You raise up your head
And you ask “Is this where it is?”
and somebody points to you and says
And you say, “What’s mine?”
And somebody else says, “Where what is?”
– Bob Dylan
Economist Paul Krugman has traced the wealth disparity that has been growing in the United States over the past 35 years and has linked it to “movement conservatism” – a movement led by organizations like The Heritage Foundation. These organizations urge arguements such as that more money will motivate people to create more wealth, wealth that will eventually benefit everyone.
But there is abundant research that shows that offering more money is not an effective way to foster better work. (Actually, for all but the most mindless tasks, it even seems to be a hindrance.) Here is a fun video on this issue:
“Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”
The great motivators, according to this video, are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Of course, some capitalists are aware of and use this knowledge. When the video discusses Purpose, for instance, it quotes the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, saying that he wanted “to put a ding in the universe.”
However, an article by Slavoj Zizek brings up the sweatshops of Foxconn, where most of the parts to Apple’s products are made. Zizek points out that
the shadowy obverse of the postmodern “creative” centre in the Sillicon Valley (where a few thousand researchers test new ideas) is the militarized barracks in China, plagued by a string of suicides by its workers as the result of their unbearable work conditions (long hours, low pay, high pressure). After the eleventh worker jumped to his death, the company introduced a series of measures: compelling workers to sign contracts promising not to kill themselves, to report fellow workers who look depressed, to go to psychiatric institutions if their mental health deteriorates, and so on. To add insult to injury, Foxconn started to put up safety nets around the buildings of its vast factory.
So, given it’s many problems, what is keeping capitalism from driving off a cliff? Just asking…