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If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work

Posted on August 16, 2012 by ari

If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work

Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.

So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.

This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.
- The New American Movement (NAM)

Via my friend and a source of many wonderful things, Joshua Alexander.

If you agree with the sentiments voiced on this poster, please share it.

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23 Responses to “If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work”

  1. Ashley
    August 19th, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    I don’t know who wrote this or what they were smoking, but people are unemployed due to lack of money. You can’t build things without money, or improve schools, etc. the person that wrote this apparently doesn’t have to worry about money or are taken care of by their rich fathers inheritance and sits around all day writing nonsense like this. People have to eat and pay rent, and as much as a perfect world of unicorns and marshmallows would be where everyone had the means to work for free, it won’t happen at least not in this universe.

  2. ari
    August 21st, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

    What does it mean to say “people are unemployed due to lack of money”? The people who have the money (the so-called “job creators”) want to keep the money for themselves, and are not employing people. They own the means of production, so they get to make the decisions about whether people are allowed to use those means to produce things. If they’re not making the profit they want to make, they close up shop. For example, a rich landowner can decide he’s not making enough rent money on a property, and can evict the business that’s there, which reduces the number of jobs that are available. The work needs to be done, the people need to work, and yet the work doesn’t get done and the people don’t get to work – because the guy in the middle feels like he’d rather make 1% more profits than he was previously.

    Also… it’s not nonsense to dream of a better world. If we all sat back and accepted the status quo, our liberation struggles (the end of feudalism, the invention of democracy, the abolition of slavery, civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s liberation…) never would have happened. Personally, I would gladly work for free, if it meant that I would have access to the necessities of life, in exchange for my contribution. It may be unfamiliar, or sound too good to be true, but there’s nothing wrong with us aspiring to live “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

  3. Jim
    August 28th, 2012 @ 1:51 am

    I don’t think that anyone who has posted anything, OP or otherwise has any idea how economies work. The sheer ignorance is mind boggling. I could take the time to dismiss this article and all related posts wholesale, but the refutation has already been written much more thoroughly and eloquently than I can manage in a brief time.

    The most thorough and modern of these is Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy and State” that discusses the function of markets very expertly. A link to a free edition of it in many formats is this:

    But, to avoid passing the buck completely, I do ask what it is that will compel us to provide “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” Unless everyone voluntarily sees fit to follow this creed, then it must be enacted by force. I dream of a world where men do not command the obeisance and obedience of other men with the threat of death. You dream of a world where unlimited wants can be satisfied. Who is the insane utopian?

  4. ari
    August 28th, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    I feel like you’re not replying to this post, but to other postings you’ve seen, featuring these ideas or this image (which I didn’t create myself). What are these refutations you speak of, can you provide links? Why is your time so brief? Why are you so sure that you can “dismiss this article and all related posts wholesale”? If you want to take the time to have a real dialogue with me, though my “ignorance is mind boggling”, I’m very happy to take the time to speak with you.

    There’s no reason to suppose that we need to go overnight from our current capitalistic mire to a system of voluntary mutual aid. That doesn’t seem realistic to me at all. To try to accomplish such a thing by force would be nonsensical; mutual aid is about caring for our neighbors, not enacting a viewpoint “by force.” I also dream of a world where men (and women too) do not command the obeisance and obedience of other men (or women) with the threat of death – I’m a pacifist. I do not dream of a world where unlimited wants can be satisfied, but where neighbors contribute their labor for the common good, and for their own good, and are given, in return, the same kindly labor, from their neighbors. I’ll make you a website if you give me vegetables from your farm, and the dentist will see us both for free because he’s got a website and a farm share to support his good work for our community and for those of us who live in it. See? Not so scary. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, and shouldn’t happen by force; it doesn’t need to. It’s already happening. The economy is transforming every day. Maybe one day it will be more about meeting people’s needs, and less about creating profit via exploitation. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Incidentally, if you, because of your principles or because of any other reason, were unable to contribute to such an economy, I would still work to support you, because I can and will work according to my ability, and would gladly give to you according to your need. :)

  5. Realistic Thinker
    September 3rd, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    You have good intentions, but you’re ignorant. Economies can’t just run on the goodwill of the people, and what you fail to realize is that money is the greatest invention ever made.

