Sunday, November 4, 2012

Unemployment Crisis (Solution) - Post #4, A New National Lifestyle

     In this installment of A New National Lifestyle, I will be illustrating the direct benefits of using this system to achieve personal and family goals and aspirations.  It also shows how troubles with the economy and reduction in force can be handled without causing undue hardship to individuals.  [These 4 families, urban, rural, young or middle aged, are not related to any real families, living or dead.]  If you have not read the Introduction and previous installments, you will probably want to begin with the posts on Oct. 21, 26, 27, and Nov. 2, 2012.  The next installment will show the advantages to businesses and how to integrate labor unions into the system.  In addition, an improved national economic indicator is proposed  to measure the increased home productivity that adopting this lifestyle should make possible.


     It has been stated that human beings have three basic needs—security, identity and stimulation—and that all other needs can be categorized under those three labels. As things are today, we are becoming ever less secure, and our sense of identity is being computerized into oblivion. [Actually, I need to give some thought to the computer comment, as the Arab Spring shows how identity can be enhanced by social media, while super intelligent computers threaten to make humans superfluous.] We are, however, getting plenty of stimulation, although [often] of the wrong variety. This system should greatly enhance the opportunities for [employment] security, while at the same time increasing the individual's sense of identity and providing positive forms of stimulation through self-motivated forms of activity.
     This system is adaptable to an infinite variety of lifestyles, from that of the very young to that of the elderly but active. Perhaps you will find your dream for the future in one of the lifestyles that follows.

                                        A YOUNG SUBURBAN FAMILY

     Richard and Nancy Winslow are young middle class suburbanites with two children aged 3 and 6. Richard works 3 quarters a year as an accountant ($59,000) and Nancy works 2 quarters as a teacher ($35,500). Nancy has an arrangement with 2 other mothers who work part time to take care of each other's children during part of their quarters at home. [They also share a housekeeper/nanny for when they are away from home.]
     Both take the First Quarter off along with their school-age child. In February they take several ski trips together as it is one of their favorite activities. In March they take two weeks vacation in a warm southern area. In April they fix up around the house and get their large garden plowed and do most of the planting.
They both work the Second Quarter. Since they already have done most of the major projects around the house, they have time to spend with the garden on weekends and evenings.
     Nancy takes the Third Quarter off. In August she does a lot of work around the house sewing [clothes for the family], decorating, etc. In September and October she freezes and preserves a great deal of food from their garden [, pick your own farms] and local roadside stands. Since Nancy is able to carry more of the load at home than under the old system when she worked the full school year, Richard can take evening courses in advanced accounting [and Information Technology paid for by his employer].
     They both work the Fourth Quarter. Richard takes several days leave to go hunting. If he has bad luck they get ¼ of a steer for their freezer. They also go skiing some weekends at nearby slopes.
Although $94,500 is not a large income, food savings and the work they do themselves on their less-than-new house allows them the luxury of ski trips and other travel and recreation.

                                              AN INNER CITY FAMILY

     Leroy and Paulette Johnson live in the heart of a large urban center with their children aged 2, 4 and 7 and Paulette's 17 year old brother who has not been getting along well with his step-father.
     This year Leroy is working ½ time ($24,000) at a large industrial plant. Other years he has worked 3 or 4 quarters, but when the union informed the workers that the current recession might result in layoffs and reduction in force, and knowing he was not very high on the seniority roster, he volunteered to work only two quarters. He has decided to receive full pay during his two working quarters and use the money he plans to save to make the basement of his row house, bought under a long-term urban redevelopment loan plan, into an apartment rental unit. [A small union loan will help pay for some of the building materials and appliances.] He also plans to supplement his income by doing some home improvement work for others ($14,500) using the skills he learned in a union-sponsored home handicrafts [and renovation] course.
     Paulette will work 3 quarters this year ($26,500) in her job as a nurses aide. Normally she has worked only 2 quarters, but the extra income will help make up for her husband's reduced income. [The fact that her husband knew months in advance when he would be off made it possible for her to arrange work for an extra quarter.]
     Since he was 16, her brother Charles has been attending high school 2 quarters and working in a supermarket 2 quarters ($12,000) under a special work-study program designed to prevent dropouts [and delinquency].
     Paulette's mother takes care of their youngest child, the 4 year old attends a partially subsidized day care center. All the children stay with her mother when school is out until she or Leroy can pick them up after work.
     Their year will be as follows: First Quarter, all 3 work; Second Quarter, the couple works, the brother is in school; Third Quarter, Leroy, Paulette and the children are at home, brother Charles works; Fourth Quarter, Paulette works, Leroy is home, Charles in school.
     During the third Quarter (August – October), Paulette will spend some time working with her husband on the house. Then her brother will take his week of annual leave, drive her and the children down to the country, and have fun hunting and fishing with his cousins. He will return to work leaving her and the children with the relatives. A few weeks later, Leroy will come down for her, spend a few days visiting, and then bring the family back home. Meanwhile, Paulette will have been busy [along with her relatives] preserving good country food to [bring back and] enjoy through the winter.
     The total family income for 3 adults and 3 children is $77,000, less $3,000 for Charles' education fund. While this is not a princely sum, their situation is far better that it would be with Leroy sitting around unemployed while Paulette bore almost the whole load with no time for herself, her husband, or the children.


