Why is it so hard for people to realize that when you help others you are also helping yourself? From a spiritual /quantum physics perspective, we are all one and by extension what I do to others I am in fact doing to myself. If that’s too esoteric, we can look at it in a practical way, when you help others chances are they will be more than willing to help you in the future. This reminds me of that old fable “The Lion and the Mouse”. Never think you are so much above anybody that you would never need their help.
Let’s get even more specific with this concept. It really makes sense to us when we relate it to the employer –employee relationship. When employers ensure that their workers are paid well, they get a more productive workforce, which also facilitates the growth of demand for their own products. When workers earn money, they spend it, when they spend, businesses thrive and the virtuous cycle of growth and prosperity ensues and everyone benefits. The converse is true you cut and or suppress wages both productivity and consumption suffer, so in the end the business owner’s make less profit. In this scenario everybody loses.
What’s so wrong with letting everyone have a piece of the pie? The shareholders who own the business want to make a return on their money. That is both fair and natural, but does it mean that you have to undermine your employees to do so? In early 2015, The New York Times ran a couple of articles which showed that the American middle was declining. They defined the middle class as those families who earn between $35,000 and $100,000 a year. Using the same definition, it was found that Canadian middle class has stagnated. In both cases, it’s not good news. We need a growing robust middle class not a stagnant or shrinking one.
Whenever I teach macroeconomics I am always asked “If they know what to do and how to solve the problem why don’t the government just do it? “, or some variation of that question. I usually have to explain that in theory we can do a lot and solve a lot of problems. In reality, however, there are lobbyists and big business that fund political campaigns and expect their interest to be served somewhere down the line. So, even when a particular policy can be implemented that would be beneficial to the masses, it may not be implemented if it does serve the interest of a small group of already very wealthy people. After all, why be happy with $1 billion when you can make $2 billion? This usually means that means paying employees less than minimum wages and taking away as many benefits as you can all so that you can make a profit. Not realizing that you are hurting yourself in the long run, as the middle class shrinks so does your market.
I suspect there is a lot we don’t know when it comes to the dealings of politicians and big business. We are not privy to what types of deals or what agendas are struck behind closed doors. The way I see it, if we don’t buy all the nonsense they feed us literally and figuratively, we would be setting the wheels of change in motion. It is true, we can’t eradicate years of intertwined special interest and greed mentality overnight, but we can start the process and like little drops of water that erodes mighty mountains, little by little, day by day, we can effect change. This will sound cliché, but it’s true, it really all depends on you, and when I say you I mean all of us. There is no need to buy their stuff or their propaganda. It all goes back to what values we hold for ourselves and how we measure success. We have all been taught to measure success in financial terms so more money means more success. Unfortunately, the reality is that our success, at least in part, requires that we have money because have to be able to meet our basic needs of daily living. Once we have a monetary system we are at the mercy of this way of life.
For us to break free we must first WAKE UP! We have to re-examine, question the way we currently conduct our lives. Luckily, the Millennials are inherently rising to the challenge. This generation has a very different mindset when it comes to consumerism. Traditional advertising tactics don’t work, and the attitude towards work and general life balance is changing. This is a new reality for employers, shareholders and governments.
The Pew Research Center report released in 2010 showed that this generation is self-confident, ambitious, technologically savvy and highly educated. No surprise they are very “connected” and embrace technology. Millennials are also less religious, more open to diversity. They seek better work-life balance and are quick to change jobs. They focus more on being able to do the job than being qualified to do the job. This generation learns from others experienced. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel; they learn from their predecessors and find their own way to excel.
This generation will change the face of business and consumerism as we know it. They seem less taken in by the desire for profit. It is estimated that in the United States alone the Millennial will spend $200 billion annually by 2017. They are indeed a force to be reckoned with and businesses have to change the way they operate if they want to be successful. The Millennials are turning their idealism into a reality. When they consume, they want it to have meaning, they don’t just buy a product they buy a cause.
So things may not be so bleak after all, there is definitely a shift in consumer consciousness. As these Millenniums raise the next generation of kids (iGen/Gen Z) they have a chance to effect even greater change, and slowly as time passes, we may see less and less of rampant inequality and injustice and perhaps truly civil societies that really put people first.