A little over 8 months have elapsed since I was last at the EasyJet check in desk at Gatwick airport and what a shock awaited my return after such a short space of time. The twenty odd desks were still their but only four people were now manning them!
On arrival at an ‘empty’ desk there was a scanning machine waiting to read my boarding pass and then print out a sticky tab which I was expected to affix to my case. Then I was also expected to ensure the safe loading of said case onto the conveyor belt that sent it to the depths of the airport baggage management system.
In the equally ‘high customer arena’ of supermarkets, we are encouraged to fill our baskets and trolleys, scanning the items as we go, to then arrive at another machine which will read the content of our scanner and take our money from an equally impersonal credit card reader.
At the same time as the barcode is registering the cost of our shopping it is also doing a stock control inventory and ordering new supplies. In addition it is carrying out profit calculations and analysis of our buying patterns to feedback to a central ‘brain’ that will produce reports for the not so gradual reduction in numbers of management and staff needed to run modern businesses.
Business is there to make profits and its greatest overhead has always been the wage roll. Modern technology has appeared like ‘manna from heaven’ to the corporate boardrooms across the world, as it robs the international jobs market blind.
The obscenity of all this is that in spite of the reduction of worthwhile jobs and with no signs of strategies to replace them by either governments or corporations, we are still forcing our young to take up a university education and the crippling debt that goes with it, without any reassurance of rewarding employment the other end, other than a job in MacDonald’s.
Work has always provided a sense of purpose to our lives and is as essential to our wellbeing as the very air we breathe. Our government has just awarded itself a 10% pay rise, representing a stinging slap in the face to the young for whom a regular wage, eve alone a pay rise, is beyond the current expectations of many, who at best might be lucky enough to get a zero hours contract.
And to add insult to injury this in an environment where politicians seem totally uncaring as to the need to find solutions for the return of a healthy employment market. Morality is the human ingredient that profit so efficiently robs us of and the only value capable of changing current abusive thinking.
Remember that it was out of the frustration and despair of the young in Lebanon that the powerful resistance movement Hezbollah was birthed to remedy the abuses of the past, as well as the Arab Spring many years later. The same seeds are now being sewn globally in Society through the ‘warfare’ on jobs. What is ignored by greedy financiers and business leaders is that these kids have been educated to a high level and the frustration of a life lacking purpose will prove a powerful drive to redress the growing imbalance.
What makes this dire situation impossible to resolve is that corporations are not concerned with employment and will coerce governments against any attempts to change the present status quo? This is glaringly obvious as the TPP trade agreement is ‘fast tracked’ through the US political system. This agreement has nothing to do with trade but is a Neanderthal attempt by US politicians to prevent, at any costs, the evolutionary growth of China into the new global economic ‘God’.
Capitalism is hopelessly incapable of resolving the systemic problem it has now created because of its fundamental belief in the maximisation of profits through the minimisation of costs. It was Albert Einstein who observed:
“Humanity is going to require a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive.”
As I returned through passport control at Gatwick 12 days later all desks were attended by highly trained and qualified customs officials, although they were not busy but the electronic passport area was. Passing through I was hit by a sadness as I wondered how many of those desks will be ‘attended’ by robots when I next return.
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes