Monday, March 29, 2010

"Productive Members of Society"

Quoth Nancy Pelosi:

Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar—you name it, any condition—is job locking.

Mary Katherine Ham ignored the latter part of Pelosi's quote in her response in the Weekly Standard:
If liberal Boomers such as Nancy Pelosi insist on creating government incentives for a generation of people to be unemployed artists who nonetheless have their health care paid for by productive members of society, there will be fewer productive members of society.

But I do believe that even if her misinterpretation was reflective of Pelosi's actual sentiment, Ham's critique would still be unimpressive.

When Ham refers to "productive members of society," given the context, she is referring to people with traditional 9-5 jobs that offer a comprehensive benefits package. The problem is that, at the moment, our economy doesn't require as many "productive members" to produce all the requirements of a good life. This is thanks to technology, and this shouldn't be discouraged. However, capitalism's usual reaction is to force innovation, which could mean more labor-saving technology, but most often it means "convincing the general public to buy more, new crap."

When technology saves us labor costs so that we can thrive on fewer people working, shouldn't it be a good response to use the greater leisure time to create art and literature, instead of finding new work to do?

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