Thursday, December 18, 2008

Layoffs - Pros & Cons

From NPR's Planet Money program comes this segment on layoffs, including an interview with Don Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University who also blogs at Cafe Hayek.

Mr. Boudreaux explains that layoffs keep business and the economy flexible, which is a good thing. Of course, the two recently unemployed people interviewed don't share his view.

Of interest is the story told by one of the interviewers about the riots in France a couple of years ago. He said the young people rioting consistently told him they had nothing to do because they could not get jobs. French employers, on the other hand, said they would not hire young workers because they have no flexibility if the employee doesn't work out. Young people have no work history to report, and the lack of labor flexibility means they won't be hired.

It's an interesting story, particularly in light of the way this radio segment was presented. Mr. Boudreaux's view was treated as purely academic; a cold, libertarian, unconcerned-with-real-people view. However, the French riots illustrate quite well how dismissing cold theory can lead to "real person" suffering.

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