Thursday, July 7, 2016

Freedom to Choose, Means More Freedom to Trust

Betsey Stevenson recently challenged her readers in this Bloomberg article, "Want to Help The Economy? Learn to Trust". Yes, more trust would certainly help. But just the same, the article reminded me of a "feel good" Sunday morning sermon, in which the pastor exhorts everyone to be "better" people. Who remembers that impulse by Monday morning?

Unfortunately, there are good reasons for a growing lack of trust in the present. Stevenson is right that people are losing faith in one another, and she noted that when we find it difficult to trust others, others find it difficult to trust us as well. Economically speaking of course, less trust equates to less economic output in aggregate. However, something was missing from her reasoning: the same economic forces which leave us more vulnerable or less able to choose for ourselves and others, make us less trustworthy, by default. As someone who remained (formally) unemployed for too long, I get that such a perception on the part of others is understandable.

It's not enough to persuade, cajole or reason one's way to a stronger economy, especially in a time frame when representatives of more prosperous regions are becoming more intent on closing the door to new entrants. In particular, people need new means for discovering economic interaction with one another, which are also capable of contributing to long term growth. More reliable economic patterns would make mutual trust a rational choice - one less likely to end up as excessive risk taking in terms of either one's health or personal belongings.

Just the same, whatever the label that society places on the marginalized, and there are plenty of relatively arbitrary labels: those who try to assist the ones who have fallen, have too few economic means at their disposal to help them in the ways that count most. Sometimes, when social workers are new to their work, and the light of day dawns on them as to what is really going on, it can be a cruel dawning. I remember a few years earlier, a young woman who was working with the homeless ended up screaming at a crowd: Jobs! They need jobs!

Freedom to choose on economic terms, also includes the freedom to construct one's own unique business environment, by which to interact with others. I cannot stress enough, how important this function can sometimes be, for those who may otherwise lack the social graces to thrive in the large corporate environments of the present - whether they be public or private.

Consider what freedom to choose could potentially mean, given a meritocracy which rewards people so as to encourage excessive repetition in terms of chosen skill sets. Those who are deemed less skillful, are too often expected to perform repetitious patterns continuously which others have already opted out of. Yet time value - in terms of workplace options - should also exist as a form of marketplace choice. Physiologically, our bodies constantly ask us for variety in both movement and thought processes. Our bodies naturally use the "down time" of low skill processes to prepare for the next step we want to utilize in high skill processes. When work is performed according to externally determined time frames, it is not always possible to optimize this natural process.

Also, work environments can be thought of as a form of experiential product which is paid for through time investment. While the reality of job as desirable product is now recognized in terms of happiness and self esteem, the reverse effect has not been adequately considered for remaining low skill positions. When individuals have sufficient options to coordinate high and low skill work patterns among one another, self respect - hence mutual trust - can be much easier to come by.

A marketplace for time value, would provide more freedom to choose, which in turn could lead to more respect for a wider array of work functions than presently exists. Even though broader sharing of repetitious low skill work may seem as though a small matter, it's not for the ones who are expected to fulfill these societal roles to a degree they have little remaining time for more challenging work. Trust is not a matter of wishful thinking. But I would also suggest for Betsey Stevenson that trust issues are not something that governments can work out for their citizens. These are the kinds of issues which need to be faced openly and honestly, on the Main Streets which have increasingly been left behind.

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