There’s work, but no jobs. What’s wrong here?
As we look at high unemployment figures in Northern Africa, or in Spain or in the United States, it should make us wonder what is going on when there is so much work to be done.
There are homes and schools to build; kids and adults to teach; food to prepare; new sources of energy to capture; the list goes on and on. And yet, the work remains undone; millions remain unemployed. How do you explain this?
In our dominant economic model, businesses create jobs. In fact they own them. That’s why they can ship them overseas, or simply eliminate them. Jobs are dependent on business growth, not on what needs to be done. Some might say that today many jobs actually depend on corporate advertising. If enough people desire the latest computer toy or game, then there are jobs in Silicon Valley, or if enough people want to play with other people’s money in the stock markets, there are jobs on Wall Street.
Instead of businesses creating jobs, we need businesses that do the work. Jobs will follow. Actually, we as citizens should help businesses focus on their function in providing us with what we need, and rewarding them for doing so. In some cases, this is already happening.
Some businesses in the housing system, for example, have started to focus on building sustainable homes. This work could be expanded to retrofitting existing homes. In fact, turning our cities into sustainable habitats would leave few without something to do.
Why are we so reluctant to get to work? Perhaps we don’t know how—how to be active members of the cities in which we live—how to be citizens.