An Economy is Not a Society, by Dennis Glover

an-economy-is-not-a-society
The first part of this book could be dismissed as nostalgia, but I think that would be short-sighted. Dennis Glover revisits his childhood, working-class suburb of Doveton and compares its past prosperity to its present day poverty. He uses this comparison as an example of the broader nation. The experience of Doveton isn’t limited to one small town.

page51Glover makes it clear that economic changes and “progress” since the 1980s haven’t been as positive as we are led to believe. Economic growth is relative and depends what frame it is viewed through.
Overall a nation may be booming – but what is more important, the creation of wealth or the way created wealth is distributed?

 

page81

Glover shows that in the national pursuit of “increased productivity” and economic growth, an increasing number are being pushed aside, left as unwilling sacrifices to those pursuits, and are being left out of the sharing of the nation’s (allegedly increasing) wealth,

A statement like: “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” can easily be dismissed as clichéd, but Glover shows the reality behind that statement where people who would have once been part of relatively well-off working class families, have now been left with no opportunity of getting secure employment, while others “profit” from the savings made through disposing of an “expensive” workforce.
Members of the one time working class are accused of not wanting to work, and yet the reality is usually a matter of there being no opportunity to work.

As a kind of postscript to the comments I’ve made about Glover’s book, last night I saw a story on the TV news about the future of local Technical Colleges. Apparently the Government is looking at closing the colleges and making their courses accessible online only. This gives them even more assets to sell off (the real estate etc) and also gives them “savings” on teaching and administrative staff formerly employed on each campus.

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21 Responses to An Economy is Not a Society, by Dennis Glover

  1. Marleen says:

    I don’t know what the people of Doveton used to be mostly employed doing. There was a big news story here in the States yesterday (it’s ongoing and not really new, but, yesterday, some official legal charges were announced) concerning the neglect of a city [in Michigan but smaller than Detroit] that used to center on automobile manufacture.

    Now, I’m feeling sentimental. Towns used to grow up because they were good places to live. There was a river for water, maybe a nice valley, good soil. Things like that. Life was about life. And that might be how that particular town started too; there is a river. Recently, the river was used to rinse car parts, the last vestige of the car industry.

    We have gotten used to the idea that manufacturing is leaving our country. And people are left poor for it. Now, they have been poisoned for it. The car parts factory left because city water treatment had changed, and now the water was too caustic for the car parts. But that wasn’t a clue to the state people in charge that something was wrong.

    I don’t know if the car parts operation left the country, but they left that city. Meanwhile, the people were complaining about the water coming through their taps, and no one was listening. They didn’t have a mayor who could do anything, because the state had taken away the power of their local government before any of this happened.

    But I want to say it’s not only about manufacturing any more. I’m sure many people have noticed a lot of jobs involving making phone calls have begun leaving. So, “customer service” and “customer support” (which I think is usually more involved than customer service to ordinary consumers) are largely handled in India.

    I know someone who works in the computer realm, concerning major computers for businesses. We had a conversation yesterday (completely unrelated to the news) about someone wanting to hire a person competent for technical customer support. He didn’t want to hire an Indian, but actually did want to hire an Indian.

    The issues were quality of work, and that balanced with price of hiring. Hiring an American cost, you know, a decent salary. Hiring an Indian involved anxiety on how well the new hire would or probably would not do. There was discussion over improving the possibilities by making it necessary that the hire be an American citizen.

    The person doing the hiring wasn’t sure that would help. You get the idea. Manufacturing is leaving, customer support is leaving. We think, okay, I have to get an education; maybe I should be an engineer. This same company recently sent a group of jobs in engineering… get this… to Russia. So, people were fired (“layed off”) here.

    • Onesimus says:

      Hi Marleen, Doveton was a major centre of car manufacturing (General Motors I think,) food processing (Heinz) and there was another major factory that I seem to recall was tractor related.

      My last job prior to leaving Sydney was in Accounts – and I noticed an increasing number of accounts departments in other companies were being relocated to either the Philippines or India, which made it more and more difficult to actually contact someone to follow up enquiries.

      And, a few years ago Gloria and I had problems with our phone service. We tried to get help from the service provider, but their call centre was in the Philippines. They did everything they could to stall the solving of our problem, insisting that we try this, then try that, and then call them back. I soon suspected what was going on – they were being paid according to the number of calls they took.
      Eventually, with difficulty, I found a phone number of an Australian office and insisted that I speak to someone in management. As a result we had a technician sent to our place within a couple of hours and the problem was fixed. Apparently a power surge (possibly from lightening strike) had compromised the wall socket where we connect the phone.

