Nice work if you can get it

In response to Robert Thatcher's letter in the May 4 Xpress, “Wholly Satisfied with Whole Foods”: In an economy in which there are far fewer jobs than there are people looking for them, it makes little sense to simply tell such people to "get a living-wage job." You might as well tell them to move out of Asheville, or to a different planet for that matter.

It would be far more constructive, not to mention compassionate, for those who are fortunate enough to have such jobs to be grateful for them rather than criticize those less fortunate. But then it's far easier to tell someone what to do than it is to help them do it, which is doubtless why the former approach is so much more popular.

Mr. Thatcher agrees with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that "people don't have an 'intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter.'" What should people who can't find jobs do then? Borrow money (if they have that option)? Move in with friends or family (ditto)? Starve to death, kill themselves or turn to crime? If we don't want to help these people we will all pay for not helping them. And we already are.

In his book The Threefold Social Order, Rudolf Steiner addresses social issues far more intelligently than the libertarians or Ayn Rand followers do. The economic realm is only one aspect of our social organism. Within this realm, market values require some autonomy, but outside of it they wreak havoc on the cultural and political realms, as well as on the environment we live in. Outside of its own sphere the market is not only often "wrong," but a dangerous runaway truck that threatens us all.

— Andy Shaw


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23 thoughts on “Nice work if you can get it

  1. travelah

    You do not have to leave the planet but you might have to leave Asheville if you desire to “make more money”.

  2. Brian Smith

    “Mr. Thatcher agrees with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that “people don’t have an ‘intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter.'””

    Apparently Andy Shaw *disagrees*, instead believing everyone has a *right* to the labor of a doctor, to the labor of a farmer, and the labor of a carpenter. There is a term for such an involuntary obligation to labor for others: SLAVERY.

  3. travelah

    The key word in this is “intrinsic”. Nobody has an intrinsic right to the property of others. There are basic human rights of life and liberty (within the mores of established cultural norms i.e. don’t kill somebody thinking your basic human rights are still intact). Brian Smith, above, has identified the confiscatory quandary that ensues. Does not the doctor have a “right” to take enumeration from another for his services. Shouldn’t the carpenter expect payment for his labors in building another person’s shelter?
    Intrinsic right assumes one has a right to the value of goods and services without regard to availability or means of payment. Does Mr. Shaw have an intrinsic right to a 2,000 sqft 3 bedroom, 2.1/2 bath home? Does he have that same intrinsic right to fill a cart of goods at Whole Foods instead of a bag at the Salvation Army? Clearly he does not. What he does have is the intrinsic right to pick up a piece of cardboard and make himself a shelter if needed and to frequent a charity kitchen when hungry.
    Obviously the better solution is for the community to provide a bridge of support for those persons in need. Even then there is no intrinsic right to a lifestyle of support.

  4. Hugh Akston

    Well said Travelah! We can always count on you to cut through the “BS”. I must say that it is always a pleasure to hear from you. Your pithy and enlightening commentary is like a cool mountain breeze blowing through a piglot.

  5. travelah

    Somebody has to state it even though the pigs seem to think they own the airspace through which the cool mountain breeze flows.

  6. bill smith

    Let the people stare! Food is a PRIVILEGED, not a ‘right’.

    ‘Rights’ are liberal propaganda.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I like the concept that listening to hard-right conservatives is like living downwind of a pig farm.

  8. travelah

    I think Bill Smith should continue to stare at the food at Whole Foods.

    Ken, it is better to be the cool wind than the pig below.

  9. Brian Smith

    “Food is a PRIVILEGED, not a ‘right’.”

    LOL. Bill demonstrates he doesn’t know the definition of either term since “privilege” is a “special right”. If, as he claims, food is not a right, then it is *not* a right, special or otherwise. In other words, Bill just voided his assertion by contradiction.

    “‘Rights’ are liberal propaganda.”

    It is usually liberals who outright reject the idea of rights. It is rare for conservatives or others who support forced altruism to so explicitly denounce the foundational principles of America.

