January 19, 2017

"I simply can't understand people who are driven to work harder than necessary. I admire them. They tend to do great things."

"But I'm in my 30s now and never once has my mind suggested 'You know what sounds fun — working harder!' I've never found myself without some sort of leisure that would be more personally fulfilling."

Another comment in the same discussion:
In one of my last college classes before graduation, I had a professor ask us what we would do if money was no object. We went around the room. Everyone had these answers like 'I would still use my degree" or "I would still work". I was one of the last. I told everyone I would find a beach somewhere and do nothing but be a beach bum and learn to surf. Then when I got sick of that beach, I would go to another beach. And just keep going places but doing mostly nothing except what makes my soul happy. Being a beach bum makes my soul happy. Everyone in the class did not understand that. I would, however, probably volunteer some time to somehow help people and animals. Man, I would start every morning with some mango, paddle out in the water, smoke a joint, and surf. Then beach bum stuff or volleyball. Some sushi, another joint and a fire. Then repeat. Mix in some volunteer work and some hikes. I would be perfectly content being that guy and leaving the world mostly behind except for a dog.

90 comments:

harryo said...

"Here's a dime. Go call your mother..."

Michael K said...

A born Democrat.

Henry said...

"harder than necessary" begs a definition.

I like to work. I don't necessarily like jobs. If money were no object, I would do some of the same work, but without the job.

I have a friend who was an architectural engineer. He retired early. Now he spends his time rebuilding his house.

Paddy O said...

I had a similar dialogue after graduating college. What would I do if money wasn't an issue? Which wasn't a responsible question to ask, as it very much was.

Well, if I were a rich man, I said to myself that day at the park, all day long I'd biddy biddy bum.

I decided to apply to seminary instead of law school, despite having high LSAT scores.

Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

Nonapod said...

The notion of what to do with ones time when you no longer need to work is going to be a very real if you believe that the post scarcity future is an inevitability.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Behold! Das Untermensch!

Remember when death used to work so well to inspire creatures along that tedious path from sea jelly to eagle? I wonder what would happen if members of society who showed no real evidence of trying to sustain themselves intelligently were once again simply allowed the human dignity of expiring.

Heatshield said...

No one I have ever known worked harder than my wife. Routine 100 hour weeks. Worked at a high tech company and absolutely changed the world and affected millions of lives for the better. And she had a blast. Loved the work, loved her team and was loved by them. Working "harder than necessary" can be great.

JTR said...

Some people just suck at enjoyment of life. They try to make others feel guilty about it, but really, they are just awful at fun.

traditionalguy said...

Thou shalt not abuse the Mellennial Dreamers. All they want is the biggest participation trophy.

Meade said...

"leaving the world mostly behind except for a dog."

Some dogs don't like being left mostly behind.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If you enjoy your work, and it gives you more of a sense of accomplishment than leisure activities, why not work harder?

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bwebster said...

I have described myself through most of my life (63 years) as "inherently lazy". Keep in mind that I've done two software startups; at both, I had weeks where I put in over 100 hours at work (often 30-40 hours at a stretch), and at the second one, I averaged 70+ hours/week for the first 3 1/2 years. So I can work very hard and very effectively for long periods of time. But if I don't have something compelling me to work, I'm pretty happy to sit around and amuse myself.

mockturtle said...

I'm sure if I worked in a factory I'd be happy to just put in my hours and go home. But the term 'harder than necessary' rubs me the wrong way. It implies putting the bare minimum of effort toward a job. I have always done more than was expected--not just for reward, although I was rewarded--but for a sense of accomplishment.

After retirement, I considered driving a snowplow, something I would find very satisfying, but my husband talked me out of it.

rehajm said...

I had a professor ask us what we would do if money was no object

I'll reserve judgment until the if money was no object part is clarified.

harryo said...

When I graduated high school, my dad asked me what I was going to do.

I told him I thought I would bum around for the summer, and look for a job in September.

Well, he said, you should know, the rent is going to be $100 a month.

What!??

