Why do people work?


As I am awake as six o’clock in the morning preparing to drive pedicab for the Saint Paul, St. Patrick’s Day Parade this question is on my mind. I’ve received Social Security for my multiple disabilities for fifteen years now. There is no expectation that I have a job and for the first six years of being sick there was no way that I could work. My job was figuring out how to live but as soon as I could do anything I started working. One benefit to this is that I qualify for a Medicaid program in Minnesota designed for employed people with disabilities. Having medical coverage is essential to me and Medicare doesn’t really cover it but that’s another story.

Obviously the need for money is why many people work. It’s the driving assumption behind efforts to raise the minimum wage. People with a job should be able to survive in this modern world. For most people their job is their primary source of income but it’s hardly the only way to get money and perhaps not even the most efficient. You certainly can make more money panhandling than you can working at McDonald’s. The idea that if you work hard you will be financially rewarded for your efforts is a myth. In this modern age, for most people, working hard is essential for survival but it is no guarantee of great wealth.

Since money is essential for survival, if money is the only reason people work then the modern job is only one step removed from slavery. If money alone will get someone to do something that they wouldn’t do for any other reason, I don’t see how that is any different than bribery. That’s how I felt the other night when I had four stippers climb into the back of my cab all waving twenty dollar bills in my face. Believe me, I really wanted to help but as I explained to them, the law only permits me to transport three adults and even more important to me than the law was that I could lose my job. They were very disappointed that no amount of money could get me to give all four of them a ride. They also didn’t want to wait for another cab to arrive. They wanted what they wanted when they wanted it and thought that money was all they needed.

It is my belief that meaningful work, far more than money, is essential for human happiness. The work we do helps us form connections with other people and gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Work is what gives us purpose. ┬áMost of the work I do I don’t get paid for at all. Writing this blog is work for which I don’t get paid. Being a parent is work for which I don’t get paid. Being a friend is work for which I don’t get paid. I get paid for performing music but not any more than it costs me to be a working musician. Driving pedicab is the only work I do which makes money but if money was my only motivation, I wouldn’t do it.

So what do you think? Would you do the work you do if you didn’t get paid? If you didn’t need the money?


Express trip to right now

Today is Monday, the start of a new work-week for most people. For me, everyday is the start of a new life. For me, every day is the same. Every day is a day to reflect on the past, move forward into the future, all the while remaining in the present.

Writing affords me the to opportunity to do all those things. Today I am moving. Today I have energy. Today I am aware of all the things I have to do and I am bloody fucking overwhelmed. Today you get my to-do list.

  • I still need to fix the drip in my bathtub. My last attempt did not do the job. I’m still recycling the wasted water but it’s not a long term solution.
  • I need to quite my delivery jobs. It’s time and I need to recycle that time into other things. This will also allow me to sell my van.
  • I need to design and order business cards. It seems like a stupid thing but without them even I don’t take myself seriously.
  • I need to write my creditors and let them know that I am breaking up with them. This seems like an important thing that I should have taken care of a long time ago but it has had a hard time making it to the top of the to-do pile.
  • I also need to file my property tax refund. The fact that I haven’t done that is just stupid.
  • The state also owes me medicare premium reimbursement for the entire year. I really need to figure out what is going on with that.
  • I still need to close my bank account and open an account with a credit union. I’ve been waiting for my federal tax refund to do that but who knows when that will show up.
  • I have a concept for a DJ night that I have wanted to do for forever. The idea has finally gelled and I think it can work. I just need to write up a proposal and get the ball moving.
  • I seriously need to replace my phone. The screen has been cracked and the camera not working for six months. I have it insured, I just need to make the call to get it replaced.
  • While I’m at that I also need to get my stove and washing machine fixed or replaced.
  • And I’ve got some medical problems that I need looked at. I’ve got a sliver in my thumb that has been bothering me for months and my prosthetic eye is about two years overdue for replacement. I could also use to see the dentist.
  • And while on the subject of health I really need to spend more time stretching. My muscles have been been getting a lot stronger but I haven’t been taking the time to keep them loose and it’s starting to cause problems.
  • I need to find more time for my friends. I know that this is the “year of me” but it seems somehow pointless without anyone to share it with.

Sadly, even with all of that to do it looks like the only things I may accomplish today is laundry and the dishes. Hopefully tomorrow I can mow the lawn.

And fuck…

I still need to eat.

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