Saturday, October 08, 2011
The system of Social Security, created in the late thirties to take care of the elders, will run out of funds by the time the generation of “baby boomers” fully start collecting what they have been contributing throughout their life. It is going broke mainly as a result of one pervasive cancer we have now days in our society: being oblivious of the cost of goods.
In the old days, it used to be easier to figure out how much work was needed to produce something. When we were nomads, we knew how hard it was to collect food during the winter or, to hunt and fish in order to have a satisfying meal. Before that, many times we were forced to wait for a saber-toothed cat to finish eating so we would have the opportunity of merely getting the marrow out of the carcass left behind.
Later, when we became sedentary, we started to specialize in trades in order to maximize production and labor, originating the need to exchange our products through a currency that would measure the amount of work needed to create something.
Colonization, slavery and industrialization brought their own complications into picture. None of the people working to produce the goods would be consulted about the real cost of their work instead, offer and demand laws of the market would start playing their parts making it possible for rare or scarce goods to cost more than those easily available or produced in mass.
Any ability left to phantom the cost of something was almost gone by the time our lives were flooded with the spoils of oil resources. And just as it never occurred to anyone ask a slave how much it would be a fair price for their work, nobody ever questioned how long does it take for mother nature to produce a barrel of oil that would shortcut so many hours of labor or bear such an amount of luxury and entertainment.
Although modern times have brought the opportunity to see more males parenting which allows them to understand the investment of time and care required to raise a child, the process of globalization sending jobs overseas has been hiding even more the real cost of producing things. A minimum wage, of about eight dollars an hour in this country, on the other side of the world may magically yield a whole week of labor… or more!
It’s a win-win situation one may think. They have work and the means to survive while we have the goods at a very low price! Is it really a win-win situation?
Let’s analyze what happens once we lose track of what things cost: we become wasteful! We use all the resources without measure and this is precisely the state of our Social Security. It was all maladministered by the people who never knew how much work it took from each contributor to fund it.
We need to develop new ways to take care of the elders without having to translate the work of the young and willing into a currency that nobody has idea of its real or future value. Perhaps the community service hours from students should be channeled completely into places that could take care of seniors making it possible for both to profit from each other without the need of a middle man or administrator (government) borrowing, wasting or misplacing the money.
Maybe one day in the future this will be possible, hopefully along with the chance of having those who declare the war experience the pains of giving birth. After all, they are the ones that should know its cost before taking it away so easily from many through military endeavors.