Architects of capitalism worried about what would happen to the system when everyone had all the material goods that they wanted. We know the answer to that¯marketers came along to convince people that what they had wasn’t enough. The capitalists, maybe more than socialists, invest a heck of a lot in research. And the marketers are always at the ready to pounce to get the sales going. They’re the ones who found out that a super prime girl posing beside a bottle of rum could make a fellow change his brand, and such.
Allow me a little pause here so we can retrace the steps to the glory of the material world. We know that there is nothing new under the sun. Every invention of man is really a discovery. The wheel was born when man saw an orange rolling on the ground. A monkey using the spring in a bent branch to catapult himself through the trees, a feathered seed flying through the air, a frog going downstream on a piece of board, lightning brightening the skies, all these things gave man ideas when he observed them.
We cannot downplay the curious mind. In every population there are people who are intrigued with the science behind things. When man formed into societies, hierarchies developed. Close to home, a wealthy class grew up in Mayaland. This wealthy class could pay the curious minds to study the stars and so forth. It is a fact that curious minds are dulled by hard labor. Wealth pampered the curious minds and it produced a calendar. It is written that there is no completely bad thing under the sun.
Slavery was a bad thing. But it produced immense wealth to pamper curious minds. Just check the dates of a slew of important developments. The Industrial Revolution can be traced back to the 1800s: Edison developed the light bulb in the 1800s, Bell developed the telephone in the 1800s, and Pasteur developed vaccinations in the 1800s.
With investment (research) many new products are developed. And marketers are on the spot to tell people why they have to discard their cassette tape for a cd, discard their regular toothbrush for an electric one. Clearly, the fear of the architects of the capitalist system was unfounded. They should have been asking themselves another question: what happens when all the wealth is concentrated in a few hands?
I saw a clip on Yahoo the other day, about the fabulous world of 33-year-old Mark Zuckerburg. Basically, one man with an idea capitalized on all the investments in an area of technology, and now he has cornered all (much of) the money. I’ve seen some behaviors (on television) at music concerts abroad. It’s no different from the world of Zuckerburg. One man has all the money and the rest of the world gawk.
Properly labeled, far right capitalism can be called a “groopi system.” The monarchial system is groopi too. In the Bible, Samuel, the holy man, warned the people of Israel about their desire to have a king. In 1 Samuel 8:10-22, we read: “So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
‘He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’”
We don’t need too much imagination to figure out the suffering there must have been for our brothers when the super-rich King Solomon came along and took one thousand brides. It must have been quite the agony for those 999 men who couldn’t get any wife. Unhappy people make an unhappy, volatile state. The Bible doesn’t say that Solomon sent a lot of the men to get killed in wars devised for the purpose of male population control. But we know that only eunuchs were allowed around his harem.
Putting those who love gawking aside, those must have been tough times in Israel. It is the same in capitalist states in Third World countries. Too much suffering while a few live the great life.
An economic system must serve all
We have heard the new American president sing a song to his people about making their country “great again”. We’ll confine ourselves strictly to the overtones of this message, which is solely about making America materially richer. Of course, it is nonsense. We all know that country is plenty rich enough already. It is just that some, like the Zuckerburgs, have too much.
Of course, there’s no completely evil system under heaven. We have heard of the wonderful altruism of some of the fabulously wealthy. It is great that some people have kind hearts, and the common sense to realize that if they don’t give back, the system that made them will collapse. Giving back from their excess cannot correct the grievous fault in their system, but it does hold off the end day of that unbalanced world.
The Europeans rode the same crest to glory that the Americans did. Slavery and exploitation of Africa and the Americas were their sources of wealth that made them into First World countries. They, the Europeans, are a lot smarter about the management of wealth than their noveau riche cousins in the USA. The Europeans (Canadians too) have chosen the obvious, the benign path of socialism.
In a letter to the Amandala editor, Mr. Brian E. Plummer explained what the Europeans are about, their thought processes, their vision for their nations. You can read the extremely informative letter in the Amandala of August 25, 2018, but these verses contain a substantial bit of the sober ideas the gentleman expressed.
