Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Ideal Society: Work Ethic

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~Calvin Coolidge 

This is closely related to Morality, & cultures that have a strong work ethic view sloth as a 'sin'. Hard work & industry is considered a moral virtue. It also relates to other factors, especially relating to governance. Cultures that esteem industry & hard work also value efficiency, honesty, & community involvement. They tend to care for the weak or disabled, & have a strong sense of the collective.

A strong work ethic seems to be a trait that is brought out by natural selection. Cultures in temperate regions seem to have more industry & a stronger work ethic than those in tropical regions. It has been hypothesized that those in temperate climates have to work harder in the summer months to provide for themselves during the winter, so they develop this industrious work ethic as a method of survival. Or, you could say that any humans that were naturally idle were weeded out as unfit to survive in the rigors of a colder climate. But regardless of the 'how' a society becomes industrious, the end result seems to be that they value hard work as a virtue, & the cause & effect of it are clearly seen.

"Upon this subject, the habits of our whole species fall into three great classes---useful labour, useless labour and idleness. Of these the first only is meritorious; and to it all the products of labour rightfully belong; but the two latter, while they exist, are heavy pensioners upon the first, robbing it of a large portion of it's just rights. The only remedy for this is to, as far as possible, drive useless labour and idleness out of existence." ~Abraham Lincoln

One of the qualities of an industrious society is the disdain that the culture has for sloth & grifting as an avocation. Even public servants & bureaucrats in societies with strong work ethics tend to be harder working than their counterparts in cultures with weaker work ethics. The citizens who work hard to earn a living are less tolerant of moochers & con men who would exploit them. These people tend to organize govts that reflect their work ethic. If a people are industrious, they tend to get more efficient public servants. If a people are more laid back, the public servants tend to be more corrupt or lazy.

And inasmuch as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government. ~Abraham Lincoln

How can you build a strong work ethic in a society? Some of it seems to be genetic.. some people are born with more drive to work than others. But there are things a culture can do to encourage industry:
1. Reward labor, punish sloth. Do not make life 'easy' for anyone, but let the reality of life drive people.
“I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” ~Benjamin Franklin
2. Require immigrants from tropical regions to adopt the industrious culture they wish to join. Minimize the welfare state so that sloth is not encouraged.
3. Have minimal taxation for collective actions, so the worker can keep more of his labors. People will see the correlation between hard work, success, & prosperity. 'Tax the rich!' is a recipe for a lazy culture.
4. Discourage & punish corruption & grifting as a means of living. A work ethic is discouraged if con men prosper & multiply.

These may seem like small details, or just different points of view for political ideology, but they have MAJOR effects on a culture. Rewarding & encouraging sloth at any level deals a death blow to a culture's work ethic. If it is allowed to continue, it will kill society. Every prosperous & successful culture has had a strong work ethic that drove them.

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