Friday, August 28, 2009

The Bottom Line

As management and labor tussle over dividing the pie, costs keep going up.  Each party in a capitalist transaction tries to make the best deal for itself, but everyone can't be a winner.  Participants toss the shit end of the stick at each other.  Dropping it outright is not an option.

During all of human development, some people have prospered more than others.  Sometimes the privileged have won their status by actual merit.  Often the favored position has been formalized so that a class of society gets it without a fraction of the original winner's effort.

In modern societies, certain job descriptions come with cushier perks than others.

All this adds up to a staggering imbalance in the use of the planet's resources.

We use economics to justify the imbalance, but our very own cherished system of competition could eventually lead us back to the natural model of subsistence farming.  At some point, executive talent will have to win a bidding competition to get a razor's edge of privilege in leadership positions rather than companies courting them with lavish inducements.  Life will be that cheap.

In the middle class, in small business, and down in the sweat-stained places where the real work gets done, people already understand subsistence.  It hasn't spread enough to be widely recognized.  We have a distance to go before it becomes obvious.  You have to use your imagination when you look at how products and services are offered on slimmer and slimmer margins.  Is profit an illusion? Has it always been? Is it just a loan against the future?

Everything in nature breaks even.  We are no exception.  If we're uneven, we can expect to be evened up.

When taxpayers insist that their children go to the cheapest possible schools, with the fewest possible amenities, they sense, even if they do not acknowledge, that no one has a right to do more than subsist.  They're asking their employees to do little better than break even.  It is most visible there, but many in the private sector feel the pinch as well.  Small business owners try to match the bidding power of large corporations.  Large corporations trim their expenses, often by ruthlessly shedding personnel.  The unemployed look for whatever they can find, often fetching up in small business or among the self employed.

Being your own boss doesn't mean you can always get the day off whenever you want.  The farm needs to be tended.

No comments: