Providing ValueNovember 15th, 2011 by nick
When I lost my last job in San Francisco, I knew that I would never have another. Why hire an old guy who wants too much money, when you can hire a young, energetic guy for half as much? That was the conclusion my employers arrived at, and I don’t blame them. I would do the same in their place.
I like this quote about employment in the 1950′s from this article:
If you could read, follow simple instructions, and settle into a routine, you could find a job in the post-war economy.
That is no longer true. Nowadays you need to have a real skill. It can be a blue-collar skill like welding, plumbing, electrical, hvac, or it can be a white collar skill, computer programming, bio-engineering, etc., but it has to be something.
It was 2004. I was 60 years old and unemployable. But I did have skills, over 30 years worth of developing software, on every computer and every computer language of any consequence during those three decades. So I set to work on the best idea I could come up with and developed MailSteward for the Macintosh.
It was something I wanted for myself, a searchable, relational database of all my email forever. I turned my crude UNIX script into a commercial Mac application and started selling it on the internet. For the first two years, sales were $200 to $300 a month. It was too buggy, not enough features. I worked constantly late into the night, fixing bugs, adding features. We lived on savings, and when that was gone, credit cards.
After two years, it was finally good enough that people started buying it. Now it brings in, gross, about $90,000 a year. I’m still working on it all the time, though not as frenetically as in the past. And I’ve added three more apps to the mix, FileMyFiles, DiskRefresher, and WordWrapper.
The way capitalism, real capitalism, works is that everyone has to provide something of value to other people, that they will pay for with money. Money, when it is not being inflated away by the government, being a store of value. That’s capitalism in a nutshell. We used to be a fairly capitalistic society, but not anymore. Nobody is, but there are now a few nations who are more capitalistic than we are, which never used to be the case.
It is very much my sense, though I am too lazy to back it up with researched evidence, that there is a rising percentage of the adult population who are not providing anything of economic value. A certain amount of that is inevitable. We must care for the old, the sick, and the disabled. But somewhere along the line there is a tipping point, when there are too few people providing value, and too many people not providing, but consuming that value.
I think we are past, at, or quickly approaching that tipping point, here in the United States, in Europe, and in the world.
Here is what Jin Liqun, chairman of China’s vast sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, had to say about Europe’s request to borrow some more from China:
The root cause of trouble is the overburdened welfare system, built up since the Second World War in Europe – the sloth- inducing, indolence-inducing labour laws.
In other words, no, we are not lending you bums any more money. China has its own problems, big time, but these are words of wisdom.