The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Creating a Prosperous Society Where People Love Their Work

Are you most productive doing what you love, or doing something you are indifferent to or hate? If you could try your hand at doing anything, would you be doing what you’re doing? Are you on track to eventually spend your life in the work of your dreams, or is it clear that will likely never happen?

There will always be lousy but necessary jobs that few people want to do. The garbage must be picked up, the toilets must be cleaned and the bed pans must be emptied. But a society is a better society when more people are doing what they love, or at least working for themselves, out from under close supervision. Almost no one likes being micromanaged, and normal jobs are called wage slavery for a reason.

We want people to stretch themselves, we want them to reach for their dreams, we want them to get up each morning looking forward to the day’s work. We want that for the cold hard calculated reason that such people are more productive, and we want it for the warm soft calculated reason that we’d rather live in a society with as many such people as possible because they’re a lot more enjoyable to spend time around than people who hate their jobs.

It’s not hard to create a society which makes it more likely that people can do what they want. It’s not hard to create an economy which encourages people to start new businesses or to launch new careers. But such a society cannot exist if we prefer to be mean, if we want to punish people for failure. It cannot exist if we see someone else’s success as our failure or if we allow envy to infect our public policy.

People fail to pursue their dreams because they fear failure or because the opportunities aren’t available. Fear of failure is rational: pour everything into a new business which fails, and many businesses fail, and you can be left with no money, no source of income, and lose everything. In a country without universal health care, you could even lose your life if you lose your insurance and become ill or have an accident.

So the first thing a society needs to do is have in place a basic social net: a basic income below which people cannot drop, so they will not become homeless if they fail. Universal health care so they can pursue their dreams without being chained to a health insurance premium. Bankruptcy laws which allow most debts to be wiped away in the event of failure, not just so that people don’t lose everything, but so they can try again. Many entrepreneurs fail more than once before they create a business which works, and we want that, we want bankruptcy. We also want bankruptcy because it is important that lenders do their due diligence and accept the real risk of lending, rather than insisting that the government act as their bill collector. It is not in the government’s interest for people to become impoverished, as impoverished people cannot contribute to society nearly as well.

Credit and calculable law are needed for entrepreneurship. People must be secure in the title to their property so they can borrow against it. They must know that contracts are generally upheld and that basic physical safety is taken care of. Taxation must be calculable, though it doesn’t have to be low. Eras with top marginal income tax rates in from 80% to over 90% have had far more growth than our own low tax periods, and much higher corporate tax rates do not correlate with low economic growth either. After all, first you have to make a profit, or make so much money you’re in the top bracket. As the saying runs, it’s a good problem to have.

Credit in in the modern era is ultimately a product of government. Banks create money when they lend, they do not lend money they have on deposit, though the amount of money they can lend may be some multiple of what they have on deposit. Since the ability to create money is a government grant, and since a government grant is a grant from the people of a nation, the government has the right to influence or even set interest rates. This ability is already used, with central banks setting overnight rates, treasuries influencing bond rates at different durations, and so on. Mortgages in many countries will simply not be issued if they do not meet requirements set down by governments, and so on.

If we want people to do things, we have to make sure the money is available for them to do it. This can mean credit, or it can simply mean the government paying for or subsidizing what is needed. In many countries health care is provided out of taxes. At one time, post-secondary education was virtually free for those who qualified, because governments understood that educated people make more money, create more jobs and contribute more in general. With progressive taxation a government can easily provide free or very cheap education knowing that it will take a portion of every extra dollar earned as a result of that education. Rationing education is short-sighted and foolish, even on a pure cold-cash calculation.

A basic income is another thing governments do and can offer. In the modern day this is generally done through a complicated hodge-podge of systems, from welfare to unemployment insurance to student loans and tax breaks. This is vastly inefficient, and should be simplified. If we aren’t willing to let anyone go without basic lodging and food we should simply guarantee the necessary level of income to anyone over the age of 18 or whatever age children usually leave home. It is simple enough to do it in a way so that everyone is still better off working, it is vastly cheaper than paying an army of social workers to determine who is worthy, and it assumes the most basic tenet of liberty: that adults have the ability to know what they want to do. Nothing is more counter-productive than policies which, say, restrict welfare recipients from going to university, so they can’t improve themselves and have a better chance to contribute to society.

