Can’t Be Free Without Free Time, Can You?
|February 12, 2014||Posted by Staff under Work / Play|
This 2014 excerpt of AlterNet, Feb 10, is by Lynn Stuart Parramore.
A recent report on Obamacare found that the law will nudge workers to work less. Why? Because if you don’t have to take a full-time job just to get coverage, then maybe you won’t. Conservatives are interpreting the report to mean that Obamacare is a “job killer.”
What’s so bad about that?
Facing job insecurity and layoffs, older workers have often been forced to take McJobs just to be able to go to the doctor, when they could be doing much more interesting and productive things with their time, like teaching their grandchildren to read or engaging in civic activities.
Entrepreneurs have put off trying out new business ideas because they fear losing insurance. Parents of newborns and people taking care of elderly parents can’t take time to care for their family because insurance is tied to full-time employment.
“Raise the retirement age!” “Get a second job if you can’t make ends meet!” “Keep working if you’re sick!” Keep going, lazy! Work, work, work!
U.S. workers now toil longer hours than their counterparts in any industrial nation except South Korea. We have gotten so sleep-deprived our cognitive performance on the job is suffering and we’re actually becoming less productive, which negatively impacts GDP. Germans rank second to last in number of hours worked, and their country is considered an economic triumph.
John Adams said that he would know we had achieved a secure state if his grandchildren were free to study poetry. Jefferson agreed. The Declaration of Independence promised us the “pursuit of happiness.” The liberty of free time, the thinking went, made us better citizens — more tolerant and engaged.
Ed. Notes: Now for the solution: Pay ourselves a Citizen’s Dividend from society’s surplus. There’s a huge stream of spending that does not reward anybody’s labor or capital: society’s spending for land and resources and government-granted privileges such as corporate charters. Have government redirect all those trillions now landing in the accounts of the 1% into the pockets of everyone by utilizing taxes or fees or dues or leases of public assets, all at full market annual value (why this flow is called “rents” in economese), then disburse the proceeds as shares to the citizenry, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. Make all those natural values our common wealth. Plus, de-tax our labor and capital and the value of locations will become even higher, swelling the land dividend even more (and completing the policy of geonomics). Once we share the worth of Mother Earth, we Earthlings can work as much or as little as we like, and everyone will be the better off for it.