So, if you’re not up on current world events, yesterday was Labor Day in the United States of America.
This is a holiday dedicated to not working and drinking beer. Also, 6:39 p.m. on Labor Day marks the precise moment after which women are not allowed to wear white. This may or may not be law (I believe it is in the Hamptons).
Labor Day, by the way, was a holiday invented by a person with the last name of Maguire. Historians debate whether it was Peter, Paul, or Mary Maguire. At their monthly Historians For Historical History meetings, the scholars sword fight over this contention before finally coming to full consensus that their sweet, sweet folk rock sounds are mighty soothing. And then the historians cry, hug, and wear bell bottoms.
Peter, Paul, or Mary invented Labor Day in order to give the weary and worn American Workers one much-deserved day off, hoping they’d never find out about Europe’s three-month “holiday” every year. So far, their plan is working, mainly because American workers are too busy sleeping, trying on shoes, or playing Angry Birds to care.
However, in these bleak economic times, it almost seems disrespectful to celebrate Labor Day. After all, if you watch the news, somewhere between 10-98% of the workforce is unemployed (the latter statistic I culled from Fox News).
We’re in the middle of a presidential election year, which is a period every four years where really rich men explain to peons how they totally get their pain. One of the big talking points of the two very stand-up, reputable characters up for election this year is: Job creation.
Job creation, you see, is what’s expected of the leader of a country based on free-market capitalism. In fact, the President of the United States of America has a secret green button, hidden on his desk, labeled “create jobs.” And it’s at his sole discretion whether or not he pushes that button.
If you follow your partisan friends on Facebook, you’ll understand that Obama has chosen not to push the magic button, but Romney probably would somewhere in his 342nd day as president, if he can find it under his monster piles of cold, hard cash.
Of course, there is no magic button. (Although if you believe Paul Ryan, he was the sole inventor of this job creation button, a concept he thought of while running a 300-mile marathon through a pack of rabid lions in right around 7 minutes.)
But no. There is no magic button.
And, frankly, this “job creation” debate is one of the biggest piles of horse puckey I’ve ever smelled.
I’m not sure when or why it became the responsibility of the president to “create jobs,” or why so many of the American populace now believes that their livelihood is dependent on a government so enmeshed with corporations that it resembles raspberry-cronyism pudding. Mmm. Deliciously corrupt.
If there’s one political ploy being bandied about in the next few months that I hope you don’t fall for, it’s the “job creation” ploy.
You know who’s going to create a job for you? You are. No matter what any silver-haired fox of a nightly news anchor tells you.
We’ve been given an incredible gift in this economic crisis.
It’s the gift of knowledge. The gift of clarity. The gift of being able to discern just who’s responsible for our prosperous well being and who is not. Who is? We are. Who is not? The government.
Every crisis is an opportunity for change.
So, in the face of this knowledge, what are you going to do to seize the personal prosperity you have a right to? Get crazy and creative with your resume. Start that business. Write that book. Create a blog (!). Grow your own food. Learn the beauty and exquisite joy in living simply.
Inspire those around you to do the same, by being so enthusiastic and giving that they can’t help but want to join in.
Before long, you’ll be living high on the hog that you feed your table scraps.
And the politicians will be talking only to themselves. Which is what they deserve for being so self-aggrandizing as to think us honest, thoughtful individuals need them to create our jobs.
Let’s make a deal that by next Labor Day, we don’t even have to talk about job creation and unemployment, because we’ll be so self-sufficient that we’re happily cherishing the lives we’ve built.
Yes. We can.
This message was approved by Peter, Paul, and Mary. And … hopefully you.
(P.S. Feel free to discuss politics here, but the absolute SECOND anything gets out of hand and becomes partisan, irrational, or hateful, I will delete and close the comments. You guys always have the best discussions about difficult topics, taking each other’s opinions into account in thoughtful ways. So I’d love to see that happen right now. Just … keep it kind and crunchy.)
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
I think you are right about gov’t not making jobs, but gov’t can make it easier by putting less tax burdens on the business and on individuals. And that means by being smaller.
Also, I do think your statement about Romney’s cash is just in line, sadly, with the mainstream media. He made that money himself and from what I have read, his company, Bain, was successful 80% of the time rescuing failing companies. That’s pretty darn good compared to most businesses and better than the current administration while it throws around money it doesn’t have.
And if we are to criticize him for being wealthy w/ his 250 million, how about we first look at the present day value of Kennedy’s money. I researched it and it is 6.9 bilion. So enough bad mouthing of Romney’s wealth in my humble opinion. I love your content, by the way, and am glad to talk money and politics, but I think we all need to keep each other clear on the facts etc.
I absolutely LOVE this post! You should absolutely be writing a book about politics! I’d read it, for sure! Thanks for this post.
THANK YOU! I’ll just say it – I’m sick of hearing people whine about not having jobs. It’s not the government’s fault you don’t have a job. Sure, politicians have messed with the economy and screwed it up and that makes it more difficult to get a job. But there ARE jobs. North Dakota oil fields have tons of work. Louisiana has a lot of economic growth, and there are jobs. Most people can’t find jobs where they are, and wouldn’t dream of picking up and moving to fricking cold North Dakota. Moving to where the work is used to just be what people did. Now it’s a shocking concept.
Dh works construction. The past four years have been terrible for us financially. He’s had to travel more to find work and hasn’t made much (we’re considered to be living in poverty, lol. We think we’re doing ok!). We’re in the process of moving to a different state where there’s more work. We’ve struggled and eaten lots of rice and beans, but we’re starting to make some progress! It’s SO much work, but it’s better than sitting here complaining about how politicians ruined our lives (which wouldn’t be true).
There’s always something you can do to better your situation. It takes time, hard work, creativity and boldness, but there’s always something.
Great discussion. I’m a recent blog follower ( I found you like … umm … Yesterday)
I dare insert a Canadian take on Labour Day ? (hehe)
In Canada I like to think we haven’t yet lost the true meaning of labour day. We are also in a tough political situation here in BC and will be having a major shakedown of government sometime in the spring. It’s a scary time to be a working chump!
Yes – labour day is truely a great reason to drink beer
It’s also a great time to remember that we didn’t always have the working conditions we do, minimum wage (which is $10.50 here) or an 8 hour work day.
We’re come a long way, but we’ve got further to go!
Jenn Haven Maven Jennings
I so would love to see Washington reading this thread…
American Labour Day = WORLD event???
Um, yes. Saying “current world events” doesn’t imply that it affects the entire world, but it’s something that affects a nation as a whole. It’s something that happened IN the world. As another example, a current world event would be the earthquake that just happened in Costa Rica.
“Are you up on current world events?” “Yeah. They just celebrated Boxing Day in Great Britain, but not much else happened. That’s how it is around the holidays in international news …”
My goodness. Of all the things to focus on …
This is my favorite political talk I’ve read this year!! Thanks 🙂
“American workers are too busy sleeping, trying on shoes, or playing Angry Birds to care” That line is fantastic! It also applies to Paraguayan workers (where I am from). And kind of sums up a lot of the problems we – as a species – have created for ourselves. Instead of spending all that shall-we-call-it-energy? creating jobs.
Well done! Congratulations on a very nice written piece.
People do need to take more responsibility for themselves. My husband and I have always worked hard and lived below our means. Now we teach our children this. We watch others try to “keep up with the Jones” and it makes them struggle financially but most don’t blame themselves. Society needs to change. As you stated about jobs and making it happen for yourself; the past three jobs I have had I never looked for. I was staying home with my children and due to my volunteering and showing my good work ethic and honesty I was offered positions. I’m not saying this happens to everyone but I am convinced it has to do with how we live our lives.
My personal business is struggling right now. But to me applying for a job means I’ve failed. So I am brain storming new business ideas right now. I’ve always said, I don’t want anything from the government except freedom. Especially freedom to prosper so I can take care of my family, not the government taking care of my family.
that’s putting things in a nutshell pretty well, i think! i just love the way you write and you always manage to crack me up! i’m not so sure that i agree that presidents/other people don’t play a part in creating/destroying job opportunities, however i do agree that people need to get active in creating their lives instead of waiting for it to happen to them. well put! 🙂 lisa
I totally agree with you Betty when you say ” we HAVE to change our
consciousness before we CAN solve the problem that was created in the
But I both agree and disagree with “It’s really all an illusion and a weird fairytale we tell ourselves,
because in your day-to-day life, the government and the corporations
really have very little effect. The only effect they have is the time
and space you give them in your head.” On the one hand, yes it’s true, as I go through my day my decisions and activities probably bear little direct relation to corporate agendas. But on the other hand, if we believe in something that kind of makes it true. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any personal power. I greatly enjoy my every little rebellion. For example, i love the feeling I get when I make my own laundry detergent or grow my own tomatoes, making the dollars I spend that much more powerful because they are consciously spent.
Also, spiritually or metaphysically speaking I believe there is amazing
power in living life consciously, to the point that we can shape our
realities in ways we might never have dreamed.
But, there are two areas of my daily life where I am VERY aware of corporate interests working counter to my own, and I don’t think it’s all in my head: education and food production. Until recently I was a college instructor. I spent tons of money and put myself into lifelong debt in order to become a professor because I really believed in what I had to teach. I went into the debt knowingly, but just about the time I reached the point of no return in grad school (in terms of money and labor invested), I became aware that this dream would be virtually unattainable. I could go on a long diatribe about it here, because I really am heartbroken about it, but in a nutshell, as US universities are run more and more like corporations, profit, not learning, is the bottom line. In order to afford the costs of a massive administrative bureaucracy, professorships are not being renewed, with the result that 75% of college instruction is now being done by “adjuncts.” Adjuncts are the illegal workers of the education system. We receive no health insurance, benefits, disability, or unemployment insurance, are hired in 4 month segments with no job security (i.e., you never know if you’ll have a job next semester), are routinely unemployed for at least 3 months out of the year, and make less than $20K a year–usually more like $14K. Contrary to what some politicians would have the public believe, that college instructors barely do any work, every adjunct I know (including me) routinely works 80+ hour weeks. Perhaps worst of all, the for-profit model of running universities has led to instructors being forced to lower academic standards to the point where students are not getting the education they are paying for–and they are paying a lot.
Once upon a time, this would have been seen as a disgrace to our nation, which rightly prided itself on its high standard of public education and civic involvement. Now, most Americans are completely unaware as the university system is literally melting down. And if you think it’s any better in primary and secondary schools, think again, because the teachers are trained in the universities that are bilking them out of a decent education. Most of my students cannot even write a grammatically-correct English sentence–and those were the native English speakers. Critical thinking skills? Don’t make me laugh. And then there are the politicians arguing that liberal arts education is unnecessary and “elitist.” I don’t know about you, but I’m very suspicious of anyone suggesting it’s possible to know too much.
Meanwhile, industrial agriculture has led to poor nutrition, crappy tasting food, an obesity epidemic, horrendous pollution and soil degradation, untold suffering for millions of animals, and chronic hunger in other parts of the world, and for most Americans there is no real alternative to this food system–it’s almost impossible to opt out. Even most so-called “organic” food is produced on an industrial or nearly industrial scale–it’s not truly sustainable. If we got educated about it and changed our consciousness, could we make this issue matter to politicians? Definitely. But corporate agriculture has its fingers in so many pies that people would have to be prepared for a major crisis in changing over to a more sustainable system.
So, back to the question of job creation. Could I find and/or create a professorial job for myself? I think that with enough time and hard work, yes I could. Or, could I one day start my own little farm or market garden and grow food sustainably? Sure. I’m optimistic that way. But what I cannot do–not by myself–is plug all the holes in the leaky dyke that is the American university today, or the industrial food production system. The bottom line is, our lives are all interconnected, and we all need to be on board if we want to see real change. And that’s hard when politicians do everything they can to keep us from seeing eye to eye.
Sorry for the giant post!
Thanks Alexandra! Excellent examples of the kinds of structural problems that need more than knee-jerk responses. We need politicians that won’t allow agribusiness to write the regulations, energy companies to define national energy policy, millionaires on Wall Street to write economic policy. We need politicians who listen to serious scientists, not those who use ‘science’ to support the idea of ‘legitimate rape’ or to deny climate change. We need politicians who strip out social programs to cut the budget while extending tax cuts to the wealthiest. Both parties need to be called to account and if we won’t do it, who will?
