Thursday, February 13, 2014

People Shouldn't Have To Work To Live

 Co-Written by David Troxell

The other day I tuned into Rush Limbaugh's show and heard him opining--paraphrase--'the liberal attempt to make work unnecessary for the lower classes'.

This complaint arrives at a central disagreement between myself and the modern American right wing.

Places Rush and I agree: Work builds character. We should be proud of the fruits of our labor. Hard work leads to innovation and prosperity.

Places Rush and I disagree: I don't think a person should have to work to live. Rush does. I think a person should be provided with the basic necessities of life, and that the goal of a person's life and work should be to self actualize, and to contribute back to society from that state of self actualization.

I have to rephrase a previous statement. Rush does not actually believe a person should have to work to live. He believes a POOR person should have to work to live. The 1% in this country do not have to work, and he doesn't seem to have a problem with that, nor does he seem to have any doubts about their ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It is us ugly proletariat that he feels require the old stick and carrot (the carrot, by the way, never gets unloosed from the stick. It will never actually come into our possession).

Something Rush does not understand: Man craves work. By our very nature, we are restless creatures. We do our best--and are our healthiest--when we are comfortable and productive. When a person suffers from want, they are not focused, and their creativity is taxed. When a person has the freedom to pursue their own creative strengths free from fear or want, they are more inclined to create something instilled with that same freedom. Building from a position of personal strength is the best way to build.

Rush betrays a personal distrust and misunderstanding of the proletariat. He believes that we are lesser beings who must be steered like farm animals.

There is a belief that humanity is driven by greed. Some have a notion of humans being entirely individualistic, their only motivation is for the greater benefit of that individual. The idea is unquestionable to those who believe it, it is human nature. It’s the only way we as a species could survive. This is what drives the belief that humans need to be hard working members of the society in order for them to be entitled their basic needs. If they are fed, housed, healthy, and unconditionally taken care of, they will have no reason to contribute. We’re a product of our evolution and you only survive in nature by putting in minimal work for maximum gain. This idea is a simplistic view of humanity. Humans didn’t survive as individuals. We have a complicated relationship between looking out for our personal best interest and looking out for the welfare of the group. In a society where everyone’s needs are guaranteed to be taken care of, it will never be socially acceptable for those who can contribute in a meaningful way to not do so. We are social animals and we will (as a general rule) comply to the expectations of our social groups. For this reason we, as a caring and capable group of humans, should not ask others to sacrifice their freedom and humanity in order to provide for their basic necessities.

Getting to a place in our society where we are not forced to work to provide ourselves with basic necessities is not a situation to opine; it is a scenario to rejoice. The great American experiment was supposed to be a government of free people for free people; until we are at the point where the least among us no longer have to work for basic needs, this dream will be unrealized. Until we’ve reached this place, we will not live in a free society. The lower and middle class is forced to submit their lives to those who happen to be born into a higher station in life. There is the notion that we can move from our station but there is a vicious cycle in place that prevents this from happening. It is hard to find any money to invest in any kind of venture while you’re struggling to find money to pay for food, medical care, and housing. This is not a question of these people not being hard working, the hardest working people I know are stuck in this situation. This is a question of whether anyone should, by birthright, be taken care of and valued more than anyone else. It seems like the exact opposite of the ideas that this country was founded on.

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