Knowing that they will always have enough to keep a roof over their head and food in their belly people are far more likely to pursue their dreams, to do the work they really want to and to start new businesses. It is true that some people will take advantage of such a system, it is also true that such a system will have much lower administrative costs than current systems. And since the basic income will not be a great income, but only basic, it will not be attractive to many.

It will also put pressure on businesses to treat their employees better. If a business cannot make a job more attractive than living at barely above subsistence then perhaps that job shouldn’t exist. Do all the fast food jobs really make our societies richer? If a job really needs to be done, like janitorial work or garbage collection or cleaning the bums of our parents and grandparents, then does it not deserve to be compensated well? If your CEO doesn’t show up for work, or if the janitor who cleans the toilets doesn’t show up, who do you miss most? And do you really want the person looking after your parents in an old-folks home or hospital to hate their job?

Most money from a basic income, assuming high progressive rates on the rich and the same corporate tax rates as were the norm in the 50s and 60s, will wind up back in the government coffers in any case, after it goes through multiple hands and supports many jobs.

These are the first two thing required to increase the number of people who do work they want to do, or at least don’t hate—freedom from fear of devastating loss and the availability of opportunities to gain the necessary skills, education and credit.

The third thing is to reform laws so people can do what they love.

Consider Silicon Valley in California, one of the greatest entrepreneurial hotspots in the world. New tech business after new tech business has been started there, from Hewlett Packard to Apple. Millions of jobs have spun out from Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. What made Silicon Valley possible? Well the first thing is government money, both to buy products like early computers and to support Stanford University, which histories of the Valley put at the heart of its culture. But another reason Silicon Valley happened in California and not in Massachussets, say, around MIT (though there is a tech corridor around MIT) is this: California law makes non-compete agreements illegal.

A non-compete agreement is a legal contract which states that someone can’t work in a business which competes with their current employer, generally for a few years. So if you have a great idea for a new product in the same line of business you can’t quit and go set up a new company.

Silicon Valley’s history is of startup after startup directly competing with the company the founders left. There would be no Silicon Valley as we know it if California allowed non-competes.

This is a general principle. If law does not allow people to do what they want, well then, they can’t do it. Barriers to entry, barriers to the creation of new businesses are too much to deal with in this article, but just note that what is good for a specific business is rarely good for business as a whole. If I own a business I don’t want my employees to leave and compete against me. That’s bad for me. But it’s good for whatever business I’m in for their to be more competitors and new products and it’s good for society as well.

Likewise laws on protected works and intellectual monopolies in terms of copyrights and patent law can stifle the creation of new businesses. If a person or company is forbidden from creating a product or must pay overly high licensing fees, the business will not happen. There is a balance here, some protection for actual inventors and creators is needed, but in our current society we are very far from the correct balance, and much law that seems to protect creators in fact only creates intellectual rents, stifles the economy and inhibits competition. To cover intellectual properties properly would take another huge article, so I won’t go into it futther here. The basic principle is simple: if it’s illegal to start a business or engage in a career, or it costs too much to be worth it, people won’t. Every time we pass a law which protects incumbents from competition or which protects the work of the past, we ossify our economy and make it harder for people to do the work they want to do, sticking more and more of them in jobs they hate.

The more people who are both free and able to work in jobs they enjoy; who are able to start new businesses; who are able to pursue professions they prefer, the better off everyone will be. This is true both in pure economic terms and in softer terms: happy people are healthier and they are far more fun to be around than unhappy people.

In economies which are running cold, people turn mean. Seeing scarcity all around, they feel that they are in competition for scarce good jobs, scarce good education and scarce happiness. They start blocking other people and insisting that everyone pay upfront intead of behind. Bosses, knowing that there aren’t enough jobs, become mean as well, treating employees badly, knowing they have nowhere to go and confident that if they lose one, or a hundred, or a thousand employees to mistreatment, more will be ready to work, impelled by fear of hunger and poverty.

We can’t all be rich, but we can all be prosperous, and we become prosperous as a group, as a society, not blocking each other, but by opening up opportunity for all, treating everyone as adults, and understanding that other people’s success is our success in the broadest sense. It is certainly true that in a competitive market environment there will be losers and if your closest competitors win, you can lose as a result, but for everyone else in society, the success is beneficial so long as those who succeed to not shut the avenues to success behind them. And if failure does not mean disaster, if there are second and third and fourth acts in life and those who try are allowed to try again, then the fear that both stops people from trying and makes those who are successful try and stop those behind them is greatly reduced.

