Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Jobs - Part 2

If we're not longer a manufacturing economy, are we now a service economy?

If so, we should at least enjoy it and make the concept enhance our lives. Husband and I are fortunate to live in an area where supermarkets still pack our groceries for us. Publix even carries them out to the car. In many places this is no longer the custom. Does anyone really like packing their own groceries? If your total grocery bill was another dollar or two to cover the cost of packer’s employment, would it bother you when you understood that your money was supporting someone's job?

How about those telephone trees. "Listen carefully, as our options have changed." Yeah, right. Is there anyone who doesn’t hate them? If there is an abundance of people willing to answer the phone and direct calls for a modest salary, why is there no company gutsy enough to say “enough is enough” and hire someone able and willing to help a caller?

Would you pay a few cents more per gallon at a gas station if there was someone available to pump your gas and wipe your windshield, especially if he/she checked the air in your tires too?

Here in Athens, Georgia, at many restaurants you walk in, grab a menu, stand at the door and read it, go to a register, place your order, find yourself a table, help yourself to a soft drink or ice tea, then wait for a server to bring your meal. These are not buffet restaurants nor fast food establishments. For the most part, they are nice dining establishments that simply do not offer full service. What’s the point of going out to dinner if you are not going to be served? And there are people who need and want these jobs!

Why are we tolerating all these reductions in service if none of us like it? A proposal to raise taxes captures our attention immediately as we often feel that we get nothing additional for the increase. But for a miniscule increase in prices or perhaps even just a tip expense, we could have the services back that we miss. More of us would be working and maybe there wouldn’t have to be a tax increase. Maybe visitors to the United States would be so impressed that tourism might increase.

A few days ago I received yet another of the type of email that I consider "hate mail." Like most of these pieces, the statistics presented in the email differ from the actual facts, but the gist of this one was that America needed to embark on a massive program to deport all illegal aliens in order to get American citizens working again. I’m thinking that of all of the jobs that everlovin' and I were recalling, and all of the ones that I thought of when I started to write this piece, I can't think of any where the jobs were “taken over” by illegal aliens. I can, however, remember that back in the 1960s and 1970s some people saying that they could not get hired because too many minorities were being hired. Those minorities were American citizens, so it shouldn't have made a statistical difference. It's just that we shared unemployment a little more equally. Thinking back, I suspect that even then we were just not yet aware of how rapidly jobs were disappearing.

Illegal aliens haven't taken the jobs or the entire career paths to which we once aspired. The jobs have evaporated! We let them slip away without capping the escape. Like an opiate, we got high on the enabling technology, the substantial cost savings, the speed at which things could be done. Now we’re coming off the high. The jobs are gone and our high is now a downer.

So what do we do now? I have no clue. But I ramble on and contemplate some ideas in Part 3.

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