      But the story didn’t stop there – a few days later we had a call from the Philippines call-centre and we were told that the problem was with our handset and there was nothing they could do to help.

  2. Marleen says:

    I wonder if they got paid to call and tell you that. Of course, they didn’t even try to give you a clue (much less the number) who to call in your area for real help.

    I was charged improperly (by hundreds of dollars in a month) for phone service (over ten years ago now) when I switched companies to AT&T (not some fly-by-night) due to the good deal they were offering me (used ordinary Americans for the sales call portion of the endeavor). I called the number for when you have service, and got this person who couldn’t — actually couldn’t — say anything but, “I can’t help you with that, mam.” [She, I will guess, could have said “sir” too.] And, I’m pretty sure, she couldn’t understand anything I said to her at all… except something about ending or terminating service. That was probably figured into the whole process; bilk a lot of people for a month.

    I guess the thing to do now is study the Russian language, so one can move to Russia and be hired as an American citizen (or citizen of any English-speaking country). Either that or figure out how to be a cold-blooded, blood-sucking… what would it be? Entrepreneur? Plutocrat? Oh, I know, “job creator” or upstanding individual.

    You know, for a long time, “conservatives” (or Christians) were warning about a “one world” government. But they thought of it in terms of the U.N. and things like that. Now, they still hate government (not only world government), and are still “warning” people about this and that. It seems to always be something other than the real threat or problem. How handy, how ready-made and dependable.

    The governor in that state with the water problems was “hired” (elected) on the basis of the idea what government really needs is business people. THEY know how to do things, especially get the money right. Now, that state is paying legal fees for those who conspired to cheat residents of the type of water one gets in civilization. And they should be paying to fix the pipes and faucets, and doing it now. Should be.

    The governor goes back and forth saying things like “This happened because of bureaucrats making bad decisions.” Well, buddy, you’re THE bureaucrat in a state that passed a law to allow you to take away local government and impose yourself and your notion of an “emergency manager” (the only emergency being that these people were struggling financially before you came along… still are now, but now also with direct assaults on their health and hygiene, and property values). Then he says he hopes the criminal charges won’t reflect badly on the rest of the people working there (for Michigan) who “try to do good things every day.” He didn’t see them as trying to do good before. They were (and really still are to him) simply expenditures. But since he’s part of the picture, you know, don’t judge too harshly (at least until he’s cleared by his fellow Republican, the Attorney General). After all, he’s been a CEO of a big company.. one that lends the sound of importance and brains and mattering more than everybody else.

    We’ve been undoing our own governance.

    {I don’t live in Michigan, never have. And the company I earlier referenced as sending jobs to Russia is not the company that governor worked for (nor is it based in Michigan or any struggling area). I would bet, though, that his company sent away jobs too.}

  3. Marleen says:

    {Looked Snyder up; he (governor of Michigan) has worked for and founded other companies, etc., but he “stated he didn’t vote for outsourcing while he served as board director for Gateway.” That’s a very specific statement* (which I saw on Wikipedia), as that’s not the only position he held even for the one company. Wiki also reminded me he was considered for vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket in 2012; ran for a second gubernatorial term (and then the water treatment and pipes infrastructure problem happened).

    * I’m also not sure it’s true even in the specific. To compare, he likes to act like he has nothing to do with Michigan’s problems and shouldn’t be touched in the efforts to apply neglect. He also refuses to step down, even though he’s not fixing the problem.}

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Somewhat different subject: Late last week, my oldest son got a job/position he was really wanting. He’s going to be in charge of IT for the American branch or partner of a Japanese company (a company in the United States teamed up with one doing largely the same thing in Japan about a decade ago). All of the United States; security, efficiency and speed, budget and purchases, and so on. He will be establishing their whole technology culture on the business end (not the production end of what they actually manufacture).

    This is a real bright spot. He has been working as a valet for a few years even though he has a college degree (also has worked, at the same time, as a manager of the valets for a while until he returned to school to start* on another degree). This technological company told him he is their pick because he has the best personality (presents himself very nicely too in terms of wardrobe and grooming). He will be reporting directly to the vice president. [He will basically be a CTO, has to prove he can do it.]

    One of my other sons just got hired (same day) at the historic hotel, as another valet… after leaving a health technology/data company he couldn’t stand (partly because he had almost nothing to do there to fill his time). He considered and took steps to be a police officer, but changed his mind. Is liking this job for now, always busy. And when famous people come to town, they usually stay there (and interact with the valets). But he’s looking for degree-related employment.