It’s a tough issue. I grew up working class but with a pretty good education and stable environment. Later I lived in poverty, but eventually married ‘well’ and my DH gave me the resources and the opportunity to start a business that is doing very well. I benefitted from help from my parents, taxpayers who supported the schools I attended, medical assistance when I was ill and couldn’t work . . . I was helped in so many ways – and it worries me that some people would remove the programs that helped me. I understand that you are not saying “cut all social welfare programs”, and that you have a social conscience, but there are those who hear ‘personal responsibility’ and use that as the justification for cutting social programs.
Also, it can be easy to ignore the structures that have been sucking the vitality out of the middle class and pushing an increasing number of people into poverty – the tax laws that allow the highest paid and most wealthy to keep a higher percentage of their wealth and income than the lowest 80%, the acceptance of an ever greater divide between the compensation that the higher level CEOs and CFOs, etc. receive and the line worker receives, etc.
While unions can be criticized for bloated administration or unrealistic demands, the unions and progressive organizations of the early 20th century formed as a response to the robber barons. We can’t forget that they fought for the eight hour day, sick time, vacation time, medical coverage . . . I remember my grandfather describing his working conditions during the early years of the Depression – none of the above. He was injured on the job while preventing a disaster at the workplace, and he was just let go without medical care, severance pay, unemployment insurance, or any recognition of his value or needs (six children at home). The same greedy forces as those motivating the robber barons continue to cause those with financial power today to lobby for favorable laws to allow them to amass wealth without regard to how that effects society as a whole. While we work for personal responsibility, we also have to work for the good of the whole.
Also, and most importantly, I think we are looking at the end of an unsustainable model – consumerism, the industrial revolution, and the (ab)use of fossil fuels has brought us to the point that the environment won’t support life as we know it in a few more decades. We can hope to localize (and to try to build a local economy, but it is tough to compete with Walmart). We can take responsibility for our personal choices to live in a more sustainable way, but without meaningful and probably uncomfortable changes in the way most people live, I don’t think we’ll get out of this situation. These are macro-concerns, and taking personal responsibility might give us some satisfaction, but it is unlikely to make a difference to the planet and the economy as a whole.
My family and I started our own business, and let me tell you; the government makes it SO difficult for us to run. Without going into boring details, let me just say that we have to fight so hard on stupid useless rules that we almost couldn’t even open. Still, after 5 years of business, the government fights us at every turn. It seems every month some new fee has popped up, or we are missing one signature on a paper they never said we needed, and if we don’t get it to them in one week we have to close down… ugh. It’s just a never ending headache. I know regulations started out with good intentions for everybody, but I feel they’ve gone overboard.
And I know there are both good and bad sides to minimum wage, but on the side of the “job creation” argument, I say that it needs to stop going up. We have to pay our employees so much, that instead of hiring 10 people to work here, we hire only 4, and end up working 18 hour days ourselves instead of splitting it between us and employees.
I do hope that there are tons of people out there learning to take care of themselves now. I get depressed when I go out and see people on their new iPhones paying with food stamps or talking about their welfare checks… but I know there are plenty of us that take responsibility for our own lives!
And of course, there is always Betty, teaching us to do things things simply, and our own way. 🙂
I think this was beautifully written and empowering. While it may not seem like we have much of a voice at times, big changes do happen when people keep persevering. I have found myself in the trap many in our nation face–overworked, underpaid, and intent on having more. The times I have scaled back have been the happiest in my life. When I have simplified, I see much more of the world because I had time to breathe and appreciate what was around me. It’s not that I didn’t care about the problems of the world, it’s more that I was too overwhelmed with my own problems created by overwork and stress and worry.
I moved this year to an area I never would have considered moving to. I had to scale down a bit but it was worth it. I now work from home. I make many of the products I used to buy and I feel better because of it. I ask myself why I ever spent as much as I did on facial cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and cleaning products or how I convinced others that they NEEDED to buy them, too. My skin has never looked better and I am able to take pride in showing and sharing my creations, things that came from my own hands, with others.
Now that I have freed myself from the pressures to do more or buy more, I am more sensitive to the injustices I see around me. My anger flares when I see what happens to the poor, what happens when people have to choose to buy insurance or pay for their rent or groceries, when people forgo following their dreams and obtaining a degree from a university because the cost is just too high, when those who do go to college worry themselves sick because the amount they have to pay back leaves them struggling to make ends meet just as one who never received that degree,when pollutants are put out into the air, water, and soil and nothing is done, when money and corporations have more value placed on them than humans, and when basic respect is thrown out the window and reality distorted to bend and keep others down. You get the point, I see and empathize a lot now that I have allowed myself breathing room and have taken that energy I used to put into working 70 hour weeks into supporting issues of social justice.
I think we all have the potential to change what we are seeing that does not make sense. We can live our lives to their fullest, we can encourage and empower others through our own actions and words, we can show respect and compassion with all we encounter, and let’s not forget that we can write letters and use technology and social media to our full advantage–if those who are telling us that they can create more jobs or create such and such law or that we need to buy this new gadget can use media to get their message across, we can, too!
“If we change ourselves, the tendencies of the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”
First of all,I love what you wrote! Wish you were running for president!! Secondly,my pet peeve with politics is why can’t ALL elected officials work together for what is the best for the WHOLE country?!? What happened to compromise?!? Officials are elected to SERVE everyone,not just the ones in their political group or the ones who agree with their opinions…but EVERYONE in their district! We all want jobs,healhcare,clean air,clean water,great education…we just disagree on how to go about getting it. Why can’t we all practice a little tolerance and work together so we ALL can have these things? What happened to common courtesy and being respectful to others?
I completely agree that all politicians should work together for what’s best for the whole country, but unfortunately, not everyone wants jobs, healthcare, clean air/ water & great education… or rather, not everyone sees these things as priorities because if you choose to look the other way, the problem doesn’t exist, right? *Some* people don’t think there’s a problem with the cleanliness of our environment. *Some* people think if you can’t pay for the education or the healthcare… Sucks to be you. And although *some* people SAY they’re for job creation, they’re doing everything in their power to block the (17) job creation laws from (completely) being passed without any discussion at all.
