Work and Wealth

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I could write a book about work, and it would be a long one; but my experience with wealth has been limited and secondhand. I am using the term work to refer to livelihood, or a person's general daily occupation. Work doesn't necessarily get repaid in dollars. The famous naturalist Louis Agassiz is reported to have stated "I cannot afford to waste my time making money." Of course, in our complex commercial society, most people equate their job with work. In this situation, after retirement a person's job is nominally finished, and he or she can do anything without worrying about wage income. Some people choose to continue working at their customary jobs even though they don't need the money; some do so even as volunteers. The common stereotype of work as "a necessary evil" is unfortunate; work is often the most meaningful part of a person's life. Work has many issues, and this, my final essay, will address those I am opinionated about. Our common cultural pattern is for children to be schooled, and adults to work. In a sense we think of schooling as work. Hence the words schoolwork and homework. Adults require that children attend school, but allow other adults to work or play as they choose -- so long as their legal and social obligations are met. Some jobs held by adults are so pleasurable as to recall children's play. For example, a professional athlete may receive millions of dollars to engage in sports that children do for play. And an entertainer who is paid for telling jokes or performing stunts is not so far removed from teenage pastimes. In sharp contrast, consider the work done by a laborer, paid to dig ditches by hand. He is in a very strenuous occupation, that no one would envy. There is general agreement that work is good for both individuals and society. It gives individuals something regular to occupy their time and talent, and helps keep society organized and well provided with goods and services. Since we have such a complex society, and...
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