Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus lessons: how one makes money

The Coronavirus pandemic is already disrupting our lives and seems likely to hurt in more unforeseen ways.  Will we learn anything?  There will be many things to learn such as how much we contribute to global warming or other ways to amuse ourselves besides the established entertainment platforms.

Many years ago I used to train newspaper carriers.  Many of them wanted to make a little extra money either for some immediate desire or for a long term savings project.  To me the core value they needed to learn was how one actually makes money.  We are now at a point where this will be of greater concern to more people as many jobs are going to disappear or be stressed as more people stay home.

A question is the best way to start a lesson.  A good one might be "How do you think you make money?"  The most common answer is to work hard.  Another is to work smart.  Another is to develop a skill or talent.  And of course another way might be luck.  Although they all can be helpful, none are the real answer.

My answer is that you have to find someone or someones who have money and want or need what you offer more than keeping the money or spending it somewhere else.  Of course society has organized our desires into patterns that we in some cases take for granted and sometimes make an effort to discover.

One of my favorite examples is a famous well paid athlete, at the time Wayne Gretzsky was a good one.  You could argue athletes work hard and smart, develop a skill, maybe have a little luck.  Individuals are always looking for ways to amuse themselves and often spend spare cash for entertainment.  Sports have an attraction and when focused on winning give motivation to those who crave being on top.  If they have money someone could organize a team to compete against other teams and to promote an audience to watch.  To attract money they need to identify players that can help the team.  How many and how much depends on resources that an individual might have or more likely today can stream from many sources such as television or inter-net audience.  If the numbers are right large numbers of athletes can make a living, some of them spectacularly.  From this, other supporting jobs can be generated.  It takes more than a wealthy individual as a paying audience is required provides the necessary leverage.  This all assumes there is money left over after the bare necessities are taken care of.

A curve thrown at me by a carrier's mother was to pay to help a severely physically disabled person.  The truth is still that someone has to convince some one else that it is worth while to help this person.  Unfortunately not everyone is successful in that effort.  But others have appealed to our conscience or fear that we might need help in the future.  Too often politicians heeding wants of taxpayers resist efforts to help those who cannot contribute to their well-being, but on the other hand they are anxious to cater to what voters are most concerned about.

What about "regular" jobs?  All jobs result from somebody willing to buy whatever product or service is available.  If for any reason less money is available there is less ability to buy anything.  This could happen as people are taken off work and also if people are not able to get out to buy.

We live in a consumer society that depends on economic growth to  provide jobs.  With the Covid 19 pandemic (panic) people are not spending money the way they used to which means they will not be providing money making opportunities the way they used to.  There probably will be new opportunities related to health and for the many adjustments of ordinary people.  Delivering food is one example that may have long range effects to avoid large crowds.  If money does not circulate with most people using money to meet their wants and needs then jobs will likely diminish.

The economy really spins around what masses of people do.  If they do not spend money, all jobs are precarious.  If they decide their (economic) priorities change, job opportunities will shift.  As a collective entity it is more important to encourage the people very much including those with limited resources to spend.  For that to happen they have to feel secure.  Unless large companies are willing to spend money to employ people there will not be economic activity that benefits us all.  Yes, this is a time when what the government decides to do can save the day or end up creating a jungle.

If you aren't willing to spend money then no one will benefit and no jobs will be created.  Jobs require many people spending a little or some spending a lot.  One night class instructor pointed out that everything starts with sales.


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