Moon in Libra
All this talk about “the economy” as if there’s a war between capitalist free market and governmental programs, or as if any policy could be one size fits all. People get so caught up in ideologies and competition, putting down viciously any idea defensively seen as contrary to our preset mindset. Well, obviously, not everyone, but enough to be an enormous unnecessary obstacle to real world optimization.
What makes more sense to me is a kind of two-tier economy. You’ve got your basic tier in which everyone gets a piece of the pie covering whatever is deemed to be the basics. This sphere can also include basic infrastructure like public health facilities, public transportation including roads and such, public safety organizations like emergency and law enforcement, or more rationally peace enforcement. Then there’s public education, libraries, art and culture centers and events. The second tier would be the free market capitalists to provide the goods and services they do best, consumer goods, luxuries, lifestyle and status markers, specialty niche fillers, fads and fancies and fantasies and innovations.
People will want to go beyond the basic and fulfill dreams or create profits because there is more to human satisfaction than basic comforts. We like to shine, be respected, show our stuff. We like to earn credits to win prizes. We like to build our personal empires or be part of exciting or valued projects. We like to work when that work is appreciated and not oppressive. We are not in a position, even in impoverished areas, where we need to live by the creed: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. We have plenty of potential labor to provide far more than enough for everybody without demanding full participation.
There are plenty of people who have no desire to be part of the quest for financial wealth, yet give full value to the social net. Raising children is valuable work. Caring for ill and infirm family and neighbors is valuable work. Organizing and participating in volunteer projects addressing community needs is valuable work. Providing education, art, cultural events is valuable work. Yet it is also legitimate to live, enjoy life as best one can, privately, without fanfare or public obligation. Humankind is so much better served by people pouring energy and intent into their passions than people grudgingly performing jobs out of obligation or desperation.
If there is concern about less appetizing but necessary work being done, there are certainly ways to address this:
1) What is unappetizing to some may be interesting or useful in some sense — psychologically or other — to others. This is another advantage of a diverse population, when properly celebrated.
2) Ways can be found to reward, show admiration for, or otherwise make more palatable such tasks.
3) Ways can be found to give over as much as possible of these tasks to technological aid.
4) We can figure out better ways to take care of the needs now served by such tasks.
The best incentive, result and means of moving toward this expanded economic model is the unleashing and uplifting of the great gift of human creativity, along with a generally increased zest for life. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. If we consciously make efforts in this direction, eventually the tipping point will be reached, the more rational paradigm will take hold. As the benefits become evident, that which is best in us will continue to move forward.