Sustainable employment

Global limits - Sustainable assurance
That a person will be hungry, unable to find shelter, and unable to find work, is real fear to many. Most people in the industrialized world can appreciate, on an intellectual level, that survival is not really an issue. The move beyond survival fear to collective rights, is gaining momentum. The collective demand for rights against armed invasion has, for major industrial nations, been granted. The collective demand for the rights to a reasonable standard of living has, for major industrial, been met. However, survival fear has been part of the human psyche for so long that emancipation is still difficult.
Global limits
We face limits of growth: Limits as to how much pollution we can allow without damaging our health: As to how many people we can support on this planet without starvation: To how much forest we can destroy: How much oil we can take from the earth. Ecological preservation applies equally to humans. We do not have an environmental problem. We have a problem with a society that destroys its environment.
Acceptance of a world with limits is acceptance of human society with limits. A society where individual stewardship sustains the environment and where the collective society sustains everyone at an acceptable level. It must be a society that creates a social floor below which no-one need go. If it does not create a sustainable social floor, those not sustained will breach the limits and destroy the environment. It has to be tribal society in the sense that the tribe looks after its own.
Fear and limits are opposing tendencies. Fear says I must get on the lifeboat to survive and make sure that no one else gets on. Limits say we can only sustain so many and must limit the number on the lifeboat.
The acceptance of limits means we must sustain the environment, the economy, and the individual, at an acceptable level. If the environment is sustained without a sustainable economy then individuals who are not sustained will destroy the environment. Sustainability must be globally assured. All are interdependent and must be assured they will be sustained.
As long as nations, companies, and individuals, have the belief that an act is justified for the nation's, company's, or individual's, survival, then environmental degradation will continue. Sustainability is a global matter and cannot be met by any one nation, company, or individual. For life to continue we have to care for all life. Humanity and the environment are co-dependent.
Survival fear must be banished and replaced by a collective right, or assurance, that all will be sustained.
Sustainable assurance
We have been persuaded that survival fear is the goad for societal cohesion. Societal, political, and legal, persuasion has made us believe that the ends of survival justified the means. That a person, "had to survive", justified all sorts of human misery in work, marriage, and policy. We now know that this is not so. Abraham Maslow pointed out in TOWARDS A PSYCHOLOGY OF BEING that our deepest needs are not necessarily dangerous or evil - that society is not a control mechanism for humans who are otherwise bestial.
The seductive hold of a fear based society instills a belief that others are different, and the society must maintain its purity of purpose, race, or culture. Fear raises barriers and excessive fear breeds a restricted viewpoint. Fear, however, is not necessary for social cohesion. Religious societies are held together by faith, not fear. Societies are a spectrum from the fear based, tight, restricted society to the loving, expansive, and open one. As the power of survivalism dies, human society moves to a more expansive stance.
The other belief that survival fear is the necessary goad for worker motivation, is also in error. The Japanese successes with lifetime employment speaks of a different type of motivation. One, based on peer pressure, coupled with a sense of satisfaction and pride in the product produced. They have shown that guaranteed lifetime work does not mean that people do nothing. That belief, a child of survival mentality, is false. The opposite is true, people become more productive when they are doing what they want to do with people who urge them on to greater heights.
The winning of a large sum of money in a lottery is a way of banishing survival fear. It does not mean that the winner stops work. In 1984 Clarence Maclean, a truck driver for thirty years, won $1,532,000.00 in a lottery. With his winnings he bought a luxurious home on a 260 hectare cattle ranch in Southern Alberta. He converted the cattle operation to thoroughbred horse raising to follow his long time love, "Raising foals, winning stake races, that's everything I want". Now that he has the choice to decide whether he will work or not, he works. His day starts at 6 A.M. and supervising the operation keeps him busy until noon dinner. He spends the afternoon and evening studying pedigree and race records of mares and stallions so he can plot future breeding strategy. He takes his horses to the American tracks in January; in the Spring he attends to birthings; in the summer he takes some of his horses to Canadian tracks; and in the Fall there is cleaning stalls and odd jobs.
The story of Clarence Maclean is representative of the findings of Jerry and Rena LeBlanc in their book SUDDENLY RICH. They studied lottery millionaires and found that of the forty-two people they studied twenty continued working and twenty-two did not. Of the twenty-two that did not work nine wanted to go back to work. Of the remaining thirteen, ten were fifty years of age or older and could be considered retired. Only three people (who were obviously employable), out of forty-two, did not want to go to work. The LeBlancs also found that those people who became suddenly rich by owning a company very rarely quit.