    What you sugggest above is a barter system, where people exchange goods based on the amount of work they will give and receive. Money is precisely that. Money is It is a way for people to quantify how much work they have done, and how much that said work was worth. Monitary systems are of the things anthropologists first look at to see how advanced a society is.

    Without money how can one buy copper wiring from China? How is the CEO of a solar energy company supposed to hire manufactures and producers? How can one invest in anything, or even interact in a productive manner with anybody they don’t know personally?

    Furthermore, just because you want something and are willing to work doesn’t mean somebody will pay you to do it. This is an ignorant and entitled notion that Americans have, probably because we have money floating around in a way other people do not. You are confusing money with wealth. In order for an society to prosper there needs to be wealth generated, and therefore economies will always be profit driven. Do you think Americans are rich because we work harder than other countries? No. We are wealthier because we have business and infrastructure that bring in international revenue.

    And as a side not… just so you don’t discount all of my points: I’m a hardcore vegetarian liberal who camped out at Occupy for a month. I get what you are saying with the 1%, But ignorant hippies still piss me off. Read Atlases Shrugged.

  6. ari
    September 3rd, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    I’d rather not. I think Ayn Rand was a pretty selfish, cruel person; and if we’re talking about ignorance and entitlement, I’d put her at the top of the list. I’m not ignorant just because my ideas are different from yours; I’ve just read different books. Try The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten, for a more compassionate view of our evolving economy and its fantastic possibilities.

    I’m not proposing we give up money overnight – I’m proposing we give up capitalism. (Very different suggestion!) Capitalism privileges profit over people. I have no problem with systems of exchange. I’m an active member of a swap/barter network, a time bank, and my local monetary economy. I just don’t believe that it’s ethical to accumulate capital via exploitation so I can own the means of production and lord that power over other people.

    That’s awesome that you camped out at Occupy! I didn’t and I’m sure I’ll live to regret missing out on the experience.

  7. Alex
    September 5th, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    That’s such a lie.

    If you don’t have a job it’s because you choose not to.

  8. ari
    September 5th, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    I was once unemployed for over a year, while living in New York City. I have an Ivy League education and a year and a half of solid work experience under my belt, as well as additional technical training from a college internship. I had a wide skill set, and knew how to market myself. I worked every day for 8 hours to find a job and I didn’t find one for a whole year. I did not choose to be unemployed. It was a horrible time in my life. I had feelings of failure every day. And folks saying things like you just did are a very big part of why folks like me, who have been unemployed, feel so bad when we can’t find a job. No one wants to be useless. Have a little faith in your fellow human beings and keep your judgements to yourself.

  9. Monkfish
    November 30th, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

    Try being unemployed for a year or living with someone unemployed and depressed and angry then get back to me on this “things to do” list.

  10. ari
    December 2nd, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Hm, what list? Are you responding to me and/or the thing I posted? I have experienced being unemployed for over a year – see my comment above.

  11. northierthanthou
    February 6th, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    Very cool message.

  12. Some Notes on Labor, Technology and Economics « random($foo)
    March 26th, 2013 @ 3:50 am

    [...] quite old, but still resonates as much (if not more) today. Here’s the text transcribed (via) If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any [...]

  13. Lawrence
    May 5th, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    I know this is old and I don’t even know how I got here. However the original message is correct. I’m not sure what these other guys are talking about, as if they got their degree in economics from some book they read, that’s probably out dated, or they didn’t full comprehend the finer aspects of.

    To point to an immediate example of why the original message is true, you only have to look at the income from 1950 to 2013. Income tax in 1950 was 84.4%. Think about that. People in 1950 survived after a 84.4% tax. Where as right now we get about a 35% income tax.

    The income has been declining rapidly through the USA, where as the average one person could afford a house, car, and live fairly well. We now require two people to work, essentially you can’t get by unless your married in a lot of areas. If we kept the trend from these earlier times and applied them to the minimum wage. The minimum wage would be around $25 per hour.

    So ask yourself what happen to the rest of that money? Producing products became cheaper, robotics, conveyors, factories, machinery, production has increase by over 300%. So despite increasing our productivity which should you would think, increase our wages, we are going backward instead.

    Where is this extra money going? It’s not going back into the economy. It’s instead going into the pockets of people who own these companies. At the same time these people are trying to get rid of unions and other fair employment defense programs. If they took all this money and instead of banking it they could produce more jobs. Instead they are sitting on a majority of it, and watching where the wind blows.

