Why Would Anyone Work?

Question: Why would anyone work in this system?

Response: After all, if one gets all the necessities of life without paying for them, why would anyone do any work at all? Why wouldn’t the lazy, shiftless, no-accounts just live "on the dole" so to speak?

I am quite confident that some people would do just that. Some people don’t have any desire for cigarettes or alcohol or big screen TVs or ipods or fancy clothes or vacations at the beach. Some people don’t like to play golf or go to the big game or to rock concerts. Some people don’t have children whose needs they want to meet. Some young men don’t want to date pretty girls. But I digress.

To begin with I will point out that there are already quite a few people today who don’t work and have the necessities of life provided. They live in jail. There are others who are the pampered children of the rich or at least middle class who just sit around the house all day and don’t even look for a job. Which indicates to me that our current form of money doesn’t get everybody to work as it is.

Second, I would point out that we have usually got at least four percent of the adult population unemployed. Sometimes that figure is quite a bit higher than four percent. And that only counts the people who are eligible for unemployment benefits. Government unemployment statistics don’t include those whose benefits have run out or who worked a string of short-term part-time jobs and never qualified for unemployment benefits in the first place. Therefore, the actual unemployment figures are much, much higher.

Next, there is the fact that we have lots of elderly, retired people who can’t work and millions of children who do not work yet. So the proportion of our population that works is really quite small. ( Am counting stay at home mothers as people who work even if they are not being given money to do so.)

So let’s consider the proportion of people who will work in a non-POM economy in comparison. First off, many if not most of the Payers will be people who would otherwise be retired anyway. It is much easier to judge whether someone else has done the job than to do the job one’s self. It’s much easier being the critic. Therefore, there will be many people providing useful services to a non-POM economy who would be only consuming in a POM economy. Second, there will be no unemployment in a non-POM economy. If you can find something useful to do that will help others and do it you are employed. The person(s) you benefit don’t have to have money to give you nor do you have to have their permission. There is never a shortage of money to prevent needed work from being done. In both senses of the phrase, in a non-POM economy "money is no object." Third, given the huge range of luxuries that will be available, there is almost bound to be something that money can buy that any person will want. So everyone will want money and everyone can find something to do to get money. If you can communicate with the world in any way, you can earn money. Fourth, everyone will be able to earn money by helping you earn money. If you make it known that you want to earn money, others will be motivated to help. This will include providing tools, transportation, and training for the work you are willing to do. Fifth, you can do work you like. There is almost bound to be some work doing something that will benefit others that you will enjoy doing. You don’t have to do work which you find unpleasant. You aren’t "trapped" in a job by a need for money. Sixth, you work with others and not for anyone. This means that though you may do what someone else tells you to do you will not do it from fear or because that person can punish you for not doing it but because you are cooperating with that person and that person’s job is to be the one who tells you what needs to be done next. Therefore, you will have more power at work even if you are only wielding a shovel.

All of these considerations mean that there is every reason to believe that a higher proportion of the population will be willing to work in a non-POM economy than in a POM economy.

Next, let’s consider something that is not literally a part of your question but which has a strong bearing on why you asked that question. That is the relationship between people in a POM economy. As is pointed out in other postings, a POM simulates a zero-sum game. That simulation is a lie because an economy, like a society as a whole, is not a zero-sum game. Human beings are mutually interdependent. We really need each other to get alone well and, for most of us, to survive for very long at all. But our POM makes it seem as if what one person gains some other person or persons must lost. When we gain money, some other party is losing money. When we lose money (unless we just can’t find it or the currency gets destroyed) someone else is gaining money. Everybody else has a motive to take our money. This makes us feel like everyone else is our opponents and as if they are trying to take advantage of us. This false impression of our relationship to others makes us ask such questions as "why would anyone work?" This false simulation makes us feel as if we must force people to work. We don’t believe others will work unless made to do so. And we especially feel this way about the poor. Servants have always had a reputation for being lazy.

But people have may reasons to work. You, yourself, would work for the feelings of pride and self-worth which work brings to you. We like to feel independent and taking care of ourselves makes us feel independent. We like to have power and working makes us more powerful. None of us would simply sit back and live on the dole. Well, other people, even if poor, feel the same way.

My final point is that every industrial society has a surplus of the necessities: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education. So what harm does a slacker who is too lazy to work do? They live on the minimum in a non-POM economy. They do not have access to recreational drugs. They have nothing to do. They can only go where the bus lines go since they will not have a car. The society is expending a minimum of resources to keep them alive and no one is being forced in any way to do anything for them. So what harm are they? It’s not as if they had a job making cigarettes.

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