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Friday, April 3, 2020

Why Do People Have To Work?

This post is a part of a series: the previous one is “In politics Thinking makes all the difference”.
The coronavirus pandemic forces us to reassess our answers to the fundamental question: “Why do people have to work?”

Due to social (meaning actual physical) distancing and a severe economic circumstances millions of people have been displaced from work and now the unemployment level has crossed 4 % and keeps climbing. Millions of people have no prospect of going back to work any soon.

No doubt, that has brought a devastating effect on millions of people because they have lost the source of their income and no one can predict when they would be able to work again.

There are also millions of people who didn't suffer a job loss. Those people have not suffered devastating consequences related to loss of income. Of course, those people may experience a certain loss of comfort: e.g. they cannot go to a restaurant or movie, but fundamentally their life did not suffer a severe quality loss.

In this situation the government stepped in. People who lost their jobs are getting a support from government through funds specifically created and delivered to those people, even though those people do not provide any input into the economy.

So, why do people have to work if they can be paid without working?

The standard answer is people have to work to make money in order to have a living.

But now there is a clear and abundant evidence that this is not a case.

But if the work is not for keeping people alive, then what is it for?

The answer actually comes from people who have a lot of money and hence who don't have to work at all but keep doing that.

If you ask any rich working person why does he/she work, the standard answer is “Because I like it, because it fulfills me, it gives me a sense of purpose” and many similar. In one word the reason for keeping working is self-realization.

Well, if we dig deeper we will also find out that many of those people think of themselves as special. The believe that they have special qualities that have allowed them to achieve their current position when they can work just for self-realization. But other people could not achieve the same social position because those other people did not have required qualities. If you ask a rich self-realized person why do other people have to work, the answer is to make money to sustain their living.

The world looks very simple form the point of view of the rich self-realized people: there are they, and there are others. They have special qualities and deserve social position that allows them not to work, but they work anyway because they like it. Others have no such special qualities and have to work to survive.

In a way, that is exactly correct – we live in a two-tier society.

There are three natural follow-up questions: (1) why do we live in such a society, (2) what is the reason for someone falls into one or another category , and (3) do we have to live in such society forever?

The answers are:

(1) This is just a historic tradition based on the natural evolution of the human society.

(2) Luck.

(3) No.

The first answer does not need much of an explanation beyond having a C+ in a history classes. Human society evolves, it has evolved through many different social forms and now we all live in one of those forms called “capitalism” (more specifically “am abusive greed-based capitalism”, or “monetary feudalism”).

The second answer is also obvious, it you think about it. Luck, good or bad, starts from parents who provide genetic material and the initial culture (“an apply does not fall far from a tree”) that surrounds a growing person for the most important period of his/her life – the period of a brain development and a character formation (that may last from ~13 to ~22 years). There are also other important factors like the group of friends, the quality of teachers (especially in the elementary school). There is a saying:
The Google AI translation is literal, hence wrong; the English analog is tell me whom you live with and I will tell you who you are.

The first years of growing up greatly affect the brain development, especially important the way children are being taught.

A brain is basically a thinking muscle.

Like for every muscle in our body, the development of brain is directly related to the exercises a brain has to perform while developing. Everyone is focusing on the intensity of exercises – “practice makes perfect”, “if you didn’t succeed first time try and try again”. But in reality, the most important factor is the variety of the exercises.

As I write in “Fundamental Laws of TeachOlogy: “If the only exercise students had been doing for 12 years is squats, they will not be good at push-ups and pull-ups. Do not expect from students an ability to think if all the had to do for 12 years was memorizing facts and rules”.

And in “What Does It Mean To Be Smart” I write: “An ability to run has its own physiological basis - legs. An ability to reason (including being smart), also has a specific physiological basis - a developed brain.” And in order to achieve a top social level one must have an ability to reason – with other people, because, as I write in “A Curios Case of a Risky Entrepreneur”: “The most important quality of every successful entrepreneur is not his or her knowledge, technical skills, or even intelligence, but communicability – an ability to convince people in their ideas.”

Unfortunately, nowadays there is only one factors that decides who will be propelled to the top social level and who will not – luck. Kids who are lucky to be born and grown up in the right conditions have a high probability to get to the top, and will achieve the status when they will not have to work for a living. And all other people, who do not have such a good luck, who did not have either good parents, or friends, or teachers (due to the lack of good en mass public education) are destine to work simply to provide food to the table.

And anyone who believes that this system is fair should stop reading this article.

I, however, do not believe that social stratification based on luck is a fair game.

And I believe that there is a better way to structure a society. That is why the third answer is “No”.

The way people live is bound by the rules people accept. Rules include laws, but also go beyond those.

Rules/laws are not given by gods, by written, and rewritten, and then corrected, and then changed again – many many times of the course of the human history – by people. Rules evolve, like everything else. Hence, when people want to change the rules they can do that (that includes the rules for changing rules).

Current economic rules/laws are based on certain economic models.

All existing or past economic models are based on essentially the same premise - that in order to live a person must be need to other persons.

I am not talking about slavery, well, not just about it. Slavery was pure representation of this principle. One person was a property of another one, same as a hammer or a chandelier. Those times went away (mostly). But the principle remains unchanged. The realization just has become more subtle.

Now, in order to make a living one has to be able to satisfy someone else’s needs for – well, something, anything: cooking, delivering food, writing a code, etc.

If one cannot do anything – one does not deserve to live.

Naturally, a society was able to correct this principle for certain categories of people – children, old people, sick people, but as they say, exceptions only prove the rule.

If no one needs anything from you - you are worthless.

This is the cornerstone of all economic models – past and current (including MMT).

This principle automatically favors people who have been blessed with good luck. Due to good luck of being born and grown up in right circumstances those people possess skills that make them useful for other people. 

If someone can be useful to one but a very rich person, or to poor but many persons, that someone climbs up the social ladder.

Otherwise, ...


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