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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Metaphysics of Economics - II

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."  --  Albert Einstein

Our lives have largely been determined by the economy we have lived in over the past seventy years.  Our skills, our jobs and personal economic behavior are the result of that economic environment.  Now we face a changing economic environment, and the demand is on us to adapt to it.

Again, the principles of connection and balance come into play.  We must recognize that we are connected to everything in the economic world.  As that world changes, the nature of our connection changes.  Then, we must restore our balance within the changing connections.

The Bible story of Joseph provides a parable for dealing with the current economic environment.  Joseph was a prince among his people.  Suddenly, his world changed.  He became a slave, then a prisoner.  However, he ultimately became the second most powerful person in Egypt.  In each situation, he confronted the reality before him.  He then adapted all of the talents and skills that he possessed to that reality to achieve success.

The first thing we must do is to increase our awareness of that world that exists beyond our self.  Further, we must recognize that our self exists within that world, just as I was within the churning ocean as described in a previous post.

According to Adam Smith, labor is the most important currency in the economic world.  From an economic perspective, we trade our labor for our economic benefit.  However, the value of our labor is determined by the world beyond our self.  The law of supply and demand sets that value.  In a national economy, the value of labor is largely determined within the borders of the nation.  In a global economy, the value is determined globally.  We are currently in the turmoil of transforming from a national to a global economy.  This is changing the value of our labor.  History has taught us that these changes are usually irreversible.

The challenge for the individual, who has been living in a national economy where his/her labor had high value, is how to sustain the value of his/her labor in the global economy.  The measure of their success will be determined by their adaptability, their ability to rebalance their relationship with the external world.

The first step is to do as Abraham did.  Go out from yourself to the word beyond yourself.  What is going on in the changing world that is affecting the value of your labor?  If you are in manufacturing, can the same job be done somewhere else for less?  If you are doing telephone sales or service are there workers anywhere in the world who can do it for less.  This is the shift of the tide of the law of supply and demand from a national to a global economy.  If you want to sustain your economic value, you have to determine the labor of higher value that is needed in a global economy.  Then you must align yourself with the changing tide.

The next step is to go into your self.  The way to restore balance of self and the external world is self-recognition, transformation and training.  This begins with a thorough examination of all of your prior experience and skills.  Then you have to determine if one, or a combination, can be applied to increasing the value of your labor.  Many people simply do not recognize that they have skills, talents and experience that can be rebalanced to increase the value of their labor.  Finally, some training might be needed to complete the process.  Wherever possible, the training should focus on existing capabilities.  The idea is to reapply yourself, not to remake yourself.

For example, there is a person with manufacturing experience, who relates well with fellow workers and is an outstanding Sunday school teacher.  He/she can become a trainer or advisor to companies that have a large population of workers who have little familiarity with modern manufacturing.  If large companies can outsource, why can't individuals outsource their labor?  This can also encourage entrepreneurs to create the infrastructure needed to connect individuals to opportunities.  (Do you know how many millionaires were created by the Great Depression?)

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson taught, "We hold the keys to our freedom, but we use them to lock ourselves in."  The same applies to our opportunities in a tumultuous world.


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