Facing the Market

Monday, May 21, 2007
I realized long ago that the real conflict isn't between management and workers, as so many Twentieth Century radicals—particularly in Britain, with its class system—would have had us believe. And a fortiori it is not some elaborate "class warfare" between the "bourgeois" and the workers, as the Marxist fantasized. No, the real conflict lies between consumers and producers, between workers and buyers. This is because workers naturally want to do as little work as possible and get paid the most; whereas buyers want the opposite. Don't misunderstand me: top management, particularly in modern-day America, gets paid what can only be considered obscene amounts, but in the bigger scheme of things there aren't really enough Michael Eisners to matter, egregiously visible though they are.

The sad fact of life in a market economy is that you have to do what somebody else wants in order to get paid. You don't generally get paid for what is fun for you or for what you want to do; you get paid for what somebody else wants you to do, and usually that's something they themselves don't want to do for some reason. Maybe the work is tedious, maybe it requires high levels of responsibility, maybe it is dirty or dangerous. One thing you can be guaranteed is that it's something somebody else doesn't want to do themselves.

Now this is contrary to what most of us learn in school and in our cultural role models. We learn that we should be "free". We learn that we should be self-actualizing. We learn that we should break the rules and make things better and in the end everyone will reward us for "doing the right thing". Don't bet on it.

Universities are divided into sections, departments such as Chemistry, Physics, Women's Studies, Philosophy, English, etc., and people study these things for four years and they come out thinking they are getting a job for the rest of their lives doing Chemistry or Philosophy or whatever it was. In fact, for almost all of them, they are going to get a job in business and they are going to spend their lives in business. Their livelihoods will depend to a great degree on their sales skills, not on their skill in writing History papers. Naturally there is some friction there. Naturally the students are disappointed that what was only one, scoffed-upon department among many is in fact the only place to eat. How could society be this way? We need social change!

The truth is that most of us make our livings in some sort of business because that's the only place where we are really doing what other people want, and that's the only place they will pay us. The frustrated young recent graduates frequently believe that "the government should fix this". We should have a society where one is rewarded for doing whatever one feels like, for painting pictures, singing songs, proving math theorems. So there is always pressure to "subsidize" the arts and sciences, i.e., to take money away from Grandma at the point of a gun and give it to somebody else whom Grandma would never have rewarded voluntarily. In one of the Babar stories, Babar stumbles across exactly such a world. He orders ice cream and only has to pay the man by singing a song.

And maybe we should take away Grandma's money by force. I don't know. I've pretty much given up on knowing exactly what we should and shouldn't do, exactly how society should and shouldn't be organized. I've discovered that I don't know and am unlikely to ever know. But my observation is that in the whole history of mankind, the market-based system we have developed is the only one capable of delivering all the wealth we depend on and take for granted. And if we choose to go away from it, millions of people will end up without food. The present population of the planet is not sustainable without it.

So my advice to all of us is: face the market. It's often hard, it's often unpleasant, it's almost never what we want, but it's the right thing to do.

12 comments:

Habu said...

terrye,

A passionate defense of illegalities does not make then less odious.
You're sorely out of line in your thinking that the felon who successfully hides in the shadows is not a felon.
Do you have any concept at all what type of cost this will involve..over two TRILLION dollars

This is an invasion of our country aided by the Mexican government who printed and distributed maps and instructions on how to illegally enter the US. That borders on an act of war my dear. This isn't school yard pigtail pulling, this is the corruption of our legal system and a total prostitution of our immigration laws.
And we could by the way round up a good many more than 10,000 a month. We could do that in a day... and being a former realator and citing squatters rights ina country that has Kelo on the books is a bit like screaming at a tornado outside your door...totally meaningless.
If we followed your logic there would be no borders, it would just be come on in and enjoy the new socialist states smorgasboard of welfare goodies, cause what else do you think uneducated people do once they find out the milk is free?
By the way 8 out of 10 Americans could tell you who the fifth person in line for the presidency is...can you? How about Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson..

the line.

The Vice President Dick Cheney
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
President pro tempore of the Senate1 Robert Byrd
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez2
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao3
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson
Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff

Rick Ballard said...

"We learn that we should be self-actualizing."

But somehow the minor matter of achieving economic independence is skipped over as a mere bagatelle unworthy of serious discussion. And smart people fall for it every damn day. Maslow also managed to leave out any valuation of a spiritual component to life and that's the real pity. His skipping over the economic aspect (cursorily included at the second to lowest level) is understandable given that he himself enjoyed the sinecure of tenure. He did a rather grave disservice to those without a sinecure who developed aspirations concerning self-actualization without realizing that means are required to fulfill the dreams. Being without the means wouldn't be (or isn't) so bad if one has faith for sustenance.

