Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ikea v. Socialism

Ikea v. Socialism

As a young man just starting out, I bought cheap furniture that had to be put together. Nothing ever really fit and usually some skill was necessary on my part to fit the crap together in a reasonable way. In a small way, I had to think and build.

A few weeks ago, I bought a bookshelf at IKEA and found that everything fit exactly – all the loose pieces were in a separate bag, labeled with an 800 number for help. All I had to do was follow directions. The thing was pre-built; all I added was the cheap and local labor.

And I do believe the cheap and distant labor didn’t put much skill into the making as well.
For most people today, nothing is built that requires skill – buildings are poured concrete that folds up to make a box, cars are made with boxes in boxes that fit without the banging and making do – the art of building has been removed the things of life. Very few people work as machinist honing parts to make them fit anymore.

If a monkey can do the box placement, and we live in a global society where anything can be done anywhere – Why should Americans have a better standard of living than anywhere else?
We are getting to the point in our development that a man can push a vestigial button on an electric air machine and have finished goods pop out of a matter making toaster. What will we do with the people who can’t program electric air?

If a business leaves this country to make things cheaper somewhere else, do they have any responsibility to the people they leave unemployed in their wake? What about the true marketplace – the one with money? If they can make it cheaper, then bring it back and sell it cheaper – what’s the problem?

This is where the redistribution of wealth comes in – it is against our interest as a society of people called Americans to have a low wage country that’s lost their middle-class. We won’t last without a big bunch of us getting a cut of the profits, and an opportunity to get a better chance of getting more.
And realistically – there really are a lot of stupid people that are incapable of doing more than general labor – do we want to condemn them to pooritude not because they won’t work hard, but because we have assigned less value to them as a people?

Business won’t voluntarily give up their profits to educate people, or provide for them a meaningful life if they off shore their jobs – they just won’t for lots of good and bad reasons – it’s not their job or their responsibility. Many say that it’s an individuals responsibility – but the radical change that globalization is bringing is not the fault of individuals and can’t be solved by individual action.
The only thing big enough that can carry the stick to gently tap tap business on the side of the head once in a while is government. They can tax – they can spend. They can provide training for new and complicated jobs; they can dole out stipends for work that benefits the public good to people incapable of doing more. They can soften to harshness on people caused by corporations whose business is to get more money out of less work by calling the grail of productivity a god.

Call it what you want – Socialism, or just good sense, if the last few years have not turned you against a brutally naked form of exploitation that we call the free market, you are lost to us anyhow.

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