Sunday debate

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

― Richard Buckminster Fuller

Let this sink in for a little while and note how it makes you think and feel. Then ponder my questions below or make up your own.


  • Do you find the idea repulsive, a lazy person’s manifesto?
  • Attractive but an impossible dream? (after all we need a roof over our heads, and somebody must collect the trash etc.)
  • How many people do you think enjoy having a steady employment vs. those who thrive on “having ideas” regardless of income but feel miserable in “some kind of drudgery”? Would it in fact even out without much hassle or would everybody want to be artsy fartsy useless buggers?
  • Would you feel exploited if you did in fact enjoy your day job, to finance the artsy fartsy buggers? And why, if you’re actually enjoying it and they wouldn’t?
  • What, in your opinion gives a person the right to exist and be happy (and have a roof over their head etc.)?
  • How could we even implement this without becoming a population glued to the tv and smoking weed 10 hours a day? Let’s pretend there was just food for everybody, what would happen?
  • Wealth distribution – can we rethink and redo, or are we doomed and determined to do what we’ve always done?
  • Which questions didn’t I think of and how would you reply?

I’d love for you to share your sentiments below and feel free to discuss amongst yourselves too. Just keep it civil, please.

17 thoughts on “Sunday debate

  1. I thought about this all day!
    I think it’s alright for anyone to decide they don’t want to earn a living – however if they decide that they have earned MY living, then the issues start for me.
    Maybe they have earned it , or deserve it, or just need it – but whatever I am living on can only go so far. So my feeling is that it would be fair for the earner to decide whom to share the living with.
    I’m curious what brought this up? What are you contemplating on this issue? Hmmm?

    1. I saw the quote and thought it was interesting. I like to entertain different views just for the exercise, really. My brother and I sometimes discuss how modern economy is all pumped up and artificial, how people slave for the wrong reason, for unnecessary products. Like, working to be able to afford a car so you can drive it to work! Spending hours a day in traffic chaos. The whole consumerism hullabaloo. Is growth so important? Could we all just work half time to do the necessary things, all share in the produce and sod the plastic gizmos?

    2. We could also entertain the notion of empires like Walmart, famous for paying their slaves so little they’d be better off on welfare, pursuing their own happiness. I bet that even if they doubbled the wages, owners of the company would still be able to sit around the pool all day sipping champagne out of $1000 glasses. Is that really fair and necessary? Is that loyalty to fellow humans – or is loyalty only supposed to work upwards? I totally get that you, on what I assume is average wages, would not want to buy my groceries so I can dye yarn all day, I would never ask you to. But what if we employed twice as many garbage collectors at the same pay they get now – but they only had to work every other week? They would not get worn out, some would choose to work double because they don’t know what to do with free time (inexplicable to ME, but some people are like that), but there would be a choice and not as many unemployed, not as large a gap. And the wealthy would be slightly poorer on the computer screen but in their everyday lives they probably would not feel the difference.

      If we have the technology to make jobs redundant, why not all share the work that’s left, and the profits of it?

      The way society works is dependent on the masses being “sheeple”, kept quiet on bread and circus, I mean, MacD and reality shows and Facebook!

      1. I am really enjoying all the comments – so much thinking and we all want to be fair and find ways to help other people be happy.

        I think that maybe if you could just pay people for the hours they work, you could split a job up among any number of workers. But the way things are now, you have to keep records on everyone, pay into unemployment insurance, maybe pay into a benefits fund or liability insurance – I haven’t run a business, so I don’t know all the details, but I do know that there are way more costs than just the cost of labor.

        But if it were up to me, I would be willing to pay additional costs for that system. I think it would benefit society in lots of ways that may not show up on a balance sheet.

        1. It’s not natural that so many people are sick with stress and depression. Whatever the solution is, we need to find one!

  2. The idea of earning a living is obviously a self perpetuating circle. But it depends what you mean by ‘earn’. Certainly the world does not ‘owe’ anyone a living and I think people should be responsible for providing their own needs rather than depending on others to provide them for them. A return to a more simple way of life might help (though this is probably unrealistic today) where people could forage, grown their own produce, barter etc. without the need for money. I agree with TextileRanger – why should MY living provide for those who refuse to provide their own? Helping those with genuine need is a different matter. We should not forget the sroty of the little red hen, everyone needs to pull their weight whatever system we operate, in order to ‘earn’ their share.

