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Doing Time — 7 Comments

  1. Thank you, Elsie, for your great comment! The income discrepancy between the superrich and the rest of us has gotten worse, much worse, since the 1980s (thanks to “Reaganomics”). And, as you point out in your last paragraph, this system is upheld by most of us because somehow the few beneficiaries of the system have been able to convince us that we can just work our way up in the system. “You, too, can become rich if you only would [fill in the blank].” And instead of questioning this empty promise, we run like sheep after the “American dream.”

  2. Elsie – your post was caught in the spam filter since you had more than two links – I just released it… Thanks for the links! I’ll check these out some more tomorrow!

  3. Oddly enough, I just posted a comment that isn’t showing up, but when I tried to post it again, I got an error message that it had already been posted. This is sort of a test comment, so please erase it if you want!

  4. You might find some of these links interesting:

    http://www.timeday.org/
    http://douglassocialcredit.com/about.php
    http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

    Like you, I have struggled to be happy in my professional life because the reality is that the kind of work that makes use of my strengths isn’t highly compensated. Much of the time, it’s not compensated at all. We live in a world in which certain skills, mostly mathematical or technical, are highly valued, while a talent for language or the arts is undervalued or not valued at all. Therefore, only a few people who have a talent that’s not in high demand are able to earn a good living. The rest of us have to make do in professions that really aren’t our forte.

    I’m a proponent of the idea of basic income. I believe that our current capitalist system allows all the money and power to rest in the hands of a few, while everyone else spends life on a treadmill just trying to get by. Since the middle of the last century, the U.S. saw unprecedented economic growth, but was that growth equitably distributed? No! The wealth remained in the top income percentile, while real earnings fell for the rest of us, even though we were the ones generating all that wealth. Our country has the economic means to allow everyone to work less at the jobs that keep society running and spend more time growing as individuals–traveling, exploring and refining talents, continuing our education, getting more involved in community service and volunteerism. But instead, no matter how hard we work, no matter how much we produce, the U.S. socioeconomic system doesn’t allow us “little people” to gain anything from it. We’re expected to just keep working at maximum capacity, producing more and more and more for the benefit of who exactly? Not us.

    I’m not a communist and don’t believe that everyone should be given the same exact income or a utopian who thinks we should never know a lick of work. But it isn’t my experience that most people want to sit around in front of the TV all day anyway. It’s my experience that most people want to do something with their lives that gives them personal satisfaction but that many of them can’t because of the way our economy is structured so that our primary concern has to be keeping ourselves alive. I love the idea of basic income because it would give everyone the minimum freedom necessary to pursue what really interests them. The counterargument is always that it would make people lazy, but as long as it really was just a bare minimum, many people would be motivated to earn more to obtain the luxuries of life. But for those who were willing to sacrifice luxury so they could dedicate themselves to something that really uses their talents and makes them happy, it would be a godsend.

    I know most people find this idea too radical, but I try to throw it out there whenever I have a chance. It’s sad to me that most Americans work against their own interests by supporting a system that only works well for a few.

  5. You’re lucky! I’ve been trying to figure out a different way of looking at my job for years. I’ve worked with counselors and career coaches. I’ve read books about how to reframe our attitudes toward work. All worked for a while but eventually I had to accept that I am simply in the wrong career. I am doing a lot of volunteer work – and that is work, too – but I don’t feel at all like I feel about my paid job. I am not looking for a job that feels like play but I am looking for something where the work I am doing is actually contributing to something; it actually makes a difference in someone’s life. And I’d be grateful to settle for something where I’d feel affirmed and fulfilled 2/3rds of the time rather than stupid & clueless 80% of the time.

    I’ve used comments like yours to make me feel rather inadequate for a long time: What’s wrong with me that I just can’t enjoy my job?!? Well. Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the job. I think that there are people who are legitimately unhappy in their jobs. And I am afraid that’s a fairly large amount of the population. Sure, maybe our expectations are contributing something to that as well but the system is also impacting that. I think societal attitude is blaming the people in the jobs – somehow there’s something wrong with us – rather than looking at how we can change the system that more people enjoy their jobs.

    To me, the idea of “life affirming jobs” goes way beyond changing jobs, though. I think we need to rethink our whole economic system: We cannot keep growing – there is no place to grow to! We’re using up resources.

  6. I love going to my job in the morning, and I love leaving my job in the afternoon…do you think our sense of desire for “life affirming jobs” is sometimes skewed? In our western culture, we want work not to feel like work (e.g. give me a pill to fix this problem) and our expectations can sometimes be very skewed. Realistic expectations: be affirmed and fulfilled maybe 2/3rds of the time and you’ve got a keeper…same goes for relationships!

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