As CB stated, we do need to take responsibility for ourselves as best as we can~ but the fact of the matter is, not everyone is creative or educated or even informed enough to do so. That’s where we have to step in & lend a helping hand, whether it be with volunteer work to clean up the community, tutoring a child (or an adult), teaching someone to grow their own food & stay away from nasty chemical-laden products that are mass-produced because we ‘need’ them (ie: Walmart, Monsanto, etc) and especially, stepping up to pay their fair share of taxes (as much as it sucks, it’s a reality.) The government programs that are in place are FAR (really far) from perfect, but they do help a lot of people… they just need some adjustments to weed out the bad seeds taking advantage of them.
Here! Here! Sister!
Well, in my belief, if so many politicians weren’t hell bent on allowing and sometimes even encouraging companies to send their jobs overseas so that their CEOs and Presidents could make a few extra million a year (more money than most of us can even dream of making in our whole life-times) than we wouldn’t even be talking about “Job Creation” in politics. But, when the politicians screw it up to begin with, than it should be at least partially their responsibility to fix it. Now I’m not saying that we can all just sit on our tushees and expect the political leaders to come to our door with a job in hand, but I can honestly say, being currently unemployed, and with gas prices through the roof, that it is much harder now to find a secure job with enough income at a place close enough to still be making enough to pay the bills and live comfortably than it was 10 years ago. This is just my opinion, and I usually hate sticking my nose into politics, but for this I figured I’d throw in my two cents…
I’m with you. Unemployed/underemployed for going on 3 years now…first job literally disappeared due to administration’s threats and actions over mining…so much for shovel ready jobs. We couldn’t find any to bid on! We are also self-employed. Our clientele are high end entrepreneurs. They held onto their money & didn’t expand in 2008 and now t hey are holding onto it to see what other penalties they will have topay for in order to do business.
I absolutely agree my husband has lost 3 jobs to India,, Canada and recently Mexico. I have lost 4 to them all as well. Stop fussing about creating new jobs at fast food places and bring OUR jobs back!
Crunchy I do understand the message you were sending and I agree we do have alot of things we can do on our own
I did a fist pump after reading this post. I’m with you, Betty, through and through.
It is a common critique of our current system that free-market capitalism isn’t working. I don’t think we have any way to judge such a statement. We do not currently operate in a free-market system. What we have is corporatism or crony capitalism, and no, that isn’t working. But to blame the “free-market” is to create a phantom foe. I am 22 years old and have never been alive to see one day of an American free market. Is the solution less government? I certainly think so, but I don’t know so. But neither do we know that it isn’t. Today’s system can’t be an example of free-market failure, because it just simply isn’t a free-market.
The government has the monopoly on force. That will never change; it controls the military, the police, and the courts. When any body with that kind of control augments itself, we are, by definition, threatened. Therefore, I will always be on the side of less government. And furthermore, I am sick of being coddled by Harvard-educated men who truly believe that I just don’t understand what is best for me.
And to those men I say: “I do understand what is best for me: less of you.”
I love anything that teaches personal responsibility. Thank you.
Very well written. I appreciate that I am not the only person who feels this way in the world.
I agree with your message: “I think of the American Dream as the opportunity to use your own hard work to live the life you want to live.”
I have a desire to live a simpler, more fulfilling life. I, personally, do not want to spend my life in a cubicle were I “work” but see no fruits of my labor (unlike if I, say, had a farmstead and planted crops and literally saw and enjoyed the fruits of my labor). I would love if my family (my mother and my sister) would join me on this farmstead to help with the labor and in enjoying its rewards. But my sister, a former law enforcement officer, has no desire to join in that lifestyle. And I think that’s were the viewpoint starts to crumble. What about people that WANT to work in corporate jobs? Office administrators who enjoy helping to run and organize a company’s day to day operations? They cannot create that position themselves. True, they could do other things, like become hairdressers, but shouldldn’t they get to live the life they want to live working where they want to work?
Do I think it’s solely the governments responsiblity to create jobs? No. And I think it’s a message that’s been overplayed, but I can definitely see where the government could lend a helping hand (a la FDR’s New Deal, etc.).
Roz Ann Biondo
Ron Paul 2012! – even though he annouced last night that he’s not going to run third party 🙁
I agree. We might not be able to create jobs for ourselves as corporate systems analysts, but lots of people find ways to make a living as independent masons, yoga teachers, handymen or hairdressers. Some people even manage to make a living as a writer. 😉 It takes a plan and it takes hard work, sometimes it takes a lot of courage and a willingness to feel foolish, but it can be done.
That’s how http://www.HungryChickenHomestead.com got its tagline … “Promoting the Pursuit of the American Dream … one egg at a time.” I think of the American Dream as the opportunity to use your own hard work to live the life you want to live.
I would like to add some clairity and perspective on Right-to-work states and the differences unions have made for many americans in the trenches…whether in a classroom, factory or casino…A February 2011 Economic Policy
Institute study found:
Wages in right-to-work
states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling
for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic variables as
well as state macroeconomic indicators. Using the average wage in non-RTW
states as the base ($22.11), the average full-time, full-year worker in an RTW
state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW
The rate of
employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) is 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW
states compared with non-RTW states, after controlling for individual,
job, and state-level characteristics. If workers in non-RTW states were to
receive ESI at this lower rate, 2 million fewer workers nationally would be
The rate of employer-sponsored
pensions is 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states, using the full
complement of control variables in [the study’s] regression model. If
workers in non-RTW states were to receive pensions at this lower rate, 3.8
million fewer workers nationally would have pensions. Are these the types of things we work our
Ever notice how RTW states also tend to be the poorest states
that get the most federal welfare money? It is my hope that you keep an open mind on these issues and next labor day…take a walk through history and see the differences union workers have made in community actions. And there are plenty of sites you can BING or GOOGLE or JUST ASK to see the list of what a union adds to workers rights giving job security and peace of mind in the work place environment. mar francis
[email protected] com
Sorry. Unions are way past their time. There was a time when they were needed and necessary, but at this point they take dues, the higher ups in the unions live like sultans, members have literally NO say in where their union dues go. How much of that ‘higher’ salary goes into the pocket of the employee and how much into the union coffers?
