Monday, September 5, 2011

No, the problem isn't "jobs".

Ok, yes it is; but not the way everybody in the world thinks it is.

Happy Labor Day! Or as I tend to twist it around here, just for the fun of the confused looks it brings, as well as a way of pointing out the pointlessness of it: "Happy Labrador!"

I desperately need to be out laboring, at the moment, which is what Labor Day is always about for us. Ok, we might barbecue something at the end of the day; but it's harvest time for tree crops, and urgentish.

However, what I have to say here has been fomenting and fermenting in the back of my brain for a long time; and it seems ready to come out. And this is Labor Day; and we're all very unhappy about the fact there are no jobs anywhere; and none in sight down the pike, regardless of politicians braying that they will create lots of new jobs for everyone, as soon as they are elected. By waving their wands about and shouting "expelyourllamas!"

Part of my hesitance in writing this post stems from my awareness that the world will certainly not hear me; my time and effort is likely to be largely wasted. A few of you may hear, though- and who knows; perhaps that will be of some benefit.

The world desperately needs to learn this- but won't, until much chaos and pain has come.

The world does not need "jobs". The world needs people to have "livelihoods".

There. That simple. And something completely not on anyone's radar.

Somehow in the process of industrialization, "we" all accepted the concept that capital would provide "work" - "jobs", in various money making factories or other enterprises, and "workers" would make their livings there- as essentially interchangeable cogs. Exactly as Charlie Chaplin portrayed it. The myth we bought was- become a cog, with no particular skills, but willing to work at whatever is put in front of you- and all the world will prosper; and- you'll be taken care of in your old age, when you can no longer work. On a large enough scale, even highly skilled workers have become only cogs- and perceived as such, even by themselves.

Well, it turns out Big Capital was Just Kidding! about taking care of us in our old age. Now that they own 95% of everything it is possible to own, they're saying "What? Are you filthy communists?? Of course you were always supposed to be providing for your own old age! Why would you expect us to actually pay into your pension funds (never mind that's what we promised you...)?" Some of the Banks now are transferring "toxic assets" - i.e., assets on the books at prices triple what anyone will ever pay again- into their pension funds- listing them at the fantasy value. And saying "what a good boy am I."

So here we are, millions of us; unemployed in Greenland; and essentially unemployable. A cog is a cog is a cog; and a cog in
The First World is much more expensive than a cog in the Third
World, these days. Following the Laws of Capital, and Quarterly
Reports, and Executive Bonuses, Capital has, of course, now
emigrated to the Third World- and is not coming back in any
foreseeable future. Being just a cog - in someone else's wheel - is
a death trap.
No, your nice shiny new Bachelors Degree In Whatever! does not entitle
you to cogship, anymore. Neither does your high school diploma, nor
your GED, nor the fact that you can get a certificate stating you are not
hemiplegic, paraplegic, or psychopathic.
What the world truly needs is a return to the model where people acquire
a "livelihood". Some kind of work, or skill- that creates something of
immediate value to the people around you; a way to "earn your keep" in
the community, for life. Actually, here on the farm, we really need a full
time "shepherd", and a full time "goose girl".
Not in style, yet; but soon, I think.

If you are trying to see a path forward, for yourself and your children-
look for a way to acquire a livelihood. Not a job.


Barb-Central Texas said...

I hear you! One of the primary motivators of my life has been encouraging people to make their own livings rather than depending on someone else for a "job." In fact, I just made a brief mention of this on my own blog yesterday:

President Obama will address the public on September 8 to talk about creating jobs. This is understandable, given the prevalent belief that a person must have a routine job, working for someone else or some large organization, in order to make a living. I used to think the same thing when I was young. In my mid-20s, when I was “between jobs,” fretting about being unemployed, my then-boyfriend said (not an exact quote, but this is the way I remember it), “You don’t need a job. You need a way to earn money. That’s two different things. There are ways to earn money other than getting a job.”

He listed a few of the possibilities: I had enough stuff lying around to open a second-hand shop; I had a degree in mathematics, so I could tutor students who were having trouble with math. I don’t remember any of his other suggestions, and I never ended up doing any of the things he suggested. But his confident statement that I did not need a job in order to earn money turned on a little light bulb in my mind and has made all the difference in my life.

Barb-Central Texas said...

P.S. Your post has inspired me to expand my own comments about making one's living as opposed to having a job. I may even start a complete new blog dedicated to this concept. The realization when I was in my 20's that I needed a way to make a living rather than "a job" completely changed my life for the better. I expect the idea is powerful enough to change a lot of lives.

