New interview with D. JoAnne Swanson in Positive News

D. JoAnne Swanson

D. JoAnne Swanson, founder of Rethinking the Job Culture and whywork.org

I am interviewed in a new article in the UK-based quarterly Positive News alongside some illustrious company, including Tom Hodgkinson of The Idler. and Helena Norberg-Hodge of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, who was a keynote speaker at The Economics of Happiness conference I recently attended in Portland, OR. Both are people whose work has influenced my own.

Here’s my contribution, but I recommend you read the full article.

“We can ask provocative questions that call attention to the systemic functions of wage labour. For example: why must we work to “earn a living”? Why should paid jobs be the main means by which income is distributed, and by which most people gain access to necessities like food and shelter? And why – in the US at least – is health insurance tied to paid employment?

“‘Earning a living’ has come to seem inevitable to many people, but there are other ways to live. We could start by giving everyone an unconditional basic income.

“So many people hate their jobs, and only endure them so they can put a roof over their head and food on the table. This is not the way we are meant to live! But our coercive system of enforced scarcity ensures that wage labour is the only way most of us can meet our fundamental survival needs.

“Most of us want to be useful and do work that uses our gifts, but the system we have now makes that difficult, if not impossible. Certainly there’s no shortage of work that needs to be done, but a lot of it is unpaid, and there aren’t enough paid jobs to go around even in the best-case scenario. So why try to shoehorn everyone into paid jobs? An unconditional basic income could free us up to do necessary work – and enjoy greater leisure time too – without anxiety about paying for our basic necessities.”

I’m pretty happy with this piece.  If I’d had more room, I would have added some thoughts about the way unconditional basic income would support the arts. I want all artists, dancers, writers, musicians, etc. to be free to leave their day jobs and pursue their craft full-time if they want to, without fear about how they will feed and house themselves.

(For reference, whywork.org is a website I designed in 1998 and turned over to Katz Global Media in 2004. That site is just an archive now – I have no control over it, and it hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years.  And my pen name is actually “D. JoAnne Swanson,” rather than “Dr.” It’s a flattering error, though!)