A Thinking Man

What Men May Want to Know

The Free Market

By Don Wright

I think about the obvious sometimes and it helps to put it down in words to see it clearly.

I’m driving around and I see yard workers pulling trailers of lawn equipment, plumber’s vans, bug treatment trucks, etc. All local companies. All servicing an area that is within reasonable driving distance in order to get their tools, equipment or expertise on site. One thing that I see in common is that none of them are especially well off, meaning that none seem to have any particular advantage over another. None stand out as earning substantially more money than any of their competitors. They’re all middle of the road and in most cases simply making wages to exist – why is that?

Obviously it’s just another example of the “free” marketplace at work. Anyone can choose to go into any business they like but a community will only support a particular number of any particular discipline. If there are fewer, let’s say plumbers, than the community is capable of supporting – then those plumbers are in high demand, overworked, and charge above average for their services. But when another plumber joins the community and the work load lessens a bit, prices come down slightly. As more plumbers join the community the available work lessens and some companies charge more per hour to make up for the loss – for a while.  Then prices see a race to the bottom as competing companies vie for work to stay in business. At some point the lowest sustainable rate keeps them at a subsistence level, or they fail. Of course some plumbers charge more than others – better quality work, better service, lack of customers getting a second or third estimate. But even they are not too far off the mark, and typically their window of “plenty” is short lived too.

That lowest sustainable rate is what keeps prices reasonable and makes it affordable (somewhat) for us to be able to call for a plumber when we have to have one. But it keeps the plumber at a point of essentially working for wages that do little more than pay his bills.

The problem is that, for the most part, we’re all plumbers. This model fits every “typical” service industry and translates into just about all facets of life. Professional services charge more of course; doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. But they’ve had a higher cost of “joining” their ranks and in many cases have a higher debt to resolve. But, here’s the rub on that – being poor aside, there’s a basic “middle” ground that we’re willing to accept as reasonable living and that closely matches how you are raised and/or your personal ambition. Once the basics are taken care of, food, clothing and shelter; it really doesn’t take much more to be “above” average. Much of today’s life is geared toward what the masses can afford – if you can earn what the masses afford, and a bit above that, then you’re considered, “well off.” For the most part, it really wouldn’t take that much more for most to be able to take vacations, or live a life of relative leisure.

But the system that we’ve all agreed to play by, essentially work for pay, keeps most at a level of toiling their life away – and it has been that way since men exchanged furs for a stone axes.

There are aberrations. People that add nothing to the tangible goods or services and make their money by “inflating” the value of money itself – Wall Street comes to mind. Then there are those at the helms of larger enterprises that have ridden on the backs and labors of thousands beneath them – if you look at how their wealth was acquired, most of it from small amounts from a great number of sources, Microsoft, silicon valley, railroads, airlines, food industry, etc.

Of course the number one way to make money is from the debt of others – interest. From shylocks on the street to the nation’s largest banks, debt is the number one way to make money. But debt does not make money or add to the money supply, it “pools” the available money supply into larger and larger pools. Look at the debt that nations now have, larger and larger pools. As those pools grow deeper, the worker bee’s end up doing more for less.

It’s no one particular person’s or group’s fault. Not republicans. Not democrats. It’s our fault. Collectively. It’s our nature. Picture a deep swimming pool filled with bodies – all trying to stay above water by climbing onto the backs each other. That sounds like a nightmare, right? I say that as smart as we think we are; and we’re amazing – we’re just a notch above animals in our evolution. In many cases animals are more loving and caring.

We gather around and marvel at the birth of a child, a precious life to protect, nourish and grow. Our family is special. So is our neighborhood. Our city, our team, our state, our region, our nation – forsaking all others if we feel “justified.” Our particular child is so important to us that we’re willing to take the life of another child to save our own. Or to ignore others suffering if it’s not in our vicinity.

We’re seeing a change. There’s a shifting of the sands that we’re all standing on and that is causing our beliefs, institutions and our very nature to come into question. The old ways and methods are simply not working as well as they were once perceived to, if at all. The “jobs” are not coming back. Creative as we are, we’ve used technology to make ourselves obsolete. Automation is becoming more integral to our experience here.

I don’t have the correct answer. I don’t think there is a correct answer – our egos have manipulated this reality into a construct with an ever increasing level of complexity. There is no right or wrong. Yesterday’s right is today’s wrong. Change is the only constant. But, we feel compelled to “do” something. It’s easy to look outward and see the solutions, or perceived solutions. The solutions are not “out there.”

The change that we are all unknowingly yearning for is calmly, quietly and peacefully making its way toward us. You are not required to “do” anything. Whatever the truth is, and I believe it’s something that we “know” but don’t yet have the ability to understand or comprehend, does not change on whether or not we “believe” or have faith in it. It is, what it is.

However, this feeling of being compelled to do something can result in the most positive of all positive outcomes. There is work to be done – not “out there,” but inward. I’ve always said the hardest thing to change is yourself. That’s where the benefits are. That’s where mankind’s sustainable shift is going to come from. The original grassroots movement. It’s up to you to simply be the change you desire. We’re beginning to see the slightest twinges, the barest shifts, a subtle change in the wind.

As compassion replaces ego, we’ll see more positive things around us and less negative. Displaced people will become the face of a new and different economy as they blossom out of their role as a puppet in the mini “dictatorships” they once relied upon. Each of you are here for a reason. You are uniquely qualified to act out your part – but you are also a director. You determine whether it’s a drama, a tragedy or a comedy.

By working to change the prescription in your glasses, you’ll see there’s a truly wonderful and amazing world at hand. We allow ourselves to become caught in seeing through an unfortunate perspective. A perspective that fulfills our expectations exactly. It’s almost as if our hand is locked onto a live electrical wire and we’re being constantly shocked, where contentment is only a fraction away, if only we could release our grip.

As we go through these times together, be resolute. Easy to say, hard to be. Even fleeting glimpses will encourage. Your internal growth will affect your perimeter and help change the consciousness of all those around you.

There are many voices around us that claim special knowledge – much of it is ego or fear based. Only you know what truly rings true within you. This is a time for inner reflection and letting go of the failed or failing of everything around us. This can be painful and fearful. It does not have to be so. It starts with you. . . . but we’re all in this together as one.

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