It’s true that unions aren’t the altruistic organizations they were in my great-grandparents’ day, but the fact is that there is no one else who will stand for the workers when employers violate human rights–as, history has shown, they will do, over and over again. I’ve heard all the arguments against unions, but I’ve never heard a viable alternative proposed.
LOL! This is the funniest and loveliest way I’ve seen this spoken of. My hat’s off to you.
I agree, we are self sufficient if we really try. Being educated (I know many will jump on the government loans on this, but it does not mean just college here.) through whatever means, books, college, research, is empowering. We are not self sufficient when we give up constant learning. If we only operate in survival mode of just getting through the day, we give up our future. This can apply to those that are rich or poor. When we do this as humans, we give up reasoning and logic which is what helps us move forward. As far as our government goes, I think that until the baby boomers and older officials are replaced, we are going to continue to see a great division between parties. I think the boomers have been divided since Vietnam, and continue to hold onto their ideologies and try to flex their muscle now they are in a place of power. (I could be out of line, but it just kind of seems that this generation clings to one side or the other) I believe there is a place for government. It can grow into something we do not want, but the beauty is, we have the choice vote them out…and the secret to that is voting them out on the very small local level first, before they move on up the government chain.
I totally agree with this. Education is power. As the basic level of education in a country rises, so does the power of its people. I also agree that government has a place in the world. It should regulate and it should protect citizens against entities (be it individuals, businesses, or countries) that want to do its citizens harm. The problem with today’s government is cronyism and corruption. And the people have forgotten that WE are the government and we DO have the power to change it. If you favor deregulation, well, how does the little guy get to have his say? I can vote for a different president, but I cannot vote for a different CEO (or choose a different CEO if that company has a monopoly).
I kind of disagree. It’s just my opinion and it’s OK to disagree and I’m a big
biased socialist and you give great recipes for putting food on my face <3
And I hope even if you think I’m being partial or irrational you don’t think I’m
I disagree with you because the majority of people do not
(and will not be able to) work in jobs that they create for themselves, they have
to compete for jobs that are created by other (richer) people. Things like ‘start
that business’ or ‘write that book’ are not very often options if you are poor
because you won’t have money to start a business (nor access to loans) and writing
a book doesn’t have the immediate income that people need, nor the security
that it definitely will have one day. Sure some people will do these things but
most people won’t be able to. What most people need is more jobs in the labour
market and this isn’t something that most people can create themselves; it’s
about economic and labour and trade and investment policies where a government
deciding to invest in a particular industry can lead to job creation in that
industry. And the reason why it’s now seen as the government/president’s
responsibility (at least partially) is because neoliberalism – which told us
the best way to create jobs/wealth/happiness/eternal youth was to leave it all
to the markets and keep the government out of the economy – has massively
failed, as a lot of people predicted it would, and now a lot of people see the
need for the government to be involved in the economy. And, in my opinion,
seeing things like job creation as personal responsibility (or solely so) is
more likely to help the continuation of neoliberalism because it disregards the
need for change in our economic system by instead placing all responsibility on
the individual, which is sort of the ideological reasoning behind neoliberalism:
the government can stay out of things because the market creates opportunities and
people have individual responsibility to take those opportunities. But in
reality as I see it, the chance to access those opportunities does not come
equally to everyone. Some people with less
equal chances will struggle and fight and take those opportunities but others
will try and fail and (other) others will not know where to start. I’m not saying
there is nothing people can do to increase their likelihood of getting a job,
of course there are courses and voluntary work to improve your resume etc, but if
there aren’t enough jobs in the labour market there are still going to be plenty
of people with wonderful resumes that can’t get work, and it’s not because they’re
lazy or wanting others to do everything for them but because we’re in a global
recession and there aren’t enough jobs.
Phew. I hope you’re OK with me disagreeing <3
I’m very, very, very okay with you disagreeing! You did it in EXACTLY the way that fosters more and better discussion. Not in a way that regurgitates party rhetoric or blindly idolizes a candidate. Your way led to discussion. The other way leads to hostility.
And I totally get where you’re coming from, and I TOTALLY think both of our viewpoints need to exist in order to balance out the world and keep society from tipping too far one way.
And because I have never discussed political affiliation here on the blog, maybe I should explain. If I had to choose a label, I would call myself a voluntary socialist libertarian.
I truly believe that in order to be the giving, compassionate beings we’re capable of being, we have to have the complete freedom in order to “figure it all out,” as it were. Anything that takes away any freedom limits our ability to be the most brilliant human being we’re capable of being.
I believe that if you see someone in need, you should help them, and not just for altruistic reasons, but because the success of another person raises your potential for success. I also believe that handing someone money isn’t always helping them; it’s teaching them that they need help, instead of allowing them to learn their own inherent strength as a person. But I don’t believe those things can be forced, they can only be learned and chosen.
I believe a large federal government that siphons money, part and parcel, from its people, a government that is, frankly, afraid of the people’s freedom, is counterintuitive to all of those things. Even if that money is “redistributed.”
Especially if that money is redistributed.
The only way I know to personalize this in a story is this: When I was in my early 20s, my parents were giving me everything (although “everything” was not a lot, it was enough to keep me from learning my own ability). I lived in a half-state of achievement, because I believed I couldn’t make it without their help. I was, to put it frankly, a leech. People do not become self-sustaining beings through unlimited “help.” They become self-sustaining beings by having a support system, by failing sometimes, and by learning their own courage and accomplishment through trial and error. If you hand someone help all the time, they are robbed the opportunity to learn all of those things.
Where I think my message gets clouded, due to prior rhetoric and bias, is that I am NOT suggesting that assuming personal responsibility only affects a single person. The more people who assume personal responsibility, the more it spreads.
Finally, I think where our society fails the most is by marginalizing the beauty in struggle, the life lessons in hardship, and the fact that all “problems” exist in order for us to examine our own reactions to them and our own strength to change our lives.
To suggest that no single person (save those with severe disabilities) has the inherent strength to rise above, to succeed, is condescending and bordering on elitist.
