Saturday, February 03, 2007

O Vancouver!




Last weekend, I went on a short vacation to the city of my dreams, a city I've dreamed about since my first visit in 1999...Vancouver BC. It was a belated 35th birthday gift to myself and to attend a gathering of my fellow young adult church members of the Pacific Northwest. I went up early to take in the city, and I stayed in a hostel on the always happening Granville Street downtown.

Staying in hostels is always an interesting experience. Lots of young people, particularly foreign travelers. One night, as I sat in the kitchen area writing, a group of Brits and Aussies were having a interesting conversation that I was eavesdropping on. Besides their agreement in thinking the American accent is rather flat sounding (I was always curious how our accent sounds to a person who grew up in England or Australia, where they speak with the coolest accent), I did learn a lot about the global economic structure and it's not a good sign! Apparently, it's not unique to America that we have an invasion of Mexicans taking the low wage jobs that native born Americans don't want to do. In England, it's the Eastern Europeans filling those kind of jobs, and in Australia, it's the Vietnamese and Indonesians. The English person was telling the Aussies that the government encouraged the native born English population to attend college, and many of them did...BUT didn't count on the lack of jobs available for the large number of college graduates in comparison to the low wage jobs that exist in the services sector that no one wants (because the pay is low, the work menial). It seems to be a trend in all the developed world nations. What to be done with this disturbing trend?

When I was in college, I was partly interested in economics. I say "partly interested" because I had questions about our nation and world's economic scheme and something didn't seem to add up for me. I had many questions when I enrolled in the required Econ 110 course. Questions never answered, as the course was little more than an indoctrination course in how great capitalism is. I wanted to know the arguments against capitalism, especially the Karl Marx view, which I believe is valid criticisms, but agreeing with his critiques doesn't make me a Marxist or a Communist. However, the one thing I could never understand about our economy is the constant need for laborers to do the work no one wants to do. There are a lot more of those jobs than the high paying "white collar jobs" that everyone wants. My biggest concern about our global economic scheme (and believe me, "scheme" is the right word to use, because our global economy does NOT have to be set up the way it currently is) is that the wealthy members of society drive up cost of living for everyone, so it's hard to live on the income paid in the low wage service sector. It presents a huge problem for native born populations, who want to maintain a lifestyle they are accustomed to (I'm talking about the average middle class lifestyle, not the obscene affluent one people crave). The only people who don't mind the low wage are those from the developing world, where the cost of living is a lot less and so are the wages. This economic disparity between wealthy nations and developing nations creates an ideal situation for global capitalists, who have an endless supply of people wanting better paying jobs that native born populations can't afford to sustain their lifestyles on. So, what to do with this growing global crisis?

The obvious answer is to simplify one's lifestyle. However, with the costs of homes skyrocketing all over America, it often takes dual income households to afford a home, especially in areas of the country people most want to live in. Is that fair? In the developing world where many live on less than $2 a day, an annual income of $30,000 will guarantee that you can live like a king, but in the developed world, depending on how many children you have and where you live, $30,000 is borderline poverty. Something isn't right about the way our global economic system is set up and it seems that many people are starting to wake up to the serious crisis this income disparity between wealthy nations and developing world nations is causing on our jobs, livelihoods, and overall standard of living.

1 comment:

Mandalynn said...

Interesting post. I agree that the cost of living is out of control. I've never considered myself to be materialistic, but maybe I am. There's no way I could live on 30,000. I had a difficult time living this year with 40,000. It's definately time to simplify.