Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Recession Is Over For Some People...(Part 1)

     ...But it is going to last a long time for the rest of us. At last the rich have managed not merely to stack the deck in their favor, but to cut the not-so-rich completely out of the game. Not only that, they have managed to get rewarded in the process. It is as if, after having been mugged, we told our attacker to come along home – we have more money there.
     For those who measure prosperity by stock market indexes, the recession is over; people for whom the job market is the basis of measurement strongly disagree. I am going to let you in on a little secret: In today's post-industrial society the two are polar opposites! Unless something drastic is done, the unemployment rate is going to rise and fall in tandem with the equity market indexes.
     During the industrial era, manufacturers had to rely on workers to produce products, and they still do to some extent. But in the information era, production is not necessarily tied to geography. With high-speed transportation and computer networks, factories can be anywhere in the world.
     Suppose you are the CEO of a large corporation. You pay your employees the going rate of thirty dollars per hour, plus pay the lion's share of their medical insurance, and contribute a percentage of their wages to a retirement plan, all according to your union agreement. There is a limit to how high you can set your selling prices, and your personal income fluctuates with the net income of your operation. What do you do?
     According to (05 February 2011), here is what one company did: In 2008 Evergreen Solar received at least $43 million in state aid to open a plant for manufacturing solar panels in Devens, Mass. The factory provided 800 “green jobs“ - jobs which are vital in overcoming our dependence on foreign oil.
     One year later the New York Times reported that company officers were talking to Chinese officials who could offer labor for $300 per month compared to $5,400 per month which the company was paying in Massachusetts. The Chinese also offered low interest loans and other incentives.
     In January of this year the company announced the closing of the plant, leaving 800 employees without jobs. This is not an isolated incident.
     In spite of all the benefits America has received through capitalism, there is one problem which was not apparent during the industrial era: its success is measured by net income, not by the number of jobs it provides.
     What about the currently popular belief that we can retrain our workers in the skills needed in the information age? This immediately brings up more questions: Where will we find all the teachers? How long will it take? People in China, India, Mexico, Chile and others are already getting that training; will our specialists be willing to work for the same wages as their counterparts in those countries?
     And one other question which is, for all practical purposes, dead on arrival in today's political climate: Will the government provide such retraining? If not, who will?
     Ross Perot described the “giant sucking sound” of American jobs going south to Mexico with the passage of NAFTA. If that sound is a whisper, today's sound of American jobs heading all over the globe is a space shuttle liftoff. The conservative mantra that “offering tax incentives and other perks to business will stimulate job recovery” is true, but the jobs will not be in the USA.
     Something needs to be done quickly, or else the only training an American job seeker will need is to memorize the phrase, “Welcome to Walmart.”
     More later.

     At no time is there any hint of what the “product” is becoming; only the materials here and now are available for transcendence and transformation. This eliminates “…the notion of top-down causation [which] is incoherent [in] that it involves spooky forces exerted by wholes upon their components.”1
Eventually an infant is born. 

1 Carl F. Carver and William Bechtel, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Washington University, St. Louis.
     An In-depth Look At The Spirit's Activity – The Spirit Runs Through It

The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon..

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