TB said...

It's for wisdom like this that we just keep on reading, Greenpa. I so hope I can impart in my kids the imperative of being able to do something [i]useful[/i] with their days.

Anna Marie said...

Yep, I decided that I wasn't going to get a good job like my dad this past spring. At 23, I think that my generation needs to accept that there just aren't going to be easy picking jobs like there were decades ago.

I've started to look around to find out how I can make my own money, likely running some kind of very small business/farm from my home. I'm also looking at how much money I actually need, which I have a feeling isn't all that much.

notasocialmediajunkie said...

Thank you for your comments. I've been unemployed since the so-called end of the recession June 2009 and Obama's as well as any other politician's jobs proposal won't help me as I am a degreeless white collar office professional who never understood the concept of career goals. Bottom line, with the banks screwing us and even the US Postal service laying off a major chunk of workers there is nothing left but a society of needy!

greatblue said...

Agreed! The last thing you want to be is a worker bee. The whole society (in the U.S., at any rate) is set up to benefit owners. So become an owner! Whether the sole owner of a microbusiness or part owner of a gigantic global megabusiness or co-owner of a cooperative venture, ownership is the key. And while you're at it, go for right livelihood at the same time!

We don't have a jobs problem; we have a redistribution of wealth problem.

Alice Y. said...

100% with you, Greenpa. From my perspective we need an entire new economy of needs, mostly food but a little of other stuff too - shelter, tools, fuel. Folks who see the opportunities - maybe we can build those businesses. I'm getting a start on market garden horticulture at the moment, food on the table is always going to be popular - I'm assuming I can get the job done, although the learning curve is proper steep.

Mary said...

Absolutely one hundred percent right on! Thank you for saying this.

Andew said...

Nice to hear how you're doing it, greenpa . . . and nice sticky handle. I remember seeing it somewhere. Good that you're doing it all these years. I'm just learning, and am a bit older than you, off grid cabin, little bit at a time to make it work.

Working on rewriting a book-length offering to young men, and the focus on learning to do something useful, rather than aiming for a job will be central to it. blessings!

Shadow said...

My only concern is that so many people tout entrepreneurship as the solution to this mess. But not everyone is cut out to own their own business. I'm not.

IMHO the real problem is that by concentrating all the wealth at the top, the bulk of the people have no money to create demand for things that other people could make/build/create. Example: The CEO of a company with 7,000 employees 'earned' a $10M bonus because results in FY10 were better than in FY09. If that CEO's bonus was only $3M & the $7M was distributed as $1,000 bonuses for the 7,000 peons that work there ... we'd see more spending than by giving it all to the CEO. And some portion of that money would stay local because people would hire people to do small repair/upgrade projects on their house/yard/car/whatever.

But what's a CEO going to do with another $7M? Buy another yacht? Unlikely. He'll just hoard it and effectively take that money OUT of the economy.

IMHO corporation tax rates should depend on how much they make (profit) and how they distribute their salary expenses. If the top 10% of earners in a company makes 20x the lowest 10% of FT earners, then tax the living daylights out of that company's profits. Make the dividends shrink & stockholders will start to think, "Huh, I should invest in a company that is successful AND rewards their employees fairly."

Anonymous said...

I've been on and off welfare/social assistance for ages, never much caring for the 'job status-quo' thing, seeing through it, its artifice.
I've also racked up a bit of student "debt", all the while "failing", "dropping" and "walking" on courses.
There is a difference between learning for pleasure and learning for performance.

Note the quotes...

I've been nibbling on the red pill before it existed, all the while with a splinter in my mind that I occasionally used to pick my teeth with.

The job pays taxes to the nation-state. The state's preoccupation with job-creation seems a conflict-of-interest.
Just ask Gandhi, John Lennon, or Martin Luther King, et al, about the nation-state. About corporatocracy or corporate feudalism.

Our potential for livelihoods have been and are being-- along with the integrity of our world-- run off a cliff.

kelli said...

well said! so glad i found your blog.

Anonymous said...

i found your post today, and it resonants with a piece i read at the daily dish:



sparky8 said...

hey like your blog...seen you around before...i think on oil drum but not sure....I am a middle age electrician just trying to get a small solar business going in in 1200 square feet with a wife and two kids and two dogs and a turtle.

Anonymous said...

yep, I remember the days many decades ago when even the village "mongoloid" (a term used for down syndrome) had a livelihood delivering one wine bottle at the time from the winery to the restaurant down the street.

Great article, Greenpa!