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First we have to break ourselves free of the idea of what employment means.

In a government economic sense it means working for money. That's why the statistics have always had a problem with women who stay home to care for their family.

Since economists measure everything by means of money those things which don't lend themselves to this measure are not worth considering. This also leaves out a large part of the population who do things not for money.

When I first "retired" I used to tell people that I was still working, just not getting paid for it. I now do things like blog and maintain my web site. I give away my expertise in photography (I won't claim any special expertise in blogging!)

The next thing to be considered is whether "employment" is even something that should be a goal. Don't we have the concept of "make-work" jobs to keep people employed? Societies think it is important to pay people so they won't starve, but they demand that they do something for the money.

As I say frequently, we will need a new model if we are going to have a steady-state economy, one that doesn't consume more than can be renewed. The amount of "work" that would be needed in that case should be much less than now. If under 10% of the population is in the agriculture sector then we can see that producing everything that we need can't take more than another 20-30%.

We could cut the amount of work that each person needs to do, or we could rethink things and not treat those who aren't being paid as loafers or parasites. I think some further thoughts on the concept of work would be worthwhile.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2007 at 07:01:53 PM EST
I agree, rdf, and this seems as good a place as any to post this story from our local paper.  It infuriated me when I read it.  I'm meant to put it here somewhere, but I've been otherwise occupied lately.  It's well worth reading the whole thing.

People with disabilities face uncertain path to "real" jobs

Aleta Hursh is 31 years old but has never held what most would consider a real job.

Born with cerebral palsy, the Kirkland woman can't talk. Her limbs jerk involuntarily, so she can't hold heavy or fragile objects. Two days a week, she sorts white paper from colored at a recycling center known as a sheltered workshop, where people with disabilities can get a taste of the working life in a supportive setting.

The job is well beneath Hursh's mental abilities. But like many people with serious disabilities, she hasn't had an opportunity to do much more.

Once viewed as progressive, sheltered workshops are now seen by some as outmoded, places where people with disabilities are segregated from society and relegated to lives of stagnation. The pay is low, averaging just $1.82 an hour, and the challenges are few. Some question whether people are really working or just killing time, and whether the workshops are just another example of discrimination.

Washington is the first state to adopt a revolutionary policy aimed at changing that.

The Working Age Adult Policy, which took effect last year, aims to transform the lives of thousands of people with disabilities. It requires adults who receive services funded by the state Division of Developmental Disabilities to be on a "pathway to employment," or have a job out in the community that pays a living wage.

"This is the next great civil-rights movement in our country," said Chris Brandt, chief executive of Issaquah-based AtWork!, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities.

Other states are looking to Washington for advice, said Ray Jensen, director of the King County Developmental Disabilities Division. "Other states have it as a goal or a value statement, but we're the only state that's actually put it into policy."

While good jobs and living wages can hardly be criticized, the policy hasn't been universally embraced. Because the policy has placed a priority on work, some popular programs have been cut back. These programs provided activities, but they also offered respite for families who care for loved ones with disabilities, which can be just as important. Then there's the looming question: What about those who are simply too disabled to comply?

Hursh is wary herself. She pointed to a word on a board she uses to communicate.

"Scared."



Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2007 at 07:25:38 PM EST
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