Friday, July 13, 2007

Capitalism, Productivity and Anxiety

A society's economic growth is based on increased productivity; which is fed primarily by its willingness to tolerate and encourage its citizen's anxiety.

In order for a society to grow, that is, feed and clothe the same number of people at a higher level of quality, or sustain the same living style for a greater number of people, a society must increasingly produce more goods with the same effort per hour. The key to maintaining that 'growing' possibility is: developing better (more efficient) time saving technology (airplanes and the computer), or developing better more efficient time saving workers; the theory generally undelaying the latter category is: smarter (more educated) the worker, the more efficient the worker will be in using their brains (just another machine in this equation) with or without the technology.

Totalitarianism, of course, generally tries to get people to work harder and/or efficiently with orders, top-down style, and, if necessary, threats and coercion; capitalism does it a little more subtly--but just as toughly: by granting overtime bonuses, an ever-looming possibility of unemployment and/or 'titles'; you are the Corporate Manager of Waste Engineering (i.e., you keep the toilets clean). The theory in capitalism is: increased money, job-insecurity and titular respect better encourages people to work harder and more efficiently. At the end of the last century: US capitalism 1; Russian totalitarianism 0.

Anxiety is the fuel that runs capitalist growth. I believe the willingness of free people in a free society--especially like America--to invest their sense of predictability and sureness and certainty for the possibility of later higher reward is what underlays the growth of our productivity. Without a nation of people willing to 'gamble' their people's ease and comfort, of, say, their 'nine to five' existence, and take on the anxious-inducing burden of a higher mortgages, self-employment, creating one's own business, precariously balancing family and peace of mind ('the kids don't see enough of you, they may turn to drugs now and a psychiatrist later; and the spouse may play around on you because you are working every night and on weekends building a 'second business').

The ballast of free enterprise is sine qua non choice of people to increase their possible anxious state in return for the possibility of greater rewards. And that willingness to personally/socially invest in that precarious existance is the source of America's great worldwide reputation for energy, and is what make Americans seem crazy to the rest of the world. SEE: Europe. Europe has in the past half-century reduced its levels of anxiety-creation by creating governmental social programs that have granted workers less working hours per week, paid all medical and drug bills, mandated longer worker vacations, etc, while they (Europeans) have been encouraged at the same time to have less children (speak about an anxiety-tempering activity!!) Japan also is notorious for maintain a social and economic structure that provides ongoing stability to its citizens; and often much to the deterioration of its economic muscle. But America (especially, Republican America)...and increasingly China and India...has turned to their people's willingness...and push their anxiety tolerance level to greater and greater heights in the drive for ever greater productivity piossibility gains...and personal and social economic growth. Whether these increased levels of anxiety will be long term boon or bane for these nations--including other nations who may choose to emulated their 'style'--or whether these free-free enterprisers will find in the long run such anxiety-inducements are more costly rather than revenue-enhancing in their productivity growth stimulation remains to be seen. The world economic map--and the word's psychological/social condition--of 2050 awaits.


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