Waves of Fortune
We do not see the waves, which bring music and news into our homes. Neither do we recognise the Waves of Fortune. Right now, particularly in Western Europe there is considerable frustration over one type of wave, which allegedly causes ill fortune for the many who loose their “secure” jobs. Many thousands have already experienced this phenomenon and the wave keeps coming! In Germany alone over 4 million people are affected. Is this ill fortune? Or do we only have to change our point of view a fraction and find a new angle?
Paul Zane Pilzer (in his book “the Wellness Revolution” – which any thinking person is well advised to read) – sees this phenomenon from an optimistic angle. Here is his story:
“How Unemployment Leads to Economic Growth. Imagine a self-sufficient island with 10 men, all of whom make their living by fishing with poles from a communal boat. One day, a missionary shows the men a new, technologically better way of fishing – using a large net instead of 10 individual lines. Two fishermen, one to pilot the boat and one to throw the net, can now catch the same number of fish as ten fishermen could with lines. On the surface, unemployment on the island has risen from 0 to 80 percent, since 8 of the 10 fishermen are now out of a job. Yet, although 8 of the men are no longer working, the island society as a whole remains just as prosperous because two fishermen using the net catch as many fish as ten did with lines. Now the island society must decide what to do with the eight unemployed fishermen and their families. They have three options: 1. They can pass a law making the use of fishing nets illegal; 2. they can tax the two working fishermen 80 percent of their earnings and redistribute this 80 percent to the unemployed; or 3. they can help the eight unemployed fishermen develop new jobs in new industries (e. g. education, medicine, food preparation) that will add to the wealth of the entire community.
What civilized society would deliberately stunt economic growth by limiting the use of new technology? What society would tax 80 percent of the earnings of their best producers (i. e. the ones with the nets)? Yet these have been the traditional responses when the implementation of technology has made certain people richer than their neighbours.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, governments passed pro-union legislation limiting the ability of private companies to substitute technology for labour. Between 1913 and 1960, the United States and Western Europe instituted highly progressive income taxes, increasing the personal marginal income tax rate to 91 percent and more on their most efficient citizens (i. e. the ones with the nets). Eastern Europe and China chose communism (effectively 100 percent taxation), removing the individual’s incentive to implement new technological methods and devastating their economies. In the United States in 1930, there were approximately 30 million farmers, producing just enough food to feed a population of about 100 million people. Technological breakthroughs in agriculture over the next 50 years made farming so efficient that by 1980 only 3 million farmers produced enough food for a population of more than 300 million – and the displaced 27 million farmers, or their children, moved on to producing new products and services that added to the total wealth in the economy. This is how our economy has evolved since the beginning of civilization.
New technology makes workers more efficient, causing structural unemployment, but over time, the displaced workers end up producing new products and services that add to society’s overall wealth. The only thing new about this process today is the speed with which it is occurring.”
At any time in history, whatever the wave, there have been and will be wonderful opportunities for those men and women who have the inner drive for freedom and independence. They forge their way ahead no matter what the circumstances. They manage to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone.
One commendable opportunity you will find under www.soundfuture.org, but there too it will depend on your attitude as to what degree you’ll recognize its inherent road to freedom.