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The philosophy of profit over people

Dear Editor,

The present world population is 7.6 billion as of August 2018 according to the most recent United Nations estimates. This is a testament of the success of human beings. From a biological perspective, we have been able to reach unprecedented population and still increasing with no end in sight. NASA plans to make oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars. Human beings are planning to take our species to populate distance planets in the future. In Belize people are more down to earth and care more about their quality of life, but everything is connected. In our modern world everything is changing. 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. Look at how manufacturing moved from the United States to China, Mexico, Pakistan, and so on because of cheaper labor. They did not consider the thousands of jobs that would be lost or the families that would not be able to send their children to college. This philosophy of profit over people is the vision of most businesses in the modern era. It becomes dangerous because with the advancement of technology, and in particular artificial intelligence, many jobs can be automated. Albert Einstein said,” The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” If this way of thinking does not change a lot more people will be unemployed in the future. The chart below shows how likely automation will replace people in various occupations.

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. Since there are fewer business owners than laborers, this will maximize the benefits of technology. The businesses are part of a society, and community. Most businesses cannot prosper in an unstable society. If people cannot earn enough money to take care of their family and themselves there will be social unrest and massive crime. It is a win–win situation. There is no chance, no destiny and no fate that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

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.

Yours truly,
Brian E. Plummer

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