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We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

-Buckminster Fuller

I don't know if I agree with everything Buckminster Fuller is saying here. Having spent fifteen years of my life doing tech support for a living, I can tell you it's a fantasy that technology enables us to work less. But I agree with much of the spirit of it. The value of our existence should not be defined by whether or not we're employed, and it's not necessary for all of us to be employed. This whole question of "what are you going to do with your life" is a new one for humanity. For the vast majority of our existence on this planet, we never had to struggle with figuring out how to make a living. We were born into small tribes, and everyone pitched in one way or another, and that was what you did, and nobody thought much about it. Now we spend much of our lives trying to justify our existences -- trying to find something to do that both suits us and pays well. For most of us it's impossible. We take whatever work we can get, and we try to make the best of it.

So when Romney promises to rid us of dependency, I don't know what he's talking about (OK, I know what he's really talking about). People with jobs are just as dependent as people without jobs. They're just dependent on the corporations they work for. People who own businesses are dependent on their customers, who are dependent on the corporations they work for. Having a job does not make you independent. It just makes you dependent on a smaller group of people, who make you jump through more hoops to get what you need.

One might argue that having a job makes you more dependent. The times in my life when I was on unemployment, I accomplished a hell of a lot more with my life than I was ever able to while employed. The truth is, I'm always working, it's just sometimes I'm getting paid for it, and other times I'm not. Whether or not the work I'm doing contributes to society is impossible to measure. But it often feels to me that the unpaid work I do tends to be more meaningful to others than the paid work.

One of the greatest tricks the Republicans have been able to do is convince people that the best way to celebrate your freedom is to work yourself to an early grave.


Woman: That’s good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

Bush: You work three jobs?

Woman: Three jobs, yes.

Bush: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

The Affordable Care act is the biggest step our society has taken toward freeing us from dependency in decades. Now people will be able to quit their jobs without fear of losing their insurance. And Romney hates that. How horrible it would be if his servants could just get up and leave?

A truly independent nation would be one in which we are no longer dependent on low wage jobs, we would be free to take time off to care for our children, we would be able to travel and learn about the world, we would be able to afford a decent education, and we wouldn't have to borrow $20,000 from our parents to start a new business. That is how you free us from a culture of dependency. It is not Romney's biggest goal.

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