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Within the current economic system, labor fulfills two roles:
The problem within how labor exists within our world today does not exist within the first role that it performs, but within the second role: labor is a requirement for individuals to gain access to the sustenance they require to survive. One, thus, has to ‘earn their living’ through participating in some form of paid labor.
The idea and belief that one has to ‘earn their living’ is not something that one is born with – it is an idea and belief that is shaped and accepted through participation in the very system that currently determines whether or not you have earned your living and what kind of living you have earned. This system is of human design, one that we implemented and maintained throughout the centuries. It can, therefore, be redesigned by humans. But is it necessary to be redesigned? To answer this question, let us consider the consequences of our accepted belief that one has to ‘earn their living’.
The fact that labor is a requirement to gain access to money and thus, the resources the Earth provides, creates a problem when not all human beings are able to participate within the Labour System. Consider the table below, where countries are listed according to their unemployment rates:
|Country / Region||Unemployment rate (%)||Source / date of information|
|Guernsey (United Kingdom)||1.5||2010 (Q2)|
|Gibraltar (United Kingdom)||1.8||2011|
|Isle of Man||1.8||2010 (August)|
|Papua New Guinea||1.8||2004|
|Jersey (United Kingdom)||2.7||2009 (July)|
|Macau (China)||3||2010 (April)|
|British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)||3.1||2007|
|Hong Kong (China)||3.5||2011 (July)|
|South Korea||3.7||2010 (April)|
|Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)||4.0 (5.5 - 2010 estimate)||2008|
|China, People's Republic of||4.1||2010 (September)|
|Cameroon||4.4 (underemployment - 75.8) 30.0 (CIA estimate)||2005|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||4.5||1997|
|Republic of China (Taiwan)||5.14||2010 (May)|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||5.4||2007|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5.8||2009 (Q3)|
|Faroe Islands (Denmark)||5.9||2010 (May)|
|New Zealand||5.9||2011 (December)|
|Sri Lanka||5.9||2009 (Q3)|
|Montserrat (United Kingdom)||6||1998|
|Czech Republic||6.5||2011 (May)|
|Anguilla (United Kingdom)||7.8||2002 (July)|
|Costa Rica||7.8||2009 (October)|
|U.S. Virgin Islands (United States)||7.9||2010 (April)|
|Central African Republic||8||2001|
|United States||8.3||2012 (January)|
|United Kingdom||8.7||2012 (January)|
|European Union||9.3||2011 (May)|
|Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands)||10||2008|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)||10.3||1999|
|Saudi Arabia||10.8 (males only)||2010|
|Antigua and Barbuda||11||2001|
|French Polynesia (France)||11.7||2007|
|Wallis and Futuna (France)||12.2||2008|
|The Bahamas||12.6||2009 (September)|
|United Arab Emirates||12.7||2008|
|Cape Verde||13.1||2010 (May)|
|Saint Helena (United Kingdom)||14||1998|
|Dominican Republic||14.4||2010 (April)|
|Puerto Rico (United States)||16||2011 (June)|
|New Caledonia (France)||17.1||2004|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||18||2009 (June)|
|Federated States of Micronesia||22||2000|
|American Samoa (United States)||23.8||2010|
|South Africa||25||2011 (Q3)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||29.2||2010 (August)|
|Senegal||48.0; 30% among adults aged 24 and under||2007|
|Guam (United States)||56||2010 (August)|
|Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia)||60||2000|
(Source: Wikipedia - List of Countries by Unemployment Rate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_unemployment_rate'')
The only country where the unemployment rate is 0.00 – or in other words, where everyone is employed – is Monaco. Considering that Monaco is a city-state with an area of 1.98 km2, it is a fact that bears little or no significance. In every other country in the world – there are people who are unemployed, with unemployment ranging from 0.5 to 97% of the population. One must remember that the numbers in the above table refer to actual human beings who are willing to work, who are able to work, but for whom jobs are not available. Without access to the labor market, they have no access to money and thus, no means with which to acquire the resource they need to sustain themselves. This places human beings in a position where crime is the only viable option through which to survive in this world – affecting in turn the livelihoods of all members of society.
One could argue that it is merely a matter for countries to economically develop themselves in order to eradicate unemployment, but the reality of the situation is not that simplistic. There are many factors tied together to the phenomenon of unemployment within the current system and there simply is no guarantee that our current system will ever allow for a real solution to the matter.