I thought it was terrible, a father charging his son to live in the house. But he thought it was terrible that I should want to bum around and sponge off of him.

This really pissed me off, because I deserved a vacation. Well, he allowed me a two-week vacation, and then the rent was due for the next month. Payed in advance.

So, anyway, after two weeks I finally found a job that paid $200 a week. My dreams of being a bum, dashed on the rocks of life...

urpower said...

Cf. the famous story of Alexander the Great and Diogenes.

Meade said...

If money were no object, I'd probably lay around the shack til the mail train comes back and roll in my sweet baby's arms.

JTR said...

I usually have held jobs that emphasize cognitive ability over physical labor, however, I have found that the feeling of a lodge drinks after a day on the slopes was roughly equivalent to the feeling of a beer after building and surfacing a redwood deck all weekend. One is pure leisure enjoyment, the other is technically work. I know a doctor who said he'd go crazy if he had to go on a hiking vacation, he'd be so bored without mental stimulation. For me, hiking allows my mind to expand up and out and actually improves my thought process if I am alone, and if the company is good, all for the better.

Meade said...

...and I'd work very hard at it.

JTR said...

The GoPro guy got his shit together on an extended series of surf vacations. The two aren't necessarily opposed.

Meade said...

The world would probably be a better place if everyone's dad (or mom) was more like harryo's dad.

Sebastian said...

"somehow help people and animals" By "volunteering," you know. Cuz real work never helps "people and animals."

The dispensable part of what we used to call the work force plays video games and self-medicates.

Bad Lieutenant said...

What in the history of the world suggests that people who are not needed, who are expendable, are going to have good outcomes?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It's tough not to go Mark Steyn on questions like this--he'll leave behind a dog and some volunteer-work accomplishments, and meanwhile certain other people leave behind 5 or 6 motivated children. Motivated to do what, of course, is kind of a big question...but anyway I think the line is "the future belongs to those who show up for it."

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Oooh, was that sexist? I said "he" and I assumed the wanna-be beach bum surfer person is a guy. Could be a woman! Or a male-bodied person who identifies as a woman, or something.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Meade, isn't that what you are doing?

Laslo Spatula said...

Rachel Naddox, Escort Whore…

As a Professional Escort Whore I don't want to work harder than is absolutely necessary. Have you ever had to suck a cock for thirty minutes? Your jaw HURTS, people, and all your saliva dries up like a desert. And if it is the start of the day there might still be twenty cocks to go. No, I want to do just enough to make the guy shoot his load, and get it done quickly…

That is why I have developed a process over the years…

Some Escort Whores believe the answer is to simply suck harder and harder. Sadly, this is a lot of work for questionable effectiveness: some guys will rise to the challenge, as it were, and you don't want to spend ten minutes playing cock mouth rodeo…

Going slow and easy, after one minute I start tickling the customer's balls. This will speed up the process considerably for most men, with ejaculation occurring within another minute, tops…

If this doesn't 'pull the trigger' then I go nuclear: I put two fingers up the guys ass and massage the prostate. He might think he doesn't like it, but damn, he'll come anyway…

Afterwards i gargle and wash my hands, and I am still at least ten-to-fifteen minutes ahead -- time for a latte before the next appointment. Take it from Rachel Naddox, Escort Whore: success is to suck less...

I am Laslo.

Otto said...

Shmu*ks.

Mark said...

"I simply can't understand people who are driven to work harder than necessary"

The question to that is not, "What would you do if money was no object?" The question is, "What would you do if your services were not required, if you were not needed or necessary, if you had nothing or very little to offer?"

You could, I suppose, respond as he did, saying that you would live like a leech, lying around and just existing. Most, however, would find that to be awful. They know, either implicitly or through experience or by faith, that it is in giving yourself that you find yourself.

Mark said...

Beach bum millennial -- "I simply can't understand people who strive to be the best, rather than merely adequate or good enough."

Brando said...

See, the "beach bum" lifestyle sounds great when you're very busy and stressed, but if you're the sort of person who is driven to achieve or conditioned to work just for sustenance, that's a lifestyle that gets old real fast. It's why so many people try to stay active in retirement, and get very restless after even just a few weeks of lazing about.