Now. THAT being said, I know my opinion is not the only right one out there, and, like I said, I believe ALL viewpoints on the perfect societal structure serve to build a better world. We just need to learn how to have different opinions without demonizing everyone else.
At the end of the day, there is nothing political about what I believe, mainly because it’s hard to see any form of governing as anything less than oppressive.
So, while other people worry about government and politics and how we should control other people, my only job is to continually remind people of their inherent ability to be self-sufficient, compassionate, and magnificent.
It takes all kinds, yeah?
Thank you for such a lovely reply <3 I really appreciate that because after I posted I read everyone else's comments and thought "oh no I'm a lone voice!" It can feel scary to post such things because it's sort of like you're posting a bit of your soul and someone can click dislike! But I COMPLETELY agree that both sides of the debate need to exist, because it's incrediably rare for one person to be totally right and the other totally wrong; I think that disagreeing in the right, constructive way can lead to a much better answer and it's such a shame that all too often, because these things are such a part of who we are, disagreeing can create so much conflict.
I also want to explain where I'm coming from too. I guess I would label myself an ideological anarchist (in the postive, completely non-violent sense – I actually think anarchy is a beautiful theory, since it is based upon a belief in the ultimate good nature of human beings to exist peacefully and cooperatively without the need for any kind of power to restrain or control people). But given the current relaities of the world I think socialism to be the best realistic alternative for now, because if we have to have a government at all then it should be one which serves and protects the people. That is why I come to the belief, or feeling, that the government does have a responsibility in things like job creation. Because to me, if it's not doing things to help people, how is it legitimate?
I also agree with you that hardships (to a certain extent) can bring out the best in people and that overprotecting can lead people not to strive so much. But I guess because I see the current unemployment problems as so much caused by the economic system we currently have, I feel so strongly that that system needs to be changed and that if governments don't intervene, on the whole the power in the system will be left to the owners of capital, of big powerful corparations and lobby groups rather than to individuals, and while some people will be strong enough to flourish many others will not. But if THAT could be changed then I would totally be agreeing that it is the people who have the power to create.. anything. I just feel there is a need to elimate or overcome certain structures and realities in our current system before that can happen for everyone.
I hope that makes some sense! I don't often post in these kind of things, because I seem to have a very bad combination of having views which differ from the majority and being too worried about what people will think of my views! So again, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to me.
It makes complete sense, yo. And, honestly, I’m not sure there’s much difference between “voluntary socialist libertarian” and “ideological anarchist.” So there’s that.
Now, here’s a sticking point for me, this “corporate control.” I believe WE believe it exists, but at the same time I also believe that it’s a complete and utter fairy tale.
We – the citizens and the regular people – we hold WAY more power and have WAY more ability than we give ourselves credit for. What we need is for a majority of people to understand this and to STOP making selfish decisions that give the corporations more power.
We don’t need to force the corporations to do anything. We just need to make better and more conscious choices; we need to strengthen our small communities and lift them up, rather than feeding the beast.
It’s really all an illusion and a weird fairytale we tell ourselves, because in your day-to-day life, the government and the corporations really have very little effect. The only effect they have is the time and space you give them in your head.
Does that solve any problems? Not at all. But we HAVE to change our consciousness before we CAN solve the problem that was created in the past.
Yes I think there’s a whole bunch of truth in that. Maybe in my view of how oppressive capitalism can be I sometimes forget about the power of resistance and give corparate power too much credit. And also, you should print badges/buttons and t-shirts saying “we HAVE to change our consciousness before we CAN solve the problem that was created in the past.” I absolutely love that!
In regards to the idea that given the opportunity to do anything (without government regulation), people will grow and help eachother and society will become a better place, I kind of disagree. Will *most* people do the right thing? Yes. Will society eventually move towards that idyllic goal? Maybe. But there will always be the bad apples that spoil the bunch (the whole “Tragedy of the Commons” way of thinking or the “might makes right”.)
I agree with what yellowbrickroad said:
“I feel so strongly that that system needs to be changed and that if governments don’t intervene, on the whole the power in the system will be left to the owners of capital, of big powerful corparations and lobby groups rather than to individuals, and while some people will be strong enough to flourish many others will not.”
I do not want to live in a world where people and corporations (and governments) act only for their own personal gain, but as I commented below, until there is, as you say, “a change of consiousness”, I believe the government can be useful in regulating and protecting it citizens from those who which to do them harm (unless of course those people ARE the government, like we see today). But at least I can vote for a different president. I cannot vote for a different company or CEO (especially if there is a monopoly or all companies have banded together to set their “best practices”).
(In response to your first paragraph) I think those problems
are surmountable and I do believe it is possible to imagine a society without power, regulation and government, but I think it is more a vision of a possible future than something which could happen now; it would be a long process. I think the only thing that would mean that it couldn’t happen is if people didn’t want it to (because it would have to be democratic to work).
Regarding an earlier point that Crunchy Betty made about
redistribution which, if I understood right, was a preference against
redistribution because it could block people’s ability to grow as independent individuals (I may have got that wrong; I don’t want to misrepresent anyone’s views so I’ll respond to my interpretation if that’s okay!). I do agree that there is an issue if people are given everything and do not need to find their own way, but personally I believe that redistribution is necessary in our current system because in it wealth has a tendency to flow in some directions and away from others. I think it’s necessary in some instances to balance that bias and make society fairer. I don’t mean it in a condescending or elitist way which implies that some people can’t prosper due to not being strong enough or not having the right abilities; I see it as a flaw in capitalism that there is a tendency to create inequality.
In the UK we have working tax credits which are a subsidy on
low wages (funded by taxes). Now, as the system is I see that as necessary. But if the system were changed so that the businesses those people work for paid fair wages in the first place then that redistribution would not be necessary. And the redistribution isn’t impeding but giving people a fairer starting ground, or at least allowing them to pay their rent and still eat. Because just as having everything given to you can block your potential, having to constantly fight poverty definitely does too. I see that as an example of where government could intervene and regulate so that people get a better chance to flourish; or a more equal chance than otherwise. And of course some people who start out in the less equal position get themselves into the better position on their own, but a lot of people find too many barriers in the way.