    [Even though I’m talking about technology or technologically-related companies again, these companies have nothing to do with the others I’ve mentioned.]

    * He hasn’t finished that second degree (in mechanical engineering), but the company has said they will pay for any class(es) he wants to take to help him with the job (which would likely be different from what he did for/toward either degree; his first degree, industrial design). He did do IT consulting and IT work for the hotel (on top of everything else he did for them — still does until I don’t know when).

    All of my (5) sons started work in food environments (during their teen years).(+) But not any place like McDonald’s. I didn’t want them anywhere near vats of hot grease. The second of them now works for the Federal Reserve (and is in debt for his double degree and will be taking more advanced course work) [but I’m hoping his employer will pay off his debt or greatly increase his pay as he’s been doing way more for them than they expected]. One of them, the youngest, has joined the Army; we have yet to see how that works out. Another, the third, or middle one, moved to NZ and loves it. That one likes the general society. The cities are on coasts, and there’s plenty of time off planned into the schedules. (He found a job right away.) [He has a girlfriend who already has a son. And they plan to marry and have a child. The oldest two are married with no children.]

    (+) Actually, they got paid to do things at home earlier, like mow the lawn.

    They range in age from nineteen to twenty-nine.

    The son (second to youngest) who left a health data company saw that private enterprises can have terrible human interaction and serious lack of efficiency. He was working for a growing business. He had heard, before going in, that people didn’t like working there. He thought they were just complainers who were lazy or something. Turned out, when there, he heard conversations about people who were excellent workers who got everything done well. Nevertheless, they were not going to be reviewed well because they didn’t work overtime (for no reason and not for extra pay). There were people who did work extra hours but were not good at what they did and complained about their families (the kind of junk you might see on television like from a crude comedian or possibly a sitcom).

  4. Marleen says:

    Satire (as seen in some sitcoms and novels and comedy shows) is meant to show how NOT to be, or to provoke deeper thought. My son didn’t want to get sucked into many years of working for a company that didn’t seem to grasp this. There are a lot of sitcoms about families. As for a sitcom about an office environment in particular, he used to laugh at “The Office” like it was absurd. Now he says, in a hushed dramatic tone, “It’s r-e-a-l.”

    The difference, though, is that, in real life, the people don’t seem to perceive how rude and stupid and counterproductive the boss is (when he is, not all are). Or they have to pretend they don’t. There’s no relief there, as there appears to be in the show (however little that is). And he doesn’t aspire to “succeeding” in a place that habitually down-talks home life.

    This son had thought, while he was starting college, that he would go on to get a law degree next. Then he got tired of school. But now we have discovered that a lot of people choose between law and a graduate degree in public administration. So, he’s considering that too.

    It’s important to think about the needs of a society — of people — and not (as often lately) only the finances or budgets. This relatively new(ish) field of study matters greatly. Big picture.

    There are emphases, one being allocation, tracking, etc. of funds. But there are others.

  5. Marleen says:

    I found out today that most valets get paid like most waitresses in the United States. That is, they don’t even get “minimum wage” — they get something like $2 50 an hour and hope for tips. It’s hard enough to live on minimum wage plus tips (as the two sons do). The one son says he doesn’t think this job will be sustainable long-term. Because he’s been very practical and has money saved (from before), he will be fine for now. The older one is married to a full-time, special-ed teacher. So, they’ve done okay together. But they haven’t been able to pay off — or even pay on — their school debts. In other words, even a highly-skilled, professional career doesn’t quite do it.

    As Elizabeth Warren has pointed out (and written), though, it shouldn’t take two incomes to get by. Or, looking at it another way, people shouldn’t stretch two incomes out so thin that one of the two losing a job or getting sick would be financial ruin. Most of the time, now, people aren’t stretched thin by choice. And, we have to remember there are times two people have to live on one income even if no one lost a job; it used to be normal. She says working your money that way should still be normal and possible. That is unless we have no value in raising our own children any more. Nor in philanthropic offerings of time. Or in simply not being on the very edge of survival.

    • Onesimus says:

      In Australia companies are legally bound to pay a minimum wage, tipping isn’t widely practiced – and is definitely NOT expected.

      At one time most families were single income (mostly with the “man of the house” being the breadwinner), but as more women stayed in or returned to full-time work after marriage, there was an increase in two income families. Initially that helped those families prosper, while not adversely affecting single income households, but gradually the increased spending power of two income families led to an increase in the cost of living making two incomes necessary rather than optional.

