NEEDED – A NEW SET OF ATTITUDES & BEHAVIOR
Human beings basically appreciate order and are resistant to change. However, if a need to change a living pattern can be amply demonstrated, and the social leaders encourage that change, people will try rather radical new ways and ideas with a minimum of protest. We have only to look at the sudden [recent] change in the China situation, or our new fuel conservation practices to appreciate the persuasive power of leaders and the media. [Some things persuade by their very nature. Consider the massive acceptance worldwide of the digital revolution and cell phones.]
Therefore, this plan proposes that the American people be encouraged to institute the following changes in their thinking and behavior.
1. Wasteful consumerism should be deglamorized as a way of life—we are fast running out of the resources to support it. [Food scarcity is increasing, water supplies are failing, fish resources are decreasing, timber and other resources are being mined, and world populating is still growing at an unsustainable rate.]
Aside from the psychological pressure to buy, buy, buy, caused by current advertising practices, the high cost of repair services and lack of “free” time prevent many people from recycling and repairing their still useful possessions.
Considering current knowledge regarding agribusiness practices and food processing, not to mention prices, more and more people desire to grow and prepare their own food but are short of time and energy. A change in this area could result in significant energy savings for transportation and over-processing.
Keeping up with the Joneses is a significant motivator, and Robert Townsend who wrote Up the Organization (1970) has some good points to make on the subject of executive salaries and off-the-job status competition. He feels that $35,000 [CPI adjusted for 2012, $207,000. All subsequent wages are CPI adjusted to 2012.] is a desirable ceiling for executive wages, and that only outstanding performance or creativity should entitle them to more in the form of a bonus. If off-job status competition is eliminated, and the expenses in terms of conspicuous consumption removed, $35,000 to $40,000 [2012, $207,000 to $237,000] is enough to provide a very comfortable and efficient living standard for our busiest executives.
If it were fashionable and practical in terms of maintenance, people would be perfectly happy with a new car every five years instead of a new one every other year. The public [and the government] is finally convincing Detroit that it would rather [be better to] have smaller cars as well.
2. We should be encouraged to increase our consumption of services and reduce our consumption of goods, thereby maintaining acceptable employment levels but reducing the use of non-renewable natural resources. A pubic policy expanding the availability of leisure time and encouraging creative and constructive uses of that time could have this effect.
The availability of larger blocks of free time could greatly expand the recreation sector of our economy. Moderately affluent families (especially the many who have achieved that status through the full-time work of both husband and wife) could spend much more time and money on vacations, recreation, projects [and social service volunteer activities]. This in turn would create more employment in resort and rural areas.
No longer would our prime recreation sites be deluged on Labor Day and deserted the following week. The summer vacation season could run closer to five months than to the current 10 weeks, thus bringing greater prosperity to the coastal resort cities and poverty stricken areas of great natural beauty
like Appalachia. Many other leisure activities such as music, drama, and art could grow in importance at little cost to our natural resources. [Much more time could be available for worthwhile activities like mentoring, community service, parkland cleanup, and school repairs and painting.]
3. The [cultural norm] that education should occupy one block of a person's life, work occupy the next, and leisure the last should be eliminated. [In adulthood, the ability to take periods of time off to study, retrain, conduct personal projects, or enjoy recreation should have a valuable effect on improving the general health and reducing ["Obamacare,"] Medicare and related expenses.]
The world and technology are changing so fast that education must become a lifetime process. Adolescents should have a chance to work part-time, youths should not be forced to choose a life-time career before they know anything about life, middle-aged people should not be forced to keep their noses to the grindstone or cooped up in the house with the kids [or dependent parents], and the elderly should not have to sit idly on hands that are experienced and still capable.
Some social and technology experts have suggested that in the future most people will work at three distinct careers in their lifetime. Under this proposed system people could easily train for a moderately demanding and reasonably well-paid job which would allow them to begin their families and establish a decent home. At a later time, perhaps in their thirties, they could upgrade their skills or embark on a new, more demanding career—i.e., medicine, law, etc. Finally as conventional retirement age approached (the fifties) they could reduce their level of work in their regular occupation and take up and develop expertise in a new, less demanding form of work that would keep them busy, happy, [and contributing to the economy] well past our current retirement time. [This is not meant to suggest that the current Social Security age requirements should be raised, but rather to suggest that older people working part time would still be contributing to the national economy. Many do not realize that above a certain income people have to pay taxes on any Social Security paid.]
4. The idea that a person (particularly a man) doesn't “have it” if he hasn't started up the career ladder by age 30, and is “over the hill” by age 35 must be eliminated. [This will have to be reexamined in today's context.]
The proper rearing of young children should be a major concern of parents of both sexes in their 20s and 30s. After the children have left the nest is the time to bury oneself in one's career. If young men didn't have to worry about getting their foot in the door and more older women were in the higher positions of responsibility, young men could be better fathers and their wives would be able to improve their own potential as human beings through work, education, [and creativity].
5. The boredom and frustration of assembly line work should be alleviated by encouraging factory workers to learn other skills and by enabling them to work part-time without loosing seniority and job security.
The same could also be said for routine forms of skilled labor and technical or clerical work. It would give the workers the money, security and time to pursue important personal projects and [achieve] life goals.
The next installment will outline the plan itself and suggest who might find it most desirable and where it might first be tested experimentally.