Recognizing the necessity of means early on and acquiring them expeditiously is more fun though. Having done so, one is free to proclaim that self actualization was (and is) poppycock ab initio, a mere continuation of the fatuous nonsense spouted by Marx in his more hallucinogenic moments.

Oh well, I saw a pair of osprey today while watching a grandson's Little League game (he got a triple and a single with 2 RBIs). Life is not all bad.

Habu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Habu said...

Terrye,

To those who say mass deportation can't be done, think for a minute of the thinngs this country has accomplished.

Topping the list is a feat no one else has come close to and we did it in less than a decade, yep

We went to the moon. And went back and back and back. A close second is that we out produced the Soviet Union so badly that their entire system collasped. We've sent the Cassini probe to Saturn and beyond. We've sent satellites completely out of our own galaxy.

In the darkest corners of the world we've hunted down the most dangerous terrorist ...no one has heard from OBL for quite a while, he may be dead.

See Terrye, there's an old saying, "The can'ts never could" If you start out saying you can't do something you might as well not even try, you've defeated yourself, depleted your will to overcome,adapt, and improvise. To get 'er done. Thomas Edison tried over 10,000 elements before hitting on the right one for the electric light filament.

We've cured countless illnesses, and accomplished hundreds of other things no nation on Earth would even undertake.

So rounding up people is not a challenge we could not accomplish. It would eventually become like counting sheep.

One other aspect that should not be overlooked in the least, in fact it should be at the top of the list, it's currency that valuable.
By immediately granting citizen ship, or a fast track to it for 12,15,20 million people who have started out by breaking our laws we dilute the value of each legitimate citizen's vote. That is not equitable to those of us who follow the law. I do not want an illiterate law breaker doing that to my citizenship...perhaps you like your wine watered down, diluted with tapwater ,but I'll take my merlot genuine.

loner said...

MHA—

I'd submit that that really isn't a conflict. It's the function of market economies to, under limited regulation, bring supply to demand and vice versa. Management philosophy has, I think, become more and more obsessed with "productivity" in these more competitive times.

A generation or two who grew up in more "leisurely" times has had trouble adjusting. That this or these generations teach, write books that get published and get financing to produce movies and television shows and in other ways mold the minds of the young to a view of life that is unrealistic (for most) in this day and age is how these things work in their own way in every day and age. When I began college it was common almost everywhere that a job that required only a high school education would pay for a solidly middle class life, but the two-income family was already becoming the new reality in many places and while I was in college there was a surge (for lack of a better word) in interest in the professional schools (particularly Business) and in freshmen entering the university already having some idea as to what sort of career they were aiming to pursue.

I went through a red light yesterday on a busy street with a police car passing me going the other way. Pure idiocy on my part. I didn't get a ticket mainly because I wasn't the only idiot and Vancouver isn't Los Angeles. Echoing Rick: Life is not all bad.

Habu said...

Terrye,

You mentioned you hadn't been on the site in weeks. You also mentioned that you took a good many hits last year on the site.

have you had a chance to draw a deep breath and examine if perhaps blogging isn't a healthy venue for you to pursue? I mean that sincerely. You sound very up tight, frustrated, and non of that is healthy for mind or body.

Rick Ballard said...

Habu,

You're screwing up threads through scatter posting of comments. Show self control or your comments are going to be deleted on sight.

Terrye is quite capable of defending herself but I must say that I find your condescending tone to be antithetical to some of the concepts you purport to propound.

You're indignant about illegals destroying "values" through being scofflaws while ignoring common courtesy by dropping inapposite comments wherever you wish and denigrating contributors here?

Your conduct makes light of your own "beliefs".

Syl said...

habu

Let me put it simply. You are a bore.

Doug said...

One thing we Shouldn't do is support Businesses increasing tendencies to consult and consort with anti-American organizations like "La Raza" in formulating their goals

From what I've heard, Hillary has a prominent organizer from La Raza high up the chain in her Campaign.
---
La Raza was consulted by business and government in coming up with the new Amnesty Plan.

Doug said...

There are quite a few people blessed with being involved in the work they largely love to do.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt seem to love to produce ever better utilities.

Unfortunately, they also don't seem to mind becoming ever more intrusive, and censorious when it's good for business.

Doug said...

The Faithful Heretic

Some people are lucky enough to enjoy their work, some are lucky enough to love it, and then there’s Reid Bryson. At age 86, he’s still hard at it every day, delving into the science some say he invented.

Skookumchuk said...

The sad fact of life in a market economy is that you have to do what somebody else wants in order to get paid.

True, in some ways. You have to do what other people want when they want it. All of us do. But this is mitigated somewhat by doing what you love. I for one hope to do what I love - which I have managed to do for the past 20 years - until I no longer can. Not a key to wealth and fame, but good enough.