On The Money
Financial Advice for the Working-Class
I think laziness gets short shrift in this culture. It seems the only ethic we have left as a culture is “the work ethic.” Now that avarice has become our religion, mass-murder our foreign policy, and sadism our national pastime, at least we can still redeem ourselves through good honest work, Right?
As long as you put in your eight hours, it doesn’t matter if you spend it cutting down old growth redwood trees, running an aging nuclear power plant into the ground, or tossing “bycatch” overboard on a factory trawler. As long as you show up on time, work conscientiously, and don’t slack off till quitting time, you can consider yourself a good and noble person.
On the other hand, if you just want to smoke pot and play your guitar all day, you are a derelict, a deadbeat and a waste case. If you have the nerve to do it in public, you’re a loiterer, a transient, or maybe a plazoid (if you do it at the Arcata Plaza). What’s the matter with you?
You could be cutting down those big old redwood trees, killing off the last few fish in the ocean, and creating a lasting legacy of death and disease for posterity. If you had any common decency, you’d find some way to help those bloodsucking capitalists rape the planet instead of sitting there on your ass trying to figure out how to play Stairway to Heaven between bong loads.
If you don’t have the stomach for rape, you could cook for them, wait on them or wash their dishes when they go out to eat. Maybe you could fix their cars or change their oil. Maybe you can sell them some crap they don’t need, like a refrigerator, or a new computer, or yet another cell phone.
Maybe you could make some of that crap, or design ads to sell it, or provide helpful tech support when they can’t figure out how to work it. Maybe you could write the code for some new smart phone app or video game, so they have something to distract themselves from the tedium of their daily grind.
Maybe you can clean up after them and haul away their garbage. That way you can see what everything beautiful, natural and untamed in the world looks like after its been raped, murdered, mutilated and tossed aside. Or….Maybe you could just pack me a bong load while I tune up.
We spend so much energy despising our laziness that we forget that it serves an important evolutionary purpose. Somethings in life really are more trouble than they are worth. I think we have lost site of this wisdom, as a culture, with tragic consequences. Laziness could have saved us a lot of trouble, and helped us avoid a lot of needless suffering destruction and death, in my opinion.
The Vietnam War was clearly more trouble than it was worth.
I think most people would say the same about the last two or three wars we’ve fought.
Some people would say war in general is more trouble than its worth.
Nuclear power is way more trouble than it is worth,which is why no one wants to invest in it unless the taxpayers insure it. Deep-sea oil drilling is certainly more trouble than it is worth. Clear-cut logging? Factory Trawling? Mountaintop removal mining? They sure seem like more trouble than they are worth to me.
Before pathological accumulation became the highest measure of human achievement, laziness served an important evolutionary role. You can count on hunger to motivate you to find food. You can count on low temperatures to motivate you to build a fire. But what stops us from gathering food when we’re not hungry? What stops us from gathering firewood and making a fire when it’s warm? While the insecure ego always wants more, laziness says “enough”.
Evolutionarily, laziness kept us from building larger homes than we needed. Laziness kept us from depleting our environment and food supply. While we have evolved circuitry to motivate us to do the stuff we need to to survive, only laziness prevents us from doing a lot of unnecessary, pointless and destructive stuff that we don’t need to do.
Before we had environmental regulations, before we had fish quotas, before we had hunting limits and grading ordinances, we had laziness. Yes, laziness served us well for millions of years. Laziness kept our population stable, kept us in harmony with nature, and kept us from taking more than we needed from the earth. Beyond that, laziness gave us the greatest gift nature has to offer, leisure time.
It was only by substituting “the work ethic” for our natural laziness, that humans were able to create the agricultural revolution that gave rise to civilization. Ever since, we’ve been raised to despise our natural laziness, and to believe that we can become good people through hard work.
As a result, nothing has ever been “more trouble than it is worth” since. We can put a man on the moon. We can build precision guided nuclear weapons, and we can build thousand foot tall skyscrapers, for example, but should we? Maybe these things really are more trouble than they are worth. Maybe these things are more trouble than we ever imagined.
Since then, its been all about growth, acquisition, productivity and work, work, work. As a result, we have turned a large and growing portion of the earths surface to desert, depleted the oceans, polluted the freshwater, driven thousands of species into extinction, made the air unhealthy to breath, and heated the whole planet by a couple of degrees, so far.
Our own industriousness has become an enormous looming crisis. Our regulatory framework seems woefully inadequate to address these problems, and the situation worsens every day. Natural human laziness kept all of that under control for millions of years. Nothing else, it seems, can turn this situation around.
The “work ethic”, really nothing more than deeply internalized slavery, originally instilled with whips by “slave masters”, generations ago, has injured us deeply. Without our natural laziness, we just don’t know how to live in the world anymore.