      That also moved across to the housing market, pushing house prices beyond the means of the average single income family. Now even two incomes is becoming insufficient for many young Australian families to afford a home purchase.

  6. Marleen says:

    It’s a conundrum. It’s good for women to… first of all, be educated, even if they don’t ever plan to work or work for money (everyone being informed and analytical contributes to families and to society). Then, it’s also fine to work. And I don’t think it was good that women used to be told to quit working, for instance not be allowed to continue teaching, after they got married. Sadly, it’s not like there was respect for them or what they did at home either… or like there was security for their lives; women have always lived on the edge of survival. When someone lives in a nice situation, it can be hard to see or believe that such is not the case for everyone or at least almost everyone. I used to be like that, because I saw my dad as a considerate person… and because the world I lived in reflected an evolved honoring of women (and minorities). What I figured out later was that the attitudes in my mom that I didn’t like were conventionally the assumptions of a paternalistic society that (pridefully) thought those with power and money (traditionally men, but now prideful women too) should get their way and not have to think much about others. She had money; so there. People need power or agency, but then there is the temptation to go too far.

    As the answer to male misogyny isn’t that men should stop being educated and/or should not be providers, the answer to female misogyny is not the barring of women from full access to cultural involvement (and the possibility of being financial providers). But how do we actually value women who don’t build themselves some semblance of a career (or, as is sometimes the case, a great career) as a safeguard for their own well-being? And as leverage FOR their own well-being? As well as value those aspects of women who have that aren’t about that career and safeguarding without then those who haven’t as lesser because they didn’t do it all like the ones who did something for themselves (as if working for money makes an endeavor high-minded and working not for money [raising your own children for example] isn’t for themselves [or if it is it’s still a different quality of “for” themselves])? All these biases. It’s very difficult to sort these things out and face facts rather than plowing along with everyone getting theirs (except for those who don’t get “theirs” because they’ve decided to do things like take care of children, evaluate environmental and aesthetic concerns, and other things that dont ring up your bank account.

    The category of jobs that don’t get minimum wage are a vestige of American history when “domestic” work was understood to be something to treat differently. To some extent, I see it as slavery being almost a category of family life (actually, in fact, sometimes very literally so — and there are few American blacks who aren’t also genetically white). So, work conventionally associated with women and slaves isn’t “valued” so much and is expected to make due with less money and less respect (whether as a paid job or as a “lucky” spouse who doesn’t have to work because the money is coming in through someone else). And if a woman works while she has children, arrangements have to be made for those children — usually requiring an outlay of money. Now, what? Of course, that outlay is, according to habit, supposed to be less than what the working mother makes (now then there are the children of those women who have to be lower yet in pecking order). Work isn’t really for the work’s sake or fulfilment but to get more, whether it’s more money or more ego or more leverage. (At the very bottom of this is women who work very unattractive jobs but have to, for a variety of reasons involving lack/poverty of more than one kind.)

    Coming to my mind is an awareness of a need to comment on the fact there is a city with teachers striking right now because they have been told they will not be paid even if they work. And they are being told they are selfish and not caring about the children. Their wanting to be paid is not an example of what I mean by work not being for the work’s sake [while it is true most people don’t just go off to work each day because it’s fun or full of enlightening heights of experience, as it is often or sometimes also true with them too]. What I do mean is the relative sense that a person (man or woman) doing a job and talking like it’s so lofty that they should be able to find “help” (not a word usually used now but a word that gets across my meaning) that is fairly cheap (compared to how they value themselves). The worst aspect of this is in the realm of childcare and education (while I see these as essential and very important and not as easily done well as those who don’t care about it appear to think when even teachers are basically paid less than minimum wage but should get above minimum wage). But, if we want valets and maids, they should be able to live. I don’t know. Is there a grouping of jobs we still want to fully think of as supplemental?

    One activity or job that comes to mind is occasional babysitting. But people who value good babysitting pay way more than minimum wage for each hour that they leave their children with even an infrequent caretaker (these days, a frequent caretaker, even if it’s still pretty much like babysitting, and occasional, is often called a nanny — which my oldest daughter-in-law, teacher, also is). If someone is wanted for long and regular hours, to be present for fast food work or door attendance or cleaning or anything else, they should, I think, be paid at least a living wage. I don’t know what we do about their retirement, but at least we have Social Security. Something I’m personally dealing with lately is my mother [always, not only lately, but in this specific detail] acting like I should still find a career (after I raised my children and home educated them, and the youngest one graduated from high school recently). I think the next time she brings it up I will tell her she should find something to do to warrant the state [teachers’ retirement fund] sending her money (retirement or disability — she stopped working early because she got hit in the head with a industrial-weight door — I don’t get money from any state but have experienced “workplace” neglect).

