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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Working Poor Summary

Posted by Tim Stobbs on March 12, 2008

In yesterday’s comments a few people touch on the fact that life long people who are poor have often lost hope that things will get better.  Their motivation dies and they are now stuck in that life.  I know that happens, I’ve seen it with people I know.  It’s hard to watch and do nothing (or try and having nothing change), but in the end until people want to change there isn’t much you can do.

So do we turn and blind eye and let them sink or do we address some of the root causes of it all?   Perhaps what is missing from most discussions around the poor is what caused it all.  What happened to create this mess and what can we do about it?  I won’t pretend to know it all, but I’ll put out an idea and you let me know if you think it makes sense.

The issues is capitalism at its core values money more than life.   Companies seek ever expanding growth at any cost including our water, air, land and most of all ourselves.  Companies can pay lip service to the environment and caring for people, yet day after day the signs are there.  We are slowly killing ourselves for money. Yet in the end capitalism must fail.  Otherwise we will consume products that are literally consuming our ability to live on this planet and creating vast gap between the poor of our society and the wealthy which reduces the poor to nothing more than slaves.

So your thinking “great, how do you stop that”!  Well perhaps we should start with ourselves.   Stop buying crap you don’t need, a company can’t make a profit if you don’t buy it.  Start buying what you need at more local small business where possible.  Start with your local farmer’s market if nothing else.  Capitalism excels at sucking money out of a local economy and shifting elsewhere.

Then it’s perhaps time we looked at our investments beyond their profit numbers.  Do you really agree with ripping up an area the size of Florida just to get some oil or their sub contractor makes a product overseas with working conditions that you wouldn’t subject any animal to?  I know I’m guilty of this.  I try to be somewhat environmentally friendly in my life, but so far I’ve turned a blind eye to my investments in any ethical sense.  Why?  I think on some level I know it will be hard to find something that makes some money and that has some sense about having some ethics.

I don’t pretend to know the answers.  I’ve just recently come to think that problem with everything may be our economic system itself.  So I’m still digesting the implications of it all to my life, my community, my nation and my world.   Your thoughts as always are welcome, please share.

Comments

8 Responses to “The Working Poor Summary”
  1. Well, yes and no. These are complex issues.

    Take buying local. At an economic level you may be supporting the people who work in your local community….but at the price of taking work (and its economic benefits) away from workers in other countries. I have no views as to whether there is a “right” answer to this issue. However, the economic benefits of free trade are well proven and pushing the “buy local” position to the point where it detracts from the economic well being of a wider group of people.

    At an environmental level, buying local is usually a positive – but not always. There are instances where buying imported is actually better from an environmental perspective.

    As depressing as it sounds, the only long term solutions to the continued environmental degredation of our planet are to accept a lower standard of material living, technological improvements and stopping population growth. Needless the say the political, social and economic implications are likely to be both controversial and painful.

  2. ELizabeth says:

    We use ethical funds. Which perform really well, and it gives us just some level of comfort when you get these attacks of conscious.

  3. Money may be the standard when dealing with strangers, but relationships also matter too. Just like someone with a high level of skill or training will find it easier to get a well-paid job, having good relationships with a lot of people helps. This is one of the biggest things that can get people past the “profit-first” mentality and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

    Another things to remember is that there’s long-term profit and short-term profit. Companies built to be around in a century have very different behaviour (and a better chance of reaching their goals). Short-term thinking leads to short-term lifespans – like arbitrage traders some companies might seem to make a lot of money without doing much of value for others but after a while people usually stop giving them the opportunity.

    I happen to think that personal relationships are also the best level to fix things like being “working poor”. Trying to change the economic nature of another country or even your country to benefit people far away is one thing, but most people don’t have to drive 5 minutes to find someone they could help…

  4. Traciatim says:

    I think you are confusing capitalism with corporations. The corporations will do whatever it takes to make money. The people will do whatever it takes to spend the least amount of money. Capitalism isn’t really the corporations and the corporations aren’t really Capitalism, though intertwined now they aren’t really the same thing.

    If the cheapest choice with the best profit was local goods, then McDonalds and Walmart would be sourcing local goods to each store. The problem is you can go to a farmers market and buy a local carpenter built chair and table set for a grand, or you can buy a similar item build in Malaysia for 300 bucks.

    If everyone was making the choice of the carpenter, then the Malaysian goods would stay in Malaysia. The purchasers have ALL of the power here, and that’s capitalism. Unless everyone wants to change, then no change will happen.

  5. stevey k says:

    Capitalism brings economies of scale and ensures human capital is allocated where it benefits everyone the most. Someone overseas gets a means of supporting themselves they wouldn’t otherwise have, and you benefits by getting something for less $.

    If I buy product X from local shop for $15 when I could have purchased it at Wal-Mart $10, what I’ve essentially done is paid the local shop the market price of $10 plus given them a $5 donation. Not everyone can afford that donation (and that $5 is probably better used donated elsewhere or remaining in the shopper’s pocket).

  6. Rosie says:

    Ok, I’m de-lurking from Victoria… :)

    Tim I’d love to hear what you think of a new book called “Simple Prosperity” by Dave Wann (author of “Affluenza.” My impression is that he tackles some of these questions, including where to actually put the money you have that you want to invest when you don’t really want to support the system and its status quo. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list and would love it if you did!

  7. Traciatim says:

    I would but apparently my province doesn’t have it available at any of it’s libraries, at least according to their search page.

  8. Dale says:

    Rosie: D. Wann “Simple Prosperity” is
    being discussed at a great blog The Non-consumer Advocate, a frugal-environmental-nurse etc in Portland. (I’m also in Victoria)
    Traciatim: libraries will get any book you want from other provinces or even the U.S. for free (but they have to absorb the postage). And you can suggest that they order a particular book. (How much did I blow in my life buying books, paperbacks, cookbooks etc etc before finding out the library has nice shiny new books you can reserve and just pick up from your hold shelf.)

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