Do we really have to earn a living?

Buckminster wrote:


Thank you.

I think it was Chantale, our student French teacher! grrrr!! :smiling_imp:

Maybe I am just too cynical and jaded, but it sounds to me like you are advocating for a welfare state that supports the “professional student”. It is a fallacy to believe that “we” can simply support each each other with out each of us “earning” our support. We operate in a closed system; what you put in will be what you get out. We see this in physical and theoretical environments. My favorite examples are
• Nature – Think global warming
• Financial – think mortgage backed securities
• Information – Wikipedia (garbage in garbage out, depends on the page).

If some or all of our population throws up their hands and decides that they are above earning a living then they will find themselves cut off from society very quickly.

The appropriate rejoinder to the above would be to highlight

[quote}one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest[/quote]
But then this is earning a living. You are simply playing with words.

… So if I invent an anticoriolian device which extracts for convenient human use the energy of earth’s rotation – without diminishing that rotation to a significant degree, although it will be up to later generations to determine whether that diminuition has significantly affected their lives, much as we may puzzle over the impact, say, coal mining has had on our lives – if, as I say, I develop such a device which would, in short term benefit at least, provide income adequate to sustain several thousands if not millions of others – students, let us call them – the efforts of how many of said thousands or millions would be required satisfactorily and effectively to produce, install, operate, and maintain said device?

Just wondering.


In reality this point is just another utopian dream.

One would think that all the examples of failed utopia would cause statements proposing utopian solutions to be viewed with a more critical thought processes.

If any individual wants to adopt a lifestyle that leaves more time for thinking, creativity, or any other personal goal, more power to them. I think that’s great.

I would just advise that person to adopt personal habits consistent with whatever level of income they can earn in the time they’re willing to devote to such mundane tasks as income production.

The problem isn’t that people feel compelled to “earn a living.” The problem is that people view new electronic gadgets, new cars, and restaurant meals as necessities of life, and then complain about the amount of time they have to spend working in order to afford those things. Think how much more freedom you’d have if you cut your rent/mortgage and/or car payment in half! But would you really be happy in a house half the size of your current one?


Or living in an area where many folks don’t “earn” an income and live on welfare.

I would offer the following as a second counter to my position; If one truly loves their “occupation” and fulfillment is experienced, then one’s “leaving” becomes less of a labor and as such one does not “earn a living” but experiences a living.

I think this philosophy would do good for many folks (most of whom would need to change occupations). I do not believe that it is in alignment with the original statements made though.

I’m willing to consider becoming a ‘kept man’. :mrgreen:

Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month — the boy who had made his own jack knife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this — or the boy who had attended the lectures on metallurgy at the Institute in the meanwhile, and had received a Rodgers’ pen knife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers?

— H. D. Thoreau, Walden (1854)

Neither my wife nor I “earn a living”. We both have devoted our lives to study and creativity. Admittedly, once I complete my doctorate, I will (hopefully!) have an income once more but the purpose of the study is not to earn a living, but is instead to make a difference.

Regardless, it was a series of difficult decisions that led us to this position. Like Katherine noted, we have had to adapt our personal habits to our level of income - and it has been, at times, difficult (especially as my meagre scholarship is about to expire, some months before studies will be complete). Yet the the fact that we can now contribute more to the world than we could before justifies the price we have paid.

The danger lies in black and white, all or nothing, thinking: everyone should go back to school vs no-one should. Both are patently absurd. I have met researchers, far more talented than myself, who are creating discoveries that will have direct, practical, benefit to millions of people. We need them!

Two last points: 1. Knowledge and creativity are not a closed systems. 2. In order for that one-in-ten-thousand to make a breakthrough discovery, and hence “earn their living”, we need the remaining 9,999 — presumably not earning their living…

I admire that decision, nom.
I deleted the “why” part. 'Nuff said!

If people are in school, the school will need custodians. QED.

[size=150]“A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work.”[/size]
Ralph Waldo Emerson ‘NATURE’: Commodity.

“If you want to be a happy man, just fall to rock bottom. All unhappiness comes from having standards.”

Thomas Berger, Little Big Man

[size=150]It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do.[/size] Henry D Thoreau (Walden, 71)

Unfortunately, at least for me, returning to school was no alternative to working for earning a life. Next to the Mac with with I’m doing my work, there are both the books for the next university exams, and the pile of tax, rates and fines to pay. And, while university is not expensive in Italy compared to some other countries (the USA come to mind, but also the much cheaper UK), it is no free either.

Frankly, unless one comes from a rich family, or has entered politics, I cannot understand how to live without earning a life. The best strategy I can think about, is to have a job that is both pleasant (as much as a job can be) and leaves you as free as possible. I decided to be a freelance, despite this is an odd decision when livigin in Italy. I’m not free, but I’ve some freedom. Maybe I’ve found the best balance I could find.


Your way, is pretty much the way Thoreau appears to have played the game. He was a surveyor, amongst other things. As well as giving the odd lecture herenthere, he`d spend a few weeks each year surveying, earning just enough cash to meet his simple needs, and sustain him for the rest of the year. What he so loved about surveying, was the fact it still kept him in touch with his beloved, Nature.

What you must bear in mind, though, is that Buckminster came up with that twaddle, when he woke up with a humungus hangover, after a night on the vino, and couldn`t face the prospect of going into work that morning. Classic cop-out

Take care

At the end of the day this entire concept is ‘playing’ with words. If we think about it for a minute the real question that is being asked is: Is a “living” and “working” a concept that is “earned” through the traditional “sweat of the brow and strength of the back” or should we strive to have our needs met by that occupation which so fits our nature and personality that it is no longer work?

Attempting to make this an absolute concept of “no one should have to work” or “we should all live with our needs met by a communal state” really has no place in current societies. Someday? maybe. Today? no.