We need a major overhaul of the economy. Modern industrial economics is showing the limits of what it can create since it has been so successful at increasing productivity. Productivity that requires less and less labor every year. That is a good thing for industry and the general standard of living. It is not good for laborers than need to earn an income to have that standard of living.
Waiting for industry to create jobs will be a pointless endeavor. They will not be able to create a supply to meet the demand. Already most work in industrial societies is make-work - the entertainment and tourism industries being the prime examples. This is a good thing also. The less people we need to work in primary and secondary sectors allows us to devote our resources to create more services, conduct research, develop technology and to produce non-essential goods like entertainment and tourism.
The hard part is it is more difficult for people to earn an income in those sectors since jobs often have higher educational requirements.
So instead of giving tax breaks and subsidies that are geared toward large industrial enterprises and traditional businesses, we need to give them to people at the bottom to allow them to earn non-wage income and not rely on the labor market.
So what we need is to create a semi-formal economy. Individuals would be exempt from all taxes and non-safety regulations for any self-owned business than nets less than the poverty level, for example, and is less than two years old (maybe longer). Let them learn how to run a business and earn all the profits for a bit, then worry about complying with normal regulations.
To implement that cities could set up ‘trader markets’ - similar to farmers markets, but open to any type of business. Trader would just rent stalls rather than have to deal with all the costs of opening a stand alone shop. This would make easier for those that would rather be artisans or craftsmen than a laborer. A common workshop could also be part of the market to allow people to build and sell crafts.
Currently cities and other governments crack down on the informal economy, discouraging people from trying to make their own living since the costs of starting a traditional business have risen too high for most people. And most people do not want that level of responsibility. I think many people would jump into the semi-formal economy.
To make it work though, we would have to have a strong social net to protect those individuals - the biggest hurdle is health care. It is our largest expense next to housing, and is what keeps most people tied to labor income rather than take the risk of self-employment.
So I would expand Medicaid eligibility to the self-employed on a sliding scale basis.
So what kind of hornet’s nest did I just stir up?