Workplace Constitution, IV
By John Taylor; 2008 July 03, 10 Rahmat, 165 BE
In this essay series, I set out to explore the idea of a constitution for the workplace. We discussed the sort of leadership and "followership" that are the most evolutionarily suited to human nature. We noted that the Baha'i ideal of service as the highest station of man places the highest value on "followership." At the same time, Baha'is are encouraged to be leaders too, especially when we "arise" in service, and trust in divine confirmation alone. A society of servants of God will build workshops and offices where workers operate on their behalf and that of all, small teams of worker-owners in small, autonomous groups led by elected peers. This is not only the most natural but also the healthiest way to organize our work lives.
Research over past decades confirms that a feeling of control over one's work is the greatest single protection for the heart. A study in England reported in Scientific American (April, 2008) called "How your job is killing you" found that low-level white collar managers, because of the top-down, centralized, arbitrary way workplaces are designed, is the most dangerous type of work.
"In the early 1970s a project tracking 18,000 male British civil servants found that the lowest-ranking white-collar workers had the highest rates of premature death. The results of the investigation, called the Whitehall Study, were a surprise, because it turned out that workload or responsibility had little relation to stress levels. Rather it was how much control an employee had over the work he did and how he did it."
An update to the same study found that while diet, smoking and lack of exercise contribute to heart problems too, still, up to one third of the risk to workers results from the unnatural demands caused by a sense of powerlessness on the job,
"Chronic exposure to stress hormones weakens the hearts ability to respond to changing demands, and low heart-rate variability is associated with greater risk of heart attack and lower survival rates afterward." (How Your Job Is Killing You http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=updates-apr-08)
The Master's "storehouses" proposal for adjusting economics seems to have this consideration at heart, especially when He says,
"But if conditions are such that some are happy and comfortable and some in misery, some are accumulating exorbitant wealth and others are in dire want -- under such a system it is impossible for man to be happy and impossible for him to win the good pleasure of God. God is kind to all. The good pleasure of God consists in the welfare of all the individual members of mankind." (Paragraph 23)
When there is gross accumulation, the super-rich may be physically pampered, but deep in the soul one is aware of the wrath of God waiting in any life to come. This, as it were, shifts the onus onto higher, rather than lower-level managers. It is therefore in the best interests of all to assure that the bounties of wealth are fairly distributed. The storehouse proposal offers just this assurance to rich and poor. Nobody loses.
What has happened over the past week is that I did my longest, slowest double take ever. The same post where this Badi' Blog reproduced the Master's
It took me the longest time to understand the subtle link between this film and the Master's storehouse idea. These filmmakers say that one thing should not exist, private debtors to government. Banks create new money by lending out funds based on flimsy collateral. This way of raising money can only benefit when the economy is physically expanding due to a huge influx or expansion, such as happened with the conquest of the
This is backed up by another source, which points out that neo-classical economics is built on now-obsolete equations borrowed dubiously from physics,
"The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd --they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline." (Robert Nadeau, "The Economist Has No Clothes; Unscientific assumptions in economic theory are undermining efforts to solve environmental problems," Scientific American, April, 2008, p. 42 http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-economist-has-no-clothes)
In the strange system we have now governments borrow from plutocrats, who continually go out and drill for more oil, usually at public expense. This cannot continue without dislocation on an unprecedented scale, destruction of the environment, global warming, famine, floods, all followed by collapse.
The double take happened because I was edging towards this question: is there a place for banks and private lending in the Master's storehouse proposal?
There does not appear to be.
All money, taxes and royalties go directly to the trustees. They do not borrow from anybody, though they may themselves act as lenders, though not to private individuals (who get support payments by right, and do not have to repay). At root is the principle of equality, not sameness of outer features but of all having an equal share in an Almighty and All-Merciful God,
"God is not partial and is no respecter of persons. He has made provision for all. The harvest comes forth for everyone. The rain showers upon everybody and the heat of the sun is destined to warm everyone. The verdure of the earth is for everyone. Therefore, there should be for all humanity the utmost happiness, the utmost comfort, the utmost well-being." (Paragraph 22)
The Master's storehouses would channel all wealth at source through the hands of local administrators. No intermediaries. The task of trustees is exclusively to assure the welfare of all people living in that locale, then to pass on the entire surplus to the center, to the political hub of the wheel. Next time we will discuss the hub.