Of course, if you're already sort of a bum it wouldn't be much of a switch, you'd just be at better beaches.

surfed said...

I became a school teacher in the 1970's just so I could do that. It worked out well. Now that I'm retired it's even better. Surf and sail all day, travel around the world on the cheap and even spark up the occaisional joint now and then. Teacher retirement (with a year col of 3%), early social security and thoughtful investments and I'm here to tell you Life's a Beach. All i have to do is not drown or get eaten by a shark...

BN said...

My father's saying was, you can be whatever you want, just be the best you can at whatever that is.

I said, I want to be a bum.

He said, well, be the best bum you can be then.

So I became a perfesser.

Meade said...

"Meade, isn't that what you are doing? "

Yes, except for the working hard at it part. I take it easy. Wouldn't want the sound of my own wheels to drive me crazy.

MackM said...

I've seen retired people who became mentally lazy. They were the ones who ended up with dementia earlier than the retirees that remained engaged and mentally active. Use it or lose it is fitting.

Michael K said...

When I was still in practice, my partner said one day, "I hope they never find out that I would do this for free."

The guy who was the real person, "Magnificent Obsession" was written about, was a wealthy guy who decided to be a neurosurgeon in the days when that was as tough as it came. He was the U of Michigan's first chief of neurosurgery. His name was Edgar A Kahn MD.

Even when Dr. Kahn reached retirement age, he lost none of his passion for his patients. Dr. Kahn spent his entire career at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor and always worked for $1 per year.

When I was a medical student, the chief of thoracic surgery at Mass General was the heir to a large trucking company fortune. He did not need to work but spent his life doing something of value.

It doesn't have to be medicine.

shortly after arriving in Colorado, I became friends with a banker who had his own magnificent obsession. He was known for being customer friendly and for giving loans to people whom other bankers considered to be bad risks. As a friend, he would always go the extra mile. My friend recently died of metastatic colon cancer, but before he died, the owner of his bank established a $1 million fund for people who would not ordinarily qualify for a mortgage loan. That fund is called the Gary Mammel Memorial Fund. My friend with the magnificent obsession was Dr. Mammel's son.

I have known a couple of college professors who were heirs but who loved their work.

EDH said...

"...I had a professor ask us what we would do if money was no object."

A more difficult and relevant question that many more people confront at some point is: how much is enough money to make a change to do what you think you'd rather do with the time you realistically have left in life to fully enjoy the difference, even if you can't make as much money doing it? And would you really enjoy doing that more?


buwaya puti said...

We used to call guys like that aristocrats and they were expected, variously, to serve the King (in court or the army), the Church, or their lands as the equivalent of the local judiciary, social services, police and public works department.
Hippolyte Taine though a large part of the cause of the French Revolution was due to the French state having taken over these duties and social functions.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have described myself through most of my life (63 years) as "inherently lazy". Keep in mind that I've done two software startups; at both, I had weeks where I put in over 100 hours at work (often 30-40 hours at a stretch), and at the second one, I averaged 70+ hours/week for the first 3 1/2 years. So I can work very hard and very effectively for long periods of time. But if I don't have something compelling me to work, I'm pretty happy to sit around and amuse myself."

That sounds great. I think that people who are not creative don't understand the function of this seemingly lazy time. They want you looking busy all the time and some of the busyness will be filling in forms and otherwise proving that you have worked, worked, worked. These people ruin a workplace and they don't understand what they are doing, because they are not creative.

johns said...

i had breakfast today with my 37-year-old son, because we were both going to be in NYC on the same day. he complained about Millenials not wanting to work and asking for less money so they could work only 3 days a week and so forth. he feels disgust for this. i reminded him that when he was 24 or so he repeatedly said that he wanted to work just enough to pay his modest cost of living and then live a relaxed and lazy life. he didn't even remember that he used to feel that way until i reminded him

Paul said...

