The world of Babel (2)

Well, since we’re grumbling anyway, like last time, let’s do this one too, to end the year.

We are constantly led astray, by the way messages are send out, by companies, organizations, and the press. Its about the way a certain subject is portrayed. Not only with regard to direct consequences of CO2, energy or material use, but also related to indirect sustainability, such as ‘doing less’, which is consistently kept out of the frame. Like the staff or personnel shortage. However, there is no shortage at all. The point is: We want too much. And that only leads to more energy and material input.

Take Schiphol airport, which keeps shouting that all problems are due to staff shortages. Nonsense, of course. More flights have been sold than they can deliver. That’s the problem, and that’s almost a scam: selling something you can’t deliver. This applies to many things: sitting on a terrace: ‘sorry sir it takes a bit long, staff shortage’. Nonsense, if you don’t have the staff you have to close half or the whole terrace and go back to serving from behind the bar.

I’m not saying I like it, I’d rather be served on the terrace, but that’s the consequence. We are at the limits what can be done. And that’s already too much.

The same regarding (for example) childcare: there is no shortage in children’s places, there is too much demand. Which is easy to reduce if people work a little less. And in fact, that is the only good conclusion: we work too much, and then shift all the difficult issues to society. And children are a bless, but difficult to deal with, if both parents want to work a lot. And what does the government do? It calls for everyone to work more… with childcare for free if need be. But there is no little staff already, let alone for more childcare…. It’s Schizophrenic.

By the way, its not said, that everyone is working in the right place by the way. For example, there is indeed a shortage of staff in education. But that’s because it apparently pays better to work in the office jobs for instance, where ‘the money is made’, the growth realized, the profits made. However, as a society, you have to make sure that the essential functions in a society are fulfilled first. Like the ones we so applauded in the beginning of corona. Only after that comes growth, the luxury.

Another killer: Sorry but there are shortages, there is no supply. Not regarding personnel, but regarding computer chips, installations, technology, building materials, and so on. Also here: there are no shortages, you just want too much. To sell more as possible, produce more, so you make it sound like there are shortages. But sell less, with the (less) people available, and there are no more shortages either. Again: a shift is needed from non-essential to essential, also in terms of production and materials. But something like more computer chips in cars is not essential. (I even long for simpler cars, with windows with cranks, for example [1]).

Industry even goes a step further to create shortages: like the lobby calling for 1 million homes, for example , or the agriculture lobby screaming blue murder when there should be a few less cows. And even threatening with shortages of food…. Shortages of animal-food they mean , preventing them to export less. You don’t hear them about ‘shortages of forests’, cut down for animal feed.

Yes but, is the retort, there is demand! Yes there is, but only because everything is far too cheap. People are too rich, ( the majority here anyway), can afford anything, and then go shopping…. And even more so, because people are constantly presented with false images: that it is normal to buy everything that comes to mind, and that it will be delivered within a day. And that you have to work for that, as much as you can. The message that everything will be on your doorstep tomorrow, comes a thousand times a day!

The time when someone sold something because there was a need for it, and earned a living from it, is far behind us. It’s not about real need at all, but about turnover, maximized revenue models, and manipulating people to buy and keep buying. New wardrobes, housing extensions, living bigger, the latest computer and phone, While there is no necessary need. My 10 year old laptop had a minor upgrade last year, (memory and SSD drive) and will last for years again. No need for a new one. Although it also played through my mind, because of the many commercial messages I am presented with, trying to manipulate me. And don’t get me wrong, I am not a saint and succumb from time to time as well.

There’s another one of those catch phrases that I often see: “Every day that I can’t deliver, I lose money”.

Nonsense of course, you don’t make a profit, That’s something else. But that is part of entrepreneurship, taking risks, and building up a buffer in good times to get through bad times. Not for nothing did you hardly hear the family businesses complain during corona, it was the shareholders and listed companies that screamed blue murder. Let them scream I would say. Yes, but work? Plenty of work, in essential jobs!

That kind of misleading news is heard everywhere, even in unexpected places: like recently on the 8 o’clock news: students are poor, can no longer buy anything in the canteen. But that canteen sells all luxury sandwiches and juices. Where does it say that a student has to eat from the canteen every day? And even luxury sandwiches? What’s wrong with a piece of bread and a slice of cheese? Possibly brought from home? No, it’s not nice. That canteen is more attractive and convenient. I get that, too. But that doesn’t mean it should be the standard. Of course, there are poor students. But it is portrayed this way as self-evident.

Its a bit easy for me to speak like that? Yes, agree, but that does not relieve us of the need to look at this the soberly, with both feet on the ground to consider these matters. As in the following example:

Years ago, my father-in-law was in a Belgian hospital. Lunch came , and he got a slice of bread with cheese. Accustomed to a hospital in the Netherlands, he asked if he could not choose what he wanted for lunch. “Well sir, this is a hospital, not a restaurant huh. . Here we are to make you better, you can eat nice food outside later”.

By the way: The treatment costs were only half of those in the Netherlands….

Well, you probably come across the examples yourself on a regular basis. We have convinced ourselves that the latest and the newest is the standard, and not that it is special. Especially if we include environment and climate, then we are living far beyond our means. But that just won’t penetrate. However, by presenting things as staff shortages, delivery problems, or “making a loss,” we perpetuate that, and change never comes, only complaining. And that will only increase in the coming years if we continue to present things this way.

What is really in short supply is common sense.