Elusive Economic Security
[Reprinted from the Henry George News,
"The most beautiful and precious of human rights," wrote
Rosini, "is that of doing nothing."
And yet the prospect of "doing nothing," especially in the
years of retirement, scares more modern Americans than does the atom
People who spend most of their lives on the treadmill (and that's
most of us), scraping, stinting, saving and chasing the buck, do so in
pursuit of the vision of a more comfortable and secure life where they
can get out of the rat-race and live a little.
Insupportable irony! When they finally get there, the "golden
years" stretch out before them like a bleak desert. They either
die of boredom or quickly seek "something to do" to keep
from dying of boredom: a "hobby" or - a job!
This is certainly not as it ought to be. The age-old dream of mankind
is to be relieved of the irksomeness of daily toil so that we may
fulfill ourselves as human beings, to be delivered from compulsive
activity so that our minds and souls may develop more freely.
Such is the vision of paradise nurtured by all creeds. The
anticipation of the "messianic times" among the Jews
envisaged every day to be like the Sabbath, with study and discourse
on the higher things.
The greatest cultural achievements have come by permitting a chosen
few to develop freely - usually at the expense of the many. How
wonderful that modern technology can make such attainment possible for
Why, then, should such a desideratum become so terrifying to us?
The answer, I think, is in an economic system which promises
abundance and takes it away as fast as it is offered.
The goal of economic comfort and security is always within sight and
yet always eludes us. We do not dare let up our pace on the treadmill.
This, then, becomes the most important business of life, and our
development as human beings becomes incidental, an afterthought,
Hence, as the later years are reached, there is nothing in the social
set-up or in the individual to prepare one for leisure, for
development, for the higher things. Grooved into the nervous system is
a lifetime habit of working and of regarding the "job" as
the supreme fact of life. Eleventh hour artsy-crafty stuff, travel,
etc., miss the point entirely. Too little and too late. It is
essential that respect for the development of the whole human being be
engendered in a whole lifetime.
Such a salubrious outlook can be fostered only when we shall have
attained an economic system that permits of free and full economic
opportunities so that our marvelous technology can really help lighten
our toil and bring us closer to the Golden Age without fear of
unemployment and idleness.