Economic Musical Chairs

Anybody old enough to remember the 60’s might be tempted to compare massive anti-war demonstrations back then with the even more massive “Occupy” demonstrations going on worldwide right now. But look below the surface, and you will see they are way different.

The 60’s battle cry was “tune in, turn on, and drop out”. Today, everybody is tuned in all the time, and it is virtually impossible to drop out. Some would say that’s a good thing. I am not so sure.

Now that we are all connected by mobile devices and online pretty much 24/7; it is difficult to actually unplug from the grid even if we want to do so. Have you ever lost your mobile phone? Good luck trying to find an alternative connection unless you have a hard-wired phone at home. Pay phones are almost a thing of the past. Ask somebody at a gas station or other public place where to find on; and they’ll look at you like you asked how to place a call to Mars.

Want to pay for an item with cash? It’s usually not a problem, but some stores even ask for your name when you do that. It’s all about tracking your purchases so they can evaluate their sales and marketing effectiveness. I get that, but I also get that sometimes it’s just not any of their business what you’re buying, why you’re buying it, or whether you plan to buy anything more just like it again. 

Customer service surveys are also annoying. If the product was really great to begin with; you probably wouldn’t have had to contact the manufacturer after your purchse. When you do; customer service representatives often stick to a pre-planned script, and don’t even listen to what you’re asking.

One really great exception to this all too common rule is Apple. When you call them, you actually get a real person in this country who not only understands your issue; but who can help you resolve it right away. 

Then consider Dell, with their completely outsourced customer service department in India. While those folks are certainly polite and make every attempt to be helpful; they are hampered by factors such as: 1) an inherently inferior product (my opinion–feel free to comment and disagree), 2) language and cultural differences that make getting really good service a challenge 3) management that cares more about short term profit than long term customer satisfaction.

The movie “Outsourced” illustrates these issues with sensitivity, humor, and clarity. I totally get that companies need to cut costs to stay competitive. I also get that outsourcing is a great way to do that. But what I get more often is a gigantic pain in the #*!##!* from having to deal with overseas customer service.

If American companies outsourced fewer jobs, there might be  fewer people out on the streets protesting. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. People in countries outside the US also need economic opportunities, and even with outsourcing; there is still not enough work to go around.

There is a whole lot more at stake than “bargains” on cheap electronics that doom you to endless conversations with people half a world away who can’t really help you anyway. 

We need to stop the seemingly endless game of musical chairs for job seekers everywhere. With 7 billion people on the planet all needing to eat, work, and live; we need a whole lot more chairs, and world leaders who will start playing a tune of prosperity and opportunity for everyone.

Is it really true that higher taxes on big business and the wealthy will result in even fewer jobs? If they won’t pay, who will? You can’t get blood out of a stone, and you sure can’t get taxes out of the unemployed.

Call me crazy, but I don’t complain about taxes. As long as there’s money coming in for somebody to tax; I figure I’m ahead of the game. But the game right now appears to be rigged so that millions of people worldwide who would feel lucky and blessed if they had a job, are sitting it out on the sidelines while the band plays on.

I don’t believe that we are all doomed to an ever-increasing downward spiral. I really do believe that there is an answer; a positive solution; and a way out of the worldwide economic crisis.

 But we must be smart, vigilant, and savvy when it comes to evaluating the claims of those who say they can turn the tide. Can they really? Who’s agenda are they following, and if we follow their advice; will we be standing on solid ground, or will we fall into an ever deepening chasm of lack?

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