10. To be employed or not to be employed?

The notion that unemployment could ever be a positive thing would seem to most to be a bizarre notion and in our current socio-economic system I would have to agree, as employment currently provides the means by which people can obtain the purchasing power to meet theirs and their family’s life needs.

In an NLRBE however, the emphasis would instead be placed on the deliberate automation and mechanization of laborious, dangerous and monotonous labour for the efficiency and abundance it would provide. Given such an underlying economic premise, it follows that higher rates of human employment would mean that the economic system is not functioning optimally. So higher rates of ‘employment’ (in it’s very often socially meaningless, overly simplified and coercive sense at least) could only be seen as a negative trend in such a system.

This point is further outlined by Joe Alexopoulos in the following talk:

This turns the issue of employment on its head but also brings with it a point of contention for many, that being;

 If people do not have to go to jobs, they will just lay about doing nothing useful for society.

An absence of threat = An abundance of giving

As pointed out in the article ‘Riding the ‘Trojan horse’ to the NLRBE it may be best to first establish empathy with the idea that everyone in society should do their fair share. From here we could then perhaps build a case from the technological unemployment argument and the idea that a job should serve some sort of social purpose and then on to the idea of an NLRBE. Once this has been established and at an appropriate juncture of conversation it could be worthwhile asking:

What would be so wrong with people spending more time relaxing anyway?

Surely in a society where human needs are met without a price tag, more relaxation time would only result in a positive net social outcome? This may be something which is actually partially achievable in the transition to an NLRBE via the idea of an unconditional/universal basic income. Outlined by Federico Pistono in the following presentation:

The underlying concern regarding human motivation (which will be dealt with later in this article), is perhaps more to do with the common sense notion that there will always be a need for people to contribute in some sort of productive and meaningful way in any social model and it is unfair for some to shirk their social responsibilities whilst others do all the work. So, is this moral stance actually achievable without the profit motive driving human incentive for meaningful societal contribution?

A noteworthy point might be that with such a threat hanging over any contract, social or otherwise, it seems surprising that anyone still acts in an altruistic manner in society, and yet they do! Even in the most socially stratified and unequal developed nation of the USA, research from www.independentsector.org shows that American adult volunteers contribute an average of 3.5 hours per week to social causes, totaling 19.9 billion hours per annum, with an estimated dollar value of $225.9 billion to the US economy. So it certainly does not seem like a threat of this nature is required for people to donate their time to meaningful social causes.

In fact, it seems likely that in a highly technically efficient and strategically organized society, social contribution would be garnered from the reciprocal relationship that would exist within a social system directly aligned to meeting human needs. Whereas in our current culture the more you give away, the more risk you incur with regards to meeting your life needs.

The work shy fallacy

Contrary to popular opinion, it is actually the labour for income game which reinforces a generally lackadaisical disposition in many in society today. Much of the research carried out in this area shows that whilst extrinsic motivators provide an increased incentive in laborious and monotonous labour roles, it actually does the precise opposite for creative endeavor. These laborious, receptive and mundane tasks are precisely the sort of roles that would look to be phased out by machines in an NLRBE.

This point is made in more detail in the article ‘A change in educational and social incentives’, and is briefly summarized in the following RSA animate on motivation by Daniel Pink:

Is it not entirely reasonable that after people have been subjected to having to engage in likely pointless, laborious or monotonous labour all day, that they just want to switch off and ‘relax’ before having to return to it all again the following day. When the issue is put in this way, the behavior of those who can take the option of meeting their life needs without having to submit to what amounts to paid slavery seems, to a limited extent within our current social framework of course, entirely rational.

This is not to excuse this disposition per se, as this behavior would most likely have a highly detrimental impact on the family and friends of this individual who would very likely have to support him. Instead, my aim is to attempt to elucidate why someone would engage in such behavior in the first place.

It does also seem like there is a double standard going on in that many people who would readily chastise those who ‘shirk work’ freely admit that they would give up work immediately if they won the lottery!

Adopting the alternative viewpoint

Let us adopt the viewpoint of those who have concerns regarding the ‘work shy’ living off their taxes whilst they go to their jobs, enabling these ‘feckless lay abouts’ to ‘live in the lap of luxury’ for a second though and see if the case can be made that the NLRBE actually addresses their concerns better than the current monetary market system does.

Before doing so it may be worthwhile noting that any money that is paid out to such individuals is likely a drop in the ocean compared to how much is being continually pumped toward the top of the financial food chain through fractional reserve banking and other hierarchical financial mechanisms.

Fractional reserve banking is outlined in the following clip from zeitgeist addendum:

A pressure group who are looking to bring monetary creation back under public control called positive money are worth checking out for at least a transition in monetary creation policy that could help in aiding the transition to an NLRBE. You can find out more by visiting their website at: www.positivemoney.org

The following radio show by Peter Joseph on structural classism goes through some of the other inequality producing mechanisms inherent to the use of a monetary system:

The following documentaries outline the history of finance and money in more detail:

‘The money masters’:

‘Money as debt’:

The growing gap of income inequality is briefly outlined in the following report by Lee Camp:

Structural classism aside, concerns and frustrations of this sort are of course still valid to an extent and no stranger to me as I used to hold exactly the same disposition. I would often argue passionately that if people just got up off their backside and did an ‘honest day’s work’ (or something to that effect) then society would run far more smoothly.

Of course to the limited extent of our current social circumstance this overly simplistic and naive disposition is entirely understandable. No one likes to feel they are doing all the hard work whilst others reap the rewards.

Apparently even penguins feel the same incredulity when one of their brethren opts for a ‘free ride’:

 Building a rewarding social environment

This is precisely why the learning environment in an NLRBE would be arranged in such a way as to make this kind of behavior extremely rare, by catering for a wide variety of interests free at the point of access and focussing on building a communal spirit in educational settings and society as a whole.

No such thing as a free lunch

This is not to say that everything will come without any effort in an NLRBE just because there is no monetary reward on offer. We would need to arrange educational facilities and society in such a way as to illicit an intrinsic interest in topics pertaining to social and environmental cohesion, balance, well being and harmony.

 Something well alluded to by Jacque Fresco in the following talk:

In a social system based on the humane application of the scientific method for social concern, the onus would instead be on you to provide evidence that your proposal is more effective than current methods. If the efficacy of your idea cannot be demonstrated through rigorous testing, then it will not come to fruition. In a sense this would be a true understanding and delivery of a merited work ethic. Whereas in our current socio-economic system it is left to the limited spectrum of luck, background and whether or not your idea can make a profit or not.

It could also be said that surely making a profit, becoming a ‘success’ and paying your taxes to a fundamentally inefficient, wasteful, war orientated and poverty producing system such as ours would surely be the last thing that anyone of any sound moral or ethical integrity would want to contribute to would it not?

The general social attitude within an NLRBE would instead attempt to reinforce the importance of understanding and appreciating the integrity of the social fabric as a whole, through a collaborative, social endeavor.

 Removing the sources of social frustration via a systems approach

Lets for a moment entertain the notion that someone does engage in such ‘lazy’ behavior in an NLRBE. What would be our cause for frustration over such behavior exactly? Remember, there are no taxes from your labour needed to pay for these people to live in the ‘life O’Reilly’ because there is no money and no ‘state’ to pay taxes to.

With the majority of the remaining mundane and dangerous human labour having been eliminated through mechanization, any remaining jobs would require only a fraction of the human population to maintain the smooth operation of society. Surely we would not want such important work to be carried out by people who do not want to do it willingly, would we? This would surely only lead to resentment, ill will and the task being carried out in an inadequate, substandard fashion, compromising the overall integrity and functionality of society in general.

Also, with an access abundance provided sustainably for all life’s needs without a a price tag in an efficient and physically referenced socio-economic system, the hindrance such a ‘lazy’ person would have on our shared planetary resources and public services would be extremely negligible. So once again, what mechanisms would exist in such a system for a person’s inaction to cause us such grievance exactly?

