Monday, February 01, 2010

HOW MANY OF US REALLY NEED TO BE WORKING

KODGER KING KOGITATES THE KWESTION IN QUARTZSITE ARIZONA I'm camped 7 miles from town---150 of my friends have gone on to new adventures. I take a walk in the desert considering the comment made by Rob in the previous blog. He gently urged me to be mindful that the lifestyle we mobile citizens lead is made possible by the vast majority who work to produce the goods, services and infrastructure we consume and use. He's right of course---BUT IT NEED NOT BE THAT WAY. IT IS POSSIBLE, I'M CONVINCED, FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF US TO LIVE IN LEISURE WHILE ONLY A SMALL MINORITY WORK. WE HAVE FAILED TO ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. I SAY WITH BUCKMINISTER FULLER: "MACHINES OUGHT TO WORK---PEOPLE OUGHT TO THINK."
I BELIEVE OUR WORKING CAREERS NEED NOT BE MORE THAN TEN YEARS. (that's how long mine was and I never made a lucrative salary) I go walking in the desert considering how to make my point.
I encounter this little fellow---moving slow.

So slow that he lets me pick him up---I stroked him---seemed to like it--then gently let him walk away. Interesting---but unhelpful---I walk on.


BINGO----Here's part of the answer---an anthill--alive and functioning even after the recent fierce rainstorm. I'll back away a few steps so you can see it in the context I saw it:



It's located in a vast bare area of only rocks and dirt. What do they eat? Whatever it is ---is very sparce. And hidden underground are 500,000 termites (on average) surviving here. THEY THRIVE BY CONSUMING VERY LITTLE RESOURCES. AND SO DO I---AND SO CAN YOU! FRENETIC GREED AND WASTE IS WHAT KEEPS AMERICANS WORKING THEIR LIVES AWAY. The nearest human equivalent of this situation is the tribes of South Africa's Kalihari desert--who work much less than we do. Come with me---I think I will show you 100,000 people who are not working---who have chosen (more or less) to live in leisure---consuming little.




Here they are--in downtown Quartzsite, Az from a postcard taken one typical January. But this is only the downtown campers. Thousands more are camped a few miles north, south, east and west of here. Only a small fraction are working and the vast majority are camping free on BLM land(government owned)----Here's a fragment of a poem I wrote celebrating this wonderful 3 months long gathering-- suggesting that it is the wave of the future--- when more and more will renounce drudgery, live frugally, experience deep freedom, increasing their chances of "finding themselves." (poem title: Hi Jolly returns to Quartzsite)......
Something grand and dear is happening here,
Hi Jolly could not have expected
The mobile domicile and a new lifestyle
In Quartzsite are being perfected.
The sprouting seed of a brand-new breed
Living simple and light and lean,
Living happy and free as wild cherokee
In cozy little living machines.
A life that is bold, with oneself in control
and clusters of friends--in affection
re-inventing the tribe --- helping revive
Our long lost natural connection.
Choosing sunlight's glow over ice and snow;
Acceptance over sorrow;
Adventurous game over riches and fame;
and today---over iffy tomorrow.






Here's downtown this morning---from the eastern overpass.






and panning right. But I've not done the place Justice for better coverage of this phenomenon see Diana's last 2 or three blogs: http://www.lifeontheopenroad.blogspot.com/
A final thought: Thoreau, long ago, proved that a person can win freedom with frugality. A miserable life doing work you don't like is not necessary. Read the first chapter of WALDEN and be convinced. I did so 38 years ago and am living proof of its truth. His grand experiment was to see how little a man could work and still live satisfactorily---his answer: 6 weeks in a year. He spent the rest of the year enjoying himself---like I do. To those who cannot handle freedom, Thoreau said they should keep on working till they pay for themselves.
Obama should say this to Americans: There are millions of you who have worked long enough and you should consider retiring---downscaling your lifestyle if necessary---to make room in the workforce for others. This is the smart way to create jobs.
And when you do get a job---live smart--save money--let us end the stupidity of spending all we earn. Learn from German workers---who save more than 50% of their earnings.







