We Need Our Legs

I am absolutely amazed at the ability for the accomplished portion of the population to remove themselves from the issues our country is facing with regard to our economic crisis and issues around sustainability. The articles and blogs generated around these issues quite often take a distant tone as if the authors are narrating a third-party story about an issue that is happening in some far away land about some other generation. While passionate about the need for innovation, there is a subtle suggestion that they are not in the pot with the other struggling American’s.

Why does our creative class perceive this division? Is it because our leaders, analyst and authors reach a level of education that leads to a belief that there is a “Great Us-Poor Them” and that they are somehow removed from the economic web that the average working-class member of the American society is entangled in? Is it because no matter how enlightened one becomes to the national and global economic intricacies an innate belief still exists that they are on the cusp of transcending from their social-class to the next socio-economic class regardless of restrictions and circumstances so long as we continue to work hard as the American Dream has told us to believe? Do we even know where we are in that pecking order?

While American workers are forced to reinvent themselves to remain employable in this time of change, It is my opinion that these leaders that head corporations or lead our policy changes, have outdated cost models of evaluating outputs and these models are in desperate need of innovation as well. Without innovation it becomes impossible to weight the financial implications for having such disjointed approach to the economic crisis. When an Apple executive commented that “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems,” in response to criticism of outsourcing production jobs to China, Natalie Gualy asked “Do corporations have a responsibility to address factors other than their product or services? “ http://urdpd598.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/social-responsibility-in-the-corporate-world/  In traditional models of productivity it is very easy for an Apple executive to say “no” because the numbers don’t lie. But numbers do lie if you are not accounting for the value added or lost to companies in the context of their infrastructures that comes around full circle in supporting these companies in the future.

Antiquated systems used to measure performance, such as GDP and traditional cost models make the bottom line a cost approach to productivity rather than the true value. It is evident why companies and leaders, who often invest in such companies, perceive the outsourcing of production jobs to third world or developing countries a sensible solution to ensure larger profit margins on the front-end when using traditional models.  This is due to cheaper front end cost of production created by cheaper labor and less arduous laws. These solutions are extremely short-sighted and artless. It’s like watching a 3D movie on an old black and white dial-nob TV. While it can be done, it is definitely not maximizing our potential as a nation or globally. Not only does it lack integrity, it is dismissive and divisive.

According to Peter Sims, entrepreneur and former venture capitalist, he criticizes the ability for these jobs to return in a time of growth and states that the loss of these jobs “is a crucial insight, emblematic of many points the authors make. The world has fundamentally changed, and we can no longer look to the past to predict what will get us out of the current crises. We must invent new assumptions and solutions at a time when American institutions are in dire need of renewal and reinvention.” http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2011/08/30/reinventing-america-from-the-bottom-up/

Americans need to reinvent themselves and challenge traditional methods and approaches to careers, however, Leaders absolutely must start looking at models that include the benefits of communities as a whole and realize that taking a more holistic view may prove more profitable. If your legs were injured and it was difficult to walk, let alone run, and all you had to do was “invest” in them to make your whole body strong, would you simply tourniquet them off? Are they not part of your body? Maybe you would if you didn’t see the value of your legs.

While that is an over simplification, leaders and corporations view the world on a global scale and don’t see the true value of their work force writing them off as to costly disregarding the benefits socially and economically of thriving communities. While most American’s see themselves as the legs or backbone of our economy, leaders believe they are the head driving economies forward. They have the tentacles of an octopus. Production jobs in America are a tentacle and production Jobs in China are another. Sims makes a great point: “When demand comes back, firms won’t hire back as many workers [as in the past], because they have now fundamentally restructured their operations to do their business with fewer people.”

Natalie Gualy wrote “Organizations have a duty to act responsibly for the collective being and not solely for their private interest…sure it might cut their profits but money shouldn’t be the deciding factor for every business decision.” My argument is that we have to create value and cost for the “collective being” and add this to our cost models otherwise we are at risk of losing our legs.

 

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