The Shoe in the Gears: Solution #1

A Community, State and National Reserve Work Force

The shoe in the gears is the origin of the English word "sabotage" borrowed from the French. As many know, "sabot" means "shoe" and the origin of the word is the act of placing an old shoe in the gears of a factory as the first step in starting a workers' strike against an employer who uses more machines and less workers, or who speeds up the machines and wants the workers to keep up with the machines.

The industrialists of America poured their money and their hearts into discrediting socialism as their primary act of class warfare against workers. The industrialists, investors and managers have been convinced that the cost of labor is their adversary, when every economist since economists have existed tells us that what every business needs is customers with money to spend. Socialism is not political tyranny. Tyrants have used fake socialism to advance their tyrannies the same as they have used fake religion and fake democracy. In reality, socialism is a logical extension of democracy. If we want democratic process and scientific government, it follows naturally and practically automatically that the primary legitimate purpose of government is to maintain a population of citizens that are physically and emotionally healthy and educated in a manner that maximizes their contributions to society. This means that socialism is nothing more nor less than where scientific government leads, away from centralized power to distributed power, service to the people, and service to the national interest. Citizens are strengthened by every reasonable means because strong, healthy, educated citizens provide the best workforce and the best armed forces, teachers, inventors, business executives and voters for the nation.

Have you ever considered the following historical realities?

1) Our best minds are employed in designing machines and systems of production and record keeping and communication that reduce or eliminate the need for human labor. This has been true since the beginning of the eighteenth century. What happens if we continue to succeed in this effort to eliminate human labor?

2) We live in a money economy of abundance, meaning that practically everything that a human being could imagine, including love, a trip to outer space -- and back one would expect -- changes to your body, an education, an academic degree, a career or a profession and a sandwich, is available for a sum of money.

3) If you have money, you can participate in the wealth of the community and of the nation by buying what you want, as well as some things that you may not need.

4) Our economic activities produce abundant wealth, abundant products and abundant services. There is enough for everyone, enough food, clothing and shelter is available for everyone, if they have the money to pay the market price.

5) If you do not have money, you cannot participate in the economy. You are excluded from enjoyment of the productivity and the wealth of the community. The wealth of the community and nation might as well be on another planet. It is out of reach. Without money, you get nothing.

6) We believe that an individual person should get money as compensation for productive labor. People can inherit money or get money for investing -- gambling -- at the stock market. Although this is not really the same as working, not the same as productive labor, it is allowed because of social traditions and social benefits. Still, that one earns one's money by working is a basic principle of the operation of society in western civilization.

7) This situation is a problem and is going to become a bigger and bigger problem as our business designers and industrial engineers continue to replace human labor with machines and robots and cybernetic systems. As the labor of millions of people is no longer needed, we still have the "family value" that an individual must work forty hours a week, sweat and toil, in order to earn the money they desire in order to participate in the wealth of the nation. What new principle will replace our current principle that people get money only in exchange for work? Even if the money came from "work" performed by one's great grandparents, it is still viewed as money that was earned, at least "earned" by someone in the past.

8) We have deeply imprinted on our brains the propaganda that a "business" or "industry" comes to town and "creates jobs" for the residents. This is a fantastically ridiculous concept. The business needs workers in order to add the value that is the productivity of the enterprise. Without the workers there is no production, no income, no profit, no nothing but an empty shell. The truth is that the workers create profits for the investors and "managers" that use the banks and the capitalist system to exploit an opportunity to make a profit. The investors and the industrial enterprise is not doing something for the workers. They are taking advantage of the workers' desire to obtain money. They may take some pride in helping a town by employing people who are looking for work, but the workers are the source of the wealth that is produced by the enterprise, the wealth that goes into the hands of the investors and the managers as well as the workers themselves.

9) Our society talks and acts as though no private enterprise and no government is obligated to provide "work" or employment for anyone. We are all on our own when we are "looking for work." But this is an outrageously strange concept for any society. This viewpoint implies that the society is itself one big factory and when the demand for labor goes down the workers need to disappear. They need to go into some form of suspended animation, into some other world where they don't need money in order to live. When you look at this capitalist society with open eyes, you see that it is arranged as though there is no real obligation of the society to the individual. The society can say to the individual "We don't need you, and therefore you are a burden and an embarrassment to us." You failed, not us. When in fact there is always a need for housing, for food, for clothes, for the maintenance of public capital property such as roads and parks and schools and government buildings and the entire life-supporting natural environment -- clean air, water and soil, energy. If there are things that need to be done, and people looking for work, how can society say "We don't need you." There is an obvious illogical and irrational pattern of behavior in operation when people need money to live, and need to work in order to earn money, and society is allowed to say to some citizens "We don't need you. You get no money. You are excluded. You are no longer participating in the production or enjoyment of the wealth of the community." This is hardly different from saying "You are dead to us." And the reason for this insanity is hidden behind a wall of deception, false economic science and the mud of self-serving minds. If our society were logical, no one could possibly be "unemployed" for even a day, because they must be employed in order to be included as a member of society.

