20170113 Discussion of Policy for HUD Secretary
The purpose of this thread, taken as a whole, is to attempt to gain at least SOME understanding of how economies of various kinds work or fail, and particularly how the economy of the United States in 2016/2017 works well where that is the case, and poorly where THAT is the case.http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories ... arson.html
As part of the process of setting up a new administration to work with and to support President Elect Donald Trump, the US Senate has been "interviewing" candidates for various positions.
Dr. Ben Carson was nominated for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio, Democrat) posed questions to Dr. Carson, and since Dr. Carson is Republican, it is not surprising (to me at least) that he articulates points of view that are associated with Republicans.
The article cited above (by Jessica Wehrman) reports on the exchange between Carson and Brown, and I cite in particular these passages:
I support creating an environment that encourages entrepreneurial risk-taking and capital investment, which are the engines that drove America from no place to the pinnacle of the world in record time."
I found this to be an unsatisfying answer, since it is not the role of the HUD Secretary to create an environment for capitalists. I see the role of the HUD Secretary as creating an environment for his employees that is sufficient to satisfy their immediate and long term needs. It seems to me that a "traditional" capitalist (as opposed to an "enlightened" one) has no interest at all in the needs or concerns of workers, and is instead driven by ideology and necessity to find workers who are desperate and willing to work for starvation wages, without benefits of any kind.
Later on, Senator Brown inquired about employers failing to pay overtime for workers classified as "managers" so they could be asked to work more than 40 hours per week with no overtime payment. Carson's answer was once again unsatisfying to me:
You create the right environment that employers have to pay them more because the competition will require it of them.
Once again, I see this response as inappropriate for the Secretary of HUD, since his office has no role in "creating the right environment" as he describes.
Instead, the HUD Secretary can insist that contractors working for HUD pay workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week, and they do not receive compensation sufficient to qualify them as "exempt" employees.
However, taking Dr. Carson's position at face value, it seems to me that a way of creating the environment he describes is to pay workers a wage that is sufficient to attract them away from employers who are unwilling to pay a living wage, or overtime.
At the present time, as I look out at the global economy, and at the US position within the global economy in particular, I do not see that there are positions available for the available workers. This state of affairs has existed before. Adam Smith describes it in his opus, in connection with the difficulty in his day, of dealing with persons who are unemployed in provinces of the British establishment. There existed at that time prohibitions against workers coming into certain areas, so the government of the time enacted laws requiring provinces to support their indigent residents.
A solution being considered in various places around the world is to offer a Basic Income to all residents. This would have the happy effect of placing a floor under workers, so that they need not accept the conditions which would be imposed by unbridled capitalists of the "unenlightened" variety.
Thus, employers who would wish to employ workers would be persuade of the wisdom of offering more than the level of the Basic Income, to entice workers to assist them with their undertakings.
May every member of The Knowledge forum grow financially, intellectually, socially and beyond.