Societies are prosperous together. Individuals are rich separately. Let us remember this, and remember that fundamental economic success for societies requires generosity and kindness, not parsimony and cruelty.

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The problem of resistance to the oligarchy


Helping the Most Discriminated Against


  1. Harrison

    There is a slight typo in the second paragraph: “Almost one likes being micromanaged”.

    Excellent essay.

  2. Dan H

    Can’t find anything to really disagree with…am interested to hear right wing reactions/objections to this.

  3. Ian Welsh

    Thanks Harrison

  4. Celsius 233

    A beautiful view of what could have been. Excellent read.
    Your description of what is, is the dystopian reality of today. It’s why I changed careers 7 times over 40 years. Went back to school many times. The number of jobs? I lost count; but refused to suffer asshole bosses.
    Started as white collar; couldn’t stand the politics or the culture.
    Went skilled blue collar; didn’t like the politics there either, but found I could weave my way through. The things I made with my hands made it worth the crap. Nobody could take that away from me; it was tangible and I was very good.
    Only twice did I take a job for money; hated both and quit both. My choices for the most part were based on what I thought would be interesting, had value, and added to my skill set.
    One of the two best jobs I ever had was commercial salmon fishing in the Pacific off the Oregon coast. Being at sea for a week at a time was pure magic. The skipper was a good guy, but there was no money left by 1976, fished out unless one worked on a big boat (it was just the skipper and me as the only crew).
    I was fortunate; I doubt a person could exercise that freedom of movement in today’s job market.
    This could be a time for creativity by some individuals, but I see nothing good for the majority in the coming years/decades.
    What I see now often brings tears to my eyes, real tears, at what we’ve given up. I’m less than optimistic about our collective future.
    We lacked vision, understanding real human nature, and the application of intelligence…

  5. Bryan

    Brilliant but correct me if I’m wrong, wouldn’t money become obsolete within a very short time and lead to a currency free system?

    Right with you Celcius about what today is…I’m only 27 so I can’t speak of the past but I’m within a few months of quitting my for the money job. I do wonder how life was for people who lived actual “prosperous” times and how this could cloud a judgment on where we are headed. I hear too often that weve seen recessions before and it always comes back to prosperous times (total denial).

    Thanks Ian for the regular great philosophical work!

  6. Ian Welsh

    Money provides feedback, and it’s useful for that, so I wouldn’t do away with it entirely (or, not until we can figure out another way to get the feedback). The problem is that if you want to use money for feedback you have to work hard to make sure it continues to give accurate feedback about what people want.

  7. someofparts

    I spent the first twenty years of my work life in prosperous times and I’ve spent the twenty years since those days learning to let go of the good attitudes and work habits that were natural in those days. Elvis Costello has a song about lip service – lines about how lip service is all the person in the song will ever give – and that’s the new work non-ethic I’ve had to learn in my dotage. I remind myself to focus only on doing what will keep my job for me and beyond that, train myself to care nothing, nothing, nothing about the alleged work that my organization pretends to be doing.

  8. Bryan

    I guess what scares me about keeping money is that it has this amazing ability to make one’s morality incredibly flexible and oddly enough, always towads the attitude that generates the most money. One always seems to make flawed logical reasonings (that they probably don’t beleive themselves…anyway I hope not) to make themselves feel better about what they are doing to get more money (you could also read power). I understand what you’re saying M Welsh (can I call you Ian? I know I already did in my last post haha), but I fear it’s a mighty risk for feedback. Not that I have the answer but I’d think that with internet it would be possible to come up with a better way. I try to be unbiased in my thinking but sometimes I do catch myself allergic to money for what it turnes people into.

    Thanks for the response! I don’t know if you realise how valuable your blog is to me (and probably many others) and how it inspires me to think there is a desirable future for my kids (when I have them) to live in if everyone just gets up and takes a stand for humanity.

    Keep up the awesome essays!

  9. “If law does not allow people to do what they want, well then, they can’t do it.”

    No, but they can change the law; they can vote out of office the legislators who created the law and elect ones who will create laws more favorable to the people; they can refuse to obey the law; they can, failing all else, revolt against the law. Today’s voters do nothing but complain about the law, play the victim role, and blame everyone except themselves for it.

