76 Do not protest; do! 18 Sep 2020
Activism without demands or protests?
Article 75 approved democratic decision making. It also reminded us “We cannot change the temperature of the ocean by popular vote.” Some fundamental objectives cannot be realized by voting.
Wouldn’t this be nice?
Why don’t we pass a law that everybody must be nice? As soon as we obey that law, everybody is happy, right? Article 56 listed that dogma after the dogma that demonstrations look like asking other people to do something. Examples were education, minimum wage, and healthcare. Today’s article digs deeper into minimum wage. I propose we do more than voting. When we pray for God to move a load of coal into Widow Smith’s basement, it helps if we bring shovels.
Why is there a problem?
Economists recognize that unfettered competition reduces wages to subsistence levels. Assuming excess supply of labor, there is always someone who will work for less, down to the lowest pay level that will keep him or her alive. This blog contains several articles promoting the balancing of resources and consumption. We can produce enough for everyone to be well fed (an idiom to be taken broadly). Therefore, we have a moral obligation to assure that result. Inhumanity is the practice of advancing self over others. When humans learn to blend self with others, to apply equal recognition and dignity, there is no poverty. The god-language for that is “All are equal before God.” The humanist term is probably “fairness” or better yet “enlightenment.”
For example, the “poverty draft” recruits those who do not have easy upward mobility. Military service, instead of being idealistic maintenance of freedom, becomes a last resort for poor people to level up to where they should be anyway without being trained to kill on command. Similarly, when applicants outnumber jobs, corporations indulge in sucking off as profit the returns that should be wages.
In contrast, I believe that lawyers should be paid the same as those who pick strawberries. This is necessary to provide our children equal opportunities such as nutrition and educational development. The idea works: I have done both, and I would willingly go through law school twice if that were the only way I could avoid the long-term fate of picking strawberries. The moral value of the two professions is equal. Somewhere the principles have been skewed to produce wage gouging that deprives people of proper recognition and makes them accept mere survival.
Not by law alone
Demanding and protesting alienate all parties. “Be-nice” laws lack definition. Government force produces reluctant compliance, if any. Forcing other people to do something we want is not democracy. An economy does not spring up by government fiat. Shared abundance does not result from minimum wage laws. Our moral imperative calls for a higher order. Enlightenment is voluntary sharing.
The FISH of article 27 (Fundamental Ingredients Sustaining Humans) are arranged by urgency, air being the most immediate need. There is no thought that some people should arbitrarily be denied the earth’s supply of air. There is no stage in the sequence where unequal distribution becomes justifiable. Assigning resources unequally to self is bullying. Article 22 recognized that our houses are not all the same size. Circumstances need to be appropriate to our activities. The underlying principle is not enforced uniformity but rather equal enjoyment of the FISH. Other details really don’t matter.
Human intelligence (article 73) is the key to equal enjoyment. Government-imposed uniformity is an unwieldy tool for social improvement. It plays a role in setting standards after agreement is reached. It does not achieve the agreement without which progress is unlikely. The precision tool that can make a difference is locally applied intelligent good will. When a person of means discovers a person in need, the stage is set for improving society. A lone benefactor is a limited tool, but by combining forces those who control resources can work miracles voluntarily applying them to real-life needs. That is the invitation concluding article 45: “People of substantial means need to apply their management skills far beyond merely patronizing businesses. An individual can grab the flag and run with it.” Those who do this create and populate our new world.
Applied to minimum wage
We do not protest to enforce minimum wage. That does not create wealth. We reorganize our collective priorities so that jobs spread the existing wealth evenly. Sub-minimum-wage jobs disappear because we create better jobs. Individual intelligence coupled with collective will reach this goal. It is doing, not protesting.
The voluntary path starts internally and spreads by example. Overcoming the distinction between self and other initiates this higher order and it becomes our natural state.
Some things democracy cannot do: for example, eliminating anger by taking a vote. Social change is more involved than that. It comes not by law alone. We must have the will to make ourselves happier. The higher order is upon us when your happiness makes me happy, when we all work at making each other happy. That sharing is voluntary. It eliminates sub-standard wages better than passing laws. All it requires is that we wake up.