10) The shoe in the gears is not the physical shoe in the metal gears of an industrial machine. The shoe in the gears is the contrived and false thought in the gears of the minds of the people. The shoe in the gears is the illogic of continually trying to justify a society that tells people they must have money to live; they must work to have money; and they can be excluded from the work that they need when the profiteers decide they are to be "unemployed." And the government, which is supposed to protect the welfare of the people, uses the taxpayers' money to support this obscenely insulting and detestable form of reasoning. In a logical society, if people need money to live, it is obvious to everyone that they must have some money every day, since everyone plans to live every day.

Three false solutions:

1) Unemployment insurance:

Unemployment insurance is the most ineffectual government-sponsored program ever invented. It implies that being employed presents a risk, the risk of not being employed. So, when disaster strikes and you are “laid off,” which is an interesting phrase, you get an insurance benefit, for a limited number of months, while you search for a new job. After supposeduly searching for a short time for a job that pays as much as you got paid before, you begin searching for any job that pays near what you need. Then after a while longer you look for any job you might be hired for, and the “Employment Division” or Department or whatever your state calls it, pressures you to accept any job you can do, at any wage, because your benefits are going to run out soon. But, you are not terrified of having your unemployment benefits run out. Why? Because you are working. At least 60% of all people on unemployment benefits are working while collecting the insurance benefits illegally. The most common offenders are people in the construction trades. They are painting rooms or building closets or putting on a roof or doing some plumbing repairs. And some might be doing a major renovation for an acquaintance who knows they are breaking the law but they are helping out their “unemployed” friend and they are paying him, or her, “under the table.” There are many other offenders who might earn unreported income babysitting, or house-sitting, or walking dogs, or any number of other types of work under the heading of “odd-jobs.” These odd jobs are not odd at all. They are common. They are the backbone of a vast “under-the-table” economy in the United States that is well known to most people, including the government agents who are supposed to enforce compliance but catch only those who don’t know how to cheat the unemployment system.

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) system is crocodile tears from the government-industry allies who are pretending to tell the working citizen that they want to help them get another job. But, the system has another purpose, to persuade the working citizen to accept work for a lower wage. Another serious flaw in the system is that many workers who could really benefit from unemployment insurance, and deserve it because of the seasonal work they do, are not covered, such as migrant farm (agricultural industry) workers. The UI system supports the myth that the individual worker is at fault for being unemployed. The industrialists and government have no responsibility to assure that the individual citizen is enabled to participate in the economy. This is insanity. The society is a tribe, a clam, a community. Each person contributes to the labor of the community and participates in the economy, and in the productivity and the wealth of the community. Nobody in a tribe is “unemployed.” Are you crazy? There are always things to do, trash to be retrieved, roads and paths to be maintained, safety needs for both children and adults traveling day or night, communications for public safety, custodial work in public buildings, cemeteries, and on and on and on. Everyone can do what they are able -- from each according to his abilities; and society can produce enough to provide for that person’s basic needs -- to each according to his needs. Anyone who has worked in vocational rehabilitation or related branches of human services knows that everyone can participate in the productivity of the community: the blind, those with a missing limb, the deaf, those recovering from a severe illness, the aged, the young. Our system of labor -- and this is the keys to solving our economic problems -- is not designed to serve society, it is designed to serve the owners of factories, bankers and investors. If we ever have a system that is designed to serve the society, no one will be “unemployed” for more than twenty four hours. The only people who will not be working will be those who have voluntarily withdrawn from the work force, and that should be allowed as a matter of practicality and personal freedom. But there would be no one, no one at all, who wants to work and is sent away.

2) Taxpayer funded job re-training: Who should train a person to do a job? Who should train a stone carver? How about an experienced stone carver?

Who should train a carpenter? How about an experienced carpenter?

Who should train a nurse? How about an experienced nurse?

Who should train a legal secretary? How about an experience legal secretary?

Who should train a lawyer? How about an experienced lawyer?

Who should train a machine operator? How about an experienced machine operator?

