Nina Easton and WORK in 2014

In the current issue of FORTUNE, Nina was decrying the boondoggle of the people “abusing” government handouts, instead of just getting job.
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Dear Nina,
The title of your story: Time to Get Creative About Helping the Unemployed Back Into the Job Market poses a valuable challange and discusses a part of a larger issue, which you do not address.
Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the “truism” you quote, that “Nonwork is the surest route to poverty.”
 
This is February 2014. 
You are reflecting on an American Culture now past.
It is easy to sit at a comfortable desk, probably earning more than minimum wage, and critique the masses of unemployed, as if they were sub-humans and did not have the same rights, feelings and needs as you.
 
The current reality is a new age of higher efficiency and productivity with technological advancements in computers and robotic systems. Fewer people are needed to run automated systems. Often highly skilled (and well paying) jobs  no longer exist. Many jobs, jobs that built a solid middle class, have been either eliminated or off-shored, for the financial wellbeing of corporate institutions, their managers and shareholders..
 
With your impressive history, I’m surprised that your comments neglect to factor in many things that you must be conscious of:
1. Employees are, in general, no longer considered a part of the business “family”… to respect and be responsible to. They are now, essentially, independent contractors… but paid reduced wages that have, in no way, kept up with the spiraling costs of living.
 
2. Crudely put, the working class is getting screwed. Where during the glorious era, post WWII, work was abundant; corporate managers earned perhaps as much as 30 times a worker’s income. Today the ratio may be 130 times as high. Managers — including your interviewees, associates and peers, take home enough to live and consume richly.
 
3. The cost of living has continually risen, while wages rarely have. For the most part the middle class has been destroyed. 
 
4. Unions that remain are virtually powerless. Workers accept minimal wages and can’t speak out in fear that one of the multitude of out-of-workers will get their job.
 
5. Ronald Reagan’s economist Arthur Laffer talked of “trickle down economics.” That is pure B.S. 
Money is a closed system, like water. It flows up like evaporation, through purchases. When it rains back down the economy functions. If the bulk of money remains captured, there is a drought; the system is unsustainable.
 
6. Your analysis also neglects the money manipulators, who add no service or benefit to the wellbeing of the country or the economy. Their greed both triggered a massive, near catastrophic global depression. It wiped out the finances, living spaces and quality of life for millions of Americans. No wonder so many are in need of food stamps. Go tell your two year old to get economically responsible.
 
7. We now have an upcoming generation with a significant percentage being undernourished and undereducated -and angry. This is our future. The American Dream, which once was the model for the world, is barely a reality for a significant part of our country. We are fast becoming equivalent to a third world nation.
 
One more thing. Just where are all these jobs you are offering people who might choose not to live in poverty?
Have you not heard of hundreds of people applying for one job?
Have you experienced the humiliation of standing for half an hour or more in a line of distressed people needing food stamps to feed their family?
 
The government aid programs, handouts if you will, are a bandaid to the real economic problem.
 
We need to design a new way for the masses of Americans (and the residents of other countries too) to live with a degree of comfort and self respect where there are not enough jobs to employ them. The basic parameters have changed. The rule-makers are too myopic to get it.
 
Global economist Jeremy Rifkin wrote a book in 1996, called: THE END OF WORK — The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era. Obviously, not enough people read it or took it to heart.
 
What if, instead of being wage slaves, the masses of people were freed by technology to explore their freedom and creativity? If you choose to write, you are free to do so.
 
Working hours could be cut so that more people can work (if they choose) at a comfortable living wage.
 
Rifkin also suggests that the government funds nonprofits so that they can employ people to provide services that the government cannot do as well.
 
Shockingly, work and money, after all are not an end in themselves. They are the means to living a good, full, healthy life. (The visionary founders of our Constitution did not envision masses of wage slaves.)
 
Billions of government funding dollars can be re-allocated. 
I would propose that Trillions of dollars be shifted from our prodigious military budget. It would be better for our country and the entire planet if, instead of sending our young people to war, (or prison for infractions of outdated laws,)* that we send them to higher educational institutions.
 
Perhaps we can again become a beacon to the world.
 
*It is clearly understood that the military and prison establishments currently also wield prodigious power.
 
Respectfully,
 
Marv Lyons
GLOBAL NETWORK for a THRIVING and SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
 
 

 

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