Monday, December 19, 2011

In Order To Form A More Perfect Union ~ Part 1

All this talk about the economy and who should be doing what to whom misses a fundamental point, and that is, “why do we work?”

You get those high falutin’ answers like, “satisfaction,” “I love what I do,” “helping people is important,” but none of those are honest.  That’s not really why anyone works. People work because they get something in return. Usually it’s money but sometimes there are other forms of remuneration. Whatever that something is, it contributes to the wellbeing of the individual as well as the community. In its most basic form, work provides the necessities and, if you’re lucky, some luxuries.

The simplest formula is that work = pay = prosperity = additional jobs = population growth = more diverse jobs to meet the needs of the population = more pay = more prosperity  …ad infinitum. The workers prosper, they have more money to spend. The more they spend, the better the economy. So therefore one might conclude that the best economic system is one where the workers are well paid for the work they do in an environment where they want to be. The icing on the cake is when they are treated as integral parts of their industries and respected as such.

Understand that I’m not talking about socialism or communism or any other ism here; I’m talking about boring ol’ socioeconomics. You know…the part of economic theory that deals with ethics, morals, worker dignity, et al.

Socioeconomics not a new concept. The roots are at the very beginnings of human time. For the most basic village to survive, it has to be able to support itself and do it as a cooperative. If one guy is a good hunter he gets to hunt. If another guy is good at managing livestock, he gets to do that. Sharing the resources is the beginning of trade. If that wasn’t more practical and productive than doing everything yourself, why bother with the village in the first place?

Fast forward a few thousand years, and you still have population clusters relying on the symbiotic relationship between residents….or at least theoretically. Look at it on the small scale: if a town has a single general store and it folds, the town itself is in the process of actively dying. Without a place to purchase goods, the residents lose a big reason to stay. The jobs lost in the closing of that store HUGELY impacts the town as much as losing the store itself.

But bring some useful endeavor that employs people INTO a town, and the reverse happens. People move there.  Stores open. Services take root, and the town flourishes. You want proof? Go look at Faribault, Minnesota where a couple of guys decided it was worth it to reopen the Faribault Woolen Mills and make blankets there again. They know what they’re up against, but they believe it’s worth it.  People have jobs, people get money, people spend money, more people get jobs, more people get money, more people spend money…and on and on and on.

This is really the time for those who can afford it to bite the bullet and reinvest in our industrial infrastructure. There would be less pushback from the 99% if they saw the 1% actually investing in the economic health of the United States. Maybe it’s time to be brave about the economy. As long as this economy is driven solely by the profit margin, it will never have the loyalty of its workers; management will only have its tolerance. The pay packet is not the be all/end all of the relationship between worker and employer; it is only one part.

So if net profits are slimmer, what do you get in return? A community that is self-sustaining? An economy that is more resilient to the natural flux of the markets? Employees willing to go to the mattresses for their employers because the company has become a part of the modern societal structure?  Yes, this is Pollyanna at it again, but I also know this is not so far-fetched.

If you pay two-bits an hour for some kid to work in a Chinese sweat shop, you may be feeding that family, but the ones here are equally desperate for work. Maybe this economic war really needs to be about paying people here to work so this country can have a multi-leveled economy that supports its own society. Maybe it’s less about fat net profits and more about ensuring there is an American society in which to live.

There comes a time when self-interest must give way to communal responsibility. It would be wonderful if our politicians could figure this out sooner rather than later. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
 Tomorrow is the first lichtel. 
You need 36 candles plus the shammas.

! חנכה שמח

1 comment:

  1. Jack Donaghy: “I, for one, am finished consuming and am ready to make!”