Refusing work

Question of the Day ~ July 26, 2013 ~ Refusing Work

Should 2 people, one a person who works to support themself, and a similarly capable person who is unwilling or refuses to work, be treated equally with respect to income and benefits by society (the second via tax payer supported welfare)?

So many assumptions in that question.
If it was simply a matter of there being a need for someone to work to support someone who doesn’t, then it would be a simple answer – the person who is willing to work has a clear priority.

However, it is not that simple.
Today most work is done by machines.
A barrel of oil is equivalent to 2,000 hours of human labour. That reduces the value of simple labour to about 5c per hour (at retail value, or 0.01 cents per hour at cost of production – most of the value of oil being monopoly profit), which is not enough to survive on.
Automation is making its way into ever more complex realms of activity, increasingly so.

We now have the ability to completely automate the production and maintenance of all of the necessities of life, which essentially reduces their “cost” to zero.

We are capable of creating systems that can guarantee that every human being has all their essential needs met – clean air & water, healthy food, safe shelter, communication and transportation – yet we do not do so because there is no economic value in doing so.

It is the very concept of money that is at root.
Money is an exchange value, and exchanges value scarcity, and devalue abundance.
Money is fundamentally in conflict with the real human need for an abundance of a few key things.

In my life I have caught and delivered to market over 2 million fish, enough to feed 12 people for 100 years.
I have also worked as a teacher (2 years), and engineer (5 years part time), and fitters mate (4 months), a district councillor (3 years), a computer systems developer (27 years), a law enforcement officer (6 years part time). I am involved in many voluntary community organisations (at one point 32, being chairman, secretary or treasurer of 8 of them).
So I consider I have contributed quite enough to society in simple material terms.
I have been very fortunate in many of the circumstances of my life, particularly the parents I had, and the community and culture I was born into.

I now see that many people are finding it very difficult to find work.
I don’t know how many people survive on the wages they are paid.
We own our home, have no debts, and we are not extravagant in any sense, yet we still manage to go through about 4 times the minimum wage (without paying rent).
I do have a rather high food bill, and as the gardens and orchard come into production, that will reduce.

What I see happening at the highest level of governance is people valuing money above people.

To my mind, that needs to change.
I cannot see any way to create a system that creates security and empowerment if we keep relying on money and economic concepts.

Thus I see a need to create systems that guarantee everyone has the essentials.
Then, what we do with that freedom, is very much a free choice.
Under that system, no-one needs to work to support anyone else, the system does that without any human input.
That is the answer that I really want to see.
And that answer implies some very fundamental changes in the way society operates, and the values that are operational at many different levels.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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1 Response to Refusing work

  1. lettersquash says:

    Great post, Ted. I agree. I’d appreciate knowing about any groups or organisations you think are helping to bring us closer to that condition. I guess we’ve made something of a good virtual analogue in open source and donation “ware” (in the widest sense), although it does still use money. I’m not sure how we’d get to a place where we don’t have it anymore, but money does seem to naturally increase inequality.

    Long time no see. I’ll tick to subscribe and read more of your thoughts.


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