    1. And yet we support big corp owners’ expensive, lazy lives every day with our purchases. Are they really that deserving? Yes, I know Mr. Trump works an insane number of hours counting his money on a computer screen, but….

      Everybody should do their bit, obviously. But perhaps the system whereby the “bits” are valued, is flawed… We do have huge unemployment. What if everybody shared the work via fewer hours for all, but could all make a comfortable living? Not speaking of communism here, just common sense. How can we value a pop star so many times higher than teachers, nurses, cashiers? What is happening in our heads that we’re willing to support the former?

      Awareness is the first step towards change…

      1. One little exercise I often set myself is to think of who you would like to have with you in a survival situation – it wouldn’t be pop-stars and football players that’s for sure! Yes things do need to get in perspective, I’m all for the job-share idea.

  3. Soylent Green comes to mind.

    I do agree thought that there are several products that we do not need. Why do we have commercials for drugs? If we need them shouldn’t our doctors prescribe them?
    I just also saw a news article about how someone made billions on sunglasses and clothing for pets. Really? I have had pets, but I don’t feel the need to dress them up or give them mani/pedi’s. But I also believe that if one has earn their bucks they should be able to spend however they choose. After all they are keeping those with jobs employed – to a point, anyway. Just take the ‘Star’ who spent a good wad on a vacation. They helped all those employed to feed their families another day. There is a disproportionate and seemingly unfair disparity of the have and have nots. But in reality I think the have nots are better rooted in reality.

    I think there was one president that did try to solve unemployment by having people build, destroy and rebuild roads. Why should welfare even be an attractive incentive?
    Those on welfare should at least put in some volunteer time at a community shelter to earn their dough. Common sense is not common. That is the crux.

    Thanks for the fuel and space. Cheers, Jules

    1. I should probably add that I have no problem with some having more than others per se or how they spend it. I would personally make do with less just to get away with fewer hours of drudgery. I also don’t go green at the thought of those lucky ones who just inherited a big corp and never had to work to build it, luck is awesome. 😉

      What the quote got me thinking was, we ALL need less drudgery and more time for learning, exploring, creating, getting to know our kids instead of putting them in daycare for 10 hours a day. And that it’s possible if we rethink and restructure.

      1. I’m one who let the sink fill up, just to spend time with my children. More time for exploration, learning and creating are wonderful. Some folks though – and I know some who claim that they have to work and day care is the only option. Do those Day Care or Latch key kids resent that? I was a ‘Latch key’ kid before it was a coined term. Would I have liked to have had more of my parents time. Yes. Did I manage to ‘over come’ – I think so. Some Day Care Kids might actually benefit from the opportunities at Day Care. Every situation is different. Drudgery is a relative term. If you like what you do, cleaning the sewer can be fun. It is all attitude. Rethinking and restructuring is all well and good… but too many want to see it work for someone else first. Education is the key. But even with education there isn’t a guarantee that one will get a job in their field of study. So they end up being a telemarketer just to pay the bills.

        Cheers, Jules

        1. What an ideal world if every sewer had it’s own person who was thrilled with that specific task! (and I know some do find it interesting) I’m not joking, while life will never be void of tedious tasks, as I wrote above, too many people get sick with anxiety, depression and the like. Young people have no hopes of coping so they give up. There must be other ways if more people would only think outside the box.

          Telemarketing should be forbidden by law 😉

          1. As long as there is some kind of telephone their will be some kind of advertising…Telemarketing.
            And (scammers mostly) Dept collectors, survey/poll takers and charity folk, as well as political calls.
            All of which are pretty much exempt from the Do Not Call program. In our area we are (cough) ‘blessed’ with the folks who are ‘free’ to call us offering their energy choice switch (most of whom are not polite) – because of the the deregulation of the energy companies.

            It’s one thing to toss junk mail, but I still consider my ‘phone’ private and thank goodness for caller ID and an answering machine! Because I just don’t answer any number that comes up Unknown, Unavailable, Private (which politicians will often use, at least in my area), or any 800 number. Now that I’ve changed my machine to just basically say; Please leave a message…The caller doesn’t even get who lives here or my number. No message, not important. The other day a local collage called to get my opinion on a charity… left a message. But it’s taken me years to get off charity mailing lists. And the particular charity they were touting is very aggressive and will not stop at just one small yearly donation. Am I going to call them back… not with a ten foot pole.

