Changing Priorities

If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s demonstrated vividly those occupations that really matter.

Below, listed alphabetically and not in order of importance, are those jobs without which we can’t live civilised lives. Please use the ‘Comments’ space below to add/subtract from this, giving your reasons.

Broadcasters (who provide vital information and stress-relieving entertainment)
Civil Service and Local Council personnel (who keep vital services running)
Communications networks and their staff
Construction workers (on vital projects, like temporary hospitals)
Entertainers/writers/artists/academics (who help us stay sane during isolation)
Fire service
Food providers/retailers and their staff
Front line medical admin/support staff
Goods transporters/delivery drivers
Internet service providers and staff
Manufacturers of vital medical equipment
Military personnel (who provide back-up in so many situations)
Postal workers
Power suppliers and their staff
Public transport services and their staff
Responsible, reliable, honest political leaders
Rubbish collectors
Vehicle maintenance operatives
Water treatment plant staff

And a list of those we definitely don’t need in a time of crisis (if at all):

Gambling organisations
Manufacturers and sellers of trivia
Selfish billionaires (basically, all of them)
Stock exchanges and their staff
Unreliable, irresponsible, dishonest politicians

There’s a huge list of people/occupations falling in between those who are essential and those of little or no value to society. How we rank them depends on our sense of what’s ‘vital’ in our lives. Such choices depend crucially on what we individually see as ‘needs’ and what are merely ‘wants’. The modern habit of treating these two very different qualities as the same confuses realities regarding need over want. To want something is to desire it. To need something is to require it for living.

Our broken world system of finance falsely values those who create wealth, in a mistaken belief that they are the prime drivers of human good. In reality, wealth creators mostly work for themselves, and any sharing is generally accidental and mostly miserly in the improperly regulated capitalist system under which most workers remain as virtual slaves, vassals or victims.

A positive outcome of the current pandemic would be the realisation that rewarding individuals, and by extension, the companies they control, for serving their own needs over those of society is utter nonsense that fails the vast majority of humanity. In short, we need to value those who are most essential for our welfare, comfort and security, rather than those who feed on our fears, uncertainties and ignorance, as is currently the case.

Rewarding millionaires and billionaires by allowing them to increase their wealth does no good to anyone other than those selfish few. It removes opportunity and ability from the majority by hugely unequal distribution of assets.

It takes little knowledge to recognise that the wealthy contribute almost nothing to the financial and social wellbeing of the world population. Most of them have more money than they can possibly spend in a lifetime, and the financial system is weighted so heavily in their favour that it is self-sustaining in the most unjust way.

We all use the expression ‘money is power’, but do we understand that our system of rewards therefore gives great power to many people who are incapable of it using wisely? We can all list many who fall into that category.

There’s a very stupid expression, favoured by many wealthy tycoons, ‘I’m a self-made man’ touted as though it’s true. But even the most basic analysis shows us it’s a lie. No one, anywhere, can ‘make it on their own’. We’re all interconnected. We all depend on, for example, roadbuilders to provide our means of travel, cleaners to keep our environment fit for living, food providers to allow us to eat, medicos to keep us well. These are just a few instances of our interconnectedness, our reliance on others. Those who provide services, materials, and support are essential to our lives. Without them, no businessman/woman could do anything at all, since the means to produce, transport, and spread any product or service wouldn’t exist.

And there’s an equally idiotic expression ‘hard work will bring you wealth’. It won’t under the current system, because those who work hardest are usually the ones doing relatively menial tasks for which the rewards are miniscule: miners, farm workers, nurses, teachers, etc. You can add your own to this list, I’m sure, but it’s unlikely to include those billionaires, since their wealth is utterly dependent on the work of others.

So, when the current pandemic is over, let’s take a hard, realistic, look at the world we’ve allowed to develop, and make our choices as to whether we wish to continue to reward any individual more than any other, and determine what value we really place on those who contribute most responsibly and essentially to whatever society we inhabit. That will mean serious changes of mind for many, changes of allegiance, and facing the truth instead of depending on false ideas and outdated traditional values. Radical change is what we need to achieve real justice.

I welcome comments and observations, in agreement or disagreement, as I believe this is something we should discuss. Please join in. Thank you.

4 thoughts on “Changing Priorities

    1. Thanks, Paola. The problem is worldwide; the basic, underlying cause of our issues is the global financial system, which is designed to help the rich and keep them wealthy rather than to spread wealth more evenly.

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