The weaker sex

In a recent article by the Economist, the author states that poorly educated men in rich countries have not adapted well to trade, technology or feminism.

They have had difficulty coping with the enormous changes in the labour market. As technology and trade have devalued muscle power, less-educated men have struggled to find a role in the workplace. Jobs that reward muscle alone have left the western economies for the East. None are not coming back. Men who today lose jobs in manufacturing often never work again. And men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate. The result, for low-skilled men, is a poisonous combination of no job, no family and no prospects. In short, all men will need to start developing and maximising their brainpower. The jobs and the money have shifted to brainwork. It also seems to have become the only way to fully participate in society.

This doesn’t bode well for the millions of unskilled workers in the EU. Education in all its richness will not solve the issue. A massive overhaul of our out-dated labour laws and social security systems is inevitable if the EU is to adapt to the new economic and social world order, let alone come out stronger. A key task of the EU is to defend its inhabitants against global threats, something it has failed to do in this very instance.

Our current Labour laws, governing the world of work, are mainly a product of the industrial evolution. As the technology and services industry have taken over, the labour laws failed to follow suit.  New ways of working find the constrictions of 50-year old labour laws unfitting, unhelpful and not with the time. They hinder more than help. This hard fact reduces the social partners, both from an employee and an employer standpoint to marginal players, ghosts from the past. It also makes the rule of law comical as reality has passed it by. Antique, unadapted labour laws are prohibitive to a thriving work environment and economy. Furthermore, the competition is global and has moved on to a different work ethic, culture and practice.

Secondly, our social security systems originate from our industrial age period. You can argue when this age actually started but the first breach in this powerhouse came with the first oil-crisis in 1973. Since then, the economic, social, cultural and political environment has changed dramatically. Our social security systems have not. The current way of financing these systems is flawed.

The EU needs to address both issues head-on. The old man Europe is definitely sick. The lofty goal of bringing and maintaining peace in post-war Europe was a great goal in the 20th century but has run out of steam. We sadly lack politicians with vision and guts who will give the EU an identity its inhabitants can sympathise with and subscribe to. We need a political roadmap defending an integration track through a democratic process. Today the EU is ruled by the EC and the ECB. The European parliament excels in moving from Strasbourg to Brussels and back while determining the font size of a label on the back of disposable packaging. Can we get serious and progress to a modern state?

Any measure however will not save the weaker sex. There is no place for poorly educated men, or women for that matter, in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. There is also no place for a small-minded EU. It’s time the EU starts developing and using its brainpower. Our diverse, complex and delicate civilization demands it. The army of poorly educated men and women is sadly likely to grow but correctly looking to the EU for solutions.