Here are but a few points on the supply-side of labor to be considered:
[Note that the unemployment rate only refers to those who are willing and able to work and excludes all individuals who are willing to work, but unable to – due to for instance poor health, disability, age, etc. Beings who are unable to work are supposedly supported through welfare systems, however these systems are often lacking or utterly inefficient, rendering them useless in any practical sense.]
A common policy that governments undertake to counter unemployment is to create more jobs so that all are able to participate in ‘earning their living’. Creating more jobs is done through increasing the demand for goods and services; if more goods and services are required, more people are needed to assist in the production and distribution process. To increase the demand for goods and services in the current system, one requires having more money circulating with which these goods and services can be acquired. Let us have a look at some of the available options with which governments attempt to raise demand and note how each policy comes with a set of drawbacks:
Governments can raise the overall demand for goods and services by spending more. Through spending, the government increases the amount of money circulating in the economy. But this spending by the government requires to be financed. One way in which government spending can be financed is through higher taxes. However, the consumption and investment behaviour of households change when taxes rise: with higher taxes, households and investors decrease their consumption and investment spending. In other words: demand for goods and services will drop. This would then obviously negate the purpose of the policy. If the government’s spending is financed through borrowing, interest rates are likely to rise, having the same effect on consumer and investment spending: they will decrease – again, leading to a decline in demanded goods and services. If increasing the money supply is chosen as the method to finance government spending, the result will most likely be a rise in all prices of goods and services – in other words: inflation. If more money is created, all money in circulation drops in value, which is reflected through an increase in prices; with a certain amount of money, one can then purchase less goods and services than before the price increases.
Another option to increase the overall demand for goods and services is to attempt to stimulate consumption and investment spending through lowering taxes and interest rates. Lowering taxes and interest rates generally allow households to consume more and investors to invest more. However, this can only be done to a limited extent, as any excessive stimulation of domestic demand will result in inflation (general and continued increase in prices) or balance of payment problems. Balance of payment problems refers to money flowing out of the country. See, when overall demand rises, the demand for imported goods rises as well. When we pay for imported goods and services, these -payments are to another country, stimulating their economy and job-creation, but not of the country in question.
A strategy that is preferred from an economic analysis perspective is to increase the demand for exports. The problem here lies with the fact that the demand for goods and services to be exported doesn’t lie within one’s own country, but within the rest of the world and is therefore not easy to influence or stimulate.
What must be understood is that the Capitalistic System is one that is designed to operate automatically, on its own terms. As one can see from the discussion above, every time an attempt is made to influence the system’s ‘natural’ way of functioning, it forces the system to balance itself out in different ways. Hence, the reason why it is so hard to fulfill the condition of Full Employment within the current Capitalistic Economic System is because the system is simplistically not designed to do so. The design of our current system is concerned with providing a way to distribute the resources of the Earth – and that which is manufactured from them – amongst the human population. And that is what the system does. The system was not designed, however, to distribute these resources, goods and services amongst the human population in an equal way, ensuring that each human being is provided for within their living requirements. The system cannot, therefore, be blamed for any unequal and unfair situations existent within it, because the system is merely doing what it was designed to do.
Also note that the system merely functions in the way it does through the accumulation of individual actions and decisions – and these individual actions and decisions are also not based within a consideration of the wellbeing of all human beings, let alone all life-forms. It cannot be expected, therefore, that the system will facilitate a human experience where poverty and deprivation are eradicated, as the system is only to answer to the decisions and actions of individual agents whose main concern is to fulfill their person interests, wants and desires.
One of the consequences, then, of accepting the idea and belief that each human being is to ‘earn their living’ is that we are excluding a large part of the world population from participating in this ‘earning-process’. Instead, they are condemned to live in dire conditions, without any means of enhancing their life experience – both on a physical and mental level. And this situation cannot be corrected from within the current economic paradigm.
Within the previous section we discussed the reality of unemployment as a consequence of the belief and idea that ‘one has to earn their living’. The problem however extends further than merely those who are unable to acquire a job. The fact that human beings’ very survival is dependent upon labor means that this point can be and is exploited through hiring human beings to fulfil tasks under inhumane conditions, while often earning a salary that is insufficient to effectively support themselves and their family.
