The world has been going through a perceived crises for some time now. Unemployment rates are high around the globe and here in the United States the economy and jobs have been a pressing issue for the last decade.
During last November's elections there was a cry, by some folks, to elect people who will help the "job creators" - whatever that means. Never overly specific as to how those jobs would be created, the proponents of the "job creators" always tend to believe that giving economic breaks to, and loosening government regulations on, businesses will ultimately create those elusive jobs. But, I have a better idea! I've mentioned this in class many times to my university business students.
Here it is: do away with ALL government regulations on businesses. They can pollute as much as they want, ruin our water, air, and ground, to whatever extent they choose. They can also pay whatever wages they want as well...minimum wage laws would be done away with, totally. Soon, people would be hired in droves.
Plus, because there would be so much pollution, new companies would be formed to clean up all the mess our now non-regulated businesses would create. Ah...entrepreneurial ingenuity! Employment would boom! There would probably be more jobs than people to fill them.
Of course, there are MAJOR drawbacks. No one would be able to breathe clean air and respiratory sicknesses would skyrocket even further than they are now (the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would then...need more employees too), our water would be a mess and unhealthy to drink unless heavily filtered, the plants grown in our ground would be contaminated (as would be the ground itself), the animals that ate the plants would, most likely, become less healthy (including us), and our overall health rates would deteriorate quicker than they are today (the U.S. is ranked 51st among nations of the world in life expectancy).
It is very, very, unlikely that the cleaner-uppers would be able to make our environment clean enough to negate the constant pollution emitted by the messer-uppers. And - most of us, and our children, and their children, and their children, would have an extremely tough time existing in such an environment, let alone have the money to buy much more than basic necessities.
But...people would have their precious "jobs."
It is interesting to me that people put jobs on a higher pedestal than quality of life. To paraphrase a Native-American Chief who was addressing the "White Man" about work and jobs - his words are so very prophetic: "What is this thing you call work? Everything you need is right here."
So, be careful what you wish for, strive for, and desire. Unless you fully think it through and attempt to make sure that it enhances the quality of life for everyone (including, of course, yourself), and everything, on this Earth...it can wind up being the cause of your own demise.
It's been about a month since my last blog post. That's very unlike me. But...connectivity problems and computer glitches have created a situation that made it difficult to write on this site. Hopefully, that's over for now. However, I wonder how much of those troubles were related to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath?
Which brings me to the topic of this post. Over the past six weeks I've had some automotive problems as well. While my car was in the shop, I rented cars. When I checked my bills I noticed that there was a stark pricing difference during one particular week. My charges were about 60% higher than during any other week. Upon inquiring I was told that it was because of Hurricane Sandy. I was startled...to say the least. Then I questioned the saleperson, "Shouldn't prices be lower when people are in need? Isn't it the compassionate thing to do in order to help people out during tough times?"
Of course, in our system of free enterprise, these price hikes are not unusal. When I posted my situation on a facebook page, someone else mentioned that the roofers were (rightly, in his opinion) charging higher prices to those folks who were affected by the storm as well. I find the whole thing distasteful.
We live in a paradox. Our value system instructs us to help the needy, while our economic system leads us to take advantage of them. I did some further investigation and found that the Governor of New Jersey had to render an edict against price gouging. That's says a lot about our morals - when the government has to stop businesspeople from taking customers "for a ride."
What has happened to treating people fairly and with compassion? If you study our financial system you'll also see that credit card companies charge people who have bad or questionable credit higher rates than those who have good or excellent credit. It creates a "catch 22." How can a person improve his or her credit when he or she is being "legally price gouged" with exorbitant interest rates and fees? When I was a kid they used to call those types of interest rates "loan sharking."
Can our economic system ever be fair? I doubt it, but...it's possible. What we all need to do, as consumers,
businesspeople, and leaders, is to teach fairness, compassion, and kindness. Of course, businesses must make a profit. But they can do so without taking advantage of their customers and employees. For that to happen, I believe that we need to adjust our societal moral compass. It only takes the realization that when a business treats people right, they create good will, positive "word of month" advertising, a lot more customers, and...loyalty. It works every time!
Many students, seminar/workshop attendees, and friends, ask me what they can do to start the change process. My video outlines some initial steps that anyone can take.
Today we celebrate "Our Mother." The ceremonies, at least the ones associated with this specific day - and the week preceding it, started in 1970. Back then, I was a twenty-two year old who was very familiar with the Be-Ins that were held on Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. I attended them regularly and this time was no exception. It was not unusual to see thousands upon thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of people gathered to listen to some of the most popular bands in rock-n-roll perform at no cost to the attendees. There was always a feeling of camaraderie there and, besides the enjoyment of music, a purpose - whether it was about ending the Vietnam War, or protesting prejudice and supporting civil/equal rights. But on this day, there was a different agenda, another goal of awareness, and a new call to action.
It was as much a Teach-In as it was a Be-In. Sure, there was lots of music, but there were also speeches about the destruction of our environment, the polluting of our rivers, stream, oceans, air and lungs. We were learning, or reinforcing, the realization that our penchant for "progress" was killing us. Humans, for some bizarre reason, have this self-sabotaging behavior of wanting to destroy our home. We will do whatever it takes to take whatever we want...regardless of the consequences to our planet, ourselves, or future generations.
The speeches that day by Senators Edmund Muskie and Hugh Scott, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, poet Allen Ginsberg, and many others, were calls to stop the madness and to enable us have our home become the pristine place it was not that very long ago.
That first Earth Day has morphed into a tradition and a movement. And, while some "believe" that climate change doesn't exist. Or...that pollution is somehow a result of "progress," with byproducts (like carbon dioxide) that should be taxed or traded. I, sadly, see that we haven't exhibited very much love for "Our Mother" or ourselves in the last forty-two years. Yes, we've made some progress in correcting pollution. But not enough. For every step we take to correct our problems we also add new ones. Our food is now "modified," our water comes in plastic bottles, or taps need filters to clean out what was originally clean, and our clothes contain toxins.
So...what have we learned since, at least, 30,000 people attended that event in 1970? Perhaps we're more aware of how we're poisoning ourselves, "Our Home," and our children. Maybe we've altered our behaviors and don't consume things that we know will destroy us. It's even possible that we're changing, in positive ways, as a global society. But - time is of the essence. Otherwise, it's entirely possible that someday in the future, they'll be no people left to celebrate "Earth Day." Be constantly vigilant. Because...there is only: one Earth, one atmosphere, and one species known as Homo sapiens. Let's all work to make sure they all exist in a healthy manner for a very long time.