He is the author of The Pro-Growth Progressive, and co-author of What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. One, imposing full employment monetary and fiscal policy that fosters tight labor markets is a triple win for economic dignity. The impact has been millions losing benefits and no longer sharing in the economic gains of major companies—a significant component of job sorting that economists estimate has contributed about one-third of recent increases in earnings inequality. Economic dignity protections for those fearing loss of health-care coverage due to pre-existing conditions and measures that address crushing student loan debt will both encourage more, not less, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. work and security . Readers and donors like you make what we do possible. Take the health-care debate. Prioritizing economic dignity over economic statistics like GDP embodies the maxim that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong. This is mainly the ideal that the accident of your birth shouldn’t put a limit or ceiling on your ability not just to rise economically, but to pursue some greater sense of potential and purpose. No one should be considered a Luddite merely for considering issues of economic dignity as we confront the ongoing threat of job polarization due to the acceleration of AI, robots, and automation. Economic dignity, Sperling maintains, can be … We’ve seen the corrosive effect of attacks on collective bargaining: a diminished minimum wage, growing economic concentration, practices like abusive non-compete clauses, and forms of wage theft that require fixing. But it makes you think differently. must be given in a manner that will respect the dignity of the life of service and labor which our aged citizens have given to the nation” [emphasis added]. We believe the purpose of work should be to support a healthy and thriving life, … This isn’t to downplay the importance of metrics, numbers, evidence, and rigorous analysis. One only has to read Ida Tarbell’s description of how her father and friends in Pennsylvania felt that “dignity and success lay in being your own master” and yet “were entirely at the mercy” of monopoly and dishonesty to know that protecting the economic dignity of small business owners and suppliers in the face of domination and humiliation was at the emotional core of those who first challenged John D. Rockefeller. Like many people, they had come to think of “economic policy” as only being about what sparked an extra tenth of a percentage of GDP, as opposed to what someone on their deathbed would have thought mattered most. Studies have shown that, prior to the Affordable Care Act, over a ten-year period, close to half of non-elderly Americans went without health-care coverage at some point, and about half of taxpayers with children received the earned income tax credit (EITC) at some point over an 18-year stretch, even prior to the EITC’s most recent expansions. An economic dignity end goal should also elevate the focus on structuring labor markets in order to give more workers the leverage and voice needed for economic dignity on the job. The consistent ideological focus by conservatives on smaller government, thinner safety nets, and less regulation blinds them from acknowledging both the threats and necessary public policy responses to economic dignity. We shape our destiny.” A focus on efficiency and consumer prices should not short-circuit debates over the pros and cons of shaping policy to favor U.S. jobs and automation—or at least level the playing field between them. Yet what really hit me there was even some Democratic members of Congress not thinking of this as an “economic” issue. He argues that economic dignity—not GDP or other economic metrics—should be the end goal and North Star for economic policy and how that frame would impact our current economic policy debates. Four, we need measures to combat all forms of racism in the workplace, as well as the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault unearthed by the #MeToo movement. There are still few things that affirmatively impact lifetime income as much as a college degree. Economic historians have indeed noted that “[I]t is likely that overall economic inequality was considerably less in the mainland colonies than in England at the time.”. Sure. by Gene Sperling ... Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. But what if paid family leave didn’t show up in such a prominent economic metric? Yes, growth can be an essential means to our goals, but it is not an end goal in and of itself. While the economy at our founding is forever scarred by slavery as well as second-class citizenship for women and many others, for the yeoman farmers and small artisans, the market economy in the United States was in some ways a relative breakthrough for economic dignity. Economic dignity would mean being able “to care for your family and enjoy the most meaningful moments of family life, without economic deprivation taking … An economic dignity goal makes the central focus of economic policy its end impacts on human well-being as opposed to an ideological or theoretical debate over whether services should be delivered by market mechanisms or government. Market fundamentalists on the right too often see the use of market mechanisms as the end goal due to their belief that it is inherently more efficient and promotional of freedom. An economic dignity test, however, would separate the inflexible requirement of affordable health security for all from the analytical question of what the best or most realistic way to meet that end goal is. Beyond making health care a right and expanding Social Security benefits, this must include paid family leave, child-care assistance, a capacity for one’s children to access quality higher education, broader opportunities for those with disabilities, and a stronger unemployment and re-employment system. It is rather one policymaker’s attempt to go out of the comfort zone of numbers to delve into this larger question. Yet the extent of such provisions must be seen as evolving. It seeks to lay out three essential, interlocking pillars that define economic dignity and argue that it should be the singular end goal for economic policy and basis for policy prioritization. This could be through a combination of tougher independent contractor rules, more benefits flowing from government, or an arrangement that requires employers to pay a similar slice of benefits for anyone doing work for them—regardless of employment status—so there is no cost advantage to only having elite workers officially on the payrolls of large companies. To my mind . Prioritizing an economic dignity end goal over economic statistics can embody the maxim that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.
