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Brave New World of Work by Ulrich Beck
affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, job automation, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, mini-job, postnationalism / post nation state, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, working poor, working-age population
An eyes-closed policy (or non-policy) was taken to absurd lengths by the Kohl government in Germany, but it is well enough known that breaches in the dyke cannot be repaired in that way. Precisely when nothing is happening politically, a great deal happens out there in the world. Thus, within ten years the number of so-called marginal employees soared from 2.8 million to 5.6 million. The consequences are plain to see. Where mini-jobs without social obligations are no longer the exception but the rule, the old social security system is giving up the ghost. Eyes-closed policies condone and accept an insidious move away from the welfare state. Anyone who ‘deliberately’ bets on full employment soon turns to a politics of criminalization, directed against ‘swamping’ by ‘deviant’ forms of employment. ‘Just look at the mess everything is in,’ complains the new minister for family affairs, Christine Bergmann.
The whole matter is obviously jinxed, because apparently identical kinds of work conceal opposite realities that no one is able to reduce to a common denominator. In catering, office cleaning and the retail trade, temporary work is by now largely the rule. To eliminate it is to endanger that whole area of the economy, and with it the jobs that one supposedly wants to create. According to one of the plans devised by the labour ministry, holders of mini-jobs will pay more than DM300 into the health insurance fund – but only if they are already insured anyway (through the family, for example). If they are not so insured and earn between DM300 and DM620, the employer must pay his bit into the health fund – but no insurance cover results from it. The same applies to unemployment insurance. Seasonal labour is not affected by any of this, and exceptions are being discussed for a whole series of occupational groups such as newspaper-deliverers.
Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, capital controls, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, dark matter, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, energy security, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, forward guidance, full employment, ghettoisation, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, inflation targeting, Irish property bubble, Just-in-time delivery, labour market flexibility, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mini-job, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, paradox of thrift, pension reform, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, reshoring, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two tier labour market, unorthodox policies, uranium enrichment, urban planning, value at risk, working-age population
We also analysed all European systems, including Britain’s. Good suggestions from all over Europe, including England, contributed to our deliberations.’ The ‘Hartz IV’ reforms for the country were focused more on hiring rather than firing. Generous welfare payments for the unemployed (three-fifths of last wage) were slashed to a basic flat rate of €345 per month. Massive tax incentives were created for ‘mini-jobs’ – low-paid, often temporary work. Hartz promised that unemployment would halve. Initially it went up, over the 5 million level only previously seen in the Weimar Republic. The reforms were deeply unpopular, and led to Schröder’s narrow election defeat in 2005. Schröder was fired by the electorate – in part, for making his compatriots easier to fire. Early in 2011 I travelled to Frankfurt to speak to Otmar Issing, the most influential German economic policymaker in the first years of the euro.
A more reasonable question concerns the broader social impact of the Hartz IV reforms on Germany itself. The impact on the unemployment numbers was miraculous. But Chancellor Merkel does not need to stroll far from the Bundeskanzleramt to see the highest levels of unemployment in Germany. The reforms pushed down wages for poorer Germans. Between 1997 and 2010, 5 million Germans were pushed out of its middle classes. The MiniJobs and ‘one-euro’ jobs created by the Hartz reforms were providing an escalator down rather than up for large swathes of German citizens. Social mobility was declining. Official measures of poverty reached all-time highs, with one in six Germans now beneath the poverty line. More than one in three children in Berlin relied on a Hartz IV payment. The German dream of ‘prosperity for all’ is fractured, even if there are plenty of jobs.
The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing
8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional
It would be more accurate to refer to so-called part-timers, since many who choose or are obliged to take a part-time job find that they have to work more than anticipated and more than they are being paid for. Part-timers, often women, who step off a career ladder, may end up more exploited, having to do much uncompensated workfor-labour outside their paid hours, and more self-exploited, having to do extra work in order to retain a niche of some sort. The growth in part-time jobs has helped conceal the extent of unemployment and underemployment. Thus, in Germany, shifting more people into ‘mini-jobs’ has maintained the illusion of high employment and led some economists to make foolish claims about a German employment miracle after the financial crash. Other categories overlapping with the precariat are ‘independent contractors’ and ‘dependent contractors’. There is no equivalence with the precariat here, since many contractors are secure in some respects and have 16 THE PRECARIAT a strong occupational identity.