Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Towards a New Distributive Principle of Wealth beyond the Capitalist Market, the State and Labor

Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Towards a New Distributive Principle of Wealth beyond the Capitalist Market, the State and Labor

Article excerpt

Abstract: High unemployment and falls in working class incomes are affecting billions of people around the world: they are being pauperized. Neoliberals and Keynesians consider it possible to achieve full employment by means of applying labor flexibility policies and economic growth. However, surpassing the chimera that is full employment, the rampant poverty is attributable to the principle that regulates the distribution of wealth within capitalism. The socialists of every guild have proposed the principle "to each according to his work." Nevertheless, there is an irrefutable fact that calls this principle into question: technological development. Therefore, only a new distributive principle of wealth-one that goes beyond the capitalist market, the State and labor itself-will bring a global economy without poverty.

Key words: unemployment; wealth distribution; socialism; principle

The current levels of global poverty would not exist if everyone around the world who is part of the so-called Economically Active Population had a job and remunerations that would guarantee both them and their families "an existence worthy of human dignity"-as it is stated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In that case then, there would be no reason to question either the capitalist market or the State; not even labor as a means of wealth distribution.

Nonetheless, there is no place for subterfuges if we know the direction in which unemployment and income poverty in the global society are heading. Nowadays the figures break records. The European Union unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in February 2013, that is, 26.3 million men and women were without work. The unemployment rate across the Eurozone reached 12 percent, the highest level since the introduction of the single currency in 1999, Spain being the nation with the highest rate at 27 percent, followed by Greece at 26.4 percent-both countries have youth unemployment at over 50 percent. Meanwhile, the official United States unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October 2009, reaching double digits for the first time in 26 years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March 2012 the unemployment rate decreased to 8.2 percent. However, the figures could be higher. The American Enterprise Institute suggests that a better measure of the real jobless rate-the U-6-stands at 15.6 percent. In fact, if the current unemployment rate were calculated as it was 80 years ago it would be close to 20 percent. On the other hand, according to the Global Employment Trends 2012 report, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that "there is a backlog of global unemployment of 200 million" and "900 million workers living with their families below the US$2 a day poverty line." Besides the increasing exclusion attributable to the unemployment, there has been a drop in wages due to labor precariousness-a higher number of part-time and temporary jobs, and a greater amount of junk jobs in the fourth sector of informal economy. In Latin America, for example, seven out of ten jobs are informal and more than 50 percent of workers do not have insurance. In Mexico, according to a study made by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 26.4 million people work in the informal sector-55.3 percent of the employed population.

The current economic crisis that began in 2008 has undoubtedly contributed to this social disaster, but such a disaster cannot be explained by the crisis alone. According to the Global Employment Trends 2007 report, before this crisis, the number of jobless people around the world was 195.2 million, practically the same as it is today. In some countries, the unemployment rate was higher even before this crisis. To give an example, in Japan, at the time the second biggest economy in the world, the unemployment rate increased to 5.6 percent in December 2001, the highest registered by official statistics since the Japanese government started to measure this variable in 1953. …

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