Sunday, July 19, 2020

As It Suits

There have been a number of consequences of the SARS-2 CoV outbreak in the United States. Among them, however, are yet to be shortages of food, clothing or housing. Now, this may only be a matter of time, but it hasn't happened yet. For all that the news media describes the current unemployment rate as "unprecedented" (their favorite word of the past few years), even with a sizable minority of the workforce sidelined, there is still enough labor to go around that the necessities are covered.

It's the people who work in discretionary industries who find themselves is precarious positions.

This is a fairly straightforward side effect of what division of labor looks like in an industrialized society. The days were a clear majority of people needed to be agricultural laborers just to keep everyone fed are long past. Most jobs, even those that we tend to think of as necessary, actual lie outside of the set of occupations that a society absolutely needs to keep its population alive.

While it's common to attribute modern poverty to capitalism, the reliance on discretionary spending is the more immediate culprit. The fact that providing an income to those that can't find productive work in a "free market" system is optional may be a problem, but the fact that productive work depends on the whims of people having disposable income is independent of the economic system that a given place may have adopted.

No comments: