In this troublesome economic climate, people often wonder what can be done to keep the majority of citizens gainfully employed. The most common solution bandied about is the creation of jobs, but I’m not convinced this is the correct answer. As a matter of fact, I’m not even convinced it’s the right question.
Creating jobs is an unsavory and archaic notion for any true politician of the people. The implication buried within the notion of job creation is that there is a scarcity of work, and therefore an abundance of people struggling to get by—desperate for any job that might put even a few extra dollars in their painfully neglected wallets.
This shift towards job shortage is not a new trend; there have been myriad elements contributing to job reduction for centuries. From assembly lines to industrialization, technological changes in society have always had a significant impact on the need for labour. On the other front, remaining jobs are continually outsourced to countries unable to protect the rights of their workers, allowing corporate profits to skyrocket while jobs previously available to our citizens are doled out to foreign workers for a pittance of pay.
With the impending shifts inherent to burgeoning fields like 3D-Printing and nanotechnology, the number of jobs is only poised to shrink even further, leaving more and more people out of work and desperate for money.
In this scenario, we must view labour as a societal need and resource both. Living wages however, must be taken as a right. Thus, there exists a clear need to balance the two intelligently.
The creation of low-paying jobs, capable of keeping people occupied while failing to supply a living wage is a deeply flawed solution. The notion that one must toil in obscure and needless positions just to get by is counter-intuitive in a society poised to benefit unilaterally from our continued advancement.
Make no mistake about it; the high functioning state of societies output at present is due to the cumulative effect of human progress, not the ingenuity of a few thousand people at present. The corporate executives currently pulling the strings have benefited from being in the right place at the right time just as much as business savvy or vision.
Still, history has shown us that the trend is to consider ‘job creation’ an invaluable resource mercifully allotted by these high level executives. This perspective is entirely wrong—the resources we must now be focusing on, finally, are our human ones.
So if job creation isn’t the answer, what is? Well, once again, we must consider if we’re asking the right question. The initial quandary was how to keep the majority of citizens gainfully employed—but I don’t think this is the right goal.
If we as a society have reached a point where we don’t have a need for everyone to be working, then forcing it is illogical and unnecessary.
With profits booming, and CEO’s taking home ever-increasing bonuses, perhaps the solution instead is to ensure that every available job is sufficient for a person to support themselves and their family.
It’s not a difficult idea, but the implications are further reaching than may be apparent.
A significant increase to minimum wage would allow for more stay-at-home parents—an investment in our future the worth of which is beyond measure. Further, with increased pay, the working class would have significantly more money to pump into the economy, which would only benefit the businesses.
Therefore, the result of increased wages would be two-fold. First, the number of jobs necessary to keep society fed would be decreased by as much as half, while the function of society (Raising healthy, well-adjusted children to carry it on) would be served all the better. Secondly, the economy itself would boom with the injection of blue-collar spending dollars, creating more robust business opportunities.
Now, I can already hear the incensed chattering of right-wing loons and business moguls, decrying how this would slice into their profit margin and collapse the free market.
While the economy has struggled and stagnated for the majority, corporate profits have been doing just fine, and high level executives continue to line their pockets with the fat of the land (Source).
The concept of protecting profits is a misnomer, and while these executives would like you to believe that increasing minimum wage would castrate their ability to function as a business entity, in truth the only thing being hurt would be the paycheques of the top 1%–a notion I am entirely comfortable with.
So there we have it. Rather than the ubiquitously heralded goal of creating jobs, the real solution may be to fix wages. By doing so, we could again create a society where kids have parents to come home to, where people aren’t forced to work 60 hours weeks just to rent a basement flat, and where the greed of the few does not necessitate the squalor of the many.
It’s really not such a bad idea, if you think about it.
-Brad OH Inc.