From the employer’s perspective, many jobs can be performed by machines and it will only be in his benefit to employ human beings to perform a task if the cost of hiring a person is lower than the cost of having a machine perform, for instance, hazardous tasks. Therefore, salaries are often kept to the minimum or even below the minimum-wage. From the employee’s perspective, particularly in countries where unemployment is a big problem, he or she has no choice but to accept any job available to them. Surviving is the reality that drives them to place themselves in positions of harm and compromise. The question of living a fulfilled life is then reduced to a luxury that can only be dreamt about.
Inherently, within accepting the idea and belief that each one should ‘earn their living’ we are participating in a system of rewards. Through one’s participation in the economy, one is rewarded in the form of salaries, wages or profits. This reward system has refined itself to the point where the given rewards are not only dependent upon one’s amount of participation – e.g. the amount of hours one works per day, per week or per month – but also upon one’s performance and one’s type of participation.
It is needless to say that it is more lucrative to be a doctor than to be a janitor. The underlying logic within this is that doctors carry a higher amount of responsibility, that they have invested more of their time, energy and money towards studies for this job and that their job contributes more value to society than a janitor’s. Accordingly, within this logic, a doctor’s reward should be greater than that of a janitor.
What is not considered, however, is that the choice and ability for someone to become, for instance, a doctor is not a merit that can be ascribed to just one person. A person’s family and support system, quality of education, access to resources, available time and money for studying, are all factors that contributed and facilitated a person’s decision to become a doctor and successfully complete one’s degree. These factors lie within a person’s environment and outside of the person in question. Yet, it is the doctor who will be rewarded in the form of a high salary. Someone who doesn’t have the same access to support, education, resources, time and money is less likely to succeed in becoming a doctor and may have to work as, for instance, a janitor/mineworker/factory worker/… because he/she hasn’t been able to develop the necessary skills for a job as a doctor. If the same person had grown up in a different environment, he may have turned out to be an excellent doctor. The point here is that one’s contribution in the economy is dependent on many factors that lie outside of a person’s control. It is thus unfair to reward people on the basis of the job they perform or the kind of service they contribute.
Furthermore, due to the incentive of earning a higher salary, people will choose their professions based on money-motivations, rather than what they would actually enjoy doing. A doctor who is passionate about being a doctor will always result to being a better and more qualified doctor than someone ‘who is in it for the money’. Therefore, the system of rewarding individuals based on their qualifications, shifts the focus from actual caring to personal gratification, which in turn deprives each one from receiving the best care and the best quality of goods and services.
What is also important to consider is that within ‘earning one’s living’ it is not so that one works for a certain amount of time and has then earned the right to live effectively. In fact, for most of one’s life, one requires to continuously work to enable oneself with items that sustain and enhance one’s living experience. At the same time, one attempts to save up funds so that one day it will no longer be necessary to participate in labor to gain access to money. In some countries social welfare provides for retired persons, but this only happens at a relatively old age.
The result is that one works for the greater part of one’s life before reaching the point of actually being able to enjoy life and spend time doing what you actually enjoy and are passionate about. By the time one is able to retire – if one is able to retire at all – one’s functionality and ability to participate in what life has to offer has already diminished due to ageing. What we came here to do on Earth: to live life to the fullest – is therefore a right most are deprived from, one that is only a reality for the wealthiest among us.
Labor within an Equal Money system will not carry in itself a dimension of ‘earning’. The goods and services one requires to live a fulfilling life and one’s contribution to society will simply be two different things. In an Equal Money system, the right to live is a given and not something that requires to be earned. You are already here, you already live – why then is there a need to ‘earn one’s living’? Each individual will, thus, unconditionally be provided with the goods and services he/she requires. More information on the allocation and distribution of goods and services is present on the Goods page.
Since labor is no longer a means to determine the distribution of goods and services, what role will it play within an Equal Money System?
Let us look back for a moment at the roles labor plays within our current Economic System:
Having removed the necessity to work in order to gain access to goods and services – we are left with the role of labor in terms of the human capital required to manufacture goods and providing services to the population. This is the primary role Labor will fulfill within an Equal Money System.
The provision of sufficient goods and services provided for each one to sustain themselves within daily living will be taken care of through the Internship System. The Internship System forms part of the Education System. To find out more about the Internship System, read the next section.
I mentioned that the Primary role of Labor will be in terms of producing goods and providing services to the population. Within an Equal Money system, labor will however become more than a task that needs to be performed. The Internship System will form part of youngsters’ training in developing the skills to effectively interact with their environment. Herein, labor will fulfill an educational role in aiding youngsters’ self-development.