    {She handily forgets that I was working on a degree but couldn’t focus well and in peace because my children’s father kept picking fights on the subject matter. [Not to mention my mother has always disliked whatever I thought of to do, but she’s not aware of herself except to be absorbed with herself and her whims of what to say and her self esteem.] And he’d complain about needing paper to print work to turn in and things like that. These weren’t little bickering moments; he’d tell me to get out over that and other categories of life (just nonsensical), but I have to be the one judged by her as not having my life worked out because I haven’t drawn years of paychecks (regardless that he acts like a mental subject and she’s been frequently and shockingly but quietly immoral). And because she HAS drawn checks, like he has, she finds it appropriate to implore me to read the Bible and know it will boost my life like Osteen teaches. This is what must be going on; I dont get what the Bible is, even though she’s the one who doesn’t take it seriously or read it (if she did read it and take it seriously, she could know I have lived it and she hasn’t). But her summation of positive character and godliness is to earn or have money and a power ego.}

    • Onesimus says:

      I think that one of the major changes in attitudes regarding work in relatively recent history, is that it has become more than a means of providing food and shelter for the family.

      Employment has also become a focus of identity – we become what we do.

      Income has also become more associated with the ability to accumulate more stuff, than primarily a means of taking care of essential needs, because incomes far above and beyond need are common.

      Of course those changes are more true of middle class Western (or westernised) societies who have the freedom given by a certain degree of wealth; and that wealth becomes a measure of one’s sense of worth.

      There has also been a widening of the kinds of opportunities available to many people, but those opportunities tend to come at a price, but often the ones paying that price are those who are excluded from those opportunities.

      Returning to what I said earlier about two income families, what started as a means of increasing wealth eventually increases the burden of NEEDING that extra wealth. The extra money is no longer a luxury, it has become necessity to keep up with living costs that have risen to meet the availability of higher average incomes.
      But many are left behind when they have to survive on single incomes in an economy inflated by double incomes.

  7. Marleen says:

    Yes, I agree that’s what happens. It can happen in an individual family — and then, as you said, it can happen to society overall. On the other side of that, a couple might decide to try* and scale back their lifestyle so that they’re not on the edge — that is, if they can. But what about society? How do we try and fix this situation where so many people really absolutely can’t? Or what can we imagine, theoretically, might be fixed or improved?

    First, there would have to be enough people who care to improve the society. You run into problems with that for several reasons. For one, there are the super ridiculously wealthy who like to rig everything to their own advantage whatever it may do to other people. Then, I have noticed that far more men that I would like to have discovered this about still do think claiming of a paycheck or money is what makes a person respectable. So, it used to be “No, you can’t work, no woman of mine is going to work.” And sometimes, ” Women can’t do anything as well anyway.” And now it’s, “Women can work now, so you darn well better work; not gonna have no lazy folk around here — and you better figure out how to get them there kids a’ yers [actually their children together] tended to.” (I’m emphasizing a type of talk that I feel reflects the mental or emotional ability, but I’ve seen it in “educated” people.)

    And third (there are probably more than three, but I’ve come up with three off the top of my head), there are so many families or couples who want so much stuff or some sense of identity or pride they don’t think is to be found in a family or relating. Okay, I was wrong, I already had a fourth reason in mind. A woman who sees abuse (of herself or her mother or grandmother or siblings or whomever) while she is growing up might be determined to have her own career, or employment anyway, and might be willing to pay all of it to childcare just so she can stay in the workforce — just in case, you know (gotta be able to escape).

    * What Elizabeth Warren suggested was at least to choose to live by spending only one income even while having two incomes (two people working… that is IF both were working). What a lot of Christians who like rules have tried to do is tell people it’s bad for women to work. I like Warren’s approach better, although I tend to think it’s also better for mothers to care for their own children. But then I’m in favor of having public schools too.

    I try to think why what has happened has happened. And how can it be corrected or moved forward? I’m not sure which is the chicken, which the egg (why/how). I think they both matter and can go both ways back and forth in terms of solutions.

    When you have a bunch of people who can’t find happiness in family, whether because of disrespect, abuse, lack of interest in the thoughts of a mother who doesn’t fetch money, or, now, because so many people are so busy with other things, then the sense of being somebody seems like it has to be found in those other things. So then you have that vicious cycle not only of taking in more money and then NEEDING that extra money, but also a vicious cycle of putting one’s focus on other things, and then mainly having those other things (whether actual things or whether activities) as values.

