Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Travel Reading: Playing and Working...and class...

In order to keep my sanity on long airplane trips, I read, and bring reading. I mentioned the book below, but I might as well put in a plug for the recent Harper's issue.

I hadn't read Harper's in a few months; it is long airplane trip reading. However, you never step into the same stream twice. This month's issue is less than I'd thought it would be. There is a fairly amusing article "God or Gorilla" on the Dover case, which tells little tidbits I hadn't picked up at Panda's Thumb or elsewhere; mainly that the folks pushing the "Intelligent" "Design" case were basically - from the Dover side- fundamentalists. Behe comes off as insincere.

But the article that crystallized my bad taste for this issue was the article "Crap Shoot," a long essay about "players" versus "workers." It is a false dichotomy; everybody plays, everybody who is devoted to their career and works hard at it does so because they played previously. I'm reminded of Sartre's description of a waiter in a restaurant playing the part of a waiter. You think too much about how sincere you are and all you do is wind up being more insincere. To play and to work - to me is to use the same mindset.

But it did raise a thought in my head: in America, we talk about the "rich," the "middle class," and the poor.

Now in America it is generally assumed -falsely- that the poor do not work. (I can hardly call being unemployed "playing.") It is also assumed that the rich don't, or that to the extent that they do they are over-compensated (which I think is generally true.)

Rather than splitting society in a false dichotomy of "players" versus "workers," it's probably better to say "working classes," versus "non-working classes."

I have to work for a living. Lee Scott of Wal-Mart most assuredly does not have to work for a living. Neither does George Soros, Alan Greenspan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Maria Cantwell, and a whole host of other folks.

So when we talk about GDP, and booming economies, and government policies, I think it behooves us to ask, does it benefit those who work for a living? Even those for whom work is hard but playful? Heck, I have fun at work often, but without that fun I'd be consuming my savings, which aren't enough to do the things that need to be done, like educating my son.

That is the key difference. Those of us who work for a living could become poor or would be in even more dire poverty if we did not work for a living.

The "middle class" I think is a myth...

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