Unemployment, Capitalism 2.0 and Maslow’s Hierarchy

Diagram of w:Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
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I finally heard a quip that made total sense to me about being laid off.  Maslow’s Hierarchy.

When I first absorbed the news that I was getting laid off I sort of celebrated.  I knew I was in need of change, I chose to look at the glass half full and the opportunity for tremendous gain.  But time is a killer of mental conditions.  Time, like water, erodes things.  I found the passion and energy being replaced with fear and anger.  The hope and optimism replaced by uncertainty and confusion.

While literally battling these swings I met someone with a bent towards psychology.  I explained my situation and within seconds he simply uttered, ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy, you’re fighting with safety and physiological conditions’.  I remember the pyramid picture from high school, but couldn’t recall the details so of course I had to look it up.

He was right.

My “negative” responses were actually survival mechanisms that are being attacked by the machine.  I have a family that has very base level needs and I’m a prime provider for those.  These needs were becoming exposed as the age of silence wore on about lack of work.

As time prolongs with my search for work I can’t help but wonder how the business community so easily and confidently trashes this pyramid.  Recently I heard a comment that went something like, “Companies are going to wait another 4-6 months before they hire anyone so people are forced to accept a 20% discounted salary”.  10 years ago I’d hear something like this at a cocktail party and laugh with almost lion pride.  Eat or be eaten, its a tough world out there, life is.  Now with a family and sensibility towards doing something right, does it really need to be like this?

Don’t we, under certain circumstances, make it harder for ourselves?  Think about all the cost cutting and outsourcing we’ve done to meet the demands of Wall Street and share holders.  We want to buy a toaster oven every 3 years instead of 6.  We want to buy 2 flat screens instead of 1.   Razor blade companies are making 5 blades instead of 2 good ones that last longer.  With all these bankers looking for work and food, I wonder if this “eat or be eaten” philosophy survives?  I know it will, its almost out of our hands now, but I like to be hopeful.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is getting attacked on a daily basis these days.  Capitalism needs a new look, a fresh start, to get us into the next 100 years not just the next 10 or 2.  Thats why I continue to think long and hard at what Umair Hague is saying and want to find a company that believes in the same principles.

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2 responses to “Unemployment, Capitalism 2.0 and Maslow’s Hierarchy

  1. I had a B in Dance

    Being employed now: are you looking at “eat or be eaten” differently? Hungry again? 😉

    I am wondering though if you weren’t fighting with the top two layers, perception of your worth as care-taker and professional is part of your self-actualization. esp. in this world… no?

    • MAB

      Is the math enthusiast looking for recursive logic?
      I haven’t studied this but my sense is, the lower in the pyramid something is “messed with” the stronger the reaction. I could envision the tinkering of self-actualization would manifest itself as opportunity and excitement where as safety tinkering would result in angst and anxiety. This gets closer to a notoriously challenging discussion around actualization of self or definition of self between career, values, and culture. I personally don’t have my answer so I can’t say how high in the pyramid my ‘care-taker and professional’ attributes get to go. But, if I did know, I certainly wouldn’t share with someone who got a B in dance(who didn’t bother to say which dance it was – beat-box maybe?)!

      The eat or be eaten mantra is reality. Without going into quasi-empiricism theory and how success is measured in business, I will simply state that responding to ones own hunger is a life skill, killing for sport is not. I don’t think the boundaries of these two approaches have been appropriately awarded in the corporate world. Until then, killing more sport hunters might be helpful for the system.

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