In the United States during the period since about 1980, the labor market has been beset by several unmistakable trends:
- full time employment -> part time employment
- permanent employment -> temporary employment
- union shop -> "open" shop
- defined benefit -> defined contribution (retirement benefits)
- benefits -> no benefits
These are structural, not cyclical trends. If neoclassical economic dogma is to be believed, this represents some kind of "market correction." To put it more bluntly, the pre-Reagan economy in which "every kid there had a pretty good shot" (according to Billy Joel) was built on artificially high wages and artificially cheap risk management (health insurance, pensions, etc.)
It is important to provide informational tools that can help people milk the most out of whatever income they can eke out of an increasingly risky and competitive global economy.
According to the textbook theories, a competitive market is a transparent market. We can advance the cause of transparency by empirically documenting trends in pricing. If sufficiently advanced analytical tools can be developed in a nonproprietary way, we might also be able to transparentize prices obscured by bundling (i.e. package dealing, see telecom product)
One application for such analytical tools could be the optimization of a strategy of economic minimalism, which in turn could be used to free up resources for extracurricular interests, to lower the opportunity cost of having (normatively) benign preferences in consumption or production, or in a host of other ways which might facilitate sustainability.