Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded

researchers found that senior citizens who didn’t feel useful to others were nearly three times as likely to die prematurely as those who did feel useful. This speaks to a broader human truth: We all need to be needed.

.. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives. In Germany, people who seek to serve society are five times likelier to say they are very happy than those who do not view service as important.Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel.

.. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.

.. Leaders need to recognize that a compassionate society must create a wealth of opportunities for meaningful work, so that everyone who is capable of contributing can do so.

Why Are Millions of Men Choosing Not to Work?

America’s economy is not less robust, and its welfare provisions not more generous, than those of the 22 other affluent nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Yet America ranks 22nd, ahead of only Italy, in 25 to 54 male labor-force participation. Eberstadt calls this “unwelcome ‘American Exceptionalism.’”

Remembrance of Booms Past

Yet the Clinton-era expansion surpassed the Reagan economy in every dimension. Mr. Clinton not only presided over more job creation and faster economic growth, his time in office was also marked by something notably lacking in the Reagan era: a significant rise in the real wages of ordinary workers.

.. by the late 1990s, brought America truly full employment. And full employment was the force behind the rising wages of the 1990s.

.. Mrs. Clinton is currently proposing roughly a trillion dollars in additional taxes on the top 1 percent, to pay for new programs. If she takes office, and tries to implement that policy, the usual suspects will issue the usual dire warnings, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that her agenda would hurt the economy.

.. there are many ways policy makers can and should try to raise wages, the single most important thing policy can do to help workers is aim for full employment.

.. We desperately need to repair and upgrade our infrastructure; meanwhile, the federal government can borrow money incredibly cheaply. So there’s an overwhelming case for a surge in public investment – and one side benefit of such a surge would be full employment, which would help produce another era of rising wages.

Structural Humbug Revisited

You see, when the Great Recession struck — a demand-side shock if ever there was one — it took no time at all for a strange consensus to develop in elite opinion, to the effect that a large part of the rise in unemployment was “structural,” and could not be reversed simply by a recovery in demand. Workers just didn’t have the right skills, you see. Many of us argued at length that this was foolish. If skills were the problem, where were the occupations with rapidly rising wages?