New jobs, new economy: Envisioning better ways to work and earn a living

Bravo to YES! magazine, whose Fall issue (link here) is devoted to examining how we can create new jobs and a new economy based on human and community needs and sustainable practices:

The jobs crisis has slipped off the political radar, but to ordinary Americans, jobs and the economy are top issues. How can we build strong local economies that sustain us in an era of ecological limits? What can we do to support each other in challenging times, and how can we rebuild the American Dream?

The Fall issue is rich with ideas and inspiration. Here are titles of some of the articles:

  • Who’s Building the Do-It-Ourselves Economy?
  • Work Less, Live More
  • 5 Steps to Redefine Making a Living
  • 7 Smart Solutions

YES! has been among the most thoughtful voices calling for a new economy, one not so much vested in “isms” (capitalism, socialism, etc.), but rather one emphasizing individual and community priorities and values in the context of a sustainable society.

It won’t come from Wall Street or Washington D.C.

Implicit in all of these pieces is the realization that human-level solutions to our economic crisis are highly unlikely to come from Wall Street or D.C. I couldn’t agree more. Our mega-institutions are simply too broken right now.

The idea of Big Business as the Great American Jobs Machine may have had some credibility decades ago, but certainly no more. Wall Street is about short-term gains and shareholder profits, and jobs creation ranks very low on its priority list.

As for many of our policy makers in the nation’s capital, the less said, the better. Few are talking about jobs; even fewer are taking the long-term view that we desperately need.

Grassroots entrepreneurship

In the meantime, encouraging and enabling entrepreneurial, socially responsible initiatives at the local, grassroots levels may provide some answers to the jobs crisis and to the question of how we build a sustainable and inclusive society.

Granted, these ideas need testing and refining, and frankly some of the new jobs described in YES! will leave people wrestling with how to pay the bills each month. But the more valuable point is that we need to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about how to live healthy, meaningful, and secure lives after decades of excess and credit-driven buying frenzy. Raising these questions is very threatening to those who have reaped the benefits of the status quo, but for everyone else, they are vital.

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Related post

Can communal responses to tough times lead us to better lives?

2 responses

  1. I remember in the 60’s when futurists were predicting that we would all be on 30 hour workweeks because of the productivity gains that would occur due to technology. We were going to have more play time than we could fill. Well, we had the gains, but instead of the gains going to the worker they all went to the richest 2%.

    We can change that by voting for candidates who will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, legislate sick leave and annual leave for all workers ( 6 weeks a year), legislate a 35 hour work week, get rid of the designation “salaried” thereby making all workeres hourly and therefore subject to overtime after 35 hours ( when corporations can’t work a few employees to death they will hire more people), get rid of the social security cap(again making the rich pay their fair share), and pass universal health care. Imagine a society where you have time to raise your kids, have time to exercise and cook right, don’t have to worry about going bankrupt because of an illness or don’t have to stay at a horrible job just for the health benefits, have time to reflect, be creative etc.

    My husband’s “regular” work hours are 7:00 to 5:00. Overtime on top of that. He is salaried. No sick leave and very little vacation. My sister used to work 40 hours on her vacation week ( she worked 60 to 80 when not on vacation) and was still laid off. We can stop the madness. We have the vote; we just have to start using it.

  2. I hear all the standard talk of how we must enucate and train our young people in the job for the new economy. Here is a true story. My nephew received a government subsity to be trained as a programmer of computer controlled manufactoring machines. Very cutting edge. Got a job two years ago and worked all kindess of overtime for a year and a half. Company was sold and equipment moved to Mexico. Nn one is starting up this type of operation in the US or Canada. His options are to retrain or move to Mexico.

    The politicos who push the new economy jobs do not realize that any company in Mexico, India or Indonesia can buy the same high tech equipment as in US or Canada so we taxpayers are now training high tec workers for these contriies. I do not believe that more government action can help. The only solution is for the government to get out of the way, cut taxes to the bone, stop spending our money and let the ingenuity of people look out fot themselves.

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