As University of Michigan philosopher Elizabeth Anderson has written, compared to the focus on getting jobs, there is an eerie degree of silence on the arbitrary domination so many millions of Americans experience when they are actually working. I think of the Fight for $15, for example, as the single most exhilarating, powerful, pro-worker grassroots movement I’ve seen in recent decades. A person’s race, gender, or lack of labor market power could no longer be used to deny her the basic respect, autonomy, and agency she should possess by virtue of her effort and humanity. Participating in the economy without domination or humiliation need not refer only to work. But those laws make it obvious that without mandates, high subsidies, or required pooling, any market approach will leave devastating holes in health security. Gene Sperling
The primary focus here will be upon the broader question of the meaning as… To me this definition draws heavily on uniquely American ideals, even though we have brutally failed to live up to them throughout our history: especially in the case of the brutal treatment of Native Americans and enslaved Americans, but also the continuing second-class citizenship of black Americans and women for far too long. Economic Dignity is Sperling's effort to do just that - to frame our thinking about the way forward in a time of wrenching economic change. * * * We must not lose sight of what economic policy is all about: allowing people to lead dignified lives. For example, there are of course different policy solutions required to provide opportunity to a young African American who has faced enormous barriers of systemic racial discrimination and economic disadvantage, and 52-year-old laid-off steel workers in a depressed manufacturing town. “Double dignity jobs” are so promising because so many of the areas where our nation faces the greatest dignity gaps are ones that offer careers with ongoing innovation and the sense of purpose in serving others. Today, there’s greater focus on the lack of worker power and benefits for gig-workers. Democracy is an independent organization. Millions of workers still face domination, humiliation, and abuse. Those like EPI’s Larry Mishel, who have long made these arguments, have been proven right following economic developments over the last two decades. Or that farmworkers were risking their lives to provide us food while half did not have health care. From an economic dignity perspective, a job creation program should focus on what I will call “double dignity jobs”—jobs that offer workers the dignity of a sense of meaningful skilled work in the cause of closing dignity gaps for others. But they still fall short of capturing the full measure of economic dignity. All of this is good and right — but I think it’s important for us to note that even these better metrics shouldn’t be mistaken as an ultimate end goal. This could be done through a combination of an automatically indexed $15 minimum wage, together with a major expansion of the EITC and child-care support—while ensuring some form of basic income grant, child allowance, or higher refundable tax credits for those with serious disabilities or for children living in the poorest households. . Economic dignity, defined by these three pillars, represents a more full, complete, and stable definition that can stand strong no matter what variation or circumstance is considered. A definition of economic dignity must include the capacity to contribute economically with respect and without domination and humiliation. And could you address some of the distinct challenges at play when even economists try to grapple with subjective qualities like joy, purpose, respect? Dignity definition, bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. Economic Dignity is Sperling\'s effort to do just that - to frame our thinking about the way forward in a time of wrenching economic change. The power of GDP and productivity growth ultimately lies only in the degree that they improve human happiness, fulfillment, and dignity for the many. Some of that story has to do with structural challenges in our economy, and with certain forms of globalization pitting certain workers against each other. While some on the right do use notions of the social compact to seek to unfairly denigrate a class of Americans receiving benefits as unworthy and to call for harsh and unnecessary “work requirements,” a broader sense of social compact can help people from dramatically different backgrounds support each other based on their common value of everyone doing their part. Well first, I think the evidence is more and more airtight that economic concentration has led to increased economic inequality in terms of wages, income, and loss of worker power. Yet, just because there is justifiably less concern over deficits crowding out private investment, this does not mean progressives can ignore the risk that some unnecessarily costly initiatives could unnecessarily crowd out other public investments critical to economic dignity.