© Fernando Caracena, 2015

Work is not Wage Slavery

Work means different things to different people. To a mind worker it means a different thing than to the person that works with his hands. The average person's idea of work strikes me as more like slavery; what in the past was called wage slavery. I do not like the idea that someone buys my time. My time is my own to do whatever I want with it. Nobody owns my time, except I do. So when I have consulted, I have not asked to get paid by the hour. If the customer insists on an hourly, I charge a higher rate than I would otherwise charge. Suppose that you are hired by the hour to do some bit of consulting.  Do you charge for every bit of time that you spend in activities related to the job, such as phone calls and preparation time?

So what is Work?

Work is what a person does in generating products that are of value for themselves and others. Before civilization came to island people, they fished, planted sweet potatoes, and occasionally caught wild pigs. That work was fun for them, and it did not involve coins or bits of paper exchanged. It was purely and simply making a living with friends and family--just having fun together and sometimes feasting and dancing by the fire as the setting sun reddened the thunderstorms over the sea. If you ask me, that is the way life is meant to be lived.

Masaccio The Expulsion Of Adam And Eve From Eden. Restoration  by Masaccio. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

So why are we not in paradise anymore? The answer is that some of us are, and some are not. In modern times, money has become ancillary to making a living, making the whole process more abstract and remote from reality. The effects on our lives, however, are quite real. If you focus on the money, then the "job" could become the necessary evil to just get by to get to the good stuff. You live by the sweat of your brow. If you focus on the great things that you can buy with your money, you may be in danger of isolating yourself as a human being from the warm company of friends and family.

Employers, also, do not make jobs easier. The attitudes of some of them is that they buy your time, either full- or part- time. Of course, there are some types of employments, such as the following that essentially require you to be there available during your workday: waiters, receptionists, cashiers, ticket takers, hospital attendants, etc. In that case, those who do that line of work are either free or enslaved by their own attitudes toward their work. If they enjoy the constant contact with a variety of people that they help, then they are free. If they are annoyed by people and do not much care for them nor want to help them, then of course, the job is torture.

In a sense, the decoupling of the work experience from making a living through the use of money is a great convenience, and could offer peace of mind. But, the abstraction of money offers another form of slavery that is more subtle.

Some people see wealth in money, and want to hoard it just to feel secure. There really is no security in money, especially in modern times when money is a by-product of of the printing press. Fiat money has no intrinsic value, nor does it represent any intrinsic value. The value of a dollar is in what it will buy this minute. Overnight, the traders in the international currency exchange could reduce the purchasing power of a dollar to half its former value.

All kinds of goods and services have become monetized, and thereby become subject to fast trades of shifting value. Recently, the Chinese have tried to recapture their dwindling markets by devaluing their currency. This has sent shocks around the world through fast trades in the various markets. Some people who ride herd on billions of dollars have had trouble sleeping at night.

So, the abstraction of money should not be allowed to sour your life. Plan your spending as best you can and enjoy life. Do not let the shifting sands of monetary exchange drive you out of paradise.



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