WHAT ABOUT FREELOADING SLACKERS?
by John Spritzler
The URL of this article for sharing it is https://www.pdrboston.org/what-about-freeloading-slackers
[Also very related: "IS HEALTH CARE A RIGHT FOR FREELOADERS?"]
[Please see "Is Egalitarianism a Freeloader's Paradise?"]
[Very related: "Is Anything the Right of ALL?"]
What should we do in a good society--an egalitarian society with a sharing economy and a voluntary federation system of genuine democracy as discussed on this website--about people who want to take from those who work without doing, in return, their own fair share* of the work? Today such people** (no matter how small or large a percentage they may actually be) can be found collecting welfare (EBT) benefits or disability benefits even though they have no legitimate claim to them, meaning they are not really trying to find gainful employment or they are lying when they claim to be disabled or unable to work for some other reason. What should we do with such freeloaders?
In a good society freeloaders would have no right to enjoy the fruits of the sharing economy. Unlike those who are members of the sharing economy because they contribute reasonably to it as they are able, by working or learning a skill, freeloaders would not be able to take products and services for free from the sharing economy. They could barter something for something else, if somebody was willing to make such a trade, but that's all. People in the sharing economy could also decide, if they want to, to provide whatever they feel like providing to freeloaders, but they would be under no moral or legal obligation to provide anything. (This principle applies to everything including, say, health care as discussed here.)
The principle of the sharing economy is "From each according to ability, to each according to need."*** Reasonableness is assumed, of course. People are expected to contribute according to ability reasonably, meaning a reasonable amount of work, not the maximum work physically possible! Children and the elderly and the truly disabled and sick are not expected to work. People are free to take according to reasonable need and also reasonable desire (people deserve not just bread but roses too.) Things in short supply are rationed equitably in some reasonable manner according to need. Reasonableness is defined by the democratic local community assembly, which, being open equally to all the people in the community who support the values of equality and mutual aid and democracy, will almost certainly be guided by reasonableness in its decisions.
At first glance, denying freeloaders a right to enjoy the fruits of the economy sounds the same as what right wing Republicans advocate. These right wingers devote lots of talk radio time to complaining about the freeloaders defrauding the welfare system and buying caviar with their EBT cards and enjoying the "Life of Riley" at the expense of hard working honest people.
An egalitarian society, however, is not what right wingers--at least not the top leaders of the right wingers--have in mind. Here are the key differences between what egalitarians want and what the right wingers want:
1. Egalitarians deny ALL free-loaders a right to enjoy the fruits of the work of others. Right wingers only deny this right to poor free-loaders, not rich free-loaders (such as, for example, mega-billionaire Alice Walton.)
2. Egalitarians say that there should be no obstacle preventing a person from contributing his or her fair share of work to the economy. They say that if you want to work reasonably, all you need to do is go to where people are working and volunteer to help them, or go to a school to learn a skill so as to be able to help do skilled work in the future, or propose to your local assembly a plan to do something the assembly will agree is useful and then do it (with the necessary human and material resources being available for free) or help work on a new project that somebody else has just had approved. In an egalitarian society there is no such thing as involuntary unemployment. Every effort is made to make sure that those who want to contribute their fair share of work are actually able to do so. This, after all, makes life better for all because it shares the required work of society among more people, making it possible for everybody to do less work. Thus all that is needed to work and be a member of the sharing economy is a willingness to work reasonably.
But right wingers disagree. They say that if you cannot find an employer who is willing to hire you or you cannot find somebody who will pay your tuition to attend a school, then tough luck; you're unemployed no matter how eager you are to work or study. In the right wingers' view, people only deserve to be hired or paid to study if it will increase some capitalist's profits. If more profits can be made by not hiring some people, then it's just too bad for them: their lot in life is to be unemployed regardless of their willingness to work.
In conclusion, the choice for how to deal with freeloaders comes to this. Egalitarians say: Deny all freeloaders the right to take from those who work, and ensure that anybody who truly wishes to do their fair share of the work is able to do so. Right wingers say: Deny only poor freeloaders the right to live as a parasite off of others but give this right to rich freeloaders, and furthermore deny many people an opportunity to do their fair share of the work.
But what do the liberals say? The liberals who lead the Democratic Party pretend not to notice that there are any freeloaders living unfairly at the expense of regular working people at all. The liberals portray, as "racism" or "selfishness," the justifiable anger of working people against freeloaders. The liberals claim to be the champions of the poor, including the unemployed and disabled, and they ignore the fact that some (no matter how small a percentage) of the people they claim to champion are indeed freeloaders. Why do the liberals do this?
The liberal leaders don't do it out of any real concern for the poor, freeloaders or not. These liberal leaders are as unconcerned about regular people as the most right wing Republican Party leaders. What's going on is this. The liberal and conservative leaders are playing a kind of "Good Cop/Bad Cop" (or rather "Friend of freeloaders/Foe of freeloaders") routine to divide and rule the American people with the "freeloader" issue. Their purpose is to protect the enormous inequality of our capitalist society. The Democratic Party deliberately acts in a way that makes it seem to working people as if the government is coddling freeloaders at the expense of honest workers. This is a set-up for the Republican Party to direct anger at poor freeloaders into support for policies that give the very rich (the rich freeloaders) exactly what benefits them (the rich) the most while making life harder for all working people.
If the Democratic Party liberals really cared about poor people, they would be egalitarians. They would do whatever it takes to enable people who want to work to find employment. They wouldn't accept the capitalist principle that nobody gets hired unless it maximizes some capitalist's profits to hire them. The Democrats are no friends of the poor; it was Democrat Bill Clinton who "abolished welfare as we know it" and orchestrated the shipping of higher paying factory jobs to Mexico with his anti-worker North American Free Trade Agreement. The Democratic Party leaders are pro-capitalists who cry crocodile tears for the poor in order to divide and rule Americans.
* What constitutes a reasonable "fair share" of work depends on things like a person's age and health, of course. Children, people who have worked but now are past retirement age and are retired, sick people and truly disabled people would not be expected to work, but people of working age and in good physical and mental health would be expected to make some reasonable contribution to the economy if they are to enjoy the right to take freely from it according to reasonable need and desire, or have access to scarce things when equitably rationed according to need.
** Not to be confused with people who merely exercise their right to be lazy and don't claim any right to the fruits of other people's labor. Such people are not really "freeloaders." Maybe a good word for them would be "dropouts." Dropouts would probably not wish to be part of a sharing economy based on "from each according to ability, to each according to need" because they decline to contribute "according to ability" and don't mind not receiving "according to need."
What would happen to dropouts in an egalitarian society based on a sharing economy? What, for example, about a person or family or group of people who want to exercise their right to be lazy or to work (however much or little they wish) on their own land or in their own workshop (or equivalent) and be self-sufficient and not be a member of the sharing economy?
In an egalitarian society dropouts would be perfectly free to drop out this way, if that's what they want to do. They could own, in addition to personal items, as much land or other things related to economic production as they can put to productive use by their own, and only their own, labor; they cannot, however, hire other workers. What they do with the fruits of their labor is up to them; but since society is no longer based on money and they have chosen not to be in the sharing economy, they might decide to barter some of the fruits of their labor with individual members or economic enterprises in the sharing economy, which is fine.
*** It is NOT "Free access." For discussion about this go here.