I guess what I’m basically saying is that I’m a socialist because of the existence of capitalism. Without capitalism I think we could do very well without government; or maybe just a very small one which is there if we need it to do something we ask. But there are probably as many people who wouldn’t want that kind of system as would. I don’t know what the solution to that is.
Healthcare is a huge issue in my family because there are two people with chronic health problems. I should have some kind of medical certificate for the amount of research I have done about the various conditions we deal with. And decisions and choices made by law makers, publicly funded medical research and private medical and pharmaceutical corporations have greatly impacted my life and the lives of my dear family. We the people are the government. WE have decided that roads, police officers, public education and the military are important. WE amend those decisions on a regular basis. We decided 100 years ago that corporations are primarily driven by the profit motive (and this is no crime, it’s just that that is not a principle on which to build an effective society) and not the public good, and so it was necessary and good for government to step in and prevent the exploitation of children, of workers.
While I love small business, I also love my computer and doubt I could afford one if it were locally produced.
I absolutely agree on the value of changing consciousness and empowering ourselves to shape our lives and make our own lip balm and laundry detergent, which is significant and important. I also know that we have many social services in place for very good reasons. During the Great Depression, aid workers came to a home and found a young child nursing on a dog who had given puppies. That was less than 100 years ago. Many people have died and continue to die in this country for lack of medical care.
I see the problems with capitalism. I see the problems with socialism. I wish we would, as you seem to both be suggesting, return to a focus on democracy.
Kathryn 'Luedtke' Aispuro
I’m almost freaking out here seeing these different ideas being discussed in such an intelligent and respectful way! Awesome. I love to see people saying that not only is there not one “right” opinion, but that all opinions are actually necessary.
To add to what has already been said, I believe that one part of the American mindset that needs to change is this “us vs. them” mentality. I don’t mean republicans vs. democrats either. I mean the government vs. the people. Too many people view the government as this nefarious organization that is out to screw us over, and they become defensive because of this view. I don’t believe we can, or should, separate “the government’s responsibility” from our own personal responsibility. We need to start acting like the government is the representation of the American people that it’s supposed to be.
Does the government always represent my view? No. Usually that just means they’re taking a turn representing someone else’s opinion. If the government is divided it’s because the American people are divided. If they can’t decide on the best way to run this country it’s because we can’t decided which way we want them to run this country. And a lot of that does boil down to our belief of “my way is the best way” and our inability to work with others to come to a compromise that is best for all.
People often put the founding fathers on this pedestal as if they were the smartest people in the world and came up with a perfect system of government, but they miss the point of what those men did. They worked together to come up with a system that represented everyone and took into account different points of view. That’s the same thing that needs to be done now. Instead of trying to force one way on everyone we need to work together to incorporate the needs of many.
This is brilliant, Joseph. Seriously, brilliant. I agree 100%, and honestly before you’d posted I’d never thought about the fact that the “government is divided because the American people are divided.” I do question, though, that this is what many people in power desire (not just in government, but especially in media, because … well … ratings).
Unfortunately, as long as people use the media talking points to argue their case or beliefs, instead of doing exactly what you’re suggesting here and coming together to discuss things rationally and with great appreciation for other points of view, not much is going to change.
BUT! Now we have the internet, where we CAN have these rational, thoughtful discussions. And the more discussions that take place like these, the more we’ll set a new standard for the discussions in the future.
Also, I love your point of view so much, I’m going to post it in the comments on the Facebook page. More people need to see this.
A thousand years later…
Thanks! Sharing that is a huge compliment. I’m always happy to contribute!
Jenn Haven Maven Jennings
You definitely have a point (and thanks for voicing it!). I think the most important thing in difficult times (economic or otherwise) is to get back your sense of having some control over your life, especially when so much is beyond our control. Being able to grow some of your own food may seem small, but sometimes small things give an individual huge psychological bonuses and ease anxiety. Writing that book gives you an outlet for thought and creativity, and maybe eases the feeling that your needs are not being heard (whether you’re published or not). The human psyche suffers in times of turmoil…balancing it in any small way can open the door to bigger, better things. Or keep you from becoming a home-grown terrorist. 🙂
Toni Ridge South
Perfectly written and I couldn’t agree more!
Totally different country here but same old story – there is a large portion of the population who like to blame/rely on the government for things. The real power (although a cliche) lies with the people….not in voting so much as in just creating strong communities and families. Totally agree with you and you have a fantastic way with words.
I wore white shorts today. Shoot me. LOL
I find it really sad that we as an American people have decided we need to government to tie our shoes, make us breakfast in the morning, and protect us from that kinda important thing called life that we currently aren’t living due to our obsession with all things TV…..*sigh* And thank you for being a light among the masses that advocates self sufficiency.
This is something that I have thought a lot about, being a twenty-something that graduated in 2009 and knew that I was heading into the bleak unknown of working class America. I have noticed so much creativity and innovation, especially in the online community, and it really gives me hope. People are creating those jobs for themselves, and that is a BIG DEAL! That’s what I am striving to do right now, as I pay my way with random side jobs and any help I can get in the meantime.
I always laugh when “they” talk about presidents and job “creation”. What is this, communist Yugoslavia? When did we give up job creation to the president?? We are the job creators, we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams!
Yes, we do create our own jobs. But when the government sticks its nose into every single little detail of our lives, regulate us to death and be a general pain in my rear.
Alice Rognvaldson Panagopoulos
Thank you for a very intelligent essay! That is the truth ~ we have to create our own jobs. That is the way of the future. There has to be personal responsibility.
I adore you to pieces and this is just another example of why!
There is ALWAYS work to do. There are ALWAYS dreams to dream and bring to reality. Humans die when they are not in the process of achieving. Good words, CB. AND the new Etsy store rocks!
You are absolutely right about people creating jobs and not the government, but that’s what Mitt Romney is about. He knows that people create jobs. He simply wants government to get out of the way, to drop many regulations and reduce taxes on job creators. Obama, on the other hand, believes that spending taxpayer money to create jobs is the way to go.
Romney is not my personal choice, but in fairness, he is not the only one with a big monster pile of cold, hard cash. Seems to me that is what many of our politicians have, including the Kennedy’s, the Bush’s and the Obama’s.
Yes, it’s just that Romney, the Kennedys and the Bushes inherited their big monster piles and Obama earned his.
