Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
Be thankful for what you have: you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. Oprah Winfrey
It’s a year today that my daughter and son-in-law came back from Jamaica to start their married life. They are having a fun weekend of going out and celebrating their anniversary.
Our dog Lulu still barks when she hears the basement door open. She’s on high alert when anyone comes in or leaves the house. This new arrangement still seems new to her, or so that’s how it seems to me.
This year has flown by. Progress in areas I thought I would see progress in, have eluded me. The commitment to my blog has been surprisingly easy. When I miss a day, I really miss it. I’ve tried to not miss two days in a row. When I go back and read what I’ve written sometimes I wonder where that came from.
Mostly I have no idea what will end up on the page when I sit down to write. Sometimes I think it will be something but it turns into something else. Thoughts daisy chain in a way that is not predictable. We don’t know what is going on in our head until we get it onto the page it seems.
Anyone who has been reading my blog I am so grateful for your support. Getting feedback is wonderful. In March I gave my Mother a binder of my posts and she reads one a day. She needs a new binder which I will print off and send. She tells me I make her think. What a high compliment.
We need to do a lot of thinking as we continue to build our society. We need to be careful about what we try to fix, because we don’t always make things better.
Yesterday my husband, son and I were having a conversation and my son was heaping many of our ills at the feet of us women. We got out of the home to take on jobs that aren’t as important as the one we left, in his opinion. Having babies and raising them is more important than doing the work that men can do. Providing for wives and children is the job that makes men’s lives full of meaning and purpose. Children don’t do well without fathers; childcare isn’t as good as parental care. Picking up something to eat isn’t making us as healthy as home-cooked well-planned meals.
When we are told we need to be careful what we wish for, it is true. So many well-educated women are looking around for their partner in life and can’t find a suitable candidate. Are they educating themselves out of the dating pool?
We need to be comfortable being more than our job, education, and aspirations. As a singer, last night whose name I don’t know was saying on TV. “If you are an internationally renowned artist but your kids aren’t speaking to you, that’s not success.”
What makes a successful life? Is it more, more, more, of what, what, what? There is a joy, peace, and sense of accomplishment of sitting down to dinner with family that I can’t imagine anything else taking the place of. When I finally have the pleasure, joy, and gift of holding a grandchild I can’t think of anything more special in the world.
As life moves forward I find who my values and beliefs align with are not who I thought they would align with when I was in my twenties. We let go of old-fashioned values and wonder where all the morality went. We quit teaching our children a lot of it. We quit modeling it for them.
It isn’t always easy to live our values, to be the role model, to be held to standards we want our children to emulate. If we don’t live a life we want our children to emulate, who do we want them to emulate?
What do we want going forward? What will make life better for all, or at least most? Are we willing to hold ourselves to the standards we would like other people to meet?
“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tail
In a Ted Talk by Andrew Yang he talks about how our Capitalistic system must change because what capitalism prioritizes the world does more of. So the question becomes: In a system where capitalism is a prime determinant of value, how can we preserve what we truly value as humans, what matters to us beyond money?
In the US, and in much of the developed world, our current form of capitalism is failing to produce an increasing standard of living for most of its citizens. It’s time for an upgrade. Adam Smith, the Scottish economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776, is often regarded as the father of modern capitalism. His ideas — that the “invisible hand” guides the market; that a division of labor exists and should exist; and that self-interest and competition lead to wealth creation — are so deeply internalized that most of us take them for granted.
Imagine a new type of capitalist economy that’s geared toward maximizing human well-being and fulfillment. These goals and GDP would sometimes go hand-in-hand, but there would be times when they wouldn’t be aligned. For example, an airline removing passengers who’d already boarded a plane in order to maximize its profitability would be good for capital but bad for people. The same goes for a drug company charging extortionate rates for a life-saving drug. Most Americans would agree that the airline should accept the lost revenue and the drug company accept a moderate profit margin. But what if this idea was repeated over and over again throughout the economy? Let’s call it human-centered capitalism — or human capitalism for short.
Human capitalism would have a few core tenets:
1. Humanity is more important than money.
2. The unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar.
3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values.
