If there was ever an indication that the current capitalist system is fundamentally flawed, it would be the severe shortage of viable jobs in a world full of problems.
Jobs exist because a task needs to be done. But jobs are a drain on every enterprise, so they are avoided unless absolutely necessary. When they do exist, they are allocated the absolute minimum of funds for the enterprise to remain profitable. This alone makes jobs scarce but this scarcity is currently being exacerbated by increased automation and a move towards capital equipment. However, an even bigger threat to jobs is the fundamental mechanism of enterprise.
The measure of all enterprise is in financial output. While the benefit to the individual (the customer) might be important in order for a product to be desirable in the marketplace, the overall societal benefit is usually no more than a fortunate side effect. The priority for pharmaceutical companies is to sell as many drugs as possible, not to cure as many people as possible. In this and many other cases, societal benefit is actually detrimental to the company’s financial benefit.
The problem is that if there is no profit to be made, then the motivation for solving a problem is greatly reduced. While many endeavours are made outside of enterprise, such undertakings usually rely on the mechanism of “one way funding” – such as charity or government funding. Money and resources are poured into a black hole, while the benefits yielded are not directly related to the input. In a capitalist world, this mechanism is an abomination. In a community focussed society, it might be the only option.
Alternatively such organisations can rely on the bastardisation that is advertising for funding. Yet this is always detrimental to the product and is almost always completely irrelevant to the ambitions of the enterprise – often even causing a conflict of interests.
Despite this obvious distortion of values, we continue with this broken system. How can we be proud of a society where someone processing invoices can earn a living, while a musician starves? Where a footballer lives in a mansion while a nurse strips to feed her children? Where a CEO earns a fortune for dismantling a company while the low paid workers, those who actually produce something, are left out on the street? This injustice can only arise from a distorted value system – and it will always remain as long as inequality is allowed.
The Danger of Forced Necessity
Despite the inequality, the necessity of employment for survival causes people to be very defensive about jobs. They believe working is their god-given right and watch out anyone who might try and take their job – especially if they believe that person has less of a right to a job than them – ie; they are an immigrant.
As unemployment rises, which it will due to technology and our reaching the limits of our resources, we can no longer continue the producer > consumer mechanism. Jobs cannot remain obligatory for survival. If nothing else – the economy itself will collapse! With no workers earning money, there will be nobody to buy the goods produced.
Yet this is of little concern to corporations who’s only concern is short term profit, nor to the out of work father. So this makes it extremely difficult to address the problems and discuss alternatives, but we have to. We can no longer afford to allow enterprise to be the driving force of progress.
We are signing our own death warrants by allowing our survival to be directly linked to our employment.
The bottom line is that people should not need jobs. This system where working is essential for survival causes impoverishment for those who cannot work. It also only creates jobs that are are based on profit, yet profit is not always directly associated with improving society.
We need a different kind of system, a system with three prerequisites.
- The basics of survival are provided for every individual – so work is not essential.
- The purpose of enterprise is to improve society, not create profit.
- Jobs do not impede enterprise, they empower it.
This system would create only satisfying jobs that are beneficial for society. There would be no pointless jobs because nobody would do them.
There is plenty of work to do to improve society. There are jobs for everyone, and they do not have to be imperative.
You might think it sounds impossible, ridiculous even, that we should have a system of only voluntary work.
But it is ridiculous that one can waste their life slaving in an office while millions starve.