But you say we already do that, and it is obvious that an experienced professional or craftsperson is among the best teachers for any profession or craft. Yes. But who pays for the training and education? That is the question. Go back just a century or two and we have farmers teaching their children and their neighbors‘ children, and craftspersons teaching their children and neighbors’ children. Go back as far as you like and we find experienced artists and craftspersons teaching new artists and craftspersons, scientists teaching new scientists. It is all rather obvious, and we all know that we create schools to place the teachers and learners in a nurturing and somewhat protected environment where the focus can be on learning and strengthening the new student, the one who will be the producer in the next generation. This is all fine. But, there is a problem, and the problem is that private industry and private capital -- who perpetually complain that government should not interfere with business -- demand that government pay for the training of workers that they need for their industries and businesses: machinists, lawyers, accountants, production managers, inventors, engineers, machine operators, laborers. Is there not an obvious logical contradiction here? The investors and business managers want total freedom to do whatever they want, and they want no taxpayers or voters to participate in any way in any of their decisions of how they operate, but they want the taxpayers to train the skilled workers they need and they also like having low-interest loans using taxpayers money when they are starting a business.

The most profound flaw in taxpayer funded job re-training is the obvious implication that the worker’s skills are no longer needed due to changes in technology, and therefore the worker needs to be “re-trained” in order to possess skills that are in demand -- by the societal factory. But who decided that the individual citizen is required to adjust to the needs of the societal factory? Why is every citizen willing and able to work not acceptable as they are? People are paid more for a higher level of skills. That is motivation enough for a worker to seek new skills, new education, new training. If the new industry needs new skills, then the cost of educating new workers is a cost of doing business for the new industry, not for the society. The immediate objection will be that government should support the development of new technology. I disagree. New technology is typically dramatically under-priced. New technology almost invariably involves changes in the chemical composition of products, and new chemicals are destroying life on the planet. We should experiment with new technologies, but experienced workers should be free to offer themselves as they are, and expect society to use them as they are. Everyone gets a chance. The taxpayers pay for twelve years of education. The rest is up to the individual. We have no right, as a society, to tell adult individuals that they must submit to training in order to be employed. It is absolutely right to tell adult individuals that they must participate in new training in order to get a new type of job, but they should not be required by society to accept a new type of job. The decision should belong to the individual, and that decision does belong to the individual only if there is a real choice between continuing to be employed as-you-are and on the other choosing to change through re-training. The essential flaw in the current system is that job re-training is presented to the citizen worker as a free or low-cost benefit, when in fact it is a clear message that the only choice you are being given is between submitting to re-training or being “unemployed,” which means being “shunned” by the industrial masters of our economic tyranny.

3) Government programs to subsidize business and “create jobs”:

The Community Reserve Work Force:

Obsolescence of old programs: The Community Reserve Work Force (CRWF) is the single solution to many problems. The Unemployment Insurance System can be an optional benefit and may simply be phased out because it is no longer needed. The Workers‘ Compensation system would be effected by fewer claims because an injured person who wants to work can be included in the CRWF. The Vocational Rehabilitation Programs will have reduced costs, and would become a major component of the CRWF, because handicapped, disabled or impaired citizens can be included in the CRWF if they want to work. All welfare programs would be affected primarily by reduced expenditures. The CRWF will entirely replace public employment departments and military recruiting programs. All child protection and child labor laws shall apply and shall not be modified by the CRWF programs.

Principles of Operation:

1) All of the employers employ all of the workers all of the time. Workers not employed in private for-profit enterprise can be employed by non-profit organizations or by any level of government to participate in government-sponsored construction, production or service programs.

2) Level-of-government organizational structure:

The CRWF begins with local Community, Town, City or Regional organizational levels, depending on population size and any patterns people wanting to work and having no employment. There would be a State Reserve Work Force (SRWF) and National Reserve Work Force (NRWF). Individuals in a SRWF are in the NRWF, and individuals in any CRWF or Regional Reserve Work Force (RRWF) are also in the SRWF and NRWF. Individuals may be given the option of belonging only to the SRWF or NRWF or a RRWF. Any state, region or municipality may use their name, such as “Connecticut Reserve Work Force.”

3) Membership is automatic for any age-qualified individual who wants to work and is not employed.

An individual member can be hired for one day, one week, one month, or one year. There will be more than one type of employment agreement or set of rules to meet the needs of different types of employers and different types of work. For employers that hire teams, workers can form teams to be hired together. Lower and upper age limits may be established according to type of work.

4) Ongoing membership in the CRWF is compensated and requires physical availability for work and compliance with labor history recording rules.

A Community must have a public place for individuals seeking work to appear and wait for employment. Participating members must be present for at least five hours each work day, and at least four days each work week. During their wait for work, they may participate in games or recreational activities individually or as teams. They may participate in sporting events and competitions. They may read or write, sing, dance, perform gymnastics, or field events or engage in electronic communications. They may participate in skill training or education programs. They must obey the law and comply with any rules and or restrictions established by the local CRWF program, which may prohibit any activity that they feel they cannot safely allow.

