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March, 2004 - Nr. 3


The Editor
Rachel Seilern
Dear Mom
Homage to Balanchine
Vienna Connection
Painting/Drawing Course
Roger Whittaker
KW and Beyond
Daring Barber
Carnival in Cologne
Herwig Wandschneider
Heinrich Huber
AutoShow 2004
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Health Newsletter
Rhine in Flames
Children's Art Festival
Berlin Opera Houses
Baritone wins Grammy
MoMa in Berlin
Oldest Public Museum
Good-bye Lenin!
Sponsorship Program
Have Your Say
Comet Chaser
Fast than Light
Niagara Wine & Food

   You have no idea what happened to me on Valentine’s Day! I got stood up! Well, not really in that horrible "she did not want me" kind of a way; but she could not make it because of work related difficulties.

It made me think about the things we do for the workplace that cuts our private life short again and again.

The other day I heard a lecture about the "New Capitalism", which explained a bit to me what we are experiencing.

The work climate has changed considerably even since I entered the playing field. There where amiable discussions about strategies on improvements, the laying out of plans, the correction of possible mistakes then. Now there is no such thing. Now there is an e-mail threatening to lay you off unless you improve your performance.

Many of us have been wondering about this attitude, but it is basically an old evil.

Uncle Herbert illuminated me on the subject not too long ago, when he recalled the required reading of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. His professor pointed out that Marx predicted just what has been happening now: the swallowing up of big corporation by bigger corporations. The small fish being eaten by the bigger fish, the strong beating the weak.

Under the old form of Capitalism this would not have happened to that degree. As long as the profit was not below zero no one would fire staff by the thousands. Nowadays, if the profit is not above the expected growth that wall street declares heads roll everywhere and thus profits can rise simply because productivity has the appearance of being higher due to less cost, because of less employees.

There are obviously other reasons that come into it, like the globalization effect in the workplace, the off shore outsourcing of work. A company in the USA can now have all sorts of data electronically transferred to India and have it processed there at half the cost of locally educated manpower.

Trade and commerce do no longer know or recognize borders, thus changing the world economy forever. Europe is not as keen on jumping on the wagon yet, but might have to wholeheartedly follow the US lead, if it does not want to be economically destroyed. The Biotechnologies of Europe are already establishing themselves, even if for different reasons, in North America. The old world restrictions and slow thinking/ decision-making is not conducive to good profit driven industries. If one does not want to be swallowed one must join the pack of wolfs willing to throw old considerations overboard. This is happening ever faster because the old growth stopper communism is also dead. So capitalism reigns and the by Darwin adopted metaphor of survival of the fittest is taking on new meaning.

Thus we have a whole new form of cold hard capitalism, profit driven at any cost. Dehumanized some might say.

It is true that if one is brave one might win, but if one is not brave, one will loose. This is true of any endeavour. The question is: how far are we all willing to go with this? Where is it going to end? The damage can become so great that the results might be irreparable.

The cost to our daily lives is already visible and I can feel it myself. The quality of my life is not what it was and what I expect for the amount of work I put in for the exchange I am given.

Yes, the money is great but I have not sufficient time to do anything with it.

Mom, you told me that you were upset that all the delis have been swallowed up by a couple of big supermarkets or factory outlet stores, that independent operators, butchers and so on, are becoming an endangered species. Do you see that what I have described is happening all around us?

I just cannot see the benefit of it to the lot of us. I can only see a redistribution of power and influence and I can see that the poor will become poorer, while a whole new bread of people are becoming so incredibly rich that they might abuse their privileged situation. As long as our ethics are in baby shoes we have no way of not riding towards a disaster with this development. I cannot see the long-term greatest good for the greatest number in this game. It is devoid of any consideration towards the largest part of the population on this planet and we stand around and discuss how globalization is a good thing!

And when we have achieved our goals in that department, what then. Will we have reached the stars by then and will we impose this market – economy - philosophy onto a federation of planets?

Sorry Mom, I did not mean to worry you, but you always were a good listener…This stuff is just going around in my head and I find it hard to reconcile them with the reality of life as I know it.

Anyway, I ate my wonderful meal all by myself, looked into the candles and went to bed early. Except I could not sleep for all the before mentioned reasons.

But don’t worry! I’ll be home for Easter and you can set me straight. Let’s hope that you have an early spring and we can hide some eggs in the garden! Won’t that be fun?

Until then


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