Lulu…you’ve not read on Romney have you. He donated his ENTIRE inheritance. All of it. He earned his money. Romney has spent 28 years in public service and never drawn a paycheck. Wouldn’t be surprised if he chose not to draw one as president either.
But on the other hand, Romney was born into the world with certain advantages (being white, being male, being straight, being wealthy, etc.) that, it could be argued, gave him a leg up in the world. Also, the fact that Romney doesn’t draw a paycheck is irrelevant, as his investments earn sufficient interest that he can quite comfortably (if not to say lavishly) live off that. It’s not wrong for him to do so, but let’s not pretend it’s perfectly selfless either–I mean it’s not like he’s living in a monastery somewhere enduring a vow of poverty. According to CNN, based on their available tax returns, Obama actually donates a greater percentage of his yearly earnings to charity than Romney does. (Of course, Romney’s total earnings are about 20 times greater, so the absolute amount he donates will be higher.)
I’m not saying Romney’s a bad guy–I’ve never met him. Achieving your personal dreams and goals (for example, by becoming wealthy enough to afford the lifestyle you want) is commendable (unless your
dream is like Nazism or something), but we need to be honest about
the fact that not everyone starts in the same place. We would be foolish and/or disingenuous to ignore the reality of privilege. As a blog post I recently read put it (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/), being a straight white (rich) male is like playing a video game on the lowest difficulty setting, while being (say) a poor black woman is playing with the highest difficulty setting. It doesn’t mean every rich white man is guaranteed to succeed, or can succeed without any personal initiative or hard work of their own, but achieving wealth and political power is easier for them. As a specific example, Romney may have donated his financial inheritance, but he was able to attend Harvard and Yale due to his family’s wealth and influence (you could call that his social inheritance), and that gave him a jumping off point that is a lot closer to being president than being a black woman with only a high school diploma.
Susan, you are right that in 1995, Romney donated a $1 million inheritance to BYU. However, his college education to ivy leagues was paid for, he did not have to work while he was in college, his parents bought him a house when he got married …. he had advantages that most people could only dream of. Since the Romneys appear to be quite savvy when it comes to taxes, and offshore banking, it is not known if Mitt Romney received other money from his parents.
Just to be clear, I am not saying that Mitt Romney has not worked hard. Just that he had the significant advantages of a very wealthy and politically connected family.
AMEN! So right on I hate talking politics because someone always ends up mad. It is sad that the people are believing that the government has that much power. Also I love your idea if you can’t create more money in your life then cut back and spend less.
i appreciate your P.S. often political debate gets so nasty so fast, we forget we are all american and have much at stake if we can’t figure out how to at least be respectful enough to listen and compromise.
my family has recently moved to the country to live simply. i am becoming wholly crunchy bit by bit (shampoo is my current nemesis) and just enjoying being. last night, my joy was making diaper rash cream for my little guy with an angry heiny. i love that my kids can accidentally spray each other when they clean and i dont have to worry about an er trip.
we have gotten so hung up on competing, we have forgotten how to cooperate.
crunchy for life. i think i need that in old english font on my back….
I can’t recommend the tattoo, but I did try the Chagrin Valley shampoo bar, and I’ve been quite happy. I stopped using my well over $1 per oz. shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, hair gel, and other products all packaged in plastic, and switched to a bar that comes in a paper bag, shipped from the next state over from mine, and though I haven’t researched it, I get the feeling Chagrin Valley is not a multi-national corporation out to buy the next election.
It is well said and true that we must create our own opportunities. And when government gets out of the way, well the moon is the target. Unfortunately there many regulations that make it difficult for small businesses to prosper – and these regulations make many small business owners leery of hiring more. So that’s my word up to the government – GET OUT OF MY BUSINESS. And I’m going to vote for the person who is most likely to do just that.
Agreed! As a small business owner I’m constantly running into roadblocks. The government wants to regulate everything, tax the crap out of me, and requires so much paperwork and hoop jumping that it’s hard to actually get to the actual running of my businesses! Can’t wait to send 30% of my earnings off in taxes next year either! Yeesh!
As a former small business owner, I was proud to pay taxes to our great nation that allowed me the freedom, provided me with the education to pursue my dreams. As someone who reads a lot of history, I know where regulation comes from – exploitation and abuse. If you’ve never read “The Jungle,” I highly recommend it. Those who fight for regulation, like Teddy Roosevelt, fight to protect people. While the paperwork can totally be a hassle, spend time a second or third world country for a taste of what happens when there is no regulation. We get our money’s worth, in my opinion, to live in this country and savor its freedoms and benefits.
I’m retired now but when I was working as a public school junior high teacher I had to send off 30% of my paycheck to pay taxes. Now I send of the same percentage out of retirement money. As a teacher I also had loads of government regulation to deal with so whether a business person or a public employee we all must deal with paperwork. HOWEVER, I also have always known just what my taxes pay for: roads, fire and police protection, military, schools, and loads of other things. I’m happy to pay my fair share.
you should run for Empress of the Common Sense Party, as you are wise beyond the stars.
To quote Dennis Miller: beautiful, baby!
AMEN, MS BETTY, AMEN!
As a non American citizen, I approve your message. But you have forgotten about many citizens of both the USA and Canada cannot even pick up their own litter, spay or neuter their pets or miss a manicure appointment, never mind creating themselves a job. It’s far easier to blame someone else, cash a welfare cheque and buy disposable products from overseas. Who wants to work!? Sorry if this is inflammatory . . . I AM Canadian
Thank you! Totally agree. 😀
omg. I was JUST thinking of this last night!!!!!
I love this! It’s right on the nose and it just makes you wish both sides could just be honest as to what they really can do or can’t do…but in the end it’s what “we” can do that will make the difference.
I love it, very well said. My hubs and I have been talking about a crunchy business for most of the summer. Things got pretty deep last night and I may be ready to take the plunge. Thanks for the confirmation you just provided (albeit unknowingly)…it helps to know I’m not the only sane one out here! xoxoxo
Preach it, Crunchy Betty!!! Great politics, and I fully agree; we are the ones responsible for ourselves and our futures; not the many blood sucking ‘tics in D.C.!