An individual employee will have the following records, maintained by the CRWF program:

A) Work history (experience) from age 12 to 20; (student is deemed a type of work)

B) Work history from age 21 to 30, and each decade thereafter;

C) A statement of aptitude, meaning types of natural skills and work desired;

D) A statement of work performance that may include statements by the individual worker and statements by former teachers, trainers or employers; source of statements must be identified.

E) A resume, being an outline of the types of work performed, periods of time performed, and any significant statements about performance in each particular job. Any job performance may be designated simply as “satisfactory” or “well done.”

Employers create and maintain the following records with the CRWF program:

A) Identification of CRWF members employed, numbers employed, and durations of employment, and compensation paid, including any benefits provided.

B) Statements regarding the performance of CRWF employees, which may be simply “satisfactory” or “well done.”

5) Funding principle and structure:

It follows logically from the first principle, All of the employers employ all of the workers all of the time, that the community, state and nation agree that everyone who wants to work shall be employed and compensated on the grounds that there is work they can perform adequately. Those not employed in the for-profit sector of the economy must be hired either by non-profit enterprise or the government sector. Anyone who is an active member of the CRWF, or any official Reserve Work Force level, is compensated from tax funds raised by taxes on citizens and employers. The tax provision may include automatic increases and decreases in taxes in response to increases and decreases in the number of persons active in the CRWF. The operating funding principle is that if the for-profit sector of the economy cannot presently use a worker, they still have to support that worker as a person who is “in reserve” to be employed whenever they are needed. No one can be relegated to a category of “unemployed” except a person who is voluntarily unemployed and chooses not to participate in the CRWF. The government has no obligation to provide compensation, financial benefits or financial support to a person who is voluntarily unemployed. No one is categorized as “unemployable” unless there is a medical diagnosis stating that they are unable to participate in any productive labor of any kind.

6) Military recruiting shall be re-designated as Armed Forces Information programs:

There will no longer be the role or position of “recruiter” in the military services. Each branch of the military service will establish programs whereby any and all members of the armed forces, of every rank, may participate for a specified number of hours each year in describing membership in the armed forces and their personal experiences, subject to rules, restrictions and classification of information. They shall present their stories and information through the CRWF structure of activities and to individuals and groups who are waiting for work. Their presentations may include field trips to military installations and introductory training programs. Individuals age 16 and older shall not require parental permission to participate in any armed forces information program. The Armed Forces Information programs shall be committed to providing complete an accurate information, including the risks taken by participating in training, routine duties, and combat operations, and information about support services following injuries or illnesses incurred while performing assigned duties in the armed forces.

7) The operative principle of social science that sustains the Community Reserve Work Force is the adoption of “clan” values or “communal” values or “tribal” values consistent with the social contract implemented between people and nation. A citizen of the nation or state is also inherently a member of the tribe, clan or community. Therefore, as would be true in any clan or tribe, no one is designated as “not needed” or excluded from the productive activities of the tribe, clan or community. If a person did not hunt or gather due to a temporary illness, they still must eat in order to heal and recover. If the leader of a hunting team said he, or she, did not want a particular member who usually hunts to come out on a particular hunting trip, that individual might do something else, but they would not be designated as “unemployed” and left with nothing to do, as though banished from the life of the tribe. Even though we are cities, states and nations, we are all due the same obligations and privileges of the members of a tribe, and that means no one is ever told that the tribe does not need an individual’s contribution to the productivity of the community. One’s labor can be evaluated and criticized, even ridiculed or verbally rejected and deemed useless, but it can not be designated as unacceptable unless the governing authority establishes that a particular individual is truly unable to make any contribution to the economic life of the community (is unable to work). Consistent with this principle, no one is classified as “unable to work” if they want to work, unless there is no productive activity that they can perform adequately. No one is off the team; no one is designated as not wanted or rejected or excluded from the economy. Inclusion is at the core of the social contract and this makes the social contract also an economic contract. The member of the tribe in a money economy and economy of abundance is included socially only if they are clearly also included economically.

Note that the effective implementation of the Community Reserve Work Force would inherently present the opportunity to use the records and mechanisms of the CRWF to begin, maintain or modify or suspend any form of “national service” program, such as “Civilian Conservation Corp“ or “Americorps” or “Peace Corps.” It would also serve to identify and channel individuals toward those areas of work or vocations consistent with their natural aptitudes and desires. It would also be likely to reduce anti-social behaviors and crime rates. Those included in the economic life of the community are less likely to form rebellious gangs and illegal or underground economic systems. Any active member in the CRWF is naturally engaged in an ongoing search for more rewarding and responsible work, and what people usually refer to as a “permanent job.”

Link to: (Welcome) or (JMDM 2009)