  14. ari
    May 6th, 2013 @ 8:22 am


  15. billymays
    September 22nd, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

    author has a laughable grasp of economic theory and reality. Go back to your into to political science class and tell your prof about your idea for jobs and prepare to get laughed out of the building.

  16. Matt Biechler
    September 26th, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    If you’re unemployed – it’s not because there isn’t any work to be done.

    We are connected to more people than ever – people who want homes and clothing, vehicles and food. People who want to heat and light their homes, people who want water filtration or air conditioning, or even mosquito netting. People that need trash taken away, and people who need irrigation or wells. This world has so many needs, they can never be fulfilled.

    So ask yourself – what kind of mind sees so much work to do, but needs someone to “employ” them to figure out what they should be doing with their life? I mean, YOU see the problems of today, and there is serious money to be made in solving them. Instead, YOU are thinking of the world as a place revolving around governments and big corporations – and allowing YOURSELF to blame others for YOUR lack of action.

    This country was not built by people with a mindset of servitude, nor blame. It was built by people who took action – and it is people who take action who will continue to control what happens. As long as your mind is tied to the idea of a “job” – you will never be able to take action – and be a solution to the problems of today.

  17. Jenny
    October 25th, 2013 @ 4:16 am

    A high unemployment rate is usually due to the government doing being self-serving and not giving a crap about the people (even look at how the Us murders hundreds of thousands of people outside their country routinely for decades and decades already – it’s sickening).

    But this phrase is just idiotic:
    “as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done”

    If there really is a housing shortage (or any shortage), then a company would come in to take the advantages offered by people willing to pay more for something scarce. supply and demand is based on people trying to make a profit, and it’s what makes the economic world turn.

  18. Abe
    October 29th, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    Awesome! Very inspiring. What is a dollar worth compared to a life’s work?

  19. Maxson
    December 16th, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    84.4% income tax in 1950, yes, but that was the top-bracket income tax which was for those making over 400,000 dollars a year. Today we have a 35% top-bracket income tax for those making over roughly 375,000 dollars a year. Consider the amount of inflation we have experienced since 1950 and realize that although the percentage was far higher in 1950, the amount of individuals making over 400,000 dollars (in 1950 US dollars) had to be WAY less. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s inflation calculator (on their website), $400,000 in 1950 has the buying power of nearly $3.9 million dollars today! So, if you want to make a fair comparison between the tax rate of 1950 and the tax rate of 2013, you have to note that in 1950, that 84.4% tax rate was only for those making over $3.9 million 2013 dollars!

  20. Maxson
    December 16th, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    Oh, and one more thing. In 1915, the top-bracket tax rate was 7%. In 1925, it was 25%. In 1982, it was 50%. In 1992, it was 31%. Our tax rates have varied wildly in both percentage of income and in tax bracket threshold limits. The point is you have simplified the bejeezmus out of this.

  21. Maxson
    December 16th, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    Shirari Industries, you want Communism? You’ll get it eventually, not in your lifetime probably, but it will happen. Capitalism’s end is Communism’s beginning if you allow Capitalism to flourish. The great technological advancement brought on by capitalistic venture will one day result in a world where the necessities of life come so easily to us that we will no longer need to put our efforts toward making money to survive, but rather will be able to put our efforts toward exploration, self-betterment, and academia. That day will come if we allow it to.

  22. Raoul
    September 10th, 2014 @ 7:04 am

    There’s work to be done, surely.

    Just the people who would want it done have no money.

    This is where I support redistribution, in the form of giving everyone a humble amount of money, recurringly.

    Because it is the most egalitarian way to redistribute.

    Of course the taxation would have to at least take the same percentage cut out of the earnings of the rich, as it does from the ‘middle class’ (a class that owns less than 5% of america’s wealth, so I have a hard time calling it the middle class)

  23. ari
    September 11th, 2014 @ 11:49 am

    Maxon, I don’t want Communism, I’m a socialist. Also, I don’t think you (and some of the other commenters here) have read this post very carefully. I didn’t make this, I’m just sharing it. I’m not an economist (just a people-loving utopian socialist!), so you’ll have to take any specific quibbles up with the piece’s original creator. Thank you all for commenting, peace!

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