As long as 'other peoples money' is used, being a beach bum will work.

Once it runs out, life will get tougher.

No mangos, no paddle to paddle out in the water with,no money to smoke a joint, and no one well let you use their surfboard. No sushi either.

jaydub said...

From the first comment on the article: "I simply can't understand people who are driven to work harder than necessary."

Most people with this philosophy usually make the fatal mistake of underestimating the dividing line between hard enough and harder than necessary. I, myself, helped a number of those out the door.

Larry J said...

Larry's Second Law is "Laziness is the foundation of efficiency."

Give a job to a truly lazy man and he'll find the fastest, simplest, and easiest way to get the job done right the first time because anything else is more work. Sometimes, that requires asking if the job actually needs to be done. Other times, it's the old "an action transferred is an action completed" thing where a task may need to be done but not necessarily by you. If something really needs to be done, it's only reasonable to find the easiest way to do it.

Laziness is the basis for much of modern engineering. For every "labor saving device", there was a motivation to reduce the amount of work it took to complete some task.

As I'm in the home stretch for retirement, I'm reminded of what some great Aussies I've met told me. "You Americans live to work. We work to live." As I think about retirement, I have to consider what I'll do on a daily basis. My wife and I love to travel but we won't be able to do that every day. Our projected retirement income will be quite good but not that good. I love to read and will do some exercise to avoid blowing up like a balloon. My preferred hobby (private pilot) is very expensive (rental is > $100 an hour), so I need to find something else to keep me busy.

Virgil Hilts said...

If I won the lottery (same Q) I would spend 100% of my time on anti-aging research, just like many of the tech billionaires are doing.
I'd really like to live (and to have wife/kids live) another 150 years. A lot of us assume (almost as a religious belief) that aging can't be reversed; that God intended everyone to age/die. But what if we can reverse it and it turns out not to be that difficult/expensive. If you assume that's incredibly unlikely, is that assumption based on scientific reasoning (based on a detailed analysis of the latest research into the biological science of aging) or something religious or intuitive. Previously skeptical, I'm now starting to think that reversing aging may not be as improbable (or difficult) as people assume.

Stoutcat said...

Adiós and vaya con Dios
Going home now to stay
The senoritas don't care-o when there's no dinero
You got no money to stay
Adiós and vaya con Dios
Going home now to stay...

Also: See Heinlein's "The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail"

Virgil Hilts said...

Recent anti-aging news. - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/aging-is-reversible-at-least-in-human-cells-and-live-mice/

Ann Althouse said...

When you look at retirement, as I did recently, the question was here's an income you can have for life, but you can also keep working for a few dollars more. (Deliberate reference to yesterday's spaghetti western theme.)

Now, you can realistically see that you can live without paid work, but you could also continue to work for an additional $X.

You could say:

1. I like the work so much, I want to do it and the $X doesn't even matter,

2. I like the work well enough that it's worth it for the $X,

3. I want the $X so much I'm going to keep working whether I like it that much or not, or

4. I'll walk away from the $X because I want to free up my time. (I picked this option.)

Note: I used the word "like" in a way that makes it seem as though work is done only for personal satisfaction, but if your work is genuinely a plus for others and that's part of your thinking, please include any of that in the meaning of "like."

Johanna Lapp said...

Once health care is free, under President Warren, everyone will be able to follow their bliss.

Except physicians, whose government pay grade will be frozen forever to keep health care affordable. And whose hours will balloon as senior docs retire after 20 years, like cops.

Unknown said...

I'd probably just shoot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

Wait, sorry. Wrong topic.

Never mind.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's tough not to go Mark Steyn on questions like this--he'll leave behind a dog and some volunteer-work accomplishments, and meanwhile certain other people leave behind 5 or 6 motivated children. Motivated to do what, of course, is kind of a big question...but anyway I think the line is "the future belongs to those who show up for it.""

There is a point in the future that you will not show up for and no amount of work will get you there. In fact, the point may arrive sooner if you work too hard.