     John Fredricks, a man in his late fifties has a lower level management job in a government department. Because not long ago a policy decision was made to reduce the work force through attrition and forced early retirement [and buyouts, and not ready to retire], he joined his union's successful fight to institute the Quarter System in his workplace.
     Now John and several others in his age group work 2 quarters ($44,500) and take off 2 quarters a year. Lucille Fredricks works full time since all their children are married or [nearly finished with] college ($53,000).
     The First Quarter John is on leave and works part time preparing Income Tax forms for several small businesses and a number of individuals ($12,000). In April he spends quite a bit of time reconditioning and launching his small, used motor sailor.
     The Second Quarter he works. John and another long-time employee alternate their quarters to cover the one desk. They consult one another fairly frequently by telephone [and email], and once or twice a month the person on leave comes into the office to attend a policy meeting, and look over [or sign] important papers. He goes fishing on weekends, sometimes with Lucille and sometimes with his friends.
     During the Third Quarter, which he takes off, John spends a fair amount of time working with a group of community-minded retired and semiretired businessmen/management people. Their organization helps minority groups and young people start their own business enterprises, assisting them with management skills, bookkeeping, loan applications, etc. His project is to help these small enterprises get their stock inventoried 
[, replenished] and in order for the Christmas rush. Some small businesses he helped get on their feet now hire him for short-term consultation work ($6,000) along that same line.
     Lucile has three weeks vacation during this period. Usually they go to Europe. Sometimes one or more of their [adult] children accompany them. John also spends a fair amount of time on his boat. He and one of his sons sometime travel for a week or two on the Inter-Coastal Waterway.
     The Fourth Quarter he works full time. With the house paid for [except a small amount due on an Equity Line of Credit] and only one child left in college, they live very nicely on a combined income of $115,500.
     [With the current political pressure to downsize Federal, state and municipal governments and their spending, this system would be very helpful in reducing potential distress and dislocation while accomplishing those goals.]

                         AN URBAN WAGE EARNER ESCAPES THE CITY

     Jerry Kelly, Linda and their 3 children live on a truck garden/farm about 30 miles outside a large urban center. Four years ago he became interested in moving out of the inner suburbs when his oldest child, then 13, started running with the wrong crowd. His union's “Back to the Land” project helped him learn about farming, find a small place and get a loan.
     During the 2 winter quarters he works at his old restaurant job ($32,500). During the summer quarters he farms his truck garden. His organically grown produce brings premium prices from a coop distribution service in town ($30,000 to $35,000 net profit per year).
     [His experience and contacts in the restaurant business have also been useful in finding customers.] As he buys more equipment and gains expertise, he plans to lease additional acres which will raise his income from farming. During his busiest periods he sometimes hires an apprentice farmer through the same union program that gave him his start, thus giving others the same kind of learning experience that helped him get started.
     Linda Kelly has a fine household garden and keeps several dozen chickens. Between what she grows and preserves herself and a barter arrangement she has with a neighboring dairy and other local farmers, the Kellys are virtually self-sufficient in food (value $9,000). The two younger children are a great help in caring for the garden and the chickens.
     The oldest boy, now 17, is growing into a strapping young man. Now that he is making a real contribution by helping his father with the heavy work and driving the produce to market, he no longer has the time or energy to get into trouble. He even has some of his old friends out to visit for a few weeks in the summer, providing them with a worthwhile experience as well.
     The combined value of what the Kellys earn and produce [for their own use] is $71,500 to $76,500, enough to live a comfortable, though not luxurious, life. His seniority gives him considerable job security. His increasing ability as a farmer holds the promise of adequate earnings to send his children to [a local college] without excessive financial sacrifice [especially as they will be able to work part time to help create income on the farm].

The next/and final installment will show how this system can be integrated by business and labor, and a way to measure the increased productivity unleashed by greater freedom and more time off than we measure by our current Gross Domestic Product calculation.

1 comment:

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