A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Work Ethic

We're rapidly approaching a world of post-scarcity, at least within the developed parts of it. We control vast amounts of wealth and resources and produce enough food and material goods to supply the entire world. This is a major achievement for our species; we have effectively mastered our planet to make it comfortable for us as we choose. It's not perfect of course, and many areas lag behind unacceptably but because of artificial boundaries we place on regions and cultures we shrug it off as not our problem.

In the developed world our advancement has progressed to the degree that we're starting to revert to service jobs rather than production. We're creating work for people so they can work rather than providing a specific purpose for that work. Particularly in the US we're skeptical of public support programs that allow people to live without slaving away at a job because we consider it an abuse of the system. But how do you define abuse? This is a ridiculous Puritan ethic that says the only way you can justify your existence is if you either work yourself to death or you have enough money to justify not working. How much money you have defines not only how much you're allowed to enjoy life but how successful you've become.

I've been frustrated by this mindset for years. Aren't there other standards to define a successful life? What if you've been a good parent? There's no money in that. What about artists like Vincent van Gogh who dedicated their lives to art but were never recognized during their own lifetimes?

According to far too many people, living on the public dole while pursuing your own passion is abuse of that system. My question is: why?

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