The Economics Of A Zombie Apocalypse


Intelligent bloggers are usually worth reading. This is especially true if they are intelligent bloggers you sometimes disagree with. If you can’t read an intelligent argument from a divergent point of view, you can’t change your mind. If you can’t change your mind, your opinions and knowledge base both ossify and you become the proverbial stick in the mud. Charles Hugh Smith can sometimes be too libertarian for my fickle and refined palate. That in no way implies that the man is foolish. He asks a truly intelligent question today. “Simply put, job growth is not keeping pace with population growth–specifically, the growth of the labor force which is generally defined as the population between the ages of 18 and 64. So what happens to the economy as millions of people never acquire the habits of hard work or lose them due to chronic joblessness?”

A smart question probably requires a smarter guy than me to provide a profound and probative answer. I’ll do the best I can with what I have. As workforce participation declines, the US economy makes several adjustments to this problem so that it can float above the tide. The first step taken is to replace these workers who to quote an aide to [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] “just don’t get it.” We see this occurring now in the IT industry with the proliferation of H1B Visas.

This has an economic impact on the working class whether or not they are personally replaced by those “who get it.” Unsung tribune of the plebs, [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] of Alabama, gives us the economic impact of this labor force that has no work.

Everyone understands that a large increase in the number of immigrants increases the GDP: more people means more overall consumption. But the question is: who benefits from such a large surge in the available supply of labor into a country? If you suddenly provide legal status to 30 million immigrants, most of whom will be lower skilled, it will simultaneously increase the GDP while reducing per-capita GDP—and reducing the wages of the current workforce. It will hit the lower-income worker particularly hard. . . . recent immigration has reduced the wages of native workers by 5.3 percent.

So the lower cohorts of the workforce are increasingly laid off and then economically disincentivized from working. It doesn’t pay, it’s a pain in the butt, and we’ve got welfare programs so that we don’t have to worry about the poor. So why do it? No answer? Ok, they won’t. This in turn has social consequences. Fred Reed writes about the terminally unemployed from when he saw them as a police beat reporter.

We drove to Sursum Corda, a project that produces a lot of calls for such things as drugs and shootings. Low buildings, lots of people on the sidewalks, kids running around in droves. It is the kind of place that makes you wonder what the country is doing, and whether there is anything it could do better. Sursum Corda is entirely black, crime-ridden, with unemployment verging on total. Ride through, and the young men stare with undisguised hostility. It’s easy to understand why: They deal in drugs, and so they’re at war with the police. What is hard to convey, and most disheartening, is the sense of isolation from the rest of society. The problem isn’t poverty per se: People here have plenty to eat, housing, television, what have you. But they don’t have jobs, or in most cases enough education to understand the nightly news, or much interaction with the society at large. The thought that comes to mind is, “This is another country.”

So let’s conduct a thought experiment here to answer Mr. Smith’s perspicacious inquiry. Imagine a really significant cohort of society forced into a condition similar to Sursum Corda. Imagine there are way more of them than there are of other people able to say “there go I but for the grace of God.” What type of civilization or society do you have under these conditions? You don’t. You get equality. At the zero.

And we also get a disaster of significant magnitude. We don’t really know exactly how many artists, engineers and crack tuba players our nation really needs to keep functioning as a civilized society. But as we lower our proportion of the population that actually exists as a part of the working world our leaders conduct an experiment to find out. They conduct a reckless experiment akin to the guys who decided to see just how close they could cut it with the control rods before Chernobyl melted down. In a sense, our jobs, our families, our churches and our neighborhoods are like those control rods in the reactor. They keep us grounded and oriented towards positive goals. “To do is to be.” Once observed Jean Paul Sartre. What is the human with literally nothing to do. A zombie.

What is a society where a vast proportion of the people does not have anything to do. A hoard of zombies. What do you get from a hoard of zombies? Cheesy Science Fiction? Bwank! Thanks for playing. Reduce a vast cohort of the population to the point where they are morally analogous to zombies and you should get a really sweet zombie apocalypse.

Our current basket of policies that incentivize corporate entities to avoid hiring the people who live in our country are the economics of the zombie apocalypse. I hope that I have been helpful in answer Mr. Charles Hugh Smith’s inquiry. Go read his blog every so often. It’s worth your time and attention.