In business, there’s a saying that “what gets measured gets managed for,” so we need to start measuring different things. The concepts of GDP and economic progress didn’t exist until the Great Depression. However, when economist Simon Kuznets introduced it to Congress in 1934, he cautioned, “The welfare of a nation can … scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.” It’s almost like he saw income inequality and bad jobs coming.
Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person. Instead of having our humanity subverted to serve the marketplace, capitalism has to be made to serve human ends and goals.
In addition to GDP and job statistics, the government could adopt
Average physical fitness and mental health
Quality of infrastructure
Proportion of the elderly in quality care
Marriage rates and success
Deaths of despair; substance abuse
Global temperature variance and sea levels
Re-acclimation of incarcerated individuals and rates of criminality
Artistic and cultural vibrancy
Dynamism and mobility
Social and economic equity
Responsiveness and evolution of government
It would be straightforward to establish measurements for each of these and update them periodically. It would be similar to what Steve Ballmer talk: (Our Nation in numbers) set up at USAFacts.org. Everyone could see how we’re doing and be galvanized around improvement.
Maybe you smile in disbelief at the concept of “social credits,” but it’s based on a system currently in use in about 200 communities around the United States: Time Banking. In Time Banking, people trade time and build credits within their communities by performing various helpful tasks — transporting an item, walking a dog, cleaning up a yard, cooking a meal, providing a ride to the doctor, etc. The idea was championed in the US by Edgar Cahn, a law professor and anti-poverty activist in the mid-1990s as a way to strengthen communities.
Despite the success of Time Banks in some communities, they haven’t caught hold that widely in the US in part because they require a certain level of administration and resources to operate. But imagine a supercharged version of Time Banking backed by the federal government where in addition to providing social value, there’s real monetary value underlying it.
The most socially detached would likely ignore all of this, of course. But many people love rewards and feeling valued. I get obsessed with completing the 10-punch card for a free sandwich at my deli. We could spur unprecedented levels of social activity without spending that much. DSCs could become cooler than dollars, because you could advertise how much you have and it would be socially acceptable.
The power of this new marketplace and currency can’t be overstated. Most of the entrepreneurs, technologists and young people I know are champing at the bit to work on our problems. We can harness the country’s ingenuity and energy to improve millions of lives if we could just create a way to monetize and measure these goals.
I’m no fan of big government. The larger an organization is, the more cumbersome and ridiculous it often gets. I’ve also spent time with people at the highest levels of government, and it’s striking how stuck most of them feel. One Congressperson said to me, “I’m just trying to get one big thing done here so I can go home.” He’d been in Congress for 7 years at that point. Another joked that being in DC was like being in Rome, with the marble there to remind you that nothing will change.
But I’ve concluded there’s no other way to make these changes than to have the federal government reorganize the economy. Even the richest and most ambitious philanthropists and companies either operate at the wrong scale or have multiple stakeholders that make big, long-term commitments difficult to sustain. We’re staring at trillion-dollar problems, and we need commensurate solutions. We’re in a slow-moving crisis that is about to speed up.
Excerpted from the new book The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future
Does he have the answer or even part of the answer? We get more of what we focus on so focusing on answers to our problems is probably the way forward. Human ingenuity has brought us to where we are. Human ingenuity will solve the problems we focus on. Change is the only constant, we must grow and develop as individuals and countries where what is good for me is good for you. If not, won’t we lose what we love most, being able to live in peace and plenty?
We all have to be our own control board or we will be controlled. We women will have to act in the best interest of society as well as in our own best interests. Selfish women don’t make a great society, nor do selfish men. It takes courage to build a life, family, society, and sometimes we have to put the needs of the family, and society first. What does that look like going forward, as we build a society that is good for everyone, especially our children?
Pierre Trudeau – “We know we have a very fortunate country, fortunate almost beyond belief. We have problems, but we know that they are not great compared with the problems of other peoples. But we need to solve them before they become great, and before someone comes to solve them for us.” – speech, Renfrew, Ont., June 24, 1968
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