16 comments:

Anonymous said...

A reasonable perspective......but only one point of view. The last paragraph might have worked at one time but with the devaluing of the currency, administrative and legislative chaos - saving is necessary but seems today is going backward. Printing money to stave off inflation is simply delaying the inevitable. One thing left out of this essay is that most people have children - you, I believe, do not. That has an enormous impact on where the family money is placed. As for mass retirements (nice idea though)so many who planned to retire are not in such a grand position as you as they have lost assets, pensions and income they were counting on. You are wise to have placed your funds in safe vehicles, low interest but safe. But have you not noticed that money does not have the same value it had when you began? And the rate of inflation change since 1990, is 64%. So, it is great that you and many others are consuming less, needing little and most of us would be better off to consume less and need little. Truth is, we are moving in that direction. So you boondockers are far ahead of most of us. Some of us have a bit of envy that you have figured out how to handle the health, family, financial issues - communing with nature is sublime. Kudos to you who have made this journey with the apparent success you exhibit.

Rojo said...

Excellent Rand. So what if we have kids, start teaching them the new way to live now. We have been Brain washed by the System into thinking we must work our lives away and live in a sticks and bricks, buy new cars, washers, support the Banks and be a RESIDENT. I think not

Rojo

Boonie said...

Too bad you weren't around at a discussion I overheard recently between near-retirees. They just couldn't figure out what they would do if they retired; thus they declined an early-retirement package from their employer. I resisted preaching, but regret that I didn't at least mention Parkinson's Law.

If the King of the Kodgers had been there, he would have straightened them out.

But I don't really think they're addicted to luxuries and toys, as you suggest. Their job isn't what they DO; it's what they ARE, who they are. Retirement frightens them as the first --and irreversible-- step to oblivion.

Boonie

Dixxe's Doodles said...

Ive never been one to be wasteful, always been frugal and it is part of my ego to brag about how little I can consume, but you and I are not the norm in this country...most want BIG and LOTS of everything...I watched a home improvement show on TV the other day..the family was having the family room upgraded--they had a small wet bar in the room that was neat and did the job any bar should do...but the remark made by the man of the house had me shaking my head--
HE said the bar is so outdated "we are ashamed of it"!! LOL and some people live in a cardboard box--without shame! The chasm is very deep and wide~
Im stil looking for my window of oppurtunity! I will open it when the time is right! Im sure you have checked out the Zietgeist addendum--explains a lot about our society!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r6-o1lpJHU

Anonymous said...

people are 'conditioned' to 'want'... by those who want to sell to 'em...

Frugal living should not be about doing without... but doing more 'With'...

Helen and Scott Nearing... a long time ago... advocated that 4 hours a day of what they called "Bread Labor" was the most you should have to spend on your own subsistence...

... and that you could work more in the short term... to 'Bank' that labor for longer stretches of time for your "Own" pursuits... art, music etc...

Randy... I'd bet that period of time you spent at "Bread Labor" probably works out something like that? :-) ...

Every body has to "work" and be responsible for their own subsistence... but The "work" should be something that is not only materially productive for subsistence... but Soul Feeding for Joy as well!

Jeff said...

I am all for this lifestyle, but you leave me with false hope. Work for 10 years and your done? Hardly possible today, even living frugal.

If I had to guess, there is a check coming to you every month from somewhere. Disability, inheritance or something.

Walt said...

I like your thinking. We got caught up in the whole acquiring stuff racket, but we have managed to slow it way down. We are slowly working to cut back, pare back, slow down. We have a son to get through school but then hope to become nomads and undertake our own journey of discovery,

Rob said...

The idea you have is great, that you can live your life as you do is even better.

My reality is so much different.

Quartzite with all the money spent on those rigs, big bucks that had to come from somewhere.