    All of the conditions you name, Ian, do not spring from government. They are things which government by its very nature denies. They have to be taken by the people. Many of them were taken by the people in 1776 but we gave them away, first for cheaper consumer goods and lower taxes, and then in the name of safety.

    Col Pat Lang, USA Ret, observed that the American people post 9/11 have turned out to be a “chicken hearted people, much given to panic and easily fed falsehoods.” They don’t even want most of what you’re talking about here, and are totally incapable of taking it for themselves.

  10. Great essay, Ian. Especially those last lines, which should be engraved on a monument somewhere.

    I’ve been both lucky and unlucky in work, but mostly the former. Like most people, I’ve had to work at a job or place I hated but couldn’t leave because I had to pay the bills. I’ve also left when I couldn’t take it anymore, even when I had no job prospects on the horizon. But I recognize that not everyone has that option. Particularly if you have children, which I don’t, it’s almost impossible.

    When I left my job as host of Weekend All Things Considered in 2002, everyone told me I was nuts. It was a very high-paying job (the hosts at NPR make gobs of money — you have no idea — I was the lowest-paid host in the building and I was still making great money), but I couldn’t take it anymore. I was bored and frustrated — not a good combination. My husband said, “You’re driving yourself crazy and you’re driving me crazy; why don’t you just quit already?” So I did.

    I had freelance gigs in the hopper, so it wasn’t a big deal. What was a big deal was getting blacklisted by NPR nine years later for my involvement in the Occupy movement (yes, even though I was no longer an NPR employee). That has made it hard to get new work. My income has plummeted.

    But I’m still lucky, because I live in a house that was paid off long ago, so I’ll always have a roof over my head, because my expenses are low, because my husband has a good job, and because that job gives us health insurance. Still, like others here, I see dark days ahead. I think this country is on a slow downward slide.

  11. nihil obstet

    A great case for restricting the power of money to control people’s lives. This applies to people whose attitude towards their jobs is determined by interesting content. Different people love their work for different reasons: for the opportunity to belong to a group with a common purpose, for the social interaction, for the feeling of service that can come from helping people even when the actual job duties seem distasteful, like emptying bedpans. We do need to go beyond just making it possible for entrepreneurial heroes to take risks — we need to think about how a prosperous society supports the pride that can motivate a garbage collector.

    This is particularly true since we probably don’t have an economic need for as many college graduates as we’re trying to produce, and we end up with people competing for high status knowledge positions that makes them susceptible to right wing demagoguery. (That doesn’t mean we don’t want highly educated people for all sorts of other reasons.) So I’d add more legal rights for all workers that keep the conditions of work from imposing the great and small humiliations that jobs frequently entail. A typist shouldn’t have to decide between no work even if protected by a basic income and getting adequate respect in the workplace.

    On the uptight note — “But it’s good for whatever business I’m in for their to be more competitors”: “their” should be “there.”

  12. RJMeyers

    I’ve been kicking around in my head a plan to gradually introduce a basic income, plus gradually shift our government’s technology development focus away from the Pentagon and to a new Technology and Infrastructure Directorate. The TID would focus on long term investment in R&D, infrastructure development, loans to new tech startups, plus sometimes develop new companies in-house and eventually spin them off to the private sector when they’re mature enough. Some of those functions are already handled by government, but they’re spread out over tons of different agencies and programs and thus can’t be made to coherently work together.

    This would also retain most of our highly skilled workforce and create demand for more high skilled jobs/training. Not a holistic solution to all our ailments, but a decent chunk of a larger solution.

  13. luis

    Very well said Master Welsh!

  14. John

    Great essay because it brings up so much for me. Thanks, Ian!
    This is such a conplicated topic. I was recently perusing a ho-hum article in Vanity Fair, of all places, and saw a reference to “bitch- goddess success” and looked it up. Here ‘s the quote in full:
    The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease.
    To H. G. Wells (11 September 1906)
    WOW! I’d heard the “bitch-goddess” part before, but never the whole quote.
    William James got it right in 1906 and it seems the problem is still with us. Particularly that “squalid cash intrepretation”.
    In most of the developed world, the only feedback about money is power…and how much one has or doesn’t have as the case may be.
    Prosperity, especially in the sense in which you use it, is something else. We are far removed from that except hearing occasional references in political rhetoric.
    There is no prosperity on the slave ship, chained to the oars, no matter how secure and well fed you are.

