Thursday, May 16, 2013

Work is a human right

A great essay by Walter Russell Mead, here. I disagree with his confidence about personal services sometimes, but this is good stuff, worth reading in full.

There is a horrible snobbery lurking beneath the idea that most people will not be able to find meaningful work when the age of scarcity ends. Once the working classes aren’t needed to dig coal anymore, in this view, there is nothing to be done for the mass of mankind than to sit them in front of the TV on a comfy couch with a big bag of chips. They are good for nothing else.

This is a premise which any serious theist or humanist must reject. If we believe that every human being has a unique real worth, we must also believe that every human being has a contribution to make. Keynes rather snidely remarks that few people have the talent to live creative lives; writing about the difficulty many will have adjusting to lives without toil he warns of the intense boredom that most will suffer. “Yet it will only be for those who have to do with the singing that life will be tolerable and how few of us can sing!”

Actually, a good many more of us can sing than Keynes thought; it’s just that life in the coal mines and the factories means that many people haven’t had the same chances to develop their talents that a son of privilege like Keynes did.