February 4, 2009
How To Make Your Own Sustainable Job
If you used to be a GM executive, you should prepare to radically refocus your perspective on what's economical. If you used to wash dishes in a restaurant, you are probably already in the ballpark of understanding the real economy.
First, be very clear on what you need: clean air and water, healthy food, and warmth. The first two are already in the bag; they are basically free and not that bad for you. Food is essential, and the healthier it is, the lower your health care costs will be. So in the short term, some kind of food-related job can put you ahead of the game. A kitchen job for a natural food restaurant would be ideal; people who work in kitchens are rarely hungry (unless they work for a fast-food chain). Even dishwashing has potential.
Other places where food can be found include family farms, farmers markets, grocery stores, and dumpsters.
Having a roof or a tent over your head is a key factor in staying warm, since they protect you from wind and rain. We could solve the housing crisis by taxing empty bedrooms, but don't wait until politicians come to their senses. Look around yourself for a cost-effective room to rent or barter for. Older people often live alone in houses with empty space, and often feel challenged by all the upkeep. Their fixed incomes often don't allow them to hire the kind of help they could use. If I were an single mom, I would be looking for an adoptive grandmother.
Clothes are not such a problem. They aren't as inexpensive as air and water, but we are awash in a sea of clothes that overflow thrift stores and garage sales. And since most of them have some synthetic fiber content, they won't really wear out for an awfully long time.
Once you have gotten back to basics like this, you are tuned in to the real economy. The real economy is just the sum total of what is actually happening underneath the "veil of money." The trick about money is that it works best when the players all have their eyes firmly fixed on what's real, and not on the veil of money. Looking at the man behind the curtain is a good idea.
Now, things can only get better from here. To expand your economic horizons, start by thinking about the economy as a whole. Basically the economy has 2 parts:
1) the human race takes resources from the planet, and
2) human beings take in each other's washing, i.e., take care of each other.
Currently, our economy is overweight on the resource part, and underweight on the caring part. So looking for some excess resources that you can use to take care of other people is a good strategy. Assess your skills, and compare them to people's needs and wants. People will always need clean air and water, healthy food, and warmth. Once they feel secure about those basics, they start thinking about social activities, which are free for those who are creative. They start thinking about education. What can you teach that is useful?
Look for a job doing something that people need often, like cooking or farming, rather than something they only need occasionally, like construction or stock-brokery. Look for ways to get outside of the money economy, such as barter.
If everyone who is unemployed put themselves to good use, by means of these principles (and those outlined by other sensible people) the economy will recover as quickly as possible. But if we persist in thinking that we need Wall Street or Congress to fix it for us, we will get what we deserve. They can't fix it, because the real economy depends on millions of people living individual sustainable lives.