The amount of labor that went into building the roads that allowed the rigs to drive to Quartzite.

The amount of labor that goes into KEEPING the roads open.

Remember last summer where you drove to the cooler pass over the mountains and found a quiet place to park? Someone had to build that road, someone had to build the machines that made that road. I cannot even imagine the amount of work that goes into keeping just THAT road open all year, let alone the flat spot you parked on.

You're holding that lizard, it's sitting on your palm. On your wrist you have a watch, I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into making that single artifact. The metal in it started as rock somewhere, sometime it was gathered and worked into a machine that keeps time.

I have a watch like that, it's in my pocket. I only put it on when I want or need to watch a clock, like when I'm at work... I don't want to miss quitting time and they give me hell if I work too late.

Our world is so complex that the vast amount of connections that hold it together are almost beyond understanding.

Your life is the one you chose, not everyone could do it, not everyone wants to do it. Some people like to build, some like to work.

I had a job once where I actually turned to the guy beside me and said "they actually pay us to do this!" He smiled and agreed.

We all have different ways to live our lives, life is not a "one size fits all".

It's good to see you share your life Randy.

Rob said...

Last night after I wrote here I lay in bed and had thoughts running thru my head for awhile. Here's what stuck.
Modern America is built on 3 things.

1) A good road system, the roads allow trade and travel.

2) Cheap energy

3) The education part of the WWII GI Bill.
After WWII our politicians created the GI Bill to prevent the problems that happened with the returning WWI vets. Sending millions to college had what maybe an unintended benefit, they built the new America.
From the interstate highway system to jet airliners to walking on the moon, they did it.

They walked on the moon then they turned America over to the next generation... We are talking about living without having to work.

Anonymous said...

Randy, you may enjoy this site: http://www.thevenusproject.com
I'm not sure what I think of it, or if their ideas are even workable at this point in humanity's evolution, but it is thought-provoking. One of the aims is to eliminate the drudgery and necessity of working at jobs.
- Joe

Sandee said...

I have been following your blog for a couple of months now. Your last comments about creating jobs caught my attention. I posted your comments on Facebook: From my friend Randy: The smart way to create jobs: There are millions of us who have worked long enough and we should retire ---- downscaling our lives, if necessary, to make room in the workforce for others. This is the smart way to create jobs. And when you do get a job-live smart-save $- let us end the stupidity of spending all we earn.
I will let you know the responses I receive.
Sandee

Japhy said...

In my mind, the rat race isn't for everyone...but it is for some. Some people thrive on work, it's what brings them happiness. The problem is, and I think this is the core of your cultural critique, is that we've created a society where we are trapped into believing we must do the type and amount of work we do, in order to survive. And by survive, I mean, buy all the crap we don't need and that keeps us in poverty, but that brings wealth to a tiny few.

But of course, this isn't survival. This is slavery. The most important thing is that people make knowing, intelligent, and truly voluntary choices rather than fall victim to cultural propaganda that continues to bring us nothing but unhappiness and, of course, lots of useless junk

Randy said...

Thanks all for your insightful comments---I'm pleased to see so much agreement in principle and several of you have summarized the situation better than I.--I've been caught up in a very distracting and exhausting project (rare for me) the past week or so--which I'll blog about shortly.

Anonymous said...

Every time I come back and see this question, "How many of us really need to be working" my off the cuff answer is the same.
Only those of us who want to eat.

Anonymous said...

"The optimum population," said Mustapha Mond, "is modelled on the iceberg–eight-ninths below the water line, one-ninth above."

"And they're happy below the water line?"

"Happier than above it. Happier than your friend here, for example." He pointed.

Aldous Huxley - Brave New World

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Randy. I feel like you wrote it for my girlfriend who is working her last week and will then be taking perhaps several years off of work to play and travel. The subject of needing to feel like you are contributing to society is an interesting one. I figure if money is the means of trade of labor for goods, then if you have enough money for your goods, you'll be creating labor for others which keeps society humming along.