- Capitalism and Alternatives -

we are conditioned to measure a person's worth based on their socioeconomic status.

Posted by: Anne ( Canada ) on April 30, 1999 at 10:03:36:

In Reply to: It exists posted by Gee on April 29, 1999 at 12:44:42:

: : Unfortunately for all of us, there are some people who do not want to work. And I also think, who can blame them? However, even though I would like to be free to choose the work I want to do, necessity dictates that I must work for someone else in order to support myself.

: There is no blame apportioned. If you dont work you dont get the consequences of doing so (ie money) - you have observed this reality in your second sentence.

My point is that money, or productive ways to earn money, should not be necessary in order to survive. There are many people who do not contribute to the labour force, and they are also the most marginalized groups in our society - the elderly, children, people with physical and/or mental disabilities,... Whether we like to admit it or not, we don't all start out in life at the same place, and it is no coincidence that the above-mentioned groups and those belonging to visible minority groups are often the least likely to obtain gainful employment. This does not mean that the effort isn't there. These people make up the reserve pool of labour in a capitalist system - they are the last ones hired, and the first ones to be let go. Is this fair? Should the state not have a moral responsibility for those who are not favoured in the labour market?

: : The current welfare system in Canada assumes that those who receive social assistance do not want to find work, and punishes those who do.

: Precisely

: : I believe that most people on social assistance contribute to society in many other ways, and it is a sad reflection on society when we measure a person's worth by their occupation or lack thereof.

: How do they contribute? And if they do why are people not willingly supporting them, but being forced to do so? I want to know, really.

Society does not support them because we are conditioned to measure a person's worth based on their socioeconomic status. Rich people are deemed "good" simply because they have money, and poor people are perceived as "bad" simply because they don't. It doesn't matter whether a person created their own wealth, or was born into it, or was just lucky, the person with money is rewarded, and the one without is punished and scorned. As residents of a nation, it is our moral responsibility to care for those who have less, and not to pass judgement. Our mainstream religions are predominantly christian, and here we are judging others, and hoarding our belongings - stepping over others in an effort to get ahead. This is so hypocritical!!!

If you think about it, there are many elements of being that are not recognized in the work-for-pay system. Our thoughts, our feelings, parenting, volunteering, spirituality,... the list goes on and on and on, and yet we continue to define ourselves and each other by our occupations and net worth. The reality of it all is that we are all of EQUAL INTRINSIC WORTH, and no one is better than another. If this were to be accepted by society, capitalism would surely not exist.

: : That being said, I would suggest a compromise between social democracy and the laissez-faire approach to social welfare. Why not implement a rewards-type system, where those who are using social assistance temporarily have more freedom to choose, and those who are chronic users have their choices limited. Temporary users would not have to report to anyone in terms of job searches and money allocation. Chronic users would have to earn their welfare payments through work in a NON PROFIT setting.

: Like cleaning the streets or something? Thats working. Why not do away with it, and thus restrict no ones liberty?

* Because in a society, EVERYONE has the right to the basic means to survive at the very least. What you are suggesting is that it should be social darwinianism, survival of the fittest. This can only be possible if everyone were placed at an even level in society. We would have to do away with racism, sexism, heterosexism, disablism, ageism... so that everyone started off their life course at the same point in the race. Without true equality, there can never be survival of the fittest, only survival of the most fortunate. I cannot justify to myself that one human being has more rights than another, and what you are suggesting, in the type of system that we have, is completely unjustifiable.

: : If the system started treating people like human beings, perhaps we could witness some reforms in our social welfare system.

: Precisely - as humans not as helpless or hapless fools.

*Until we have walked in another person's shoes, we cannot possibly judge their actions, or inactions as the case may be.

I hope this has shed a little more light for you. Good luck in conquering the world!

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