Hell Freezing Over

The above title comes from [Char's](http://www.livejournal.com/users/xraystar/) explanation of why the weather is so cold, following a discussion on this subject this morning while driving her to work.

Basically, having just finished a book called [Idiot Proof](http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1586482475/qid=1093268991/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl/702-9361239-9736820), I've been obliged to start looking at the underpinnings of my solid belief in laissez-faire capitalism, in all its warts and wonders. It's becoming clearer to me that there are sufficient aspects of the system that don't work to spur a re-examination of the central assumptions that underly it.

Essentially, much of the modern economic system in the Americas is predicated on what is colloquially known as [Trickle-down Economics](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_effect). Basically, the idea is that by making the rich richer, it drives the economy and provides more employment for the lower ends of the spectrum. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with the theory -- _in an ideal world_. However, we do not live in a world populated by ideal people, and the people that tend to get rich in this culture are not the kind who drive economies, they're the kind that seem to collect wealth as if it's points in some game. Obviously, this does not contribute back to the economy, all it does is aggregate increasing amounts of wealth in the pockets of a select few.

I can't say that I have a lot in the way of ideas on how to approach this problem for a solution. For one, regardless of my growing issues with the capitalist model, I am even less comfortable with stripping people of their personal wealth under _any_ pretense, even one so apparently altruistic as this one. Whether they have need of their wealth or not fails to justify taking it from them. Thus the easy solution is out. But I think that I am going to have to examine closely whether I think that generators of wealth are by definition worthy of it.

Something that also served to spur this idea: Recently, as in today, new laws regarding the paying of overtime came into effect in the US. USAToday magazine has a [summary](http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/strauss/2004-08-23-overtime_x.htm) of them (with correction of some egregious misinterpretations [here](http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/35138#721900)) and these changes (although more minor than I thought on first glance) are _really_ bad for the slightly above-average worker. I didn't realize how bad the overtime situation was in the US. Mainly because (shudder) the Canadian government protects my own interests better than the employers in the US protect the interests of their employees.

Due to the specificity of the new law's impact on IT workers, slashdot had a [story](http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/04/21/1546238) on this back in April, and I'm sure that they'll have one up later today (to which I'll link _here_ when it appears). [Discussion](http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/35138) also ensued on Metafilter, which reminded me of the issue. Also see the US Federal Department of Labour's site [on the subject](http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay/main.htm) for info from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

What this leaves me thinking is that, more and more, I'm forced to conclude that the system doesn't work. There just isn't enough motivation for corporations to protect their workers in an employer-friendly economic climate, where jobs are hard to come by, outsourcing to other countries is easy, and the government seems to be in the pockets of big businesses rather than serving their constituents.

Maybe it's time for a change.

Comments !