Why Should We Have to Work for Money?

Joscelyn Kate

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What do you think about people who ask for money? Are they being greedy? Should people have to do something specific, societally approved, in order to survive or is it acceptable to ask someone else for money?

When it comes to meeting our basic survival needs, the number one barrier we all face is money. We must accumulate money so that we can do anything—eat, make shelter, etc. Since money is a major barrier, and finding a place to get money—a job—is not as simple as it sounds. Each employer only employs a certain number of people, you must be available to work a certain number of hours, you will need to facilitate transportation, childcare if you have a family, and you may not be paid all of the money required to cover those costs.

Lack of Sufficient Income Availability

So in order to get to your job, to earn money, to meet your basic survival needs—which include food and shelter—you may need supplemental income, which would have to come in the form of another job, which might facilitate the need for additional transportation, childcare, and therefore...income.

In these situations, where people are incapable of meeting their basic survival needs and pursuing non-survival based happiness, despite a willingness to work, they’re able to qualify for government assistance. The problem with government assistance is a certain income level is required to receive benefits, if you’re even $1 over that amount, you will not qualify for assistance. Many people live in poverty despite working 40 hours or more each week. That is not due to their laziness or lack of trying to find a better-paying job, people can’t get better-paying jobs. They don’t exist. We live in a pyramid scheme and nobody moves up unless someone else dies or exits the pyramid. There are fewer positions at the bottom than at the top, which means not everyone is going to get a chance to earn the money that even meets, nevertheless exceeds, their basic survival needs.

Having this knowledge, that even with a motivation to work, and even finding a place willing to hire, does not guarantee that people will be able to not die, meet their needs, or pursue non-survival happiness. In addition to no guarantee of meeting basic survival needs, people will work at jobs that they’re not feeling valued at, respected by, or empowered in. People want to feel that they are contributing to society, they are respectable, worthy, and noticeable. When we pay someone wages, regardless of their motivation to work 40 hours, that bar them from meeting their basic survival needs, we communicate to them that their work is not valuable, their life is not valuable. Allowing companies to employ people at wages that do not meet the cost of living, sends a deliberate message that even if you’re willing to work, it may not be enough to not die.

Because most employees are feeling the pressure to make it up to the next open space, they must work against their coworkers. Not everyone is going to get the shot to move into the position that helps them increase their ability to meet, and exceed survival needs. This creates a negative environment among the employees and lower management. The employees will do petty things like tattle on coworkers for coming in 5 minutes late, taking extra time on a lunch break, using cell phones, having friends visit, or taking personal calls. In many companies this facilitates an environment of “drama” but what is happening is competition. People are competing to be seen as the best, most viable candidate for the job that helps them earn more survival stock. Only one person is chosen, and sometimes it’s not even within the company, sometimes it’s an outside hire, which becomes another threat in itself.

Harmful Work Environments

These scenarios lead to competitive, exhausting, and cutthroat undertones in each work environment. Spending 40 hours every week working at a job that does not help meet your basic survival needs—and may even make it more difficult depending on whether you’re living in absolute poverty or relative poverty—and also that creates an uninviting and competitive environment where fake friendships are fostered so people can realize their need to connect while maintaining enough distance so they can ensure their ability to move above their “friend” should the opportunity arise. This creates a layer of disconnect where the employee has to be one way for their employer and cannot exercise their genuine self. In addition to exhaustion, scrutiny, and suspicion, lack of ability to supply survival basics, employees work in positions that are not valued by the general population. Most people do not find a McDonald’s cashier to hold a noble job. It doesn’t matter if that person is trying to work 40 hours per week to survive, their 40 hours are not good enough to survive because that job is not valuable.

People want to believe that the reason we cannot pay living wages is that these companies, like McDonald’s sell low-priced items, therefore it cannot be possible to pay high wages. The issue with that line of thinking is, first: why is the CEO able to earn approximately $6,000 per hour on a business with low-priced products, and second: it’s a multi-billion dollar per year business. How is it possible that a billion-dollar business would cause pockets of poverty all over the US without the financial impact making it’s way to the c-suite executives? If the company doesn’t have enough money to pay their employees livable wages, they should at least not pay the lowest poverty wages possible while paying their executives are earning more money than they could spend on their own survival in a lifetime.

Is it Better to Work or Beg?

Considering the work that goes into finding a job, facilitating the means to keep the job, earning pay that may not even meet your basic survival needs, and an environment where you feel not only undervalued but constantly under scrutiny by management and coworkers, doesn't it sound easier to just ask people for money?

Considering all that goes into working, and all that comes out... what's a little shame? Why not ask people for money under the highway overpass? You can meet your basic survival needs and then move along with your day enjoying your time. You will be shamed one way or the other. People who work at McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts, they're shamed anyway. They're shamed and told they're not valuable and they're blamed for not being able to find a "better" job, even though the better jobs don't even exist.

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Lover of lattes, champagne, avocados, sleep, and my perfect family. The epitome of a liberal millennial snowflake.

Boston, MA
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