002 NYT, A6). Some even want to close the Channel tunnel between France and Britain. And in the U.S., "Republicans put immigration laws back on political agenda - Comprehensive changes are sought for the first time since Sept. 11," by Rachel Swarns, 8/02/2003 NYT, A9, and "Flawed proposition - A ballot initiative that's bad for Arizona - and for America," by Tamar Jacoby, 9/14/2004 WSJ, A20, which criticizes Arizona's Proposition 200 for over-reaching language in barring illegals from receiving welfare benefits. And also, "Immigration measure taps frustrations in Arizona - Public support for a ballot initiative critics call anti-immigrant," by Charlie LeDuff, 10/26/2004 NYT, A16. (Since when is anti-immigration automatically "anti-immigrant"?) This initiative prevailed - Arizona limits illegal immigrants' access to benefits," by Miriam Jordan, WSJ 11/04/2004, A4.
Two provocative ideas came from Jane Scharankov of East Marion NY in a letter to the editor of the 9/29/2003 NYT, A22, titled "Illegal immigrants" - (1) "Change the law that guarantees American citizenship to people born in the U.S. to a requirement that American citizenship be granted only to people born to at least one American citizen parent (like the laws of most other countries in the world)." (2) "Allow immigrants the ability to purchase the right to work here for a year, for each person who wants to live on U.S. soil, and for each year that he or she wants to live here, renewable each year. Make the purchase price sufficient to cover the cost of basic catastrophic medical insurance." (3) A third suggestion showed up in "Immigration laws," a 11/13/2004 NYT (A30) letter from Robert J. Hall of Calverton NY - "The only immigrants who might have reason to fear Steve Levy's plan.\.to deputize county police officers as federal immigration agents...are those who are in the U.S. illegally. Either enforce the laws or repeal them." The issue was emphasized by "Immigration anxiety - In Arizona, a ballot initiative isn't a real solution [then what is?!]," editorial, 10/25/2004 WSJ, A18. The latest front in Bush's war on poor Americans is currently unfolding in Boston, Mass. - under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, public highschools must give a list of all students' names, addresses and phone numbers to military recruiters, whenever they ask for it. A poster from Dorchester People for Peace (617-282-3783) and Jamaica Plain Action Network (617-524-0475) indicates that students in their neighborhoods had been getting calls from recruiters prior to October 2004, and gives instructions for how parents can get their children's names off the list in accordance with Sec. 9528 of the Act, especially if they do so by 9/30/2004. Perhaps family planning is preferable to this "you breed 'em, we burn 'em" approach?
Similar to immigrants' immediate downward impact on wages is technological innovation when it is responded to by downsizing. As automation and robotics assume human tasks and reduce human working hours, the time savings are funneled to top executives in dysfunctionally concentrated monetary compensation and centrifuged economywide in unemployment, instead of being spread to all employees in shorter workweeks, more free time, and higher pay. How can shorter working hours mean higher pay? Because as downsizing proves, the amount of market-demanded employment is limited in the immediate market term (making the "Lump of Labor Fallacy's" talk about the indefinite term irrelevant). And shorter hours squeeze out the limited demand for working hours like toothpaste onto more people. This reduces the surplus of jobseekers and the reduced surplus is perceived by employers as a shortage. In line with market forces, employers respond to this labor "shortage" by bidding up wages. And as money centrifuges from fewer, more wealthy employers who spend a smaller proportion of it to more numerous, less wealthy employees who spend a larger proportion of it, the weakening of consumer demand that we see today is reversed.
- Births - a major organization in this area is Paul Ehrlich's Population Connection, née Zero Population Growth (ZPG) - the most advanced thinking for the distant future is Kenneth Boulding's and Herman Daly's concept of exchangeable birth licenses - see Daly's For the Common Good, p.244 - generally, Timesizing.com supports Daly's statement, p.237, "The effusive welcoming of unlimited births [and immigrants] is often the...welcoming [of a] lower class, which supplies useful citizens who are willing to work hard for low wages. What would we do without them?" - the Timesizing answer = we would design, implement and make freely available the next great stages in economic design and the technology of sharing per need. The short-answer, however, is that once again, the target rate (this time, of births) should be set by regular, binding, public referendums, with a default of replacement, meaning the number of births per year should equal number of deaths per year. This is the tool the Chinese should be using - see "China weighs easing its harsh 'one child' rule - Family-planning policies have long drawn flak; demographic issues loom," 10/04/2004 WSJ, A1.
However, many ordinary people, even after decades of public education by the Population Connection's Paul Ehrlich and even at the dawning of a new millennium, will be shocked at the idea of "cold-blooded" economy-tied birth control policies - whether corporate or municipal/state/national - and many Americans from the "nation of immigrants" will be scandalized at the idea of economy-tied immigration policies.
All we can do here is refer to one classic case that demonstrates the unavoidable necessity of such economy-adjusted policies, India in the 1920s, whose economic growth rate was overwhelmed by its population growth rate (ref. Rosenstein-Rodan) and refer to our manual (see bottom of page) for details. As for our inclusion of imports, free trade is already a controversial issue worldwide, and we include imports a "population" variable by viewing them as "proxy immigrants" with, like immigrants, an immediate impact on the domestic job market. (By the same token, births are "delayed immigrants" - and by integrating population variables into our design, we guard against the dismal economics of parson Thomas Malthus, who predicted that population growth would always outstrip [jobs and] food supply.)
Now after that long-winded backstory, here's the punchline. The question here is, what if the workweek gets so short that people worry they can't make a good enough living? Answer: We transfer the pressure of reducing unemployment from the workweek to a referendum-selected item from the menu of population variables, such as imports. There are various approaches to import control that are well-documented and experimented-with over the centuries, and these too may be presented to the participating population in referendum form. (Note the use of referendums as tools for getting a headstart on enforcement. Referendums are expensive but not a fraction as costly as enforcing an unpopular policy.) The public can select just one population variable and then go back to further reduce the workweek, or go on to another population variable (unlikely) - or they can go on to another program (see Transition).
Quick Reference. The 5 phases of the public-sector stage of the Timesizing program (bear in mind there's a long private-sector stage preceding that) are:
1. Referendums, to broadly define unemployment and set target rates
2. Corporate overtime tax with an exemption for OJT and hiring
3. Individual workoholic tax with an exemption for mentoring and employing
4. Making the workweek vary inversely with unemployment, newly defined to include welfare, disability, homelessness, prisons, forced part time and self employment...
5. If the workweek gets too low too fast, shifting the pressure to imports, immigrants, or births
6.=new 1. If the public doesn't want to squeeze imports immigrants or births, we move on to the next program, "Paysizing," and go through the same private and public sector stages of 5 phases apiece with "income and poverty" instead of "employment and joblessness".
For more details, see our campaign piece alias social-software manual, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available from *Amazon.com online.
Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.