Quotations

“I make a distinction between work and jobs.  A job is what you do for a living; work is what you do because you like to do it.  I expect jobs to increasingly become obsolete, but there is still an almost infinite amount of fascinating work to be done.”

– Bernard Lietaer, “Beyond Greed and Scarcity

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“See, my trick in life is to get away from having a job. That’s been my guiding light.”

– Paul McCartney

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“Let us be clear. Money is not wealth. It is a delusion to think that money is wealth. True wealth is good land, healthy animals, flourishing forests, clean water, honest work, abundant creativity and human imagination. Money was designed to oil the wheels of economic interaction and to ensure that the workings of the marketplace were smooth and simple.”

– Satish Kumar, “The Money Delusion: In Search of True Wealth,” Resurgence Magazine

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“…it would be wise to hedge your bets economically, to slowly and steadily move more and more of your economy away from the formal to the informal sector. I’m not suggesting that you take up growing pot, but growing a garden and selling some surplus produce might be wise. If you have skills at building, repairing or sewing things, plan ahead for how you might set up a cottage industry.

“Now, I am not suggesting that you go entirely to a subsistence economy unless you feel comfortable there. Most of us are still too tied into mortgages and the need for health insurance…to step entirely out of the formal economy. But I do propose that most of us begin to stand with one foot in the informal economy and the other in the formal one, and that we try and recognize and encourage the resilience, value and stability of the informal economy. By this I mean that we are taught to believe that our security derives from our formal wealth – our job that provides us with health insurance, our retirement fund, the kids’ college fund. But these things are vulnerable to market crisis and collapse.”

– Sharon Astyk, Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front, pp. 61-62

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Do not try to find a job doing what you love. This is my most radical advice. There are some people in the world who have jobs they love so much that they would do them for free. If you become one of these people, you will probably get there not through planning but through luck, by doing what you love for free until somehow the money starts coming in. But if you make an effort to combine your income and your love, you are likely to end up compromising both, making a poverty income by doing something you don’t quite love, or no longer love. For example, if you decide to become a chef because you love cooking, it will probably make you hate cooking, because cooking will become linked in your mind to all the bullshit around the job.

“What I recommend instead is to separate your money from your love. Get the most low-stress source of income that you can find, and then do exactly what you love for free. It might eventually make you money or it might not. “Do what you love and the money will follow” is a lie. The real rule is: “If you’re doing what you love, you won’t care if you never make any money from it – but you still need money.”

– Ran Prieur, “How to Drop Out

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“…there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.”

– George MacDonald

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“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”

– Mark Twain

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“The United States desperately needs a public discussion that challenges the prevailing belief that a person’s worth and social contribution can and should be measured primarily (or exclusively) by his or her income from paid work.”

– Katherine McFate, “A Debate We Need,” in Philippe von Parijs’ What’s Wrong With a Free Lunch?

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“Changing our ways includes changing the way we define work, the way we compensate work, the ways we create work, and the way we let go of work and learn to infuse it with play and ritual.  A paradigm shift requires a shift in the way we think about, talk about, and undergo work.  We should not allow ourselves to be deceived that today’s crisis in jobs is just about more jobs; it is not.  The job crisis is a symptom of something much deeper: a crisis in our relationship to work and the challenge put to our species today to reinvent it.  We must learn to speak of the difference between jobs and work.  We may be forced to take a job serving food at a fast-food place…in order to pay our bills, but work is something else.  Work comes from inside out; work is the expression of our soul, our inner being.  It is unique to the individual; it is creative.  Work is an expression of the Spirit at work in the world through us.  Work is that which puts us in touch with others, not so much at the level of personal interaction, but at the level of service in the community.”

-Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for our Time

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“Humans who feel the urge to take it easy but remain burdened by a recalcitrant work ethic might do well to consider that laziness is perfectly natural, perfectly sensible and shared by nearly every other species on the planet.”

