The Advocate

American workforce hijacked by corporations

By Ryan Geller, News Editor

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There is this idea that in college you are preparing yourself to compete in the

job market. Why is there such competition for jobs?

It seems addressing the challenge of food, clean water and sustainable shelter for a population approaching 8 billion on
a planet with destabilizing ecosystems and weather patterns is kind of an “all hands on deck” situation.

We have plenty of work to do, but who will pay for that work to be done?

In the traditional job market, graduating students are going to compete for the limited number of living wage positions in companies that are, in one way or another, extracting profit from failing ecosystems.

Our economic model only knows how to take — we have not developed a way to give back.

Maybe you plan to work for a social justice or environmental nonprofit. These are meaningful jobs, but their funding structure is based on philanthropic foundations and individual donations.

Philanthropic foundations that fund the nonprofit world are built off the wealth accrued from labor and environmental abuses.

The philanthropic goals of the Ford Foundation or the Gates Foundation are, at best, public relations campaigns designed to assuage public concern by offering a homeopathic sugar pill and, at worst, they are the carefully planned social strategies of the ultra-rich.

The crumbs of corporate profiteering won’t solve our socioecological problems.

We will need educated and skilled work forces in areas like marine biology, forest and ecosystem restoration, and environmental cleanup and toxics remediation.

We will need to entirely replace our antiquated infrastructure with clean, low-impact technology particularly in the areas of agriculture, transportation and manufacturing. The problems we have will not be solved by minor retooling.

A major redesign of how industry works in our lives and a careful examination of our values is required.

Some people have great hopes for scientific innovations saving humanity, but scientific funding is also driven by for-profit motives.

Of course, the claim is that the companies need the soaring prices in order to cover the high cost of research to produce more life-saving medicines. When faced with these types of arguments, we must ask ourselves if there are not some industries that function better without profit as a primary motive.

Are the efforts of our society about the betterment of the lives of many, or are they about the right of individuals to grow wealthy?

Questions about profit and public interest become real when we apply them to environmental issues.

Clean air is definitely in the public interest, but the profit motive would choke all our lungs with soot.

Effort needs to be supported and valued by our society even if it is not profitable.

Environmental restoration, and sustainable food systems, low-impact housing and clean transit and energy are the industries of a future that can support 8 billion people on this planet.

We will have to access a powerful form of peoples’ organizing to create the jobs that everybody needs. We will have to develop meaningful systems of democratic decision-making that can take power out of the hands of wealthy elites.

Otherwise we will continue to compete against each other for a handful of jobs that shore up the power of destructive industries.

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.
American workforce hijacked by corporations