A Different Way of Thinking – Part three

Another topic that has been the subject of quite a few nights of critical thinking for me is why people so often do abuse the welfare system or why people do not take advantage of what seem to be obvious, easy choices and opportunities. I just spent two blogs writing about all of my luck in life and how I would have to be a fool to have screwed this up.  Although I do not believe that the abuse problem is as severe as others seem to, I do find myself wondering why other people like me, that were born with the material necessities in life still keep making bad choices with life, career and family. Like I said before, I do strongly believe that if people have good options for education and employment then they will take them. But what we often see and what then forms our bias is that many do have the necessary opportunities but  they still drop out of school, have unplanned families, and often quit what seem to be good starter jobs to enter into what appears to be far lesser pursuits that often burden society.

But why is that? Unfortunately, this is often not only the case among the poor but among the youth of the middle class more and more frequently as well. Could it be that I was wrong and that now, under Obama people know they can live a decent life supported by the government or their parents? Why get an education or bother with a 9-5 job? I just don’t believe it. To be honest I think a lot of the problem has to do with the type of jobs available in the current economy and the type of education that is favored, available, affordable and almost exclusively encouraged.

Although I do believe everyone should have access to higher education, I am just not sure a 4 year university degree in electrical engineering or an MBA is the ticket for everyone. Unfortunately, in today’s economy, if you are not of a certain brain type, educational and employment opportunities that provide a real future are quite a bit harder to come by than they once were, even a generation ago. People can demonize unions all they want but a lot of workers of several generations and skill levels were able to have careers that provided quality of life and general protections and retirement opportunity for even relatively common labor.

I also think it is too easy to blame today’s kids for being lazy or to blame a culture of dependency. The fact is that many are making the exact same choices their parents made just a generation earlier. Only kids today that don’t go to college are not encountering the same opportunity for a stable career that similar workers a generation ago did when they also decided to take the short cut and quick payday in the board game of Life. Why shouldn’t this new generation of non-college educated workers also have an opportunity to earn and honest wage, have a pension, health benefits, opportunity for advancement, and everything else that their own parents got when they made the same choice not long ago? Are today’s youth not as dedicated? Even in most non-union companies a generation ago, you could still get your foot in the door, work hard, and be rewarded for your loyalty by a company that understood the value of having a dedicated staff of local workers. This is just not nearly as common today where large mega corporations actually have an incentive to not keep long term loyal labor.

Today, unions and lower-educated, lower skilled workers are no longer relevant or of concern in most of our government subsidized mega-corporations. Certain jobs requiring lower levels of formal education and of a certain type of brain skill are given to people along with little room for advancement, growth, training and no long term security or benefits. They are paid next to nothing, given no time off and if they quit, a million others will line up to take their place because the system ensures an endless supply of low wage labor from workers with little other opportunity in life or worker rights to stand behind. The academically focused university system ensures that only a certain type and class of people get the good jobs with while lower levels of training and practical job programs that could make a real difference are non-existent for people with different sets of skills or talents.  It is no wonder so many bail on this lose, lose proposition, in favor of gang life, or a life of dependency on drugs or government aid.

Places like China use workers paid slave wages to manufacture our goods so that our corporate “job creators” can thrive. Any efforts to use legislation to bring those jobs home so that more of all levels of our society can have meaningful work or a fair wage are stifled by people that say regulations will kill the economy and drive away the job creators. It just doesn’t make sense until you see the size of income inequality and just how rich the rich are getting and how poor the poor are getting as a result. In reality the system is working very well for the guy like me that does well in math, science, and business but very badly for the working class and skilled labor or really any citizen that does not flourish under an academically rigorous form of education. But the push at least from one side of the isle is for broad expansion of the current system, union busting, and allowing capitalistic greed to rule over all, including basic worker and human rights. It is not the government’s job to promote this corporate agenda it is government’s job to regulate it. Based on the tone of this election there seems to be some confusion here.

Today anti-union rhetoric can regularly be heard spewing from the mouths of those who a generation ago depended on that very labor protection to provide the opportunities they now enjoy in life.  Sounds to me, like more corporate sponsored propaganda that has absolutely nothing to do with a government for the people and by the people. And absolutely nothing to do with critical thinking.

Is that fair? Should a company be forced by a union or the government to be loyal to its workers even when firing them and hiring somebody younger and cheaper to do the same thing would make the company more profitable? Yes, that is exactly why we have unions now and historically in this country. This is also why we have a democratically elected government and labor laws for that matter. I don’t think we should apologize for a government that protects citizens over corporate profit either. You can say this is wrong or cry socialism all you want, but consider the alternative. If we didn’t and corporate profits ruled over the rights of workers, you may well find yourself jumping out the window of your 120 hour a week IPhone assembly job instead of bitching about how the line at Starbucks made you late for your $80,000/year human resources job.

It is very easy to be an electrical engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, a venture capitalist or an accountant, to look at another and say “why can’t you just do what I did”. Unfortunately, just like not everyone was born with money, not everyone has the type of brain type, or thinking, and attention skills suited for these types of jobs.

For people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, there is no place for a musical genius, a compassionate caregivers, or an outside the box thinkers in their version of America.  “That’s not the way you grow an economy” is where the jobs program starts and ends for a great number of citizens that do not fall into their idea of what an American worker should strive to be. Hopefully we will all soon wake up to the truth and encourage and see the value in a system where individuals with skills in math, science, and business as well as those with natural gifts in other areas will all see opportunity for success in a rich and diverse coalition of all the people.

Not just the so called job creators.