• Posted: Jun 05, 2011 19:02:55
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Unemployment figures in the U.S. rose last month. They'd been declining for months. So people are asking: "Is the trend reversing?" But rising energy prices, disruption of supply lines due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and flooding in the Midwest that has delayed and in some cases destroyed crop plantings all have contributed to a slowing of production and a rise in anxiety amongst investors. Consequently, employers have delayed plans for expansion and cut back work hours or laid off employees. While the trend toward fuller employment may not be reversing, it is certainly pausing.
In the meantime, those that have jobs are facing cutbacks in benefits, fewer chances for advancement, fewer raises, fewer hours, harsher workplace rules, heavier workloads, and rising costs at home. The reason is that the prevailing imperative amongst employers is to preserve profit. Worker welfare, community welfare, environmental welfare, and societal sustainability do not enter into the equation. Employers demand and expect complete trust and loyalty from employees, but employees can be certain they will receive nothing similar in return. Labor unions once ensured workers did get fair return for their investment of time, skill, labor, and financial risk. The result was a middle class society lasting decades that enjoyed reasonable job security, days off, parks to play in, good schools, fire and police protection, reliable safe water, sewer, and food supplies, roads to travel freely on, and an expectation that savings could be accumulated. These days, with investment, employer, legal, and political forces allied against worker and labor union interests, the middle class has been and is being squeezed in every way possible, leaving in its wake an emaciated, deteriorating, hungry, scared mass of people that remembers little of the political power they actually have and knows nothing of how to use it to effect benefits for the many over the few.
Profit that disregards consequence and cost to employees, society, and environment is false accounting. There is no other way to look at it that isn't self-serving rationalization. May your entrepreneurial aspirations never forget that not so simple truth. And may the work you find to do substantially contribute to a better, more fulfilling, sustainable life for all of us.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
88.8 mm 421 mm