I have long accepted this as true and right. It is part of the cultural water I swim in. But today I find it goes against the grain of my deeper values. It is a denigration of work and a denigration of living.
Everyone deserves to live. No one should starve or freeze on the street. This applies without conditions to all.
Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. — Mark Twain
Many people are generous; they find joy and fulfillment serving one another, in large ways and small. We can organize our economy around faith in the citizens’ goodness, rather than the assumption that people are lazy and selfish by nature.
When you coerce a man to work, when you tell him that work is unpleasant, that he must suffer or die—of course he comes to hate his job and hate his employer.
Real work isn’t degrading. It isn’t dishonest. It’s not at someone else’s expense, and it involves no coercion, either of or by the worker.
Real work makes us feel good about ourselves and connected to those we care about.
We are all serving the god of capitalism. What if we served one another instead?
In practice it might looks like this:
- A guaranteed universal income, sufficient live modestly with health and security.
- Public employment: a guaranteed job for anyone who wants one, doing public service of his or her choosing, maintaining infrastructure or providing social services, creating art or scholarship.
- In fact, people should be encouraged to write their own job descriptions, with liberal oversight and generous approval.
- An expansion of the idea of public utilities: banking, housing, internet, and transportation become free public services. Basic personal energy needs might also be free, including energy efficiency, energy conservation, and recycling services.