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How the Scam of ‘Good Work Ethic’ Perpetuates Itself

June 30, 2012 46 comments

Over the years, sophists have used numerous arguments to justify slavery and indentured labor. These have been traditionally based in some mixture of custom, religion and ‘morality’. But there is an underlying pattern which can be summed up as-

We deserve much more than you because we are somehow ‘special’ and ‘better’ than you.

The factors that supposedly make them ‘special’ and ‘better’ range from the barely plausible ones such as ‘genetics’, ‘sexual morals’, ‘work habits’ to ‘god talks to me’ or ‘god appointed me’. Now it should be obvious to most readers that these are just cover stories for justifying fortunes obtained through some combination of scam, fraud, luck or chance- mostly luck and chance. In any case, the modus operandi of rich in every human society is similar to a cancerous tumor in humans and they do not willingly create new wealth.

But enough about them.. Let us now talk about how people who are NOT rich justify income and wealth inequality. But why do they have to do that in first place? Well, it goes something like this.. Humans, irrespective of their so-called “IQ” levels, are largely incapable of being honest and objective to themselves- let alone others. This willingnes to delude themselves plays out both at the personal and group level.

Therefore people, especially clever ones, try to invent all sort of reasonable sounding justifications for the indefensible.

But why spend so much time and effort finding ever more complex ways self-deluding yourself than face the obvious? It comes down to a combination of cowardice and fake hope. The very act of accepting that there is something wrong with the world almost necessitates you to do something about it. However doing so entails the risk of acting by yourself and losing out on peer acceptance, a “normal” life or “some sweet deal in the future”. Of course, none of those things matter in the world we live in- anymore. Peer acceptance is worthless, a “normal” life is slavery and that “sweet deal in the future” isn’t going to really happen.

So why do people believe in the work ethic and slave for the enrichment of others? Why would these people practice delayed gratification when their masters are clearly not practicing what they preach? Do you think billionaires become and remain rich by working hard? What about multi-millionaires? and what do they do anyway? Give me one example of a rich person whose wealth is not derived from rent-seeking scams based on regulatory capture or professions that “self-regulate” themselves. Come on.. I dare you! But the average person still ‘seems’ to believe that working hard makes one rich. We could certainly hypothesize that the average person is too retarded to appreciate that he or she is being scammed, robbed and abused. There is however an alternate, and far more cynical, explanation.

The rich try to scam the upper middle-class with the whole ‘work hard and get rich’ scam who then push it on the middle class who try to pass it on to the working class who then pile it onto the working poor and so on. Only the retarded and naive believe in it.

The rest are engaged in a pathetic game of displaying fake solidarity and providing lip service to something they don’t really believe in. Of course everybody involved in the scam tries their best to pretend that it is not a scam. To achieve this everyone pretends to work hard and perform some token sacrifices to show that they are true believers. The only problem is that the token sacrifices increase greatly as you go down the socio-economic scale such that pretty much everyone below upper-middle class makes sacrifices that are larger than any potential gain. So why don’t people see it that way?

It comes down to the fact that most humans get more joy from the misery of others than any gain for themselves- aka the ‘zero sum’ mentality.

The ‘work ethic’ therefore has nothing to do with real work, achievements, productivity or the ‘true worth’ of a person and everything to do with trying to fuck over somebody else. It is no accident that the most zero-sum minded cultures such as the USA, japan, Korea and China are full of people desperately trying to outdo each other at demonstrating their superior work ethic. However the populace of many other countries are not that far behind in portraying themselves as hard workers- whether that is true or not.

I however believe that this scam is on its last legs for reasons far beyond the control of human beings. The ever-increasing amount of automation in labor intensive occupation such as manufacturing, outsourcing to low wage countries, rising legislated income inequality, high rates of youth un- and under-employment and the rapidly aging demographics of developed countries combined with their below replacement birth rates have made real economic growth a thing of the past. Even token ‘hard workers’ can no longer rise up through the ranks as evidence that the system ‘works’. In the past, people went along with the charade because doing so allowed them to enjoy a decent life. As many of you know, only too well, that is now over.

Scams work best when they are somewhat profitable to most participants or capable of maintaining the status quo- and that is no longer the case.

What do you think? Comments?