I listened to Michael Enright’s Sunday morning show on CBC yesterday.
This is the Letter I sent in response to what I heard Re: Shoring up Canada’s economic future with Dominic Barton
I tuned in to hear Mr. Barton’s Big Ideas to ensure the long-term prosperity of Canada.
I listened with frustration and disappointment. Our economy and job creation are two themes I’ve been tracking for more than 20 years as a Career Counsellor. ( I returned to school in 1998 and wrote my MA Thesis on The Future of Work. My conclusions were more accurate than I’d anticipated. )
I almost choked on my coffee when you and your Guest discussed those who live in Ivory Towers. Neither of you realize you also live in one. When you said your Guest was from the “higher echelons of global finance and business,” I should have seen the red flag being waved.
Much was made of your Guest spending endless hours discussing the Economy for a mere dollar a year. I guess you could also admire the American President for a similar reason. He claims to take no salary. He is destroying America as volunteer work.
Your Guest had no viable solutions I could discern. I heard him say citizens should be forced to work until age 67 before being able to collect their government pensions. ( Unless, of course, they’re bricklayers or Politicians. ) Exactly how long do politicians who earn a 6-figure income need to work before they get to collect their Gold Standard Pension Plan for life?
Of course, Bombardier Executives are just another tier closer to Heaven so we know they already live in a rarified world of priviledge.
Your Guest also mentioned adding another $15,000 a year to a Middle Class Income earner in 2030. ( I guess it will be called a Middle Class Bonus Cheque. ) I’ll be 76 then.
I heard your Guest say folks want real stories – not stats. As he didn’t provide any, I will give you some typical career counseling client stories.
I’ve spent countless hours with anxious clients and have needed to direct some of them to the closest Food Bank so they can eat.
A divorced woman age 64 arrived in tears as she had been laid off 7 months prior and was desperate to find a new job. She was also on a wait list for knee surgery. She asked the government to help her out until she was able to collect her Pension at age 65.
She was told,“No. Go sell your condo.” This is the condo she had scraped and saved for 25 years to pay off so she wouldn’t need to worry about paying rent when she retired.
A single woman age 57 had been unsuccessfully looking for work for more than a year. She was desperate to find a job.
She had a College education and a well-written Resume. She had either hand-delivered or emailed out hundreds of copies of it. They all seemed to disappear into some kind of black hole.
A married woman age 59 was feeling desperate as her husband had cancer and she had to leave her job to care for him. Now that he’s gone, she was struggling to re-enter the workforce.
I consider the Danger Years to be when a layoff happens between age 55 and 65. Ageism exists AND you can’t collect an Old Age Pension before 65. I know, “Would you like fries with that? is an option. But as we know, a Higher Education is a terrible thing to waste!
Everyone wants meaningful work. Research proves this to be true. The problem is people can’t find it. The reason so many workers say they dislike their jobs (70%) is because their work lacks personal meaning. They’re bored with it.
The constant emphasis on the Middle Class got me thinking that it may be our Class System that’s at fault. The focus is on helping the Middle Class – which only exists because there is a Lower Class and an Upper Class.
Our society thrives on having a class of poorly-paid wage slaves. It’s really a form of power and control over them.
I’m not alone in my thinking. Here’s a quote from an article in The Economist:
“For those not in the elite, argues David Graeber, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, much of modern labour consists of stultifying “bullshit jobs.”
Mr. Graeber argues, “It is not an economic choice; it is something the ruling class does to keep control over the lives of others.”
It is a very long-held theme in rich counties.
To add insult to injury, in 1500, about 75% of the British labour force worked outdoors in agriculture. The Industrial Revolution made us cogs in a windowless wheel. The ability to open your office window to fresh air is a status symbol.
I’ve been educated above my family’s Lower Class rank. So have many others. Just like many others, my knowledge has increased much faster than my income. That is a source of discontent around the world.
And, of course our Consumer Society urges us to Buy, Buy, Buy – just as easy as one, two, three – Charge it!
We use credit to buy a lot of cheap, mass-produced products that replaced the work of skilled craftsmen and women of previous generations.
Now, if a task can be performed by technology, it will be.
So, what about Possible Solutions?
We all need to acknowledge that much of the future of work will be in the Gig Economy.
Work with that rather than against it.
- Give every adult a Guaranteed Income of $30,000 a year. If you already have an income higher than that – this is not for you. In exchange for this, you must do meaningful work. There are plenty of issues in Canada that need attention. Clean up the environment, provide assistance in First Nation communities, plant trees, etc. Match work with your skills and interests. Perhaps this can be funded by replacing the demeaning Income Assistance and Employment Insurance programs.
- Cut the workday in half. I’m sure most workers are aware that during an 8-hour workday, real work only gets done about 4 or 5 hours a day. Reduce stress. Enhance work-life balance. Parents may choose to work different shifts and childcare could be performed by them instead of a stranger. Of course, you’d need to tax the rich who are sitting on a pot of gold they’ll never spend. That’ll be a challenge.
- Work from home is another answer. Too much time is wasted commuting and clogging up roadways just to do a job that is likely done via an Internet connection.
- A Live/Work Studio where you can make and sell hand-made products.
- Create or join a Local Co-op with other workers. Example: A Garden/Food Co-op Rather than industrialized farming, home-grown produce needs to be encouraged. There are new innovations like vertical farms that can be used to grow vegetables and herbs indoors or outdoors. This is bound to grow.
- Promote SmallMart over Walmart Encourage entrepreneurship and innovation – especially Green jobs for the future. There is already lots of progress in this area. Connect successful business brains (perhaps retired) as mentors to newbies. Have an Innovation Centre in every town and city. Facilitate brainstorming sessions with workers so they can generate their own ideas for work. Have accountants, money-lenders, legal advice, bookkeepers, business experts, etc. under the same roof to offer their expertise.
- Consider the possibility that having machines replace tedious work can free us up to connect more deeply with each other. Emotional connections matter. We might even come to appreciate Being more, over Doing more. Civility might return.
The Future can bring great joy – if we use our creativity.
We just need to share the money around and recognize that Success is measured with more than money.
Jan Moore, MA
P.S. Perhaps you can pass this on to your Guest.
I heard him say the Government is looking for ideas.