Views on politics and current events

Monday, September 11, 2006


by Arthur Slutzburger, Jr. of The Dick List/The New York Times

WASHINGTON- A growing number of perfectly healthy American men have chosen not to work any job at all, and this extreme lazyness is caused by capitalism.

Many of these men could find work if they had to, but with lower pay and fewer benefits than were once standard, they have decided they prefer the alternative. It is a significant cultural shift from three decades ago, when men almost invariably went back into the work force after losing a job and were more often able to find a new one that met their needs.

“Men don’t feel a need to be in a career, not as much as they once did,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Nor do men have the incentive they once had to pursue a career, not when employers are no longer committed to them.”

"If employers gave guaranteed positions for life," continued Ms. Milkman, "these unemployed men would gladly take jobs and become productive workers. Further, if they got automatic raises and full benefits, it would inspire them to be the best workers they can possibly be."

In Rock Falls, Illinois, Alan Beggerow has stopped looking for work. Laid off as a steelworker at 48, he taught math for a while at a community college. But when that ended, he could not find a job that, in his view, was neither demeaning nor underpaid.

So instead of heading to work, Mr. Beggerow, now 53, fills his days with diversions: playing the piano, reading histories and biographies, masturbating, and writing unpublished Western potboilers in the Louis L’Amour style — all activities once relegated to spare time. He often stays up late and sleeps until 11 a.m.

“I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me,” he said. To make ends meet, he has tapped the equity in his home through a $30,000 second mortgage, and he is drawing down the family’s savings, at the rate of $7,500 a year. About $60,000 is left. His wife’s income helps them scrape by. “If things really get tight,” Mr. Beggerow said, “I might have to take a low-wage job, but I don’t want to do that. It's below me. Who do these guys think I am, that I should have to work to make a living?”

"What really pisses me off" said Mr. Beggerow, "is that the government won't subsidize my slothful behavior. Why couldn't I have been born in France or something? Why couldn't the Democrats have been elected? If the government would just give me money, maybe I would feel good enough about myself to get a job. Yeah, that's the ticket."

Truly, not wanting a job and not working at all has nothing to do with being a lazy, disgraceful, self-absorbed waste, but rather it is a product of the pernicious capitalist system that strips people of thier feelings of adeqacy and forces them to work in a state of quasi-slavery.

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