23 September 2012

Addendum to last post

One more thing concerning the economy. When I returned for college from Argentina, where I grew up, to the US, where I was born, I noticed something profoundly unsustainable about the American economy. Everyone took it for granted that everyone could be almost equally wealthy. Construction workers, electricians, and plumbers were as affluent as their customers. It was clear to me that such a situation could not continue indefinitely. People who provide services cannot make as much per hour, much less more per hour than their customers. How can I pay someone for services more per hour than I make? It works for a twice-a-year service of the pool, but that's about it.

I pointed out to some plumbers who were working on my house how they were overpriced and how I could not as a rule afford their services. Their answer was "Well, you don't want to mess with this kind of dirty work, do you?" In fact, no, I don't. But that avoids the question. If you price yourself out of the market, you will not get clients.

So what have we done? We have sent almost all our manufacturing to other countries, often at slave labor wages, so we can still get our consumer products cheaply. We hire immigrants from very hard-working countries like Mexico who are glad to work on our yards and houses much more cheaply than non-immigrants would and they take pride in what they do and are thankful for the work.

We need to learn from them. Joy in life does not come from how much we make, regardless of how ingrained an axiom that is of American "culture." It comes first from being a good parent, spouse, and son or daughter and from taking pride in a job well done. Accumulating money and/or consumer goods bring no lasting satisfaction whatsoever.

The idea that money can save us comes from the earliest part of the modern period (1450 to 1700, more or less). We are now well into a post-modern era which has no name as of yet. Let's put that one to rest and set our sights on what is good and lasting.

1 comment:

  1. I agree... You hear people complain about the job market, who are very desperate for work, and then you have farmers who really need employees on their farms. But North Americans don't want to work on farms picking berries. They want to be rich and famous. So those decently paying jobs are given to immigrants (illegal or not) because they are willing to do the job. I guess if someone doesn't want to pick berries, that's their right but... there is work out there, we've just become too entitled to do anything without pizzaz.