Furthermore, within the Life Labor System, labor will be the means through which human beings will be able to explore and expand their self-expressions through participation in various activities that are beneficial to the community. Labor will therefore fulfill a third role: the role of self-fulfillment through self-expression.
Within the continuation of this article, we will discuss the three roles Labor will fulfill in an Equal Money System through first discussing the Internship System and then the Life Labor System.
The Internship System will have a dual function and purpose:
The Internship System will form part of the equivalent of ‘High School’ within the current system. Specifically, from the ages of 16 to 20 years old – individuals will put into practice what they have been studying in theory in their previous years of schooling/education through completion of a 4-year internship.
Internships will be available within the various areas of labor that supports the population in their daily sustenance. Examples of those areas are: • Building and maintaining of housing & living infrastructure • Energy production, such as electricity • Providing clean drinking water • Sewage system building and maintenance • Agriculture/Food production and distribution • Education and schooling • Health care • Organization/Administration • Computer and software • …
To read more about the educational aspect of the Internship System – please click here. On this page of the wiki we will focus on the ‘economic’ aspect of the Internship System.
Since money from wages is no longer that which grants and determines one’s access to resources, there is no need to remunerate labor through wages. The system of reward that we see in our current Capitalistic System will be replaced with a system that is based on the principle of giving and receiving; one unconditionally gives to the population through participating in the system that provides each one with goods and services through completing a 4-year internship – and as part of the population, one unconditionally receives all necessary goods and services – and not just for 4 years, but for life.
From another perspective, one’s internship forms part of one’s personal, educational training. As such, during one’s Internship one does not receive wages, in the same way as one does not receive wages to study or go to school.
The motivation to perform well during one’s internship will come from the understanding that: that which one gives, one will receive. Remember that within the Internship System, one is assisting in providing the population with the best possible goods and services – the same goods and services one’s community will receive, one’s family will receive and oneself will receive. Therefore, it is in each one’s best interest to perform to the best of one’s ability – as this is the best way to ‘get the most out of it’. Furthermore - an implicit system of social checks and balances will come forth, since having a person abuse the system will be frowned upon within the community and the pressure from the peers will assist individuals to motivate themselves to excellence. Each one will expect from others to give as they give. When a person does not stand equal in this point, the community will intervene to assist the person in realizing their full potential.
Currently, the perception and belief exists that one requires to motivate employees to perform well through a monetary reward system. This can to a large extent be explained due to the fact that many work for, for instance, factories who produce goods that are irrelevant, of bad quality, or even goods that have no bearing on one’s life since one might simply not be able to afford the goods one is producing. There is no connection between the labor one is putting in and the reward received from the goods produced themselves. One is part of a Money-Making business, while in an Equal Money System, one is part of a Life-Supporting business. In a money-making business as in our current Capitalistic System, the money that is made is not even distributed equally – while in a Life-Supporting business, the results as the goods and services are equally available to all. One will therefore take pride in one’s job, as that which one is contributing to: is actually important, is actually making a difference, is actually improving people’s lives.
A monetary reward-system is only necessary when the activities and the outcome of these activities in themselves are not sufficient motivators. That is what we are currently experiencing in the Capitalistic System. In an Equal Money System, however – one will be rewarded for the effort one puts in, through that which one receives in the form of the best quality goods and services.
Individuals will be able to choose the area of labor in which they wish to complete their internship, in accordance with: - Their interests - Their skills - Their passions This choice or decision will be made in discussion with the parent, the educator and the individual in question.
If there is a lack of interns in a particular area due to the nature of the tasks, two things can be done:
Will a transition from our Current Labor System to an Internship System effectively address the problems we discussed in the first section of this article: - The consequences of unemployment - Poor labor conditions - Inequality - A life of labor
Let us investigate the implications of the Internship System in relation to each point.
In implementing the Internship System – unemployment will no longer have the devastating effects it has today due to not being able to gain access to life-sustaining goods and services. As previously mentioned – all good and services required for one’s basic care will be unconditionally provided to each individual. Unemployment in itself will therefore no longer pose a problem and there will be no more need to attempt to create jobs for the sake of creating jobs, in order to counter the effects of unemployment. Each individual will complete their 4-year internship, after which one can either participate in the Life Labor System (see below) or remain unemployed.