    But thanks for informing everyone you adamantly stand *against* the US Constitution.

  10. sharpleycladd

    “If we don’t want to help these people we will all pay for not helping them. And we already are.”

    I don’t know if any of our right-wing friends read anything through all the way before they start flaming, but this sentence from the letter-writer is – unlike Ayn Rand’s brand of intellectual Ipecac – true.

    People steal, beat their wives, lose their jobs, and do lots of other expensive things. Whether we’re building jails, buying automatic weapons for our law enforcement officers, or teaching four-year-olds how to read so they can be the first in their family to finish college and contribute significantly to our country – we’re going to pay. We can pay by perpetuating injustice or by combating it. But we will pay.

    The simplistic, cruel, wrong-headedness of “fiscal conservatives” who have no knowledge of the first rule of economics – there is no free lunch – never ceases to amaze me.

  11. Brian Smith

    “People steal…” etc

    Yes they do. People initiate force in any number of ways. And they must be stopped (ie rights and freedom must be protected from those who seek to deny it). THAT is justice.

    Giving to a man because he threatens to steal is injustice. Systematizing such injustice by having the government engage in such theft wholesale serves only to destroy justice (destroy rights and freedom government is supposed to protect).

    Those who claim we must buy our freedom and rights FROM those who would try to take it are the ones who are “cruel” and “wrong-headed”. Freedom is not ‘bought’ from thugs – and rights are not a permission granted by those who say they will not steal, so long as you pay a ‘price’.

    Put simply, extortion is NOT justice.

  12. sharpleycladd

    So you’re for the jails and automatic weapons thing, with no help for kids born to illiterate parents thrown in for good measure. Good for you. Your plan is working. We jail a higher percentage of our population than any industrialized nation. Isn’t that great!?!!?

    That’s the way to show that four-year-old kid who doesn’t know what a book is and has never had a square meal in his life who’s boss!!!!

  13. Brian Smith

    “So you’re for the jails and automatic weapons thing, with no help for kids born to illiterate parents thrown in for good measure.”

    I am for a government limited to the defense against the initiation of force. If you or anyone else wish to teach children to read or provide charity etc, you are certainly free to do so.

    You simply are not free to emulate the thuggery you claim is a problem. The solution to thuggery is *not* to systematize thuggery.

    Making an irrational and blatant appeal to emotions rather than a rational argument will not change the nature of what you seek – the destruction of justice.

    (As to your stat about jails, most of that is related to the ‘War on Drugs’ – not the defense against the initiation of force. IOW it is an example of the type of govt you seek – one which initiates force – and so serves as support of my argument, not your own.)

  14. Hugh Akston

    Yes Brian, you are spot on with your assertion that people should be punished for their bad decisions. In the free market that punishment is swift and sure. We must stop rewarding these people for merely being born. The only right they have is the right to strive and claw their way to sucess. Yes, sucess is available to almost anyone who is willing to forgo the false virtue of altruism.

  15. Brian Smith

    Sharpley – thuggery is the initiation of force, not defense against it. Murder is thuggery. Self-defense against it is not. Rape is thuggery. Self-defense against it is not. And theft is thuggery. Self-defense against it is not.

    The number of people who practice thuggery (in this case theft), does not alter its nature. One or one billion initiating force is still theft. It is still wrong. And defense against it is still right.

    In other words, contrary to your suggestion, *numbers* do not make the immoral moral. Might does not make something right.

    But of course, as already noted, you and everyone else are certainly free to engage in whatever charity you want voluntarily. You simply can’t steal from others – even if you want to give away your ill gotten gains.

    Bill – No. Lock up the thieves.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Lock up the food!

    I have a list of things that need locking up and food isn’t on it.

  17. bill smith

    @travelah-I will continue to stare at the food at Whole Foods. From across the street, in an unmarked van, wearing an overcoat.

  18. travelah

    @Bill Smith, pay no attention to the man in the dark unmarked sedan staring right back at you.

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