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Aditya

How did we move from being a nation who built things with pride to one that maximizes profits?

There was a time when people took pride in their work. Now workers do the minimum. What is built no longer lasts. It's designed to fail. Is this good for the consumer?Remember "service" stations? (Gas stations to you younger folk.) They used to wash your windshield every time you filled the tank. They'd ask to check your oil. Now they just want you to buy something from their mini-mart. Did you know you can't buy a half gallon of ice cream anymore? Look next time. It's now either 1.5 (Dreyers) or 1.75 quarts. They still charge the same amount. Candy bars get smaller and smaller, but the price goes up and up. Packaging is often designed to deceive the consumer. (I saw this with Sugar Babies. The box got bigger, but the weight was decreased.)I am so tired of buying things that last three weeks then break.Most of us have health insurance, but it protects us less and costs more. If you have an expensive illness, will you be covered? Will you be dropped?
Checkthefacts:

Progress is no always as progressive as we would like. It's the nature of the beast we call capitalism. We started with precious little, and had to work extremely hard to get a little more. Because we had so little, we had a narrower scope and had the ability and the time to take pride in workmanship. As we developed more "stuff:, and came to realize that now that we had a lot more, we wanted even still more. "Still more", of course requires more resources, people and time. People and time cost money, so now we have to watch that bottom line, so we can get more stuff (sometimes referred to as "getting more bang for the buck"., hopefully without spending more money (how's that workin' for ya?) Pretty soon the work ethic suffers, because the idea of acquiring more stuff supersedes our appreciation of the stuff we already have, and we can't take the time to make the old sufff better because that stuff, after all, is getting old and we need more, improved stuff. The stuff makers don't want to be stuch with old stuff, so they make stuff which gets old quicker, so they can get rid of it and sell more new stuff, and on , and on, and on. Prfetty soon, everything becomes disposable, even people, and this is not the stuff of which dreams are made, except maybe nightmares.

Aditya:

I agree that it is the nature of capitalism and competition. The question then is, what can we do about it?

Checkthefacts:

The first step in problem solving is recognition. Until most people actually recognize the problem, there isn't much we can do. For those of us who do, the best thing we can do is pray and try to set an example. Each one reach one and each one teach one.

Aditya:

Okay, so let's start with problem solving. The first step is clearly identifying the problem. Is it capitalism? I don't think it is - not by itself anyway as we've had that economic system for quite a while and it has its advantages.

In my opinion, marketing seems to play a role in what is wrong. We are sold many things we don't need... or didn't think we needed until someone sold us on it.

The big three auto makers spend a LOT of money trying to sell us cars we don't need. Seems like maybe they should be spending it on a little R&D. (Were they all blind to the fact that gas prices MUST go up?) It surprises me that we spend so much in these efforts, yet don't have enough for more important things (like education, paying down debt, etc.)

Checkthefacts:

To quote Marc Antony in Julius Caesar, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." Human nature and all of its foibles is what has eventually led us here. Until we as individuals, and then as a society, stop putting so much emphasis on acquisition almost for the sake of acquisition, the problem will be exacerbated by markers feeding on our own lack of restraint. We tend to want to blame the pitchmen and marketers, without realizing that they don't sell what we don't buy. This is the problem with the big 3 now. The buyers have finally realized, or should I say have been forced by circumstances, to realize that there is a difference between "need" and "want". This forced change in mentality could be the start of something good. We want quantity, but we need quality.

Aditya:

Your points are well taken. Indeed we only have ourselves to blame. I think change often comes from strong leadership. We can't all be strong, as much as we may try. I think there is blame enough to go around (marketers and consumers), but my only reason for finding a root cause is to find an appropriate solution.

I appreciate your input. You are a four star guy for a reason. :)

Russ:

Nobody in the economy ever listened to Peter Drucker...the Guru of modern economics...it is simple...the markets destroyed those concepts. always showing higher EPS...and business went in the toilet listening to that junk.

Aditya:

Any ideas for a solution? A change in direction?

Russ:

a reading of Drucker and using his ideas would go a long way...

Aditya:

In Wikipedia, it says he developed manufacturing efficiencies and managerial hierarchies of mass production. That is part of the problem in a post-capitlist society.

But he goes on to say that Drucker anticipated the rise of the social sector in America, maintaining that it was through volunteering in nonprofits that people would find the kind of fulfillment that he originally thought would be provided through their place of work, but that had proven elusive in that arena. “Citizenship in and through the social sector is not a panacea for the ills of post-capitalist society and post-capitalist polity, but it may be a prerequisite for tackling these ills,” Drucker wrote. “It restores the civic responsibility that is the mark of citizenship, and the civic pride that is the mark of community.”

Perhaps it is in our more generous moments that humans learn how to rise above the problems. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be rich when you start doing that.

Aditya:

BTW - Drucker suggests that companies work best when they are decentralized. Maybe we need to start with our government.

Gbob_north:
Aditya:

Old is relative, obviously, but anyone with a sense of history should recognize that things have changed. In many respects, that change has not been for the betterment of society, but simply to maximize profits at the expense of the consumer.v It is not merely that things have "changed."

Thanks for the chuckle at the end. :)

Rick:

labor has sunk to the lowest common denominator. I own an expensive home and always have. The problem with construction people is that most have never been around an expensive home and don't understand the care it takes to built it to perfection. So they just throw it together complaining all the time.

Aditya:

Doesn't that kind of worker become that way because of the presures from foremen, contractors, management, etc? If the people in charge insisted on quality, they'd get it in most cases or hire someone else, right? I don't think I can blame the worker alone, Rick.

Someone32:

Are you asking if you are old, because you certainly sound old. Ha! My dad was the "they" that washed your windshield and checked the oil. They sold ice by the block and Pepsi in cartons, they never asked anyone to buy it but they did want you to come in and get a couple, maybe a Hav-a-Tampa or King Edwards, a quart of oil, even sold Medal Gold ice cream by the half-gallon. He sold the Standard Station and retired. Yes things have changed but then we have satellite, and insulin pumps, and garage door openers, and internet. In the words of Bob Marley- yep...don't worry, be happy. mmmmmmmmmmmmm landlord says your rent is due.

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