Monday, November 14, 2011

Arbeit Machs Frei?

Arbeit Machs Frei is the metal sign that reads above the Aushwitz Concentration Camp, one of the camps in which 6 out of the 9 million Jewish people in Europe were systematically murdered.  "Your work will set you free."  Is it not time to question the power of authority? 

 If it were not for the Occupy Wall Street Movement, there would be no voice for the disenfranchised. It should come as no surprise that people are in the streets demonstrating, as this is an age old manner of practicing solidarity with others who share the same plight. Today, it comes as a surprise that more people do not identify with OWS, only because the problems that have plagued us will not go away on their own.  We can no longer take comfort in the pretense that wealth is defined simply by capital accumulation, because this philosophy leaves so many people all over the world impoverished and I do not mean this in the material sense.  What is the value of any wealth if it is built upon tenuous structures?  It amounts to nothing.  We have an economic system that should be mocked if not condemned, but instead it is promoted. While the average salary in the U.S. is estimated to be in the mid 40's (estimates that include in its averages the top one percent, which is a mistake in calculation therefore), a minority of people are given the freedom to make money out of money.  How is this possible? It is not, it is a fabulous fiction.  Money is currency that is meant to be a standard unit for trading goods and services, it is symbolic of an advancement public trust.  That public trust has been broken and the American people have been duped.  We were told that lending billions, if not trillions, of dollars to salvage the financial institutions that perpetrated fraud would "save" the economy.  If the money was not granted, the sky would fall, loans to businesses would not be offered, and so on. Here we are in the midst of massive unemployment, but more importantly, massive underemployment.  Work and money are at the core of everything we do, everything we say and who we believe ourselves to be and yet we also have been duped into not honestly discussing what money is really worth, what it should be able to purchase and what it should not.  Not to mention, what is the value of what I get for what I give? That a person feels entitled and needy of hundreds of millions of dollars is not only a travesty for how it has served to denigrate the economy, but a travesty for how it, outrageous fortune, has been used to denigrate the value of life itself.  Unemployment is not simply hovering at ten percent and if these jobs that were created were so fruitful, there would be more transparency about how much they paid and in what sector.  If it were  announced that Wall Mart added more jobs, this would not be something to cheer about.  Then again, if Google were to announce adding more jobs, it might not be either.  That is because in this world of business and corporatization, there is little culpability, that is, they do not need to justify their existence, they are allowed to be and to prosper without measuring what their actual value is.  While the First Lady campaigns to battle obesity, the President visits a burger and fries franchise that is deemed an American success.  Why is this decided to be laudable? Because it is financially rewarded and everyone needs money in order to survive as a cog in this dysfunctional machine. Nevermind that half of all our potable water is devoted to raising livestock, which is a bad investment, never mind that the creation of monoculture in agriculture is not a good idea, but that if the profit motive dictates it, the behavior will be adopted and potatoes abound. Are we not sentient beings that have the capability to adopt sensible economic choices that might offer a sustained level of prosperity, one that incorporates social equity with environmental equity?  That is the fix, though, equity and reciprocity, if they have ever mattered they matter the most to those who are lacking and the least to those who believe that have the lions share.  How long the legitimacy of this alleged wealth will last, who can say.  The question remains, what is the value of wealth created out of disparity?  What is the value of work that only promises to ensure more work with less reward? What is left for the rest of us, yes, the 99%? It is clear that there is a wide variation of economic experience, as people still have jobs, some people still have decent paying ones.  By decent I man at least twice the national average and preferably two incomes in a family.  For those who do not have jobs, we are told it is because they lack the skills and that food service and laundry service require a specialized skill set, in addition to offering low pay... and you thought Google was exclusive.  The facts are purposely obfuscated.  When President Obama offers inspiration for the value of a collegiate education, he fails to mention that what he is promoting, or being told to promote, is not education, but specialized skills, the value of which is dubious.  When President Obama speaks about creating jobs and improving infrastructure, he fails to mention that the tax payer monies will not be going to creating American jobs entirely, as Chinese companies are profiting off of these infrastructure improvement projects.  It is estimated that, in order to bring unemployment levels down that 300,000 jobs would need to be added each month for several years.  What is the value of employment if it does not offer an increased quality of life?  Employment is not enough, we must be working not simply to keep people busy, but to allow people to have the choices, the knowledge, the access to resources that makes life precious.  Salaries and wages become trivialities when the value of work is increased.  Simply because it is a job that pays hardly means its a good job, no matter the benefits, the perks, the stature. What matters is the value of the work to society and community.  Mission statements be damned, we need results and positive ones at that. Funneling money, our weightless paper currency, into the coffers of the already wealthy is not the solution, its the problem. The President's green energy initiatives are creating huge solar farms in deserted land across the nation and these subsidies go to benefit already wealthy corporations, like Goldman Sachs.  When President Obama claims to understand the plight of the average American worker, he betrays his woeful ignorance when he says that "Americans are living pay check to paycheck."  No, that would be an improvement, dear Mr. President, as it would imply a level of security. I am not a Republican, for the record, I voted for Obama and I will again, maybe, but I am beginning to think the Presidential elections should be called off.  It would save money and We the People would devote less energy to the bru-ha-ha of pageantry that has become to awful campaign for the White House.  We the People need to stop believing in the value of top-down administration of power, be it through out workplaces or our governments.  This is not Democracy, this is oppression and we can only make our souls, our person, stronger, if we refuse to be made inconsequential.  This is what makes the Occupy Movements not only valuable, but an absolute necessity for preserving the value of our lives.

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