The morality of work

by / Filed under Politics

On the “morality of work”:

This is the idea that people essentially have a duty to work, an inherent need to work, that work is an instrument to achieving things like self–esteem and social cohesion. Obviously, this is sort of true. What really matters here is how you define Work. What gets thought of as Work and what is “not work” becomes a real bone of contention. In our current society, care work – whether for children, siblings, relatives, friends, strangers – is not considered Work. Housework is not considered Work. Study is not Work. Charity is not Work. Social work is not Work. But all these things are inherent in social cohesion, they are just not valued particularly highly as far as financial reward goes. —Basic Income Summer Forum

This is only partly right. If we’re being honest, most people – apart from politicians when they’re arguing for things like workfare – don’t see work in such romantic terms. It’s not a route to self–esteem, social cohesion etc. etc.

Work for most people is above all else hard, something that has to be done in order to pay the bills. Antipathy to Basic Income (or any form of benefit) comes from the view that because I have to work hard to buy food and pay the gas bill, you shouldn’t get free money from me. That’s the morality of work.