Not so much looking down as across..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Youth Unemployment

This may be the biggest problem facing mankind for the foreseeable future, together with the linked problems of climate change, food production and depletion of resources.

Traditionally we solved the problems of over population by waging wars or were helped by nature with pestilence and famine. Fortunately, no doubt, these remedies are no longer to hand – for present at least – and we are tasked with finding more human solutions.

It goes without saying that population containment is one candle to light in the dark. It is a problem we clearly cannot land at the feet of the gay community. Religion in all it guises needs to realize that the extinction of man which traditionally was threatened by lack of fertility is now threatened by its oversupply. We may have to set aside decades of teaching on family planning which was often morally dubious and now is patently impractical. Responsible parenting may imply just that.

But humanly, socially and psychologically the most destabilizing phenomenon is that of youth unemployment. The reality is that it here to stay and will only get worse if present moral and mental approaches apply. Why?

Well, for the last fifty years we have boasted on how we have invented, manufactured and deployed labor saving devices. Corporate earnings improve on the back of ‘downsizing’.

Tractors have taken over from laborers, computers have taken over from bookkeepers, and automation in industry has taken over from assembly line workers. We have dishing washers, tumble dryers, forklifts, central distribution points. And we wonder where all the jobs have gone? Are we blind?

I am not suggesting for a moment that we go back to tilling the fields with horses and ploughs, although the Amish have some interesting points to make. But if we want to know where all the workers have gone, look no further than your kitchen.

Added to that is the equally important question of who is getting rich? Is it the farmers? Clearly not; for the past fifty years we, as a society, have driven them from the fields -from the dustbowls of the Midwest to the paddy fields of the Mekong Delta. We complain we are ‘subsidizing farmers’ when in fact they have been subsidizing us. How have we rewarded people who work 365 days a year? Not quite as well as hedge fund managers. The financial global industry is grotesquely big in proportion to the services it offers mankind.

Until we decide to reward farmers, factory workers and small business people we will live in an upside down society.

But this means making choices we have not to date been willing to accept. Why should we spend so much money on our iPhone and so little on our turnips?

For the past 100 years work has been measured exclusively in monetary terms. The concept of service has been lost in the past thirty years particularly. Communism hasn’t worked and never will; inevitably it resulted in the enrichment of the very few at the expense of the many even in a more brutal way than capitalism which at least was reasonably transparent. Naked capitalism which was always ethically dodgy has been shown in recent years to be economically illiterate.

So where from here?

Here are a few thoughts

1. Start paying the right people for the real value of their produce – farmers and others for example
2. Shrink and refocus the financial services industry, which instead of serving mankind increasingly has been starving mankind. Close down investment banks and increase high street and local banks
3. Make community jobs have real value with career paths
4. Push back the industrial revolution – sanctify manual labour
5. Rethink responsible parenthood to reflect the 7 billion others
6. Focus on community based initiatives
7. Roll back globalization and the exposed world it creates
8. Encourage more social and economic resilience – more smaller local companies and less bigger behemoths
9. Work towards a global free market area with free movement of goods and people globally
10. No more glorifying ‘downsizing’
11. Reappraisal of the function and ethics of work and its relation to society and self-worth.
12. It is up to us. Once they told us that we had to obey kings and bishops and lords – we saw through that – after some time. Now they are telling us we have obey fund managers the market makers – I wonder when we will realize it is our world – not theirs – only when we leave behind their mindset, I suppose.