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Life Arts

If It's Too Broke, Don't Fix It!

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Kellia Ramares       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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In an article for OpEdNews, Richard Clark asked, "As large corporations and the rich increasingly rely on cheap labor in and from other countries, how is their disappearing need for American middle class workers damaging our society? And what if anything can be done to reverse this process?"

How this is damaging to our society can easily be seen in just a few hours perusing Internet news sites. As things are developing now, "this process" will reach a dystopian conclusion: The rich will buy and sell goods and services among themselves that are made a limited-size slave class who will do the labor aided by technology. The slaves' chains will be forged from the debts they will owe as lower and lower wages force more people to use credit for everyday items. (Does anybody remember the song "You load sixteen toms and whaddya get? Another day older and deeper in debt, St. Peter dontcha call me, cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store.") The slave class will include the military and police personnel that will ensure the safety of the rich as long as the military and police can be convinced, through brainwashing, drugs or fear that their interest lies with the wealthy and not with "the great unwashed." To take examples from the American history of slavery, the military and the police will be the overseers and the "house Negroes."

The slave class will be limited in size because, with technology, fewer people are needed to make things and because the slaves themselves, much to the delight of the elites, will have killed themselves off through wars, diseases from eating corporate swill, and from willingness to let each other die than band together for mutual aid because "that would be socialism!" The decline in population will assure the rich an even greater per capita share of resources.

It is amazing to me that when the government, which is a tool of the elite, tells us to pay taxes to kill other people halfway across the world, so many people believe the object is "freedom" and "security." But when the government tells us to pay taxes to help our neighbors, so many people believe the object is "tyranny," "confiscation" and "the punishment of success."

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The process we see today is the near endpoint of millennia of human economics based on such notions as the "natural" or "God-decreed" superiority of some people over others--think of any form of discrimination--and the idea that man has dominion over the earth. It is past time we got rid of these ways of thinking altogether.

Reversing the process of damaging a society by destroying its middle-class is not only inadequate, it is futile. The macroeconomic goal of full employment is at irreconcilable odds with the microeconomic goal of profit-maximization. Profit (or loss) is the difference between the cost of production and the sale price. Thus, the incentive is always toward lowering costs while raising prices. One cost that is fairly flexible is labor. Technology can replace labor and make the labor that is retained more productive. It can also "de-skill" jobs so that workers become more fungible, hence, more easily replaceable if they agitate for higher wages. Competition through globalization and unemployment drives down wages. The employers will always want an excess labor pool, foreign and domestic, to leverage against the wage demands of the employed. No jobs program or tax incentive will make more than a small dent in that dynamic.

There is no such thing as a free market once you get above the level of the neighborhood farmers' market. For one thing, we do not have free entry and exit of labor into the marketplace. If we did there would be no involuntary unemployment or underemployment. And there would be no involuntary employment either. But the need to eat and pay rent/mortgage and pay for healthcare keeps people at jobs they don't like. Alan Greenspan considered mortgages and credit card debt to be great tools of labor management.

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Rather than trying to fix what is beyond repair, we should adopt a new process. The new process is to stop paying, owing and working "for a living". It begins with people globally asking "Why must we pay to live on the planet we're born on?" It is this need to pay that keeps people shackled to a system that says "work hard, play by the rules and you'll succeed" but that only delivers on that promise just enough times to make people think that poverty is a personal failing rather than the result of a pyramid scheme called economics. (Notice I did not say "capitalism". All money-based systems throughout history have been this way. Capitalism is the latest and, in its corporate form, the worst, but not the only pyramid scheme. Socialism, also dependent on a monetary system, is more humane in its values than "Devil take the hindmost" capitalism, but it cannot deal with the overproduction problem of capitalism. Many socialists say a job a human right because they presume the existence of a monetary system. But what happens when those workers produce all that is needed for a time? Do they keep producing anyway so that they can keep "earning a living? That's a serious environmental question because the earth cannot sustain our numbers AND our waste.)

Accepting money-based economics as a fact of life that is as immutable as the law of gravity will be the undoing of the majority of the people of earth, and ultimately of the earth itself, as corporations wreak havoc on people and the earth in the name of profit. (See BP).

There are many ways to exchange goods and services without money: gift, barter, borrowing without interest, and coupons that have no cash value, such as are found in supermarkets and newspapers. More ways may be devised if enough people decide, globally, that abolition of monetary systems is the humanity's much needed next step.

Then people must ask, "Why must we earn a living? Aren't we already living?" The whole notion of "earning a living" puts us at the mercy of others who employ us (or buy our goods and services if we are in business), only if they want to, only for as long as they want to or are able to. That would be fine if we did not have bills to pay whether or not we were employed or in business. But the "earning" and "owing" patterns are asymmetrical. The banker wants the mortgage payment regardless of whether or not you have a job, as so many people know to their great misfortune today.

By abolishing working "for a living" i.e. Jobs, we liberate people to work at whatever suits them rather than whatever a fickle and oft-manipulated market wants. They could work when they want rather than asking for permission to work. (That is really what a job application is; it's asking for permission). We would redefine work so that the same tasks are work whenever they are done, whereas now work is only considered as such when it is a job done for pay. But why for example, is the caretaker of children be considered a worker if she is a nanny receiving pay, but not a worker if she is the children's mother? The work is the same in both cases.

Truly free workers would be able to consider the morality or safety of what they were doing because they could leave it (or not take it up at all) without risking their material well-being. Maybe they would pass up making something shoddy or harmful because they know it would be wrong. We might even get back to handmade articles and true craft made to last rather than mass-produced, disposable junk.

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See that the world today, especially in technologically-developed countries, does not need everybody to work in order the create enough goods and services for the community, yet we still operate on the work" for a living" survivalist norms of ages past and amidst plenty, people go wanting. How much food do stores and restaurants throw away in your town and how many hungry live amongst you?

There are things that need doing that are not being done. The things that go undone are bypassed because a "job" hasn't been created to do it and people do not have the time or the will do to it as volunteers when they also have to "earn a living" or look for a job. It's a habit we need to break. Let go of the idea of jobs and everyone will have work available to them.

Why must we pay to live on the planet we're born on.? "Because that's the way it is" is not a good answer. Chattel slavery was the way it was throughout most of the world for millennia. We have largely, though not completely, gotten rid of it. It would still exist to a larger degree if people just shrugged their shoulders and said "that's the way it is."

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Kellia is a freelance journalist in Oakland, CA who left the Pacifica Radio Network in July, 2010 after 11+ years in the KPFA news department and over 10 years with Free Speech Radio News. She is now in the odd position of needing a paid job while (more...)

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