Could Society Function Without Financially Desperate Workers?

If a job requires financially desperate people selling themselves into part-time slavery to get done, then that job shouldn’t exist.

Remember, a job is just a contract between two people where one person agrees to do some work, usually for some form of compensation. There is nothing inherently wrong with a job. The problem is when one is literally dependent on that job for their livelihood, and thus is forced to accept that job offer or face destitution. Then it becomes something more akin to exploitation.

We live in a pretty funny system.

The land beneath our feet has been seized and is owned by the “owners”.

Then to get access to this land, we have to convince an “owner” to give us money (wages) to rent “their” land. We do this by literally selling ourselves into part-time slavery, and us wage slaves are the backbone of this economy.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is finally starting to get mainstream attention in the U.S. thanks to presidential candidate Andrew Yang, yet critics literally can’t comprehend it because they can’t fathom a society where the cotton isn’t picked by wage slaves. “But if we all got $1,000/month no strings attached, then everyone would stop working and society would collapse!” they say.

Historically it’s the same pattern that took place when American literally had slavery, ultimately leading to the Civil War, an entire war fought over the issue of slavery (though brainwashed Republicans will swear that it was only about “state’s rights”).

When America was debating whether to end slavery, slavemasters were also concerned that the economy would collapse if their slaves stopped picking their cotton fields. “But if slaves had freedom, then they wouldn’t pick my cotton (and neither would I) so society would collapse!” they said.

Yet after the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery, somehow the economy managed to carry on just fine. In fact, America even rose to become the wealthiest country in the world.

If we look at social democracies that have things like universal healthcare and free college, we see that life is actually pretty good there despite ultra-right-wing “socialism” scaremongering. In Switzerland, a worker who gets fired from or leaves their job can receive 70% of their salary for 2 years, paid for by the government. Yet Switzerland doesn’t look like Venezuela, as is in fact one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

But the question to ask isn’t – “would UBI increase GDP?”, it’s “would UBI increase the general well-being of citizens” and “is UBI the right thing to do.”

The answer to both questions is an unequivocal “yes”.

85% of workers hate their jobs. Many if not most workers feel that most of the time they spend at work is unnecessary, especially in the case of horrendously inefficient 9-5 jobs where you’re only actually spending an hour or two per day actually doing any real work, and then rest in meetings talking about work or pretending to work.

But I would take it a step further – I’ve worked at three companies – it wasn’t merely my job that was meaningless and unnecessary to humanity. If my entire companies that I worked at were to cease to exist, society would carry on just fine (and one of those companies is a mid-sized corporation). So what am I working for again?

There are very few jobs fundamental to society. The rest of us are working Bullshit Jobs, and society would carry on just fine without them.

So what about the small fraction of jobs that we actually need? For example – farming and ensuring the electrical grid is working. With a UBI, then couldn’t these people stop working and we’d be screwed?

If work that humanity actually values stopped being done, then one of two things must happen:

  • Wages and working conditions for these jobs must increase to incentivize more people to do this work
  • Society must figure out how to cope without these jobs.

Case #1 is objectively better for workers. Case #2 is just a reflection of society’s priorities. If it’s really important enough, then people will figure out a way to get the job done. Believe it or not, people can be motivated to work by means other than a paycheck or resume building. It’s funny that I even need to explicitly state that, but we’ve been so brainwashed by economists to think otherwise.

Ultimately if we’re only able to get people to do a certain kind of job by coercing them into part-time slavery to escape destitution, then we must do without that job. It doesn’t matter if the Pharaoh wants a giant pyramid built in his honor, if the people don’t want to toil day and night building his f***ing pyramid and we as a society claim to value individual freedom and dignity, then they shouldn’t have to.

If a job requires financially desperate people selling themselves into part-time slavery to get done, then that job shouldn’t exist.

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