Assured lifetime work provides a societal floor through which members of society can only fall if they wish to. Assured sustainability is a societal commitment to preserve the human species and a statement of belonging in ecological terms. Humans, as part of the global ecological species, are not separate from the environment.
The justification of survival is now a recipe for disaster. On the Grand Banks in the Atlantic, trade unions and politicians can justify continued overfishing on the basis that the loss of hundreds of jobs is an overwhelming social and economic disruption. The justification that Atlantic fishermen must have jobs means that inevitably there will be no fish left on the Grand Banks and no jobs in any event. Were the Atlantic fishermen assured that they have a job for as long as they live then the Grand Banks would survive.
Consumerism, as a belief that life should be comfortable in material terms, is not a matter of dispute. How that can be achieved is a matter of bitter dispute between capitalist and socialist. The failure to keep everyone employed can be resolved by allowing everyone to reach a level of consumption that is sustainable. The obvious way to achieve this is to make guaranteed employment a cost of doing business. In essence, the Japanese practice.
The problem of ensuring that everyone has funds to continue consuming is dealt with, in the West, by transfer payments. Transfer payments taxes one part of the population and transfers those taxes to another part. It is an extremely inequitable concept as part of the population is stigmatised by the label of receiving government handouts. It also is a bureaucratization of poverty and allows politicians to monopolize power.
The United States lists transfer payments as its biggest budget item and still has massive poverty. The concept allows for endless make work schemes, welfare payments, retirement pensions, and educational funding, all aimed at a captive segment of the public. Rather than retaining this expensive and cumbersome system it is economically and socially advantageous to remove the Capitalistic carrot of success, the high paid job. It makes more sense to split the high paid job between two people.
Guaranteed work ties in very well with the continuing decrease of persons employed in industry. Automobile factories do not want people as producers of automobiles, they want consumers. If persons are not employed by efficient factories, how do they get the money to buy the automobiles? Automation is not increasing jobs overall and the capitalist's illusion of always opening new markets is grinding to a halt.
The number of persons deprived of a solid income and those operating below the poverty line is increasing, particularly in the United States. The continued use of automation indicates that the industrialised states are creating a new poor and solutions must be created or stark disparity will occur. Becoming richer from manufacturing expertise at the expense of the poor is a problem that not only affects people within national boundaries, but also between nations.
The capital cost of automation, machines, and electronic equipment, is increasing, as the goal of the entirely automated factory comes closer. Automated factories continually reduce the number of workers even though the factory is operated twenty-four hours a day. To increase the number of consumers, a work week should be four six hour shifts with four days on and four days off, instead of the seven day week. This has already been suggested in a different form by John Ward Pearson in THE 8 DAY WEEK. This would more than double the amount of consumers.
The extremely efficient capital intensive worker cannot continue to command a wage three times higher than the equally capable low capital service industry worker. Both the Japanese method and the American method of dealing with the redistribution of consumption must end.
Japan employs its inefficient rice farmer or retail clerk by keeping the retail costs for food relatively high. The Japanese capital intensive worker pays more for food and services relative to the American worker, but this means that the capital intensive worker and the service worker both have a reasonable wage, say $8.00 an hour for the service worker and $10.00 an hour for the capital intensive worker. This allows Japan to export its unemployment as its extremely efficient automobile worker is paid less than the American automobile worker.
The American automobile worker is paid more than the Japanese worker but is heavily taxed. The wealth collected by taxes is redistributed through transfer payments.
Income redistribution must be moved to a universal agreement. Japan’s answer clashes with the United States response resulting in a huge trade imbalance. Japan employs everyone, even if only to polish the corporation’s Presidents car. The U.S. moves money from one pocket to another. The root cause is that there is not enough productive work, as presently defined, for all workers. The equitable answer is to divide the work equally and, at the same time, meet the collective demands for a reasonable wage.
The Luddites fear of being without work would end with guaranteed work. A higher wage would be an incentive to do work most would avoid, such as operating a jack hammer. Industry would be rewarded by profits for replacing the high wage earner with automation so that eventually there would be very few people employed in relation to their output.
Assured sustainability provides the right of all members to a wage sufficient for food, clothing, shelter and transportation. With the right to a wage guaranteed, unemployment, welfare, and pensions become things of the past. All contribute and all benefit.