    Can you explain a little more what you mean by your (whole) second to last paragraph? The one starting with “There has also been a widening…”

    Also, I wonder, do you think more about trying to correct or improve the situation overall? Or more about helping those left behind on one income?

    • Onesimus says:

      There has also been a widening of the kinds of opportunities available to many people, but those opportunities tend to come at a price, but often the ones paying that price are those who are excluded from those opportunities

      As more families are able to be supported by double incomes it creates an added burden upon those with a single income. As available income increases, it pushes the cost of living up. Those who don’t have the advantage of a double income still face the same basic larger costs for things like housing.

      For example, double incomes make it possible to borrow more for mortgages – which in turn starts to push up house prices, eventually pricing average single income families out of the housing market.

      Recently I’ve been seeing more and more commentary on a different aspect of the widening economic gulf, focusing on generational inequalities. I’m currently reading Generation Less written to show the widening economic gulf that excludes under 30s from stable, secure employment, home ownership and the hope of being debt free before a retirement with sufficient means to support themselves.

      I think there are several aspects to that generational disadvantage, including the fact that people are marrying later in life and therefore missing the benefits of double incomes. But delaying marriage can also be a result of desiring more financial security before settling down. [The term “Catch 22” comes to mind fro some reason.]

      I find it disappointing that many Christians seem to lack interest in addressing economic inequalities. That is reflected in the way they approach politics, giving their support to ideologies that promote greed and attack services to the poor. I believe that situation will ONLY change with the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth, because man of those claiming allegiance to Him don’t show the same concern for justice as He does.

      • Onesimus says:

        The housing situation I mentioned in my previous comment, and its affect on the “younger” generation is examined in a recent news documentary of ABC TV. It can be viewed (for a limited time) here:

        http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/four-corners/NC1604H014S00#playing

      • Onesimus says:

        One more thought about my statement regarding opportunities coming at a price. That price can also be at the cost of the one benefitting from the opportunities.

        What I mean by that is, the better off we become, the more tied up to our assets we can become. We can then be driven by the need to maintain what we have so the “quality” of the lifestyle we’ve come to enjoy doesn’t slip. That drive can become the source of stress and stress-related illness.

        One of my previous managers recently went to Africa for a short ‘mission” trip – helping with the construction of some village facilities. He enjoyed the basic simplicity of the villager’s lives, uncomplicated by the possessions that we westerners take for granted and treat as necessities.

  8. Marleen says:

    Thank you for that. I think there are a few ways to respond when seeing unfortunate distribution patterns and so on. One is to try and come up with policies and laws (or re-implement ones that used to be known and effective, possibly a benefit of positive education). Another is to try to educate — not in the most aspirational or inspiring sense but as a matter of pragmatism — or implore people to do the best they can for themselves in practical ways that can be undertaken with the circumstances as they are. Maybe to rethink, too, “ideologies” leading to evaluative judgments [like rich people deserve everything they get or have and poor people are morally inferior] and leave those ideologies behind. And another is for people to just help poor people directly as they desire or don’t desire to do so (not with policy and not with government assistance). [And more ways.]

    I have a couple examples of others paying the price for what is in the hands of those with more power or clout or opportunity. One is that my husband hired a lawyer to defend a matter (a matter that affected me too), and the lawyer didn’t show up for the court date. When this happens, the lawyer has automatically lost the case for the clkent(s). So, my bank account got wiped. I could otherwise have applied my smarts and intuition to invest in Google when it became available. Instead, I had absolutely zero dollars. So, I didn’t strike it big or make something of the “talent” I’d had available. I must be stupid and lazy. (In case it’s not obvious, that’s tongue-in-cheek as I wasn’t at fault.) [Nothing happened to the lawyer, he’s on his merry way. No money to use to sue the lawyer either then. Oh, and the money that got swiped from me is economic growth/wealth for a business/bank.]

    Another example, this one in the news recently, is Puerto Rico. I think the best explanation I’ve seen was on “This Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” — but I still wish it’d been better. It’s only a comedy effort, but at least it’s an effort. [I have to say, until the last almost year or so, I’ve felt I could defend some regular television/cable news channels when people complained about “the media” (as a habit brought on by brainwashing it seemed to me) as if info isn’t available (even if it has to be pieced together with your own functioning mind). But there has been a dumbing down lately.] Anyway, the situation is Puerto Rico has been treated in ways not only ridiculous as to how you treat your fellow man but also known to be wrong in the United States; except, Congress (decades ago) passed laws setting Puerto Rico up to pay for other people’s opportunities. The word colonialism was applied.

