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THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS

May 14, 2013

For a moment, if we can forget that we are human beings and think about them strictly from a business owner’s point of view, we realize how inefficient they are as a business resource, compared to everything else we would have to buy in order to operate our business (like computers, cars, and various machines and equipment to manufacture our products). Humans get sick and injured. Their performance vary day to day depending on their mood and energy level. Their family problems distract them and they can’t focus on their work. They have to eat, pee, and shit. They fight with other humans. There is no quality control among humans. They have to take weekends off as well as vacations. They complain, argue, and quit. The laws governing hiring people are a pain.

It does not take a genius to realize that if there are any alternatives to humans, we should take them instead. The modern history of business has been a continuous race to minimize the need for humans. If some equipment would allow us to hire one person instead of five, we would naturally take it. For instance, I’ve recently noticed that many supermarkets and drugstores are reducing the number of cashiers by installing self-check-out stations.

This isn’t just about making as much money as possible; even if our objective was to make high quality products at affordable prices, we would still want to reduce our dependence on humans as a resource.

But here is the problem: If someone does not hire and pay these humans, who could buy our products or services? If we are savvy business owners, we would be thinking, “Well, hopefully someone else does; I wouldn’t want to be that person.” In other words, we are playing this game where we want to make as much money as possible by hiring as few humans as possible while counting on “someone” else to hire these humans so that they would have the money to buy our products and services. But who is this “someone”? What’s in it for this “someone” to hire these humans? Nothing. This “someone” doesn’t exist. We are just pretending like she exists because our economy would not work without this “someone”.

With the way our economy is becoming more efficient, and reducing our dependence on each other, soon enough, we will reach a point where our society and economy will break because this “someone” isn’t ever going to materialize. To fix this, we need to think of hiring people as an end in itself. That is, our goal in life should be to hire people for the sake of hiring people. Not because it’s the most efficient way to conduct our business but because working with other human beings is what we enjoy. Maximizing efficiency is ultimately self-defeating and dehumanizing.