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138 Never say "get a job" [24 Nov 2022]
Joe was not a habitual criminal. He was a shoplifter who did not understand how else to support himself. "Get a job" was not an effective order because of his self-limiting beliefs and inability to compete against others. A social safety net was needed to turn him into an appreciated, productive citizen. This article helps you think about your safety net and the role you play in somebody else's. Remember, never say "it cannot be done."
Joe was repeatedly convicted of petty theft for shoplifting food and other necessities. Under a three-strikes-you-are-out law, he was supposed to draw a long prison sentence as punishment for being a habitual criminal. A charitable foundation took on his case to test a different approach because his problem was incurable by punishment. Instead, he needed assistance finding a path to doing the right thing.
Instead of imprisoning Joe, they gave him a groundskeeping job at a university. He was not required to organize yearly maintenance plans or allocate budgets. Those duties would have been beyond his training. He was given routine tasks well within his ability that were assigned in a humanely understandable manner without stressing him. He performed the useful tasks well and became a joy to people who met him on the sidewalk as he worked. As his needs were met, he was uplifting other people.
Joe's success can be compared to my medical prescription to take supplemental calcium. To combat osteoporosis, I am required to swallow 1200 mg of calcium per day. The pharmacy automatically combines that with Vitamin D3 because without that vitamin, the body cannot absorb the calcium and there would be no benefit from the prescription. My body is a perfect metaphor for Joe's condition. While he was a shoplifter, he was surrounded by unfilled jobs. The mere existence of those jobs did not benefit him without the added ingredient of human kindness.
The required ingredient
People are limited by what they perceive. Like Joe, they are not kept down by lack of opportunities. Instead, they view themselves as incapable and therefore fail to see opportunities because of their self-limiting beliefs. In today's metaphor, Vitamin D3 is the mental state of self-confidence. Joe's lack of competitive confidence was a barrier but not a moral failing. Instead of bringing this candidate up to a competitive standard (in which someone else fails to get the job), the foundation brought the job threshold down to the level that Joe could step up to.
The government program
Who will make the above foundation available to everyone who needs it? Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko" indicates that all over Europe, government is the proper distributor of healthcare to everyone who needs it. When I lived in Switzerland, the government was keeping up with comprehensive human needs as far as I could see. There were agencies that worked out the details of placing everyone in a proper work situation with appropriate food and housing.
I support my worship of socialist Switzerland with a true story. We had a church member with serious mental problems. One day he came into the church office ranting at everything, almost incoherent. We could not diagnose his need; we calmed him down and sent him home. As a follow-up, I learned that he had withdrawn some money and bought a train ticket to Germany. Fortunately, there was something in his identification papers that alerted the border patrol so that the Swiss government sent him back to his home and further treatment. Since the government owned the railroad, it was easy to refund his train ticket. Later when I met him at church he was under effective medication and the embarrassing episode never came up in conversation. He was kept sufficiently competent to be reasonably independent.
Who will implement this
If Joe's story can happen in America, can the Swiss story be replicated here? Today's call to action is
Never say "it cannot be done."
The "American experience" is still very young, not completely freed from its beginnings in genocide. In contrast, many indigenous stewardship practices evolved over centuries. Europe (especially Switzerland) has had hundreds of years to lay the foundations of its progressive society. In 2022 the present turmoil in America stands in the way of social progress. There are parties and factions who will join only the efforts that they control. They lack the maturity to succeed by doing some things somebody else's way.
Tie the bell on the cat
The fable introducing Article 75 demonstrates the gap between a proposal (mice should tie a warning bell on the cat) and an action (who will do it?). The mice essentially say, "it cannot be done." Are Americans mice? NO! We are intelligent human beings living toward a destiny of fulfillment! I challenge readers to implement Ernstraudian philosophy in that we will come together to improve our society. The longer we are constructive, the better we become.
Matthew Lieberman teaches that humans are hard wired for collaboration. Article 75 concludes "The keywords of world peace are 'we' and 'together.' After we stop separating ourselves from others, today's proposal says: we use our resources to improve our lives." Nearly a dozen articles here discuss governance by comparing public and private means of achieving progress. Many more articles explore the relationship of self to other. The two themes of governance and greed are closely intertwined.
Balancing private against public governance involves discussion of the level at which we perform. Greed is the obstacle to performance. A chaotic government does not produce ordered society. On the other hand, one conscience at a time we can order pluralistic society from the bottom up so that it can form coherent government. That suggests that we focus first on private individuals who overcome greed.
Private love is possible
I leave it to other articles, past and future, to expound on wealth distribution. Here I simply summarize that all people are like Joe in that their needs are met by an integrated social fabric. If we had as much love for millionaires as we do for Joe, the millionaires would not need money, either. (They would still use their skills to manage huge charitable funds but would not own them.)
Joe's story is not a blanket prescription for all behavioral problems. Because of unhealthy mental conditions, some situations require physical constraint to protect all parties. Sometimes withdrawal of privileges is an educational tool. Even in those cases, loving principles require that treatment must be rehabilitation, not retribution. The golden rule applies to uncomfortable circumstances, too.
Universal Maximum Good-- the wealthy people I know would do well at privately organizing how we meet needs universally. All the other industrialized countries are already doing this in the field of universal healthcare. If American government is not mature enough to do that for all needs, it falls to private individuals here to distribute resources.
Universal Applicability--Fairness in applying moral principles lies in spreading available resources evenly (article 119). That equalized state (article 132) reveals how well our production serves our consumption.
It is possible!
Article 102 teaches, "once I have your back, suddenly millions of people have mine." Nobody needs wealth of any kind. What we need to survive is a healthy social fabric in which every one of us is regarded with the dignity to which Joe was raised. His position of sufficiency completely removes any justification for greed. After we learn sharing, we all survive, and we are free to get on with growing.
In one sentence, Ernstraudian philosophy is
Never say "it cannot be done."
To succeed, charitable distribution of resources should be based on two main principles: (1) Bestow grants to the causes to which you devote your time. They are the ones you understand enough to help effectively. (2) To ensure that beneficiaries are on board with proposed programs of kindness (challenge grants), it is essential that they also contribute time and resources as they are able. It is their way of indicating that they are on board and want the progress.
The integrated social fabric will be woven by everybody, not just Ernstraudians. Implementation is by engineers and economists. My philosophical contribution to the mix is shaping attitudes toward progress. Humans owe to future generations our good stewardship over money, property, and all other resources. It is unnecessary and probably injurious for us privately to own them. The species survives by collaboration.
Threats of starvation and poverty do not bring out the best in Humans. Desperation might pump a lot of adrenaline, but a healthy outlook produces better judgment, higher quality output, and increased creativity. Ernstraudian philosophy does not include profit motive. Instead, it inspires best effort in return for increased autonomy and job satisfaction. After our fundamental needs are fulfilled, we focus on optimizing the meaning of our work.
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