Tender

Tender

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Put to Purpose (not to work)

Why is "jobs" our single go-to answer for inequality, poverty and the economy?

Every corporation is mandated by law and incented by the demands of the stock exchange to eliminate jobs as quickly as possible. Make no mistake - the day when it's more expensive to employ humans than buy and maintain robots is practically upon us. What happens when the humans become obsolete as the machinery of economic "value" creation, and all the previous buyers of said Human Resources suddenly dump them, en masse, back onto society's shoulders?

The rules, as of now, stand thus: 

1) People: People are not entitled to anything, born naked into a world that's already been divvied up, they are still required to work their way into basic life-sustenance and to earn dignity through paid employment. Finding and keeping this employment remains the sole responsibility of the person, regardless of how many more people are born into the already-divvied-up world, and regardless of how few jobs remain in the processes of commerce. 

2) Corporations: Corporations are entitled to externalize much of their resource costs to society through subsidies and tax breaks, low wages and cheap natural resources. As long as they pay their taxes, they are permitted to exponentially increase the profits of their shareholders, export the value of resources away from the communities where they originate, and have no responsibility to the people who do the work that makes the value that provides the money. Corporations are not responsible to pay a wage that feeds and houses employees, nor to provide a certain number of people with jobs. Quite the opposite - every system supports shedding jobs and lowering wage costs. 

If we leave the rules the same, when the mass dump comes, our fragile little world of peace starts falling apart. Can't we see the bankrupt, ghost towns in the U.S.? Can't we read a history book or the tea leaves?

Jobs are not the answer. Good paying jobs are not the answer. The answer lies in changing the goal of society from "putting people to work" towards "putting people to purpose." If we accept the idea that not all the humans actually need to work (soon) in order for the economy to keep chugging, and we accept the idea that every human brings a unique perspective and, dare I say, purpose, to this Earth, the goal of society shouldn't be to get every person working for the economy. The goal could be to provide every person with the same chance to pursue their purpose in life. It's not so grandiose as to be a new idea - the entire United States of America was founded on it. They just forgot when they let big money get too big.  

We can start by valuing the time of each human more highly, as a society. Valuing our own time, actually, is a good first step. Valuing our every hour as the priceless and only true commodity, treating our time with reverence, selling only as much as we need to for what we deem "enough." If we can do nothing else, that's a place to start. We can create slack in our own lives, slack that lets our purpose breathe and whisper in our ears.

Maybe it's contagious. 

(don't believe me? read Robert Reich )




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