civilization From Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization, on wage slavery:

Ordinary businesses don’t burden themselves with obligations to people. Most obviously, they don’t “take care” of their workers. To do so would introduce them to a whole suite of problems in which there’s no profit whatever. Instead, they pay salaries and expect workers to take care of themselves. From the company’s point of view, it doesn’t matter whether the salary is adequate for any particular worker. It’s not the company’s fault if the worker has a large family to take care of, or an ailing parent to support, or is just a bad manager of money. The company can afford to be hard-nosed about this. It doesn’t risk losing a worker to a competitor, because the competitors are equally hard-nosed about it.

This unspoken agreement among corporations to limit their obligation to issuing a paycheck is precisely what gives our society its prison ambiance. Workers have no way out. Whether they move from company to company or nation to nation, their employers’ obligation ends with the paycheck, an arrangement that obviously suits employers very well. Prisons are always arranged to suit the wardens. The fact that 60% of us believe we are under-employed, and are not doing the things we do best or even things we like doing, attests to how pervasive this wage slavery has become.

Setting up a tribal* venture is the only way out of the prison. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

(*A tribal venture is an enterprise run by a self-organized, self-selected non-hierarchical group, each member of which contributes importantly to the group’s ability to make a living and takes complete responsibility for the welfare of all members of the venture. That doesn’t mean the members live together. A tribal venture is not the same as a family business or a commune. A tribal venture’s ultimate purpose, its measure of success, is its ability to provide for the welfare and well-being of its members, all of its members, as equals and as they define well-being. Tribal ventures don’t have absentee shareholders, so profit per se doesn’t matter.)

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  1. Mitra says:

    Without detracting from your, or rather Daniel Quinn’s suggestion. There *are* models where employers take responsibility beyond the pay-check. While managing an outsource project in India for a US client, I had great difficulty explaining the equivalent of Health Insurance, basically we as the employer were expected to take care of situations where the employee couldn’t – for example a major health problem of the employee or their family. There was no legal obligation, but there was a moral obligation, and also a practical one – i.e. other employees would notice how we took care of the one in need. I believe that Caring for each other is a basic human value, and one that is being diminished as we move more and more to “economic rationalisation”, and globalization. One way to improve the way that companies behave is to deal with locally owned companies where the owners have to live in the mess they create.

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