Besides, even if such a person were to spend their entire life contributing nothing meaningful to society (which once again would be highly unlikely given the reinforcements for such abhorrent behaviour would no longer exist) then were they to make just one positive contribution to any area of social function during their lifetime, the likelihood is that this would not of had to of been of any major significance to be a net benefit to society as a whole.

To be absolutely clear this is not to imply that people must prove their worth to society, to live in an NLRBE. The focus would instead be to attempt to decipher where the causality lies in the creation of such a disposition and address it there, rather than the irrational and baseless disposition of blaming the individual for their behavior in isolation from surrounding environmental influences.

If any concern were to exist over such a disposition in such a social model, it would be far more likely for our general disposition to be one of sympathy rather than hostility, as the person in question was clearly not exposed to learning in such a way in which some aspect of this awe inspiring and amazing reality in which we find ourselves, did not inspire them toward a positive endeavor of some sort in their life.

A humorous analogy could be added in the context of the current social environment to sum up this issue as well perhaps. That being that those who are irritated by the attitude of the work shy never seem to complain about benefit cheats ‘stealing their air supply’. The reason that this does not occur, is because air is abundant, and money is not.

It seems to someone who used to be perpetually irritated by this sort of behavior, that the news that the mechanisms behind the cause of such irritation could be eradicated technically is yet another reason to become an advocate of the NLRBE, rather than a critic of it!

Hard work: For what end?

The idea of jobs for the sake of them is amusingly ridiculed by comedian Steve Hughes in the following clip:

The reverence and social capital given to hard work and employment for the sake of it, is another much needed change in the attitude of the overall ‘zeitgeist’ if we are to make the transition to an NLRBE.

If you work hard to earn a living selling arms, in the military, the oil industry or in the arena of financial trading then what you are doing at best creates nothing of net worth for the future prosperity of society and at worst has a highly detrimental and negative consequence for our collective human health and environmental wellbeing. Even though this seems to be entirely self evident, these professions still carry great reverence and social capital. This stands in stark contrast to the kind of attitude required for a peaceful and collaborative social condition to emerge.

Think first – Work second

This is why thinking should be held above and beyond mere ‘hard work’ for the sake of it. On the face of it this may sound like a sensible disposition, but it is actually an often overlooked principal in most schools, whose message instead often tends to reinforce the notion of hard work first and thinking second sadly.

Were we to reiterate the importance toward the social and moral imperative of the work to which you are engaged and encourage people to think about how to resolve human problems rather than merely upholding the social status given to mere ‘busy work’, then we would be making an important, positive and much needed shift in social attitude towards a more peaceful and sustainable socio-economic system.

Children especially must come to see that it is what you do that counts and not just what you say or how much money you have in your bank account. If this value system can be adopted at a young age and carried into adult life, then the impact on our social values, customs and the entire edifice and structure of our socio-economic system would no doubt be profound.

A point well made by Severn Suzuki in her amazing and inspiring speech given at the UN in 1992:

Curiosity: The cure for boredom

To have a lifelong love of learning is critical to encounter new information as not simply a chore to be endured, but as a pursuit in one of the very best parts of being human; Curiosity. With this attribute as an indelible part of ones character, you will never spend a day in this life bored.

These perspectives are well outlined in the following video by Alan Watts that could be useful to show in School presentations when talking about such issues with older children perhaps:

This is why the approach of taking this message into Schools makes sense yet again. As the reinforcement to see this issue in many of the negative perspectives outlined above has yet to take place for children as they have not had to work or pay taxes yet.

Were we to go to schools and deliver an understanding regarding what solutions are available to address human and environmental problems and encourage children to live a life which makes the world a better place, rather than merely making money for the sake of it, then the transition to a better world could start to take place in earnest.

So please be sure to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section of this website to find out more about how to take part in this highly rewarding and beneficial experience.

The purpose of this site is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.