    And I don’t want everyone to follow their dream unless it falls within the bounds of a broad social purpose or has no negative consequences for any sentient.
    I have a client who is extremely $ucce$$ful, loves his work selling gasoline and expensive death food in his chain of convenience stores and loves to go to Africa and kill exotic rare animals and have them stuffed to put around the house. Juist like Noah’s Ark except they’re all dead. He is morbidly into guns. Among his peers, he is considered an extremely nice guy and respected in the community. I consider him a sociopath. What to do?

    And Lisa Simeone, I feel quite privileged to be commenting on the same thread! NPR blacklisting is another reason they suck! When the Mcdonald’s money came in, I knew they were finished. Bought and paid for.

  15. Mallam

    I don’t particularly hate my job; in a sense I like it because I’m talented at it, it pays well, and the flexibility is great. I also have a union representing me, and they do a good job (in general); my bosses are also cordial and respect me. In fact, it’s an area you’ve posted right here: intellectual property, patents in particular. I work on the government’s side, reading application after application, searching through our databases, and doing everything in my power to make their claim language as narrow as possible. My area isn’t much of a problem. Most applicants in my area are from big companies (GE, Rolls Royce, Alstom, Siemens, etc), but in general I’d say there’s not much stifling or rent collection going on. No, the big deal is in pharmaceuticals, plants, and software, most particularly the latter. The courts unfortunately unraveled the system — though Congress certainly hasn’t done any favors by fixing their mess and in some cases has made it worse. First thing we should do is get rid of the “non-transitory computer readable medium” loophole and stop allowing software to be patented. Next we should stop allowing applicants to apply, and re-apply, and re-apply — after I have already rejected them. If you’ve got a good idea, fine: narrow your claim language on the first go-around. It doesn’t happen in my area, certainly not with me, but I can imagine situations where the applicant won’t go away and they wear down on the examiner to where they eventually say “Fine I give up have your stupid patent.” Both those two fixes would do a lot of good to the system without even getting into the length of time you may have your monopoly rights (currently 20 years, or 17 years after the patent was issued if prosecution took too long).

  16. And Lisa Simeone, I feel quite privileged to be commenting on the same thread! NPR blacklisting is another reason they suck! When the Mcdonald’s money came in, I knew they were finished. Bought and paid for.

    John, thanks.

    But the downward slide at NPR began long before Joan Kroc’s money hit their bank account. NPR has been trending corporate for over 30 years. It’s mainstream with a capital “M” and proud of it. Mainstream, middle of the road, don’t rock the boat. That’s the problem. Oh, the stories I could tell . . . .

  17. Excellent article.

    ” If I own a business I don’t want my employees to leave and compete against me. “

    Retention is easier when you make a work friendly environment by empowering your employees, offering incentives like profit sharing and paying them a decent, livable wage with health and retirement benefits. This sets the standard and raises the bar for new start ups, which will naturally limit some people but that is not always a bad thing.

  18. Perseus

    ISTM that a vergence of sorts came for the U.S. imperium around 2000–either keep some semblance of a humane society and let the de facto white supremacy of the preceding era slip away, or go “Jim Crow” on a planetary scale. The hideous legal regime we’re in now is a result of choosing the latter course–better that everyone’s dreams get plowed under than the untermenchen get uppity.

    “Outsourcing”, “free” trade, nuking the banking system*, market fundamentalism and the like might make a few very wealthy, but more importantly, they make sure that the ethnic composition of the population of bosses remains within acceptable parameters.

    * to neutralize “excess” east asian savings

  19. David Kowalski

    Lisa Simeone:

    One little snippet that at least shows the slide began (or beyond) at least 20 years ago. I was at a meeting at the NYC Public Library where Jim Lehrer was amiably shilling for Michael Bloomberg who was up on stage. The line I remember was that he wouldn’t hire anybody for any position unless they were “dressed” properly (suits and ties or dresses) and behaved properly (sucked up or at least acted with incredible deference).

  20. Khannea SunTzu

    People are perfectly free to do whatever interesting stuff they like. It’s just that if they do not get paid for their hobbies they starve and die. It’s simple as that.

  21. joe Marchal

    Great blog! Money is necessary for us to function on some level. We definitely focus in an unhealthy way on that extrinsic reward. People generally are much more satisfied when they are able to have their basic human needs met and they can focus on intrinsic reinforcement such as pride in their work.

  22. One little snippet that at least shows the slide began (or beyond) at least 20 years ago. I was at a meeting at the NYC Public Library where Jim Lehrer was amiably shilling for Michael Bloomberg who was up on stage. The line I remember was that he wouldn’t hire anybody for any position unless they were “dressed” properly (suits and ties or dresses) and behaved properly (sucked up or at least acted with incredible deference).

    David, a few things:

    I can’t stand Bloomberg. I think he’s nuts. And he’s an authoritarian, which we all know too well.

    NPR and PBS are separate entities. The former is radio, the latter TV. The only thing the two have in common is that they’re both non-commercial (well, if you’ve watched PBS lately, you know that’s only kinda sorta true, though I still support my local PBS station because I watch it). Different management, different budgets, totally separate from each other.

    Re dressing the part, I have to agree with Lehrer. I’ve actually written about this quite a bit, because I’m also interested in fashion (which, I know, is a whole ‘nother subject, too big to get into here). But in a nutshell, clothes are a means of communication. If you dress like a slob to go to a funeral, you’re giving a big “fuck you” to the other attendees and to the event itself. You’re being disrespectful. Same goes for a host of other events/venues in life. If I invite you to my house for a special occasion, and you know it’s a special occasion, don’t show up in a T-shirt, cut-offs, and a backwards baseball cap. For a job, this should just be common sense.

    And this has nothing to do with money. I come from a blue collar family. My parents didn’t have money, and they sure as hell didn’t have it growing up. Sorry, I can’t get on board with the slobification of America.

  23. Woodrow L. Goode, IV

    Actually, in a society that valued work properly, there would be no reason that anyone, regardless of skills, couldn’t be well-off. To do that, you simply need to evaluate work based on three components.

    1. SCARCITY OF LABOR: How many people have the ability to perform the job? Does it require unique skills? Years of experience? Specialized training?

    You can justify paying athletes or surgeons great deal of money– not many people can do the work to a level that people will pay $$$ to watch. You can’t just decide to be a successful comedian, musician, chef– even a porn star. It takes effort and some accidents of birth that most people simply don’t possess. That scarcity of supply deserves a premium..

    2. SOCIAL NECESSITY: The reason farm workers and truckdrivers should make a great deal of money? We need what they do. If people don’t raise chickens, kill them, cut them into parts and drive them to places where people can buy them, we don’t eat chicken.

    It’s why teachers and bus drivers AREN’T underpaid– and why (to name two) TV news show hosts and advertising copywriters are. Which could you do without?

    3. QUALITY OF WORK ENVIRONMENT: You think garbage collectors are overpaid? As I write this, they’re outside my home, hoisting a trash can that can hold up to 65 pounds of waste– and a recycling bin that holds 45 pounds– into the truck. They do that for eight hours a day, five days a week; it’s 8 degrees outside, with a 20-MPH wind.

    You want to drive a bus? Your arms, neck, back and butt will ache at the end of the day– and your eyes might hurt too, depending on how bright it is. When the right-wing legislatures in the south passed laws that let any policeman demand proof that you were born in the US– to prevent illegal immigrants couldn’t work in their states– farm production dropped. US citizens weren’t willing to pick fruit at the wages farmers paid migrant workers. To get people, they had to boost wages well above what they were paying.– and finally they’ve stopped enforcing the law.

    If the work is hard– if most people wouldn’t want to do it– you’ll have a scarity of labor and need to pay more. If the work is dangerous, you’ll have an even greater scarcity and need to pay even more.

    In a society where all three contributions are valued correctly, it becomes possible to make a good living doing work that doesn’t require a great deal of skill– as long as the work is unpleasant and necessary.

    The problem we have is that neither scale two or three are being compensated properly. Being a janitor is unpleasant work– the walking , lifting, bending and pulling take a toll on the body. If someone isn’t cleaning up the world, we’d be overwhelmed by trash.

    But every time the workers who keep San Francisco functioning complain, people who assume that special skills should be the only factor that determines your paycheck throw hissy-fits. Granted that very few policemen and firemen can code in Python… but how many programmers would be willing to catch crooks and put out fires?

    The benefit of this system would be that many jobs that are enormously remunerative would pay poverty-level wages. I mean, an investment banker would be getting minimum wage, because their work wouldn’t score high on any level.

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