Many years ago one had to put water in a pan, wait for it to boil and then add rolled oats. After stirring for a bit (I’m not quite old enough to remember how long it took) you would get oatmeal. Then Quaker came along with Quick Quaker Oats. Essentially the same preliminaries, they just cooked in a couple of minutes. Then, thanks to NASA, the microwave was born and
making oatmeal could be done in a single bowl in about two minutes. And oatmeal is only the tip of the iceberg. Since the 60’s the US has been hell bent on bringing K rations to the American table in the name of saving time. It certainly can’t be because veterans so loved the things that they missed them.
Seriously, it was the birth of the movement to make Americans slaves to time. They have slowly but surely sold the idea that we need to pack as much as we can into every waking moment, efficiently using every second to maximize our return on our time investment. Work, where this greedy monster was born, obviously led the way. We can thank ole Henry Ford for that one. While this concept has some very valid and useful points, the problem came when it became the sole reason, the dictator of business operation — maximized throughout with the enhanced bottom line. Yeah, baby, that will make your business thrive, providing management also takes into consideration the fact that the people who do the work are not just another piece of machinery.
That is the part that has been taken out of the equation over the past 30 years: People are not machines. Nor do machines totally run themselves. Nor can machines do everything. The respect for the efforts of labor has been degraded to the point where it is treated like a commodity. If you don’t like working here, you can and will be replaced. And with the population rising and the number of jobs falling it is true. Someone can always be found who is so desperate for a job that they are willing to do just about anything to put food on the table.
This worship of saved time is an aspect of the recovery of America has to be revisited. Instant gratification is killing us. Our corporations have to return to balancing short-term profits against long term sustainability. This doesn’t just apply to things like safety and environmental impact but also to building a working partnership between labor and management that is mutually beneficial and respects both. The obscene disparity between top management compensation and labor wages has to end. The idea that labor is disposable has to end. The really bad part is that it has taken 30 years for this high profit, right now school of management to become ingrained in our business society and there appears to be no reason that management would willingly revise their attitude.
It will probably take a major economic collapse and it will happen. The present system is unsustainable. History has proven it many times. A civilized intelligent society monitors itself and works to keep the pendulum from shifting too far in either direction. Our pendulum has been forced so far right that when it cuts loose it will be more of a wrecking ball, and with the Republicans back in control of the House, I foresee the pendulum being forced even further right, accelerating the impending crash timeline.
It is real difficult to fix major problems fast enough to satisfy the instant society we have become. But the bad things? Yup, those can happen overnight. Just take a shaky economy, add Republicans and you won’t even need a microwave.
Visit Hoodathunk’s blog, Story Time, to read more of his musings, rants, fiction, and maybe pick up a recipe or two.