            Older folks have anxiety, depression and the like too. My hubby worked for a company for almost 30 years before it got taken over by another company that basically destroyed 90% of the employees that remained with it. And it is not easy for an older gent even with an education to get a job. He had a few temp jobs, then finally landed something. But he will never get what he had invested in the other company back. Thinking outside the box or having to settle for what is inside the box is a coping skill that I don’t think is taught in any school, college or university.

            Quite a number of folks in ‘my’ generation wonder if they will ever get to retire – so we make due with enjoying the life we have. Giving up is not an option – that is something our grandparents and parents taught.

            Be well and thanks again. May our world (humankind) be so lucky to develop some sensitivity to all the people and may the people be lucky enough to develop sensitivity to the world (planet).

  4. 1. I don’t find it a lazy manifesto. Seems to just come from someone who is frustrated with seeing people flit about and waste their time doing things that don’t light them up when it’s unnecessary for them to do so.

    2. Attractive, yes, certainly not impossible. One of the first things we learned in anthro 101 is that the individual in tribal societies, on average, work (food gathering, tending, hunting, cleaning, etc) about 4 hours a week. The rest of the time is spent relaxing, making art, weaving, etc. While obviously it would be problematic initially to accommodate such a schedule to our modern Western world, the big issue is we’ve all got a bit more stuff than we really need. The whole consumerism cycle you speak of. But I do think if we had what we needed — roof, food, clothing– really, the minimal, we as a society could do the minimal to support that. Maybe. Not sure if this makes sense or is true.. bear in mind I am thinking as I write this out.

    3. Given the choice, I think most people would rather watch TV all day and eat McDonald’s. If we look at people who happen upon enormous funds… lottery winners.. what do they do with their new found time? Most of them don’t do anything of value, artists, too, contribute something of value, but most people spend all their money and end up bankrupt within a couple years. Why is this? I think it’s because we have been trained to neglect our soul calling– be it art, nursing, teaching– because we’ve got this weird idea that liking and especially loving our jobs is plain wrong. The whole Puritan thing is super obvious esp here in the States. Work=struggle. And so we spend like NO time on what we love and instead pursue the thing we hate with a passion. So I think given the time, most people resign to hopeless escapism. There’s the pain of not pursuing your love, which frickin takes work to heal those wounds and get on with it, and then there’s the pain of spending your energy on a job you hate. I think to escape both, most would watch TV marathons and have parties and get drunk and gamble.

    4. If I enjoyed my day job I don’t know if I’d feel exploited to support others. If society as a whole would greatly improve– more peace, love, joy, patience in the world– in my opinion, it would be worth it.

    5. I just think we all have the right to feel secure wherever we are. Not just humans, but all sentient beings. Our idea of everything earning their way extends to animals and plants and Earth. We totally kill and destroy whatever we feel doesn’t have value (earn their way). We manipulate resources to create beyond their means (GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones). Soooo I think we all need to take a step back and be able to honor everything and allow it its own safe place to exist.

    6. We need a re-education. Mass therapy. One, for people to figure out what they love and heal all those beliefs that prevent them for doing what they love. And to heal addictions that smother and sabotage and harm.

    7. No idea on wealth distribution. At all.

    8. I just think we ought to be open to earn a living doing what we love. We’re not going to do away with those deep societal beliefs that are like, the foundation of our culture, esp here in the States. So we just need to twist what’s already there. The idea of making a living is twisted as is, so we need to change its definition.

    1. You may be right and I may be overly optimistic in thinking that more people would spend their free time wisely. Because that’s where I am myself, always wanting to learn and improve.

      But I have to accept of course that perhaps most sheeple like to be just that, to know that every day brings the same as yesterday, no pressure, no surprises. I don’t look down on that, I just don’t get it 😉

      If I want freedom for creative people, I must grant the opposite to those who don’t want that, obviously. But many people are miserable in our modern high paced society, that much is clear. And I’m baffled as to why we just talk a bit about it but do not change our ways?

      Thanks for your replies! 🙂 I think it’s all worth chirping about. Creating ripples, however small.

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