Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oh Don't Ask Why -- more questions

Isn't the main problem unemployment? How would international work stoppages and strikes create more jobs?

The exploitation of workers and unemployment go hand in hand. While the powers that be are continually lamenting the unemployment situation, it is actually in their interest to keep unemployment high. Which is why "austerity" is a euphemism for both low wages and massive layoffs. The more unemployment, the more competition among workers, thus the less influence the workers themselves will have over their jobs and their pay. Employed workers thus have an incentive to strike not only for living wages and decent conditions, but also to send a message that additional firings and layoffs are not acceptable. Moreover, since many among the employed are now being forced to work ever harder, at longer hours (in the interests of "productivity"), improved working conditions at fewer hours (thus lowering "productivity") will incentivize corporations to hire more workers.

More generally, the notion that jobs are what is needed, rather than a decent, rewarding way of life for all, is in itself a perversion, more smoke and mirrors intended to confuse working people regarding their own needs and desires. No one needs a "job." What is needed is a meaningful and rewarding lifestyle. Most people are willing to work, and even work hard, in order to achieve such a lifestyle, but work (aka a "job") has never been an end in itself for anyone. The responsibility of government, i.e., society as a whole, is to work to ensure a meaningful and rewarding life for all those willing to make the effort to cooperate in the realization of such a goal. The key, therefore, is not work per se, but cooperation. If there are not enough "jobs," then there are certainly more than enough ways for people to contribute meaningfully to the society in which they live. Not everything need be measured in terms of work hours and money.

If we are to improve the lot of all people, by fighting for living wages and better working conditions, resisting the push for austerity, growth, productivity, and placing less emphasis on "jobs" per se in favor of a meaningful lifestyle, where is the money going to come from to pay for all this?

We are living in an era of vast wealth, probably more than at any time in history. A recent issue of Forbes magazine lists all billionaires now living, 10 per page, with 123 pages total -- 1,230 in all. Highest on the list is Carlos Slim, who alone possesses 69 billion, more than the entire Lithuanian GDP. According to the Wall St. Journal, the USA alone had 3,100,000 millionaires in 2010. There is more than enough money to cover the costs of an improved way of life for every man, woman and child in the world, but that money will not be made available for that purpose, unless those who control this vast wealth can be persuaded it is in their own interest to do so. In my opinion it is. But it will take some drastic measures to convince them, that's for sure.

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