Work is a necessary inconvenience. In contemporary society, however, people are working harder than ever before, prioritizing their careers over aspects of life that were traditionally valued. These include family, the pursuit of knowledge, artistic creation, and other enriching activities. The emphasis on career advancement has become so pervasive that it has overshadowed other fulfilling pursuits, leading to an obsession with societal approval as measured by financial success.
Under this perspective, true wealth implies the freedom not to work, a metric by which many are impoverished in our current economy. This notion of poverty is particularly evident in countries like China, Japan, and Korea, where the work ethic is exceptionally intense. In these cultures, not working has become stigmatized to the point that it is viewed as a failure. This shift in societal values has been especially pronounced for women, many of whom now prioritize their careers over starting a family or cultivating a nurturing home environment.
Such a shift in priorities since 1971 is declared by the people in power as a sign of progress or empowerment. From a strictly economic perspective, this paints a rather bleak picture, suggesting that we are more enslaved to our work than we might wish to acknowledge. The zeal with which we throw ourselves into our careers is often celebrated as a positive attribute, a reflection of personal ambition and dedication. But this view raises the question: What are we truly working toward?
It becomes a troubling issue when we realize that much of the work done today is not aimed at creating tangible value. Rather, it is often influenced by political considerations and rent-seeking behavior, where individuals or entities seek to increase their share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. This focus on extracting value rather than creating it leads to a hollow sense of achievement and a society that prioritizes the superficial markers of success over genuine fulfillment. At least the slaves of the past knew their predicament. The propaganda today is especially deceitful because most people can't even identify what's so unsatisfactory about their work and why they burn out.
In the end, this obsession with work and the pursuit of financial success is a presenting symptom of fiat money. We work harder than ever because it lets the rent-seekers continue in their rent-seeking. We work hard because our savings are continuously drained.
The current emphasis on work, driven by propaganda, calls for reflection on what we value. Yet that reflection is nearly impossible without some resources, and sadly, we don't have the savings to be able to reflect on what we really want. So we trudge on, running on the fiat treadmill.