Sunday, April 14, 2013
Survival of the Finest, Not the Fittest
The Only Way to Survive is By Taking Care of One Another
People everywhere are crying the blues about their financial situation, and with just cause to say the least. People lucky enough to still be in the work force are being forced into low-end service jobs, many of which pay below the poverty line. It's not the people's fault that they can't find jobs. The job market is rigged, and so are the political and economic systems we are currently stuck living under. I found myself forced out of my profession (computer/IT) when I hit my 50's due to what I saw as obvious age discrimination, plus having a low credit score at the time. Your credit score, it seems, can disqualify anyone applying for any job at any time for any reason. The level and concentration of injustice against unemployed older workers is a social injustice, and I will always stand against social injustice!
So how can we fix the system without tearing everything down and starting over on a clean sheet of paper? We must redefine the capitalist economic system in 21st century terms. There are two social injustices going on in our modern capitalist system, and they are the reason the system is broken. The first is the grossly unfair and lopsided distribution of wealth to the top 1% of those deriving their income at the expense of the other 99%. The second is the world's exploding population, meaning there are more and more people in a world of shrinking resources, meaning new methods of redistribution and allocation. We’ve got to redefine everything starting with democracy itself.
If you want to solve a problem, start from the top down. We have been stuck in concepts of representative democracy for 235 years, as well as shareholder ownership in business as opposed to worker-owned or co-operative enterprises. We believe that progress is getting other people to do more things for us, when quite the reverse is true. And I think that we’ve reached the point now where we’re stuck with a whole lot of unworkable concepts, so that when Michael Moore speaks about the number of people who make all this money and other people who don’t, it sounds as if we’re struggling for equality with them. Who wants to be equal to these guys? I think we have to be thinking much more profoundly, such as being on a higher plane of existence.
Actually, if you go back to what Marx said in The Communist Manifesto over a hundred years ago, when he was writing about the constant revolutions in technology, he ended that paragraph by saying, “All that is sacred is profaned, all that is solid melts into air, and men and women are forced to face with sober senses our conditions of life and our relations with our kind.” We’re at that sort of turning point in human history.
And I think that, talking about recovery, talking about democracy, we too easily get sucked into old notions of what we want. So we’re expecting protest. I don’t mind protests, and I encourage them at times. But what happened in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, when people gathered to say another world is necessary, another world is possible, and another world is happening, I think that that’s what’s happening. I was there in October 2011 for the commencement of “Occupy DC” in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, and I felt honored and humbled to have been privileged to be a part of that historical event. It inspired me to write my second self-published book, “Occupy America: We Shall Overcome” that winter and spring. I have also since been involved with Occupy Atlanta here in my home town off and on as time permits. It is imperative that we take matters into our own hands. Don't trust your government, they have already been lying to all of us for decades. Take the initiative! Take a look over your shoulder and you will notice that there is no one standing behind you to do anything or to take care of any business for you. It's all on you, and it's all on all of us.
People are beginning to say the only way to survive the early 21st century is to batten down the hatches. So they are building underground bunkers and stocking them with non-perishable foods, water, firearms and ammunition. In so doing they have voluntarily devolved as human beings. Don't forget what Christ said about that, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword”. Otherwise all our time will be wasted by a mad scramble of those who compete with others instead of co-operating with them. All our efforts must instead be devoted to taking care of one another by recreating our relationships to one another. Let me point out a few examples.
In the first place, the US is the only developed country in the world that has no national health insurance and no family leave for workers. That's right, nobody but us. The very people who call these two basic human rights “socialism” are the ones who are profiting off the existing system the most. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The first and foremost duty of any government is to see to the needs of its people.” I think that sums it up perfectly.
The second example are wages, which are downright pathetic. Having been an IT professional for over 20 years, I clearly remember how wages began falling around 2000-2001 around the time of the dot-com crash. By the time I had left the business 2 years ago, the bottom had fallen out as far as wages were concerned. Jobs that paid $20.00 an hour were going for $12.00, and older workers like myself found ourselves shut out of the tech job market for good. Today as I write this, the minimum wage remains at at a paltry $7.25 cents per hour. And what are these pitifully poor people supposed to do with that last 25 cents an hour? Buy lollipops? The minimum wage works out to a take-home pay of about $875.00 per month after taxes and Social Security, not counting state taxes. Go try to live on that for a month or even a week! Many thousands of American families are being forced into doing just that due to circumstances beyond their control. In short, they are exactly where the government wants them: powerless! Take away every available resource they have and they're helpless.
The solution is a realistic minimum wage that will also serve to jump-start America's economy again. Based on the cost of living for a family of four, which would include housing, utilities, internet access, transportation, clothing and medical care, that would work out to about $12.00 an hour for bare essentials. This should be something people are out protesting in the streets about. We want a living wage, now!!
As you can see, our problems can be fixed without having to re-invent the wheel. You don't have to be an economic genius – if indeed there is really such a thing – to figure out some basic, common sense solutions to get America's middle class back to work. Otherwise I fear that too many more formerly middle class Americans like so many of us will fall into the cracks in the sidewalk and disappear.