The Common Working Person

Debate about the spread between the wealthy and the rest of the country is receiving increasing attention by media. Better news channels like PBS and Aljazeera have held on air debates about unions, minimum wage, making the school system more competitive so more graduate high school and college and get better jobs and make more money (so that wealthy folks can make more money and those not-so-competitive students are weaned out of the “new” work force). Further, there have been discussions about the computerization age being the second half of the industrial age.

From dockside, the mariner observes that the first industrial age created millions of new jobs for the common working person while the second industrial, computerized age, takes jobs away from the common working person. The comeback by those advocating robotization of the workplace is that the common working person will be retrained for new kinds of jobs. Like what? For the mariner’s taste, there’s too much hemming and hawing at this point.

This is a broad, swampy subject. There are those, usually conservative or aggressively futuristic who are willing to do anything except assure a good life for the common working person. There are those on the other side that say there will be no progress until the wealthy are taken down a peg or two and government will oversee distribution and accumulation of wealth. While the latter team may have a heart of gold in behalf of the common working person, strategies are every bit as vague as that of uncaring conservatives and likewise doesn’t demonstrate a secure future for the common working person. The government is as good as the next election. From all past indicators, this is a bad bet.

Having set opposing shorelines, the swamp in between is not mapped, has murky water and poisonous snakes. It may be of interest to the reader to know that the current description of what a job is and how wages relate to that job was formulated in the 19th century – yes, the 1800’s. Government has tinkered with the edges until 1985 when government cut strings to any historic or traditional definitions. Nothing has evolved since so the 19th century definition of a job is still around but often ignored – especially worker rights and benefits that were applied early in the 20th century.

If the reader makes Big Macs or bacon burgers today, that is unfortunate. Computerization of burger production will be done by robots within five years (working models already exist). Stopping at a fast food restaurant will be exactly like stopping at a Redbox machine. Minimum wage may not be the big issue everyone thinks it is. Is there anyone who can describe a job environment for the common working person five years from now? For tens of millions of common working persons? Is there anyone who can describe an economic platform that assures a decent lifetime for the common working person?

What mariner hears from both shorelines are self-serving fake solutions. To extend the swamp metaphor, all the decision makers from both shores are wandering around the swamp in flatboats while the common working person is dragged behind in the murky water and poisonous snakes.

Helping assure quality of life for millions of common working persons will take a complete, high-powered team representing every quarter of the debate and, the mariner is saddened to say, that will not come for some time. Our society still is on a downslide, riding on the lives of the common working person.

Ancient Mariner


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