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Wealth Inequality in America. Why work? Printer friendly page Print This
By Video by Politizane. Comments: John Spritzler and Les Blough
Politizane. Axis of Logic
Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013

Editor's Comment: We don't agree with everything this narrator/producer says. In fact, we radically disagree with his statements about socialism. Concurrently we also disagree with what the narrator says about a human being's motivation to work. As my father once told me, taking me by the shoulders when I complained alongside him working under a hot sun in the field, "Work is like breathing. Tell me, before you inhale a breath, do you think, 'I must inhale now?' Work is like that, working is just something you do. You don't think about it."

Tonight a Venezuelan friend, a mathematics professor, visited me as he often does and I told him about my father's words to me in the field. He replied, "Was your father a Buddhist? That sounds a lot like your Buddhism." I replied, "No, he never heard of Buddhism. But you're right - there are 3 tenets of Buddhism on work and they appear in order of importance:

  1. Work is part of who we are. It's a natural and necessary part of life.
  2. We need to work because we need to create just like we need to breathe. Good work allows a person to create. If we cannot create, we die.
  3. People work for remuneration. This could be for money or it could be bartering goods or services that we create. We must do this to share our wealth and to be able to survive.

I continued to say that capitalism reverses this order of importance:

  1. Most people in a capitalist system work first and foremost for money, If there were no paycheck, why work?
  2. Creativity is denied to the typical worker. Creativity is reserved for the owners and bosses. Workers are given mundane, boring jobs "on the assembly line" to reproduce the designs that have been given them ... over and over again.
  3. The work given to the worker is not a natural state of being. It's not like breathing as my father told me. Work is negative, something to avoid and only to do when you have to do it, "waiting for the eagle to fly on Friday."

But notwithstanding the differences we may have with the narrator, his video is very revealing.

John Spritzler, longtime friend of Axis of Logic sent us this video. We concur with his comments (below).

- Les Blough, Editor
Axis of Logic

John Spritzler:

This video provides an excellent graphical representation of the actual wealth inequality in the U.S. compared to what people think it is and to what people think it ought to be ideally.

The narrator emphasizes the extremity and wrongness of the actual degree of inequality, but accepts (as apparently many ordinary Americans do also) the notion that there needs to be at least some inequality or else people would have no motivation to work or study hard. I think this notion is not persuasive and if there were ever a genuine public discussion of it (in contrast to virtually no critical discussion of it in the approved public discourse that the ruling class orchestrates today) that most people would come to agree that it is not persuasive.

What's needed is not, of course, the absurd kind of equality that Kurt Vonnegut so easily ridiculed in his short story, "Harrison Bergeron," depicting a society in which, for the sake of making everybody absolutely equal, skinny people have weights attached to them so they are as handicapped as fat people, smart people have loud buzzers surgically implanted in their heads so they have as hard a time thinking as stupid people, and well-spoken people are given speech impediments, etc. Equality, in its common sense meaning, is, in contrast, equality of status with respect to the right to enjoy the fruits of the economy according to need; it means those who need more get more than those who need less--a sick person gets more health care than a healthy person, a large family more living space than a single person, etc. It means that people who are, of course, different in many ways, are nonetheless equal in status.

This notion that nobody would work or study hard if there were equality is dealt with in Thinking about Revolution: Is it True That People Only Work Hard to Rise Above Others?

Source: Politizane


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