Monday, October 08, 2007

Corporations vs. Capitalism

So, I've been thinking about like the economy lately. And, umm, here are my conclusions:

Okay, Corporations vs. Capitalism. I'm gonna start with some simple observations, I guess.

Corporations want the most capable person working for them. To make sure they get the most capable, corporations encourage people to ask themselves “What already existing job is my resume competitive enough for me get?” Capitalism, however, encourages people to ask “What’s a job that our society needs more of?” because capitalism rewards people who provide the goods/services that society most needs. That’s always been the strength of capitalism: it encourages creativity and innovation within the economy. Corporations, however, seem to reward optimization (think Walmart), but also sleek presentation (think car manufacturers, alcohol or fast food).

But the important thing is to be aware of the question that corporations and capitalism get people to ask when deciding their careers. Corporations encourage “What’s a stable job that provides the highest salary?” while Capitalism gets people to ask “What do people need more of? What business has the most long-term growth potential?” It’s a difference of “What can I get” vs. “What do people need?”

One concern is that instead of getting people to think about what goods/services society needs, people are just concerned about getting people to choose their particular good/service. Like fast food. I’m not like anti-McDonalds; fast food has its place and all; but I think it’s safe to say that it’s fairly overrated in our society. But, despite it being way overrated (or maybe because it is overrated), people get paid lots of money for coming up with ways to get people to choose fast food over the cheaper, healthier options at the supermarket. (And cooking vegetables or pasta at home isn’t necessarily ‘slower’ than going out for ‘fast’ food, either.)

But it’s not just about advertising, I don’t think. It’s about who gets what jobs. Jobs are a method of allocating money, something that businesses often have a lot of. There’s some people who really need a reliable source of income, and would work hard to keep that opportunity. But other people are used to reliable source of income, and might be more happy if they have a job that makes them feel like they are helping people, even if it’s for a little less money than they would otherwise be making.

I’m concerned that we are over-encouraging people to enter the already-established business world, rather than pursuing jobs that society needs more of. There is something within high school and college, some “corporate force” I guess, that is over-encouraging us to ask “What already existing job is my resume competitive enough for me get?” and under-encouraging us to ask “What’s a job that our society needs more of?” Corporations vs. Capitalism. “What can I get” vs. “What do people need?”

I’m not saying it’s wrong to pursue “what can I get.” Pursuing “What can I get” will probably provide people with a better starting income, and some people need that and would be grateful to get that opportunity. But I think a lot of people would be better off pursuing “What do people need?” Pursuing that question with your career is likely to be more psychologically rewarding, because you’ll believe you are helping people, could be more stable, and could be more financially rewarding over time, because it requires you to be innovative/creative so you might come up with something people really actually want, and have a successful business. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work, right?

So then, why are we being over-encouraged to ask the corporation question? Hmm, something to do with systems and control, maybe? I dunno, basically I think I need to watch The Matrix again. : )