But I know Steyn is talking about childbearing. The question is: Why should any given individual have a child? Your personal contribution is inconsequential. It would be better to use your powers to convince other people to have children or to create a culture that pressures childbearing. But why? I only care that my culture continues if we are free and flourishing human beings.

MackM said...


My observations of truly creative people are that they work very hard. Many creative people's minds are either working on their current project or thinking, even dreaming of the next one.

mockturtle said...

They want you looking busy all the time and some of the busyness will be filling in forms and otherwise proving that you have worked, worked, worked. These people ruin a workplace and they don't understand what they are doing, because they are not creative.

Big difference between 'looking busy' and working. Working is actually accomplishing something--having something to show for your efforts, even in not tangible. The best musicians work very hard at their art.

robother said...

I especially love the "I would, however, probably volunteer some time to somehow help people and animals."

The millennial hedonist pays homage to the last piety remaining in the wake of the bare ruined choirs of the Protestant Work Ethic.

"probably...somehow" volunteering to help people and animals. The smell of hashtag blending ever so sweetly with that of actual hash as he labors mightily over a tweet that will blow away evildoers everywhere, man.

MackM said...

Steyn must believe people should do as they pressure others to do. If one isn't willing to do the work of child rearing/ raising they have no business expecting others to do what they are unwilling or too lazy or selfish to do.

As for working too hard getting you into an early grave, work isn't work if it's giving you fulfillment, even joy. Some people love what they do for a living and what they choose to do after retirement. I don't buy the argument that laziness is beneficial.

Titus said...

I love working.

Static Ping said...

I am fortunate that I like my job for the most part. There are certainly times where I would like to work less, but that's because I want to focus on working on other things which are not nearly as lucrative and may only be of interest to me but still involve a good deal of effort. Laying around doing nothing has its charms for the short-term, but it gets old after a while.

That said working "too hard" is generally not fun, especially when you are not getting paid for the extra work. There are exceptions.

Paul Snively said...

One nice thing about developing software—and I suspect other disciplines may have similar benefits, either now or in the near future—is that when I decide I no longer need to do that to pay my mortgage and put food on the table, I can stop... and if I get bored or restless, I can pick up a contract, even a really short one (three month contracts are not uncommon; six months are trivial to find). So I could easily do a six-month contract, then travel/beach bum the other half of the year, easily.

So much of our default assumptions/patterns about "work" involve "commute somewhere, be on your feet or at your desk for eight hours minus lunch and/or 15-minute breaks, commute home, collapse" that it's hard to imagine/understand work environments that aren't like that. But I already work from home on a flexible schedule, and have for the last 5+ years. "Retirement" for me will just mean that I no longer have to.

mockturtle said...

Or, as my late husband did, do consulting work part-time.

MadisonMan said...

My problem is that my hobby is also my job. I never feel like I stop working.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barry Dauphin said...

I simply can't understand people who are driven to work harder than necessary.
Maybe it's an indirect criticism of progressive taxation.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What if money was no object?

My husband and I often play the "what if we won a big lottery" mental game. An endorphin releasing out loud day dreaming. He says he would probably continue working in his pump business, because he likes the challenges...but only do the jobs he wants and have more helpers/employees. His work is physical and very hard on the body. Hire some young backs :-)

First issue of course would be all the legal and necessary things. Set up trusts. Foundations for our charitable ideas. Pay off all debts etc. Hire people to do the landscaping and maintenance on the property. Investments, lawyers, CPAs etc.

He would want to have an auto restoration/hot rod workshop and maybe set up a trade school type of situation for people who want to learn the art.

I would get back into artistic endeavors and have a studio building for pottery, stained glass, weaving. Perhaps a little store or co-op for like minded people to sell and show their wares.

Not interested in cruises, world travel or fancy vacations. Not interested in expensive new cars or other status symbol things. Would buy a very cool vintage car or two and make some road trips in the US. Mine would be a 49 Buick Roadmaster Convertable. His a 66 Corvette like the one that he used to own. Do Route 66 once again. Take some RV excursions to just leisurely wander around the country.

Lem said...

