Friday, November 7, 2014

Economics is futile. You will be assimilated.

One of the biggest myths in our culture is that economics is governed by immutable laws.  Any action to change one aspect of the ways we create our economy, the ways we do business, is ultimately futile, we are told, because the Laws of Economics will kick in and neutralize our efforts.  Hence, we have no choice but to accept that The Way It Is really is the way it is.

Don't buy it.

Economics is a human creation.  What humans create, humans can change.  While it may be true that taking Action A tends to result in Reaction B, that does not automatically imply that Action A is not worth taking.  Alternatively, we can choose to see that yes, people tend to respond to Action A with Reaction B, and we can go on to conclude that we can therefore take Reaction B into consideration and counter or minimize its effect with Action C.

If you notice, for example, that accepting returns without a receipt tends to lead to some people stealing high-priced items from your store and then "returning" them for cash, you have options other than saying forget it, no returns without a receipt, period.  You can limit which items, or which dollar amounts, in a return will be accepted without a receipt.  You can keep a record of returns without receipt and track which people always seem to be making returns with no receipt.  You can make it a policy that returns not accompanied by a receipt will be granted or rejected at the store's discretion, encouraging the honest people to retain receipts until they are certain they will not need to return anything from that purchase.

On the broader scale, we don't have to simply accept such tropes as, "If you raise the minimum wage, that will just push prices up and employment down, so it's useless to raise the minimum wage."  Who wants us to believe that?  Who benefits from our meek acceptance that a substandard standard of living is An Immutable Law Of Economics?  Think about it.  Question it.  Question why it's supposedly impossible to pay a few more dollars an hour to food service and retail workers, yet very possible to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars as "bonuses" to executives.  Yes, the work of running a business is real work and should be rewarded, but is it really that much more worthwhile than the day-to-day work at the ground level of keeping the business in business?

And do we feel safe even considering that question, let alone asking it?  Or have we internalized the belief that our security and safety, however modest and tenuous they are, rest in keeping silent?

Perhaps the biggest deception of all is to prevent us from seeing our own power:  to think, to question, to create alternatives, to effect change.

Don't buy it.