Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Occupy Earth

Image from "Your Free Press"
(no affiliation, I just used the picture)

I've been watching the Occupy movement for some time with mixed feelings. And watching my mixed feelings with curiosity.

On the surface, I agree with much of what I've heard coming out of the Movement. I'm so relieved and excited to see people taking notice of the rot that has infiltrated our governments and societies. Yet, I have a nagging sense that they are Occupying the wrong thing. Can I walk you through what I've pieced together so far?

Corporations are NOT Job Creators. They are Wealth Accumulators.

  • Corporations must employ as few people at as low a rate as possible to maximize shareholder value.
  • Corporations are Job Eliminators by nature of their role as Wealth Accumulators.

Private Industry is NOT accountable for creating full employment.

  • Private industry’s primary responsibility is to extract value for shareholders.
  • Corporations are responsible for maximizing their shareholders’ value within the context of the regulations set by Governments
  • Corporations are not responsible to ensure society has enough resources to meet citizen needs. 
  • Corporations are not responsible to ensure full employment for as many humans as society decides to birth and educate.
  • Governments have created few/poor regulatory mechanisms requiring corporations to create employment or protect natural resources

The coincidental convergence between industry needs and available human labour is over. 

  • Agricultural and Industrial Ages required more people and employed them with lower pre-employment requirements
  • Technology trends in automation and robotics indicate that the lines between private sector needs and capable human labour will continue diverging.

Societies must stop relying on the mechanism of full employment as the means by which they ensure citizens are fed and housed.
  • As private industry requires fewer people with increasingly complex skills, fewer people will be eligible to earn in the private sector

Societies allocate too few of our common resources to education to permit a large enough pool of people eligible for private sector employment
  • Private industry requires fewer, but more expensive human capabilities than in the past
  • Education systems were developed to support the Industrial age and have not been adequately revised
  • Industry requires creative thinkers with significant and complex knowledge
  • Our educational systems currently fail to maximize the human potential of most people 
  • Public education produces too few humans eligible for private-sector employment participation and too many not eligible for available private sector needs
  • Producing more humans eligible for private sector work is expensive and requires more individual adult care for each child during the education phase

Private industry would fail without the free labour of care-givers and volunteers, which is not valued in the current economic system
  • Without the unpaid care of children, disabled and elderly people to support families and communities, those who are employed could not focus their time and attention on producing
  • Because most care is not valued in the economic system, most care is done by those who are not fully employed in other ways, with a sub-set of care provided by low-paid workers. 
  • Otherwise productive and employed humans, primarily female, exit the workforce when family pressures require time and attention
  • If society achieves full employment of adults, it does so at the cost to quality of care for young children, the disabled and the elderly within homes, as well as the volunteer work done in schools and communities

Governments are responsible to regulate behaviour within a society in a way that permits fair and peaceful co-existence. 
  • As behaviour regulators, we trust Governments to also be the stewards of our resources
  • As Resource Stewards, we trust Governments to ensure our natural resources, including human labour, are used and paid for in a way that permits fair and peaceful co-existence

Societies currently subsidize private sector profits by selling commonly-held resources too cheaply
  • Governments compete and undercut each other to increase industry participation in their territories
  • Governments use cheap resources (low costs, low taxes, cheap labour rates) to attract industry
  • Governments have failed to recoup for Society an appropriate value in exchange for resources, including labour
  • Governments have not extracted enough societal value to replace the sold resources – they have sold our resources, including human time, too cheaply, and given too much "free reign" to corporations

Fair and peaceful co-existence currently feels threatened.
  • Governments have created regulatory environments in which corporations can amass and hoard wealth at the expense of the common good
  • Governments have created policy environments in which education and care are de-valued and under-valued for their role in economic activity
  • Because governments have failed to regulate our resource allocation and behaviours effectively, more people are living lives of instability and desperation
  • As more people live lives of instability and desperation, our fair and peaceful co-existence is threatened

For societies to survive and evolve, they must re-assess how governments subsidize and regulate private sector use of common resources 
  • Societies must seek ways to use commonly-held resources strategically, maximizing the balance among private-sector employment, public-sector employment and other forms of income stabilization
  • Decision making must apply the context that the “full employment” coincidence is no longer an effective model
  • For societies to mitigate against decreased private sector employment needs, decision making must apply the context of increasing need for societal contribution in the areas of care and education 
  • There is no compelling evidence that governments are seriously undertaking such a re-assessment

Wall Street did what they were permitted to do. Without conscience, pressuring for more and more privilege - yes, morally we can and must question the ethics of these leaders, especially those who went beyond the already-permissive legal framework. And yet, it is governments the world over who have failed both in their responsibility to regulate behavior, and in their role as Resource Stewards. By competing for industry in a selfish and protectionist way, rather than working together, governments have undercut us all.

So, for the Americans at least, why isn't it Occupy Washington? 


This is a closed ecosystem.

One world, one set of resources, 7 billion people. Nothing much comes in or goes out. If I have more, you have less. If one country has more, other countries have less. Until we begin thinking like a species on a planet at the governmental level, this mess will only get worse. Until we decide on a common goal of a fair and peaceful co-existence, we can't even begin to start those conversations, let alone work on achieving it. 


We already do, all of us, together. It's the How that's the kicker.