Funny I red this on Reedit before seeing it here and voted it down.

Lem said...

It started off with something about looking forward to going home and becoming one with the couch. Ridiculous.

I Callahan said...

If you enjoy your work, and it gives you more of a sense of accomplishment than leisure activities, why not work harder?

And if you don't? You are looked at as lazy.

Brando said...

"What if money was no object?"

To me the question is "how much money are we talking about?" If we're talking "enough to never have to work and just do what you like to do" I'd probably travel a lot, sculpt and paint more, and limit my legal work to interesting pro bono cases.

But if we're talking "crazy amounts of money" then I'd build an offshore research lab free of any nation's laws and hire scientists and doctors to pursue experimental treatments of diseases that cannot get past regulatory hurdles (of course I'd have to be careful who I hire to run it so it's not like a Josef Mengele thing going on there).

campy said...

I love work. I can sit and watch it for hours.

n.n said...

Passion.

n.n said...

Passion. Perhaps a sense of duty. Maybe caring, too.

Lem said...

This Reddit post was written by an inaugural boycotting democrat.

buwaya said...

"My husband and I often play the "what if we won a big lottery" mental game"

I would buy a fair-sized Philippine Island, and then be the governor of it, the lord of all that I survey, as Sancho Panza modestly requested as his reward from Don Quixote. And then my wife would kill me because she hates the climate and giant bugs.

Freeman Hunt said...

I am a stay at home parent, so I would do the same thing that I do now, but I'd have a staff so that I wouldn't have to clean or run boring errands. It wouldn't be that different because I don't do much of those things as it is. If money is really no object, I'll take a driver too. That would make conversing in the car easier.

Milwaukie guy said...

I have been semi-retired for some years, doing some graphic design jobs [career 1] and working with my brother on fixing up homes in Portland, OR [career 2]. Two years ago at age 63, I decided I was done with carpentry and was going to be more retired.

I worked on my extensive gardens, built a bocci ball court, planted a couple of small cider apple orchards and continued my volunteer work on the local watershed and played Civil War. I also played more Civilization VI and Europa Universalis IV.

Bor-ring. Well, at least somewhat. There's only so much puttering you can do in a garden.

I signed up for Social Security and Medicare in September and started a new construction company in December. Work is good, work is necessary for the soul. Blessed are the makers.

William Chadwick said...

"I've never found myself without some sort of leisure that would be more personally fulfilling."

Indeed. Sad but true.

mockturtle said...

Quite honestly, I have never had a desire to be rich.

Ann Althouse said...

"It started off with something about looking forward to going home and becoming one with the couch. Ridiculous."

The comment I quoted has far more votes that the thread-starter.

Sometimes looking through to the comments changes your view of the value of the conversation.

Meade said...

"I'll take a driver too. That would make conversing in the car easier."

Nowadays, distracted driving tends to mean driving while texting. But as a former school bus driver for 2 years, I can tell you one of the most dangerous situations I repeatedly experienced was not snow or ice or traffic but passengers who refused to obey my commands to stay calm and quiet in their seat. That was in the late 70's when I was trying to put myself through college. The job paid $7.50/hr., not enough reward for the risk. Glad I retired from that when I found enough gardening jobs at $5.00/hr.

Years later, I once gave a ride to an adult who lost emotional control and started yelling in my ear after I'd said something he found objectionable. At the first opportunity, I pulled my car to curb and explained that we were not going any farther until he regained self-control.

Perhaps passengers need to be required to pass a test to get their passenger's license so that licensed drivers can do their jobs safely.

khematite said...

Speaking of work--and John Cale (and Lou Reed):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahhWksSmX6s&index=4&list=PL820DD4343E71FD46

Ann Althouse said...

@khematite

Thanks for that link. That was great. Made me go to my Kindle copy of Andy's diaries, which I didn't remember being full of references to working. But they are. Example:

"Saturday, December 15, 1984 Got up early, had to go to work. Had Jay come in and Rupert. During the week it’s impossible to work at the new place, it’s just people coming through and gawking all the time. I bought three Cabbage Patch dolls on the street with their birth certificates. A boy and two girls (3 × $ 80 = $ 240). And they wanted to wrap them so that I wouldn’t be attacked for them on the street. Got research books ($ 180)."

