We are living in strange times. History tells us that after a major crisis the stock market tanks, we get a recession and unemployment goes up. This is the boom and bust cycle. Except for this time…
Governments have embraced Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and have been pumping money into the system to keep the economy afloat. The result is the markets are actually up and instead of massive unemployment but have a massive skill shortage. I am a fan of MMT: recessions are painful, especially for the working class – whatever we can do to avoid them is ok with me.
It is ironic that we have such massive skills shortages. We have been told for years that automation and AI were going to steal all our jobs, but thankfully so far that has not happened. All I hear from clients is they can’t get staff. It is across every sector and skill level and it is having a real negative impact on their businesses.
The most interesting aspect in all this is what people are calling ‘The Great Resignation’. People are choosing not to work or to work less. The right will say governments have been too generous with taxpayers’ money and people are too content to sit on their arses and watch Netflix. The left will say working-class people are fed up taking poorly paid zero-hour jobs. Like everything it is a bit of both and more. It is not just the working class; many professionals are saying you can take your job and shove it up your big jam roll.
People have used their time at home to reevaluate their lives. Once you step off the hamster wheel of life you start to ask the hard questions. Do I need to work so much? Do I need to buy so much stuff? Why did I spend so much time commuting? Is there more to life than work? Can I live a less stressful life? You get the idea.
If you think the GP crisis is bad now, it is going to get a lot worse. Many GPs are now in their 50s and they are eying the door. In the UK only 15% of doctors are aged over 55, compared to 45% in France. High burnout and large savings and pensions make it really easy for doctors to say feck this I am out of here. It does not matter if they are paid £100k. Being a modern GP is a pretty miserable job. You could pay them £300k and they would still be heading for the door.
What about the shocking absence of older doctors? Worst in all OECD. Total outlier. France and Germany have THREE TIMES more older doctors. pic.twitter.com/rsXaS1b7Yr
— Phil Taylor (@philjvtaylor) September 14, 2021
At the lower levels, this problem will be fixed by more money and better working conditions. Working-class people need a living wage and steady reliable work. This zero-hours stuff is bullsh*t.
For the professionals, you are not going to fix the problem with money alone. You have to ensure that people are doing rewarding jobs where they are valued. Work is incredibly important. It gives people a purpose and sense of identity. But the key phrase is rewarding. If you are an employer who treats your staff badly you are in trouble. And it does not matter if you are a fast-food restaurant or the government: your staff are going to walk.
People have tasted freedom, it is going to be hard to coax them back into captivity.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.