Valuing the poor person’s sweat.

The western world has made a science of evaluating individual productivity. We work with industrialization, and now the Information economy, to continuously squeeze more productivity out of every human being’s active participation. We structure this productivity in a defined work week – whether 7 or 9 hours per day 5 days per week. We then determine the output of each person and determine who makes the most profit on their labour.

I am impressed by the third world in regards to the radical trashing of productivity that is overlaid on any contact with economics. The third world that I have seen in Africa and Central America  is full of people who are active in tortuous hard work that is not measured in any way with the sole intent of scraping a few vegetables or pounds of meat from the earth in order to survive. The actual value of what they may “earn “ for this has immense volatility outside of their knowledge and control.

These countries are also marked by an amazing number of people placed into “productive”  intermediary roles. They spend much time waiting for someone to come to give them something productive to actually do. Stores are full of people waiting to serve customers who have not arrived yet. Entrepreneurial people race all over these countries seeking to find some buyer for their chosen product. Buses and taxis  are waiting for people who are not using them. People travel by foot and motor bike to sell goods whose value barely compensates for the fuel let alone the time invested in doing the hopeful rounds. Over it all are those who actually do make a productive living from the struggling efforts of the poor. The bread gets sold by the large producer and flows out of the plant door. The production facility that is set up in western style, easily makes a profit and can measure productivity. It is a good and sure producer of wealth. Disproportionately so!!

People’s wages are determined by the hungry crowd waiting to take opportunities. This leaves much power in the hands of employers to determine an individual’s value and role. The usual decision is disproportionate return for the wealthy and bare subsistence for the many poor. So much systemic injustice!!