Warhol, Andy; Hackett, Pat (2009-11-11). The Andy Warhol Diaries (p. 631). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Rance Fasoldt said...

When I graduated from high school, I was going to hang out until college, but my dad said he was going to charge me $15/week for room and board. I grudgingly paid him, but later in the week he asked me for the $15. I said, "But I already paid you." Dad said, "Do you have a receipt?"
Lesson learned. He was a great father. He passed away 35 years ago at 68, but I miss him to this day, as my brothers and sister do. He always had our backs - not a buddy, but a father, and our champion.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said... But why? I only care that my culture continues if we are free and flourishing human beings.

Yes ma'am, and that goes to his point--he's talking specifically about differences in birthrates between cultures that value freedom & flourishing (as we understand those things) and cultures that do not. No one is arguing that members of despotic/authoritarian/miserable cultures ought to be encouraged to reproduce and spread/propagate such cultures--quite the opposite.

I don't specifically object to the Reddit poster's POV. If that person feels like the best use of their life is to be a beach bum, fine. My point is more that the POV in question might be individually rational (for each person) but dangerously irrational for the group (the culture/nation, etc). While we're all being beach bums and not bothering to have kids and/or defend our culture, beliefs, etc, others are diligently reproducing and spreading their own culture/values/etc.

I dunno, sort of a Kantian categorical imperative argument, really: if we all act as beach bums/don't bother working hard then the wealth, affluence, and cultural conditions that allow beach bummery won't exist. "Beach bum if you feel like it and don't worry about working (hard)" isn't a universalizable value/rule.

[full disclosure: I have no children]

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Warhol: I bought three Cabbage Patch dolls on the street with their birth certificates. A boy and two girls (3 × $ 80 = $ 240).


Daaaang. $240 in 1984 is $560 or so today. That's-a-lotta-dough for some dolls.

Ann Althouse said...

Cabbage Patch dolls were an insane fad at the time.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes ma'am, and that goes to his point--he's talking specifically about differences in birthrates between cultures that value freedom & flourishing..."

I realize that, of course. You are missing my point!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I suppose I have missed it. Are you saying that there is tension between encouraging people (within ones culture) to have and having/being in a free culture, or that those are incompatible?

Obadiah said...

I simply don't understand people who don't want to work. The idle life sounds boring, frustrating, and lonely. My father taught me to always give more than I get. If you make yourself useful, he said, others will find you indispensable. Dad's advice has served me well.

Obadiah said...

I simply don't understand people who don't want to work. The idle life sounds boring, frustrating, and lonely. My father taught me to always give more than I get. If you make yourself useful, he said, others will find you indispensable. Dad's advice has served me well.

Robert Cook said...

"The notion of what to do with ones time when you no longer need to work is going to be a very real if you believe that the post scarcity future is an inevitability."

There never will come such a time, at least, not given our current systems of economic organization. If anything, the reverse will be true: scarcities will become greater, and even the minority of people in the world today who have never known want will come to live in want as their enduring condition.

Robert Cook said...

You guys talk about "work" as a fulfilling endeavor. At its best, it should be that. However, most people toil at miserable, unfulfilling jobs for low pay and in unpleasant (or worse)conditions and often dangerous or unsafe/unhealthy environments, all for the greater profit of others who treat them as chattel. Why would anyone not wish desperately to be free of this?

Of course, sitting at home staring at tv all day, or engaging in other mindless pursuits, will be maddening to most people. (I knew a woman who worked as a waitress at the city's Yacht Club...all the members were rich. She said the kids were mostly zonked on drugs and the adults were drunks, with some well-dressed matrons pissing themselves a their luncheon tables.)

The ideal is to work at something that engages oneself and is personally fulfilling. The number of people in the world fortunate enough to have this situation is exceedingly tiny.