Monday, August 31, 2009

Questioning A Most Revered Friend

Capitalism troubles me. First off, what in God's green earth precipitated a highly industrialized country like ours to shift so much of its production of goods overseas? To get costs down thereby offering lower priced goods to consumers and greater profit margins to manufacturers. This noble intention was of course spurred on by hyper-competition, the essence of capitalism! After all, it is much cheaper manufacturing things in “decades-behind-us” countries where wages are much lower and unions nonexistent. This in turn gives us cheaper cars and goods.

But then what becomes of all our cities and more importantly our workers who are just so “wired” to work on assembly lines? The cities decay and the workers are then forced to find new skills based perhaps on service oriented tasks. This seems fine, except for the fact that it is now claimed we must maintain a strong manufacturing base if we are to uphold our position as the world's preeminent economy. So we say, let's bring manufacturing back

But with much higher wage standards in our society, costs will increase dramatically. How will we get them down? By procuring the services of 20th century's answer to the immorality of slavery. We'll get computers to do all the dirty work! In this regard, nobody has to pay a soul! Except the power companies and a tech nerd or two needed to maintain the computers. Isn't this ultimately what a genuine capitalist should hope for? A way to eliminate the need for employees and other "unnecessary" costs which will only ever disrupt his bottom line? 

Today computers are so powerful that it is not at all unrealistic to envision plants being operated solely by robots with perhaps a few rogue humans to prevent or address occasional malfunctions here and there. But what then becomes of all the ready, willing and able factory workers? Perhaps they will be forced to find jobs in the service industry?

But if computers can eliminate the need for factory workers, why would it end here? Perhaps today's in vogue service industry will be much more efficiently operated by computers making human beings nothing more than costly extravagances? (One need only take note of all those pesky automated call centers.....God curse them!) What then are these ex-service industry workers to do?

To me, capitalism seems to idolize personal gain at the expense of other human beings. This neither maddens nor depresses me. It just is what it is. I guess what bothers me most is that many people tend to, consciously or not, operate under the pretext that their capitalistic pursuits are not selfish.

I think it true to say that in spite of the fact that capitalism is ultimately driven by nothing but personal gain, it still seems to be a boon for humanity. Perhaps this is why many "liberals" seem to HATE it? For though capitalism doesn't give a shit about anybody or anything (except ITSELF/MONEY), it does seem to reduce poverty and suffering more than any other tried approach.

So am I implying capitalism to be the final chapter of humanity's pursuit of progress?

What do YOU think?

Before answering this, keep in mind that not so long ago, much of society thought (countless societies still DO) slavery was a boon for humanity. And presumably societies of antiquity (and of course MANY today) thought humanity was best served by women staying at home raising children and cleaning dishes. And what about many past societies (and of course, once again, many TODAY) that thought a man's greatest moral obligation and honor was his "barbaric" ability to eradicate other human beings? 

Apparently societal norms change over time? Perhaps, then, we should be a little more reluctant to espouse the virtues of capitalism as if it were the "final" moral solution for our progress?

1 comment:

  1. You are right about capitalism in that within it companies are designed to be sociopathic; they are not designed to care about anything but the bottom line because that is all that they need to survive ultimately. However I don't think computers will ever take over all of our jobs, because computers can not make decisions. They can only do exactly as they are told which is why those automated phone answering systems are absolutely no help at all. Life doesn't fall into a needly programed grid; there are far to many variables in it for a computer to handle.