The 21st Century Disease Set to Kill Us
If employees donít get a grip, their anxiety will drive our society to new depths of anxiety. Too bad geonomic logic just isnít sexy. Well, praise the Web and pass the medication! This 2012 article is from AlterNet, Jly 1.
by Lynn ParramoreJob insecurity may be even worse for you than unemployment. Unlike losing a job, the fear of losing the job you have is not a discrete, socially visible event. Your course of action isnít clear because you donít know whether or how the job loss will occur.
Job insecurity is nothing new for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Since the '70s and '80s, a shifting labor market and anti-worker policies have been fraying the ties between employers and employees, fueling the perception that a job is a temporary affair. Globalization, outsourcing, contracting, downsizing, and recession have conspired to make confidence in a stable, long-term job a privilege that few can enjoy.
In the U.S., the stress of three years of unemployment over 8 percent -- the longest stretch at that level since the Great Depression -- has rocketed our anxieties to new heights, even among traditionally secure workers.
In Europe, where employees have enjoyed more protections, workers are feeling increasingly stressed, often trapped in low-wage and temporary employment with few benefits. Even in Germany, this trend of part-time "mini-jobs" is wiping away the old image of Europe as a worker-friendly land of happy, full-time employment.
Better-educated workers are still more secure than others, but a diploma is no longer the magic ticket for holding on to a job. That's why the U.S. graduates of 2012 are more concerned with job security than any other aspect of employment, including salary and benefits.
Anxiety disorders now plague 18 percent of the U.S. adult population -- a whopping 40 million people. Only half that number is affected by mood disorders. Prozac, the happiness-and-optimism pill, has been pushed aside by medications meant to just help you get through the day without collapsing in a puddle of anxiety.
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association paints a picture of workers on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
* Sixty-two percent say work has a significant impact on their stress levels.
* Almost 50 percent indicate their stress levels have increased between 2007 and 2008.
* Forty-five percent of workers say job insecurity has a significant impact on stress levels.
Humans are pretty good at rolling with short bursts of pressure, but chronic uncertainty throws us for a loop. Anticipating a major stressful event can be worse than the actual occurrence itself. When we fear the hatchet will fall, when the future is a fog, when weíre paralyzed by powerlessness, we start to flip out.
We pile on more work than we can handle. We donít take sick days when we need them. We start fueling up on coffee and cigarettes, and dropping the things that are good for us, like leisure activities and trips to the gym. Under chronic stress, our immune systems start to buckle from ďoverresponsivity.Ē
Insecure workers are significantly more likely to meet criteria for major or minor depression and to report a recent anxiety attack, even after taking into consideration factors like race, education, poorer prior health, and higher likelihood of recent unemployment. Conclusion: Many of those who have managed to hang onto their jobs during the Great Recession are getting mentally and physically wrecked -- often more so than those who have lost their jobs.
Chronic job insecurity is a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or hypertension. Months, even years, are shaved off of life expectancy.
Thereís no question that job insecurity is eroding our quality of life. And its prolonged effects can lead to coronary heart disease and even cancer.
Why donít the media spend more time investigating job insecurity? [BTW, for the health effects of income inequality, thereís a new documentary that clearly recounts the consequences of economic inequality, a TED talk by Richard Wilkinson based on his book The Spirit Level, which has been viewed over a million times. To watch .
When you donít know whether your job will be around next year, or even next week, how do you plan for the future? What happens to dreams like buying a home? Saving for college? Retirement? In the face of job insecurity, thoughts of any of these things bring instant panic instead of hopeful planning.
To read more
JJS: The author, and many readers, make several assumptions that might not bear up to scrutiny:
Must people always have a job? Are people never capable of starting a business? Must they always have a boss?
Are jobs really so useful? Many people are not working, yet thereís more than enough stuff to go around for everyone.
The workweek consumes most of a personís life in our modern, supposedly enlightened, era. But that has not always been the case. While forty hours is normal for us, it has been less than half that in the so-called Dark Ages and in the Stone Age.
Is a job, your labor, the only way to get money into your life? What about your regionís land? What about your common wealth? What about your societyís surplus? In Alaska, some of the revenue from oil is shared by every resident. Thatís an example of an extra income for everyone apart from their labor (or capital, for that matter).
While not every place has oil, every place does have something equally valuable, if not more so, and that is land, especially downtown locations. The value of a location like Main Street and Broadway is not created by any owners but by the surrounding society. As they say in real estate, the three most important things are location, location, location.
Because nobody made land, and everybody makes locations valuable, everybody should get a share of the value of the land in oneís region. What society in general is not entitled to do is to tax the earnings of its members, or the enterprise of its members, or the homes and other buildings of its members. Keep your earnings, share the worth of Earth.
Ironically, if you feel unworthy of an income apart from your labor (a feeling that the rich are never hampered by), you should still get rid of counterproductive taxes on sales, salaries, and structures and use taxes, fees, dues, or leases to recover the socially-generated value of land and other natural goods. Why? Because if you adopt this geonomic revenue reform, then you will create more job opportunity. You wonít tax wages, so employees become more affordable. You wonít tax fair returns on useful investments, so businesses can expand and hire more people.
Whether you believe you have no higher purpose than to show up somewhere nine to five and do what you're told, or if you believe that the economy exists to serve us (not vice versa), both kinds of believers can get what they want from geonomics. Good jobs at high wages for the worker ants and ample leisure from ďrentĒ dividends for the grasshoppers. Every place that has tried geonomics has shown it works.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the ďLand RightsĒ course, click here .
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