“The world of work will definitely change; it is just if we manage the change for the benefit of the majority or for the benefit of the few…The global economy is changing and to compete the local economy also must change. The world has become very technological rapidly but is morally evolving at a snail’s pace. Over recent decades, although there has been a rise in inequality within countries, inequality across countries decreased significantly as developing countries began to catch up. Most people believe that technology changed the world and in particular the world of work. An analysis of history actually shows that it is decision makers and leaders that decide how technology is applied.
“Before the 18th century, people used to live on farms and work from their homes. Just before the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers started to gather workers and have them work in one place under supervision for a wage. For the first time work and home were separate. The Industrial Revolution accelerated that process but was not the initiator.
“Today the modus operandi of business is to maximize profit with the least regard as possible for the social contract and their responsibility to humanity… Some will argue that jobs that don’t exist now will be created. For example, a mechanic is the replacement for a blacksmith who used to fix horse shoes, etc. But remember the primary objective is not to create jobs but to maximize profit, so more than likely not enough new jobs will be created. This does not have to be the case. One alternative is a universal income being discussed in Europe, where just for being a citizen a person gets enough money to survive and extra is given for work.
“Another is shorter work hours. Instead of working a 40- or 48-hour week, a person works for 20 to 25 hours a week – being full time employment with all benefits. This applies the benefit of technology to the workers instead of the business owner…It is not by waiting for the benevolence of elites or politicians that the quality of life of people will improve but by working for it; enough people have to be resolved that better must come.”
Former American president, Barack Obama, told the American worker that in their system, technology is the enemy of jobs, not immigrants. In this March 10, 2016 AP story,”Obama just warned Congress about robots taking over jobs that pay less than $20 an hour”, Chris Weller wrote: “Buried deep in President Obama’s February economic report to Congress was a rather grave section on the future of robotics in the workforce. After much back and forth on the ways robots have eliminated or displaced workers in the past, the report introduced a critical study conducted this year by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
“The study examined the chances automation could threaten people’s jobs based on how much money they make: either less than $20 an hour, between $20 and $40 an hour, or more than $40. The results showed a 0.83 median probability of automation replacing the lowest-paid workers — those manning the deep fryers, call centers, and supermarket cash registers — while the other two wage classes had 0.31 and 0.04 chances of getting automated, respectively.
In other words, 62% of American jobs may be at risk. “These data demonstrate the need for a robust training and education agenda, to ensure that displaced workers are able to quickly and smoothly move into new jobs,” the report states.
The CEA (Council of Economic Advisers)study isn’t alone in forecasting robot replacement. At an annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science last month, computer science professor Moshe Vardi proclaimed robots could wipe out half of all jobs currently performed by humans as early as 2030. A separate report from Oxford University in 2013 found 50% of jobs could get taken over within the next 10 to 20 years — a prediction backed up in a McKinsey report released last year, which even suggested today’s technology could feasibly replace 45% of jobs right now.
In Mr. Plummer’s letter, we see the European response to this changing world. And what of Belize: how do these ideas apply to our “third” world country?
We really must keep Belize from becoming a country for the super-rich. The idea of a twelve family type nation, a rich and famous class in our midst, is rot to the Belizean fabric. People who want too much material wealth make our tamales and our rice and beans sour. If that’s your aspiration, you’re living in the wrong country.
In our home, we have read of fabulous barristers whose earnings dwarf that of the masses. The story goes that some of them are so smart they earn hundreds of dollars an hour. No, we shouldn’t grudge a man for his fabulous talent. But we can’t ignore that there is something skewed when one person can earn in one day what 60% of us don’t earn in a year. I think we have to tax those bohgaz to the full, for the good of all.
We live in a country that is faysi enough to pass abortion laws, yet the state takes little responsibility for the rearing of the children. So, when our little ones are seriously ill, their parents have to beg for assistance.
We want a Belize where there are no poor people, and no super-rich people (and I mean super-rich by our standards). We want a Belize where the people are equipped to survive, and we need a Belize where greedy people understand that the capitalist system has to morph into a system that doesn’t condemn a child to a life of excruciating poverty just because they weren’t lucky to have rich or well-off parents. Such a system is no pipe dream. Mr. Plummer explained some about it and it can work for Belize.