    But I’m probably getting away from the book (which I haven’t read). I’ve started looking at some summaries and reactions to more economics books at smile.amazon (dotcom). I might later share a comment I appreciated.

    I agree with you in your concerns as per generational inequalities, and I think that if for no other reason we should care because these inequities or travesties shouldn’t be tolerated. How crazy that people should be in debt before they even get started, really, with things like debt for tuition and rental contracts. No room for investing in a house or having children, and no end in sight before even retirement.

    I also want to share an example of being who you are as a person without it being “what you do” in the sense of a profession or job and earning bucks. The son who recently got a new job so he can leave the valet job soon, and who is taking mechanical engineering classes, decided not to continue with one of the courses in which he’s enrolled. But there is a group project he already got involved in and for which a number of students already divvied up responsibilities. He’s very busy working for both jobs right now (plus other coursework still), but he decided he should complete the school project even though it won’t do anything for him exactly. The point is only not to let down the other people or leave them with extra effort in figuring out how to compensate for his leaving. I think that’s what makes a person who they are; the task doesn’t have to be impressive… but, whatever you do, care.

  9. Marleen says:

    Lol!! I have no idea why a spell checker would prefer transvestites to travesties.

    • Onesimus says:

      That preference seems to fit with present day society’s increasing obsession with (and acceptance of) gender “fluidity”.

      I’ll edit your previous post to restore the travesties you intended. 🙂

  10. Marleen says:

    It’s always odd, maybe ironic (maybe something else, not quite ironic). Life isn’t all about money, but people need money (in this version of the world). So, monetary policies and laws and values matter. It’s hard if not impossible to get across the difference to “the world.” Truth is, some have ears to hear and an inclination to understand; some don’t.

    I’m not sure these stories quite illustrate something related to the sense, but they came up this morning because our dishwashing machine is making a weird noise (and we bought it based on how quiet it is supposed to be — and is when working properly). We imagined calling customer support. We’ve recently had to call a different company for customer support because of a refrigerator making noise (an appliance that wasn’t marketed based on sound level) that sounded like the compressor was about to go. The person who answered kept calling the problem and “inconsequential noise” and making it clear nothing was going to happen (until* the food inside rotted). This got resolved by asking to speak to the manager and by going to the actual store, making it clear something had to happen. Thank God for specialists (people who know how to do their job); when the serviceman came to the house, he knew what it was (and ordered an improved part).

    But anyway, we were imagining what would happen when calling about the dishwasher if it hadn’t been marketed as quiet. “Consequential…”

    Another story first: many years ago, we had a storm… and a power line fell onto the ground into what had developed as a very large puddle or almost a small pond or wading pool during the rain in an area behind the houses where people often walked down instead of walking on the street. I didn’t know who to call, but knew it was an emergency. In a good elementary school, if you’re paying attention, you learn that this is a threat of injury or death due to electrocution. So, I called nine-one-one. The woman who answered responded by saying, “Ma’am, I’ve been taking emergency calls all day.”

    I guess she’d done what she felt was called for to get her pay. Now, anyone with what seemed like a lesser emergency should pay her the due of knowing she’s tired and doesn’t care; how inconvenient that there was a storm and a call when a lot of people would be getting their kids ready for bed (even though there are plenty of people doing other things rather than winding down their day). But I didn’t order the storm.

    So here’s what I played out (after my children’s father replayed in his mind what he’d gone through before, calling it crap out loud): Sir, Sir, excuse me sir. You should know, I don’t give a s___. Sir, sir, I’ve been taking customer service calls all morning.

    At the same time, to some extent, one can understand the stress people in this position might be in; their lives aren’t cushy. If the powers that be were generally more concerned, they too might then have more space to expend energy (of mind or body).

    * This is even an improvement. My parents bought a new car when I was about ten. The dealer hadn’t put enough oil in the engine, it was very soon ruined. No one cared, and nothing was done about it no matter how or to whom my parents explained or complained. Since then, laws [LAWS/regulation] have been put in place for such things.

  11. Marleen says:

    Orwell’s Australia: From Cold War to Culture Wars

    Ran across this title at goodreads.
    Turns out it’s by the same guy…
    same guy as your feature.

    Also, this could be interesting:
    Corpalism (Corpalism #1)
    by Arun D. Ellis
    [another guy]

    That one’s British
    rather than Australian.

