Wednesday 23rd May
People used to make things. Mostly it was growing food to eat, but a few specialised in preparing skins or carpentry or building churches and houses. Some set up shops to pursue their trade. Nobody got very rich, but people survived. Of course there was a feudal system where most people worked for the Lord of the Manor, who although rich also had responsibilities to the poor and sick, and was also Judge and Jury for any offences.
Then came the start of Capitalism, where people could buy (and sell) shares in ventures. This boomed in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries with the discovery of new lands. Slaves were transported from Africa to the Americas. Ships would return filled with raw materials and rum and leave with finished goods. Then came Empire and India and the machine was truly whirring. More and more fortunes were made, all built on Greed. But you see along with riches came poverty. Agriculture was being mechanised at the same time and thousands thrown off the land flocked to the cities and the mills.
Capitalism makes money by employing people to work for far less than the selling price of the products they are making. Simple.
But now Capitalism is vast and multinational corporations stride the globe, looking for new markets and even cheaper labour to make the stuff. Literally everything is traded, even the future. And we are now seeing the rise of the machines. Computers and the internet can do the jobs of thousands; some are predicting that almost half the jobs currently being done will be replaced by robots in the future. And robots don’t ask for pay rises, or tea breaks; they work 24 hours a day….but….they don’t buy the products. So Capitalism may be facing a crunch; employ fewer people so reducing your costs, but who then will be the consumers of the future.
I believe that a new economic model will emerge, or more likely be forced upon us. But don’t expect it any time soon; Capitalism still has a while to go…