Since labor is no longer a necessity for one’s survival, one cannot be manipulated to undertake jobs that are harmful to a person. Since there is no requirement to employ as many people as possible in order to create jobs – many tasks can and will be performed by machines. Technology will thus, for instance, play a major role within tasks wherein a human being would be exposed to high risk-factors. Compromising a person safety is simply unacceptable.
Effective use of technological applications is also the answer to the question of how it would be possible for a relatively small group of individuals within the Internship System to perform all the necessary tasks in order to produce and manufacture all the required goods and services.
One of the reasons technology is not being employed to perform high-risk tasks is because it is often cheaper to have human beings do the task. In an Equal Money System money will no longer be a factor as the ‘price’ of technology will not be determined according to market-forces of supply and demand – and neither will the ‘price’ of labor. Money will simply not be a factor in an Equal Money System in terms of gaining access to necessary resources. Access to technology, for instance, will not be determined according to prices, but according to the necessity and common sense of implementing it on the work-floor to ensure safety and efficiency. The development of technological appliances and machines will be partially performed by individuals in the Internship System and partially by individuals in the Life Labor System.
As individuals are not remunerated in monetary terms while completing their internship – one is unable to gain more wealth and higher status through labor. Each intern, regardless of their area of internship is treated as an equal in every way.
As labor is no longer a prerequisite in order to gain access to goods and services – one will no longer require dedicating a lifetime to working in order to be able to provide for oneself. Each one will complete a 4-year internship that will provide the population with the goods and services needed to live a dignified life. After these 4 years, one is able to enjoy life. One therefore no longer waits until one has saved enough money or has reached the age at which one is legally allowed to go on pension to start doing what they always wanted to do but never had the time for.
Naturally, there will also be those who would like to have something to do, who enjoy to work and who would like to be able to contribute part of their time towards working with others. This is where the Life Labor System comes in.
Having all one’s basic necessities met, one will have the opportunity to devote time to developing one’s skills, participating in one’s fields of interest and doing that which one is passionate about. From here, it is not a big step to consider making one’s skills available for others to enjoy and benefit from them well. Let us illustrate the Life Labor System with an example.
For instance, say that person A enjoys playing with hairstyles. With time available, person A starts playing around with different ways of cutting her hair, seeing what the effects are and whether she likes it or not. It won’t take long until someone – let’s say person B – notices her hairstyles and asks who cuts her hair. She’ll say she does it herself. Person B might then ask her if she’s willing to cut her hair, because she likes person A’s style. Since person A enjoys hairstyling and would be interested in expanding her skills to cutting other types of hair – she agrees to it. Both arrange a date and time and person A comes to cut person B’s hair.
Does person B pay for person A’s services? No – person B was enjoying the service, but person A was enjoying providing the service and enjoyed the gratefulness of person B after she saw the result. There is therefore no need for an additional reward other than the action and the result of the action itself. The experience was satisfying both to person A and person B.
Person B might then speak to her friends about how person A cut her hair and how satisfied she was with her service. Over time, person A starts extending her service to more and more people and might even become ‘the local hairdresser’. This is how person A participates in the Life Labor System.
The Life Labor System is thus a system of voluntary labor. There is no obligation to participate and there is no reward other than the activities themselves and the results derived from them. The example above is a simplistic example, but it captures the essence of how the Life Labor System operates.
In other cases, a group of people may want to start a project together. The initiative comes from within the community. If the project requires resources the individuals are unable to supply, a request can be done at the local administrative/logistics centre to, for instance, have a building made available where the activities of the project can be carried out. If such resources are available, a vote will be called to the members of the community to assess whether this project is something many would like to see realised. If the project is approved by the community, the resources will be made available for the project to be initiated.
Another possible scenario is where particular skills are required to supplement the Internship System in providing the basic necessities to the population, where the interns don’t have the necessary skills or not sufficient interns are available. In such a case, an announcement will be made to the population with a request for those who are interested in participating in this particular area or project, to do so. Such announcements can also be made, for instance, on a regular basis, so that those who are looking to contribute, are able to assess which studies or training to undertake to participate in an area where more assistance and support is required.
Another scenario is where an intern, upon completing his 4-year internship, decides to continue participating within the area of his internship for an additional amount of years – simply because he/she enjoys to do so and would, for instance, like to continue supporting new interns through his/her experience, assisting them to develop the same level of skills and effectiveness.
The Life Labor System thus provides each one with the space and opportunity to express themselves in a way that is fulfilling for themselves as well as for others.