    That is, I think so as best I can figure.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A repairman showed up here

    …to fix our clothes dryer,
    today. (Yes, it’s three
    appliances that are
    fairly new and not
    cheap in need of
    repair.) When my
    children’s dad got
    the door, this man
    asked him how he’s
    doing today. The reply
    was that he’s doing okay,
    but the dryer isn’t. Then the
    man pondered, “Well, why do
    I exist?” Of course I chuckled as
    I glanced up and he added, “things
    don’t work right.” He was another one
    of those folks who does know what’s up.

    He understood about electrical functions and
    the variety of warranties. Apparently our dryer is
    on a warranty where the “no lemons” rule does not
    kick in until after the warranty time runs out! So, even
    if the item breaks down over and over and over, too bad.

    Except this person knew more than the other men who have
    come here to “fix” the brand new high-end dryer — without heat.

    There are some wires that keep getting overheated due to another
    bad part. He could fix the wires by soldering them, he said, were the
    the wires made of copper. But, since they are made of aluminum, he’s
    found, he said, that he can’t quite get the crimp right. So he ordered new
    wires as well as whatever part kept burning the wires with bad connectivity.

    He is the only repair guy in town who would be able to do this fix. So….. What
    would happen if he weren’t here to figure out what was going wrong? We would
    have an expensive dryer becoming dysfunctional every month or two, and a visit.

    But he also said that if this doesn’t correct the matter for good, he will convince the
    manager to wave the warranty requirement and go ahead and replace the product.

  12. Marleen says:

    http://smile.amazon.com/Invention-Capitalism-Classical-Political-Accumulation/dp/0822324911/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463363734&sr=1-6&keywords=History+of+economy

    This might be a good read. I enjoyed looking at the reviews. I’ve been reading a bit about economics in general. Theory, different schools of thought, disagreement. I haven’t been able to figure out a way to link directly to some of the places I’ve read from. For instance, I tried to share one with one of my sons. But the address I got from the top of the page only went to the host university, not to the specific page.

    It was because of reading a review of a different book that I picked up the words “neoclassical economics.” Did a search, have gone on searching and reading. So, I go and read academic material, and then I go and read some book reviews.

    I’m sure you remember the Christian website you and I used to frequent ten or so years ago. I once or twice, there, asked where the fields are where people who are poor can go to pick up the excess for themselves and their families to eat. This was in response to the notion that somehow we could hold (needy) people to Bible standards. Somehow, it’s supposed to be equal (or close enough for the addled brain of a… not sure what word to put here… ) that a refrain of “go get a job” (as if jobs are always available and always provide enough for all needs) is as good as actual food being available by God’s command of morality.

    • Onesimus says:

      …I once or twice, there, asked where the fields are where people who are poor can go to pick up the excess for themselves …

      That’s an example of how misinformed believers can be regarding ” Bible standards” – they listen too much to right wing political figures whose only association with the bible, is their claim of how important it is to them and their claim to being Christian. [All part of the manipulative way they gain “evangelical” support].

      I wonder how they would respond if they were required to observe the Biblical Standard of a Jubilee year every fifty years?

  13. Marleen says:

    If all that was about was forgiving loans, a lot them would be fine with it as most loans that are foreclosed on happen within thirty years (or sooner). But since the year of jubilee also has to do with people having their own land — no matter what — they wouldn’t like it. Most of us wouldn’t like it. For instance, how many jubilees have “we” skipped with regard to Native Americans? And we didn’t take their land via loan or debt (usually), we just took it.

    _____________________________________________________________________
    Good news from here (the U.S.)… I think it was in this particular one of your blog conversations that I shared something about one of my sons being aghast at his job [which he left, subsequently taking a different job] for expecting people to work overtime, just because (even if they’d already gotten everything done) and for no pay above regular salary (and they were starting to act like he should work overtime to learn functions he had not been hired for even while what he had been hired for took almost none of his day). Yesterday, the Labor Department announced that there has been an increase in the salary level for which people are only expected to work forty hours per week; after which they are to be paid in addition to their salary. The new level is $47,476 — had been ~half that.

    _____________________________________________________________________
    http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_nader_160518
    There is more in this interview than what the banner or subtitle says.
    For instance, there is a conference next week to encourage activism.

    I’m including this link to show someone else who doesn’t mean government by “powers that be” (a phrase I used earlier). I know not everybody likes this guy, but he’s worth hearing. (My phrase can include government but is not meant to go there.)

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