Saturday, October 27, 2012

Unemployment Crisis (Solution) - Post #2, A New National Lifestyle

This is the second installment of a 20 page article written about a new and low cost way to solve our unemployment crisis.  First, please read the Oct. 21, 2012 post "Our Unemployment Crisis (Solution):  Work, has its Nature Changed Permanently?"  Then read the Oct. 26, 2012 post "Unemployment Crisis (Solution) - Post #1, A New National Lifestyle," next.  Finally read this post and hopefully the future ones I will be putting here about twice a week.  This installment outlines various desirable changes in lifestyle which could be introduced more easily if this idea were implemented.


     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.


  1. 1. While I agree consumer culture needs less attention from the media, we are not close to the resource issues you are describing. Also alot of the buy mentality comes from there are not repair services at all for many products and yes it is cheaper and easier to buy a new item then repair the old one. A lack of pruduct, services and customer relations.

    2. There is not enough land in the world for every person to grow even a part of their own food. Even if every person wanted to and not every person does. If we want to feed every, current agribusiness practices are what will.

    3. An economy cannot revolve around a majority of services. That is actually part of why our economy is failing. There must be a base set of real materials to provide a substantial reason for services. Also free time is not enough to promote reaction economies. Unemployed have lots of "free time" but do not have any money in which to stimulate the reaction your are talking about. Also moderately affluent families are not a majority percentage in most economies so cannot and should not be a major factor in economic growth.

    4. The education, work, leisure hasn't existed in at least ten years. It became education/work (work to pay for the education while in school) and then just work until death. Very few people get to retire these days which is why there is higher unemployment.

    4 That ideas of when a person has it entirely varies on career and area of practice. There is no rubber stamp idea. Also not everyone is going to have children, not every one wants children and some have them even not wanting them. Also work environments dictate more on children versus career then age.

    5. There will always be boring jobs, they do not go away. Plenty of people work part time at Wal-mart putting away clothes and folding them for 4 hours a shift. It is not interesting nor engaging. There will never be interesting and engaging jobs for everyone even on a part time basis. Actually most boring jobs these days are part time and pay as poorly as part time.

  2. One of the things that got me thinking about all this many years ago was the realization that whenever I had enough money to do special things I wanted to do I did not have the time, and whenever I had the time I lacked the money. Many people will be quite happy to continue with the flow of work they have always known, but others will probably find an idea like this to their taste.

    1. Actually the problem is that your idea completely falls apart below a certain income level. Very few people would prioritize hobbies and fun over having a place to live, food to eat and being able to pay for medicine and utilities. It isn't a matter of flow of work or money but that most of the country barely has or doesn't have enough money to simply survive.

  3. Many people at a low income level are affected by seasonal work. It would help them to have a guaranteed annual income that could be spread over the periods when they are not working. Also, I would not expect that a majority of people would even want to utilize this idea in their personal lives. I will be interested to see your thoughts after you have read the post on hypothetical lifestyles that some might follow.