– Natalie Angier, “Busy as a Bee?  Then Who’s Doing the Work?

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“Those people who write in praise of laziness are invariably very hard-working people who are psychologically incapable of being lazy. Take, for example, Bertrand Russell. His contribution to the literature of laziness is a well known essay ‘In Praise of Idleness’. Russell was an intensely hard-working man all though his long life.”

– Colin Ward, “The Right to Be Lazy”

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“It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he should lift himself by his own bootstraps. It is even worse to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps when somebody is standing on the boot.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“… when the hacker work ethic opposes capitalism’s work-centeredness, it also opposes the same feature in communism. One must remember that despite their major differences, both capitalism and communism are based historically on the Protestant ethic, as sociologist Peter Anthony has reminded us in The Ideology of Work.”

– Pekka Himanen, The Hacker Ethic

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“…wage slaves live out their lives staggering under the weight of materialistic ideology. As consumers our assigned role is the unquestioning membership in the cult of materialism, with no less devotion displayed than 40+ hours a week, for 20-40 years. We are expected to happily, or at least willingly live decades in debt to others (a concept known as credit) and to engage in a life of meaningless drudgery for wage pay (wage slavery). As long as we believe that this is our “lot in life”, the feeling of hopelessness and desperation which runs rampant in this modern age is perfectly predictable.”

– Matthew Webb and Courtney Schmidt, “The Survivalists’ Guide”

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“He said, “I notice that you use work and job interchangeably. Oughten to do that. A job’s what you force yourself to pay attention to for money. With work, you don’t have to force yourself. There are a lot of jobs in this country, and that’s good because they keep people occupied. That’s why they’re called ‘occupations’.”

– William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways

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“Nobody in his right mind would spend a year of life working at some dreary job in order to pay for a car to transport him to the dreary job. When we calculate how much we spend paying for the cost of working – income taxes, Social Security, transportation, insurance, food and day-care – it starts to appear that it is not more profitable to work, but to work at not working and, more to the point, not spending.”

– Steven Harrison, Getting to Where You Are: The Life of Meditation

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“…people should be able to make their life plans, including how much they work and with whom they live, without anxiety about their ability to afford food and shelter.”

– Fred Block, “Why Pay Bill Gates?

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“Closing down a successful business (i.e., killing the golden goose”) is a mystery to most people, but I prefer the luxury of freedom from a job to the luxury of material goods…earning and saving money should be means to an end, not ends in themselves.”

-Amy Dacyczyn, The Complete Tightwad Gazette

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“At one time, we depended directly on the earth for the necessities of life. We recognized this dependency and gave thanks and praise for it, as indigenous and agricultural peoples still do. But now most of us have no idea where our food comes from. […] The way humans lived before civilization was a lot less work, because we ate what the planet naturally produced, so our food sources renewed themselves.”

– Thomas Berry

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“People look at our reservation and comment on the 85 per cent unemployment – they do not realize what we do with our time.  They have no way of valuing our cultural practices.  For instance, 85 per cent of our people hunt deer, 75 per cent hunt for small game and geese; 50 per cent fish by net; 50 per cent garden.  About the same percentage harvest wild rice, not just for themselves: they harvest it to sell.  About half of our people produce handcrafts.  There is no way to quantify this.  It is called the “invisible economy” or the “domestic economy.”  Society views us as unemployed Indians who need wage jobs.  That is not how we view ourselves.  Our work is about strengthening and restoring our traditional economy, thereby strengthening our traditional culture.”

– Winona LaDuke, “Indigenous Mind”

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“If I shall sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I’m sure that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for.”

– Henry David Thoreau

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“Don’t trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That’s a rotten bargain.”

– Rita Mae Brown

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“I’m part of a growing movement…We are the Radical Homemakers, and we work to promote four ends: ecological sustainability, social justice, and family and community well-being.  We see ourselves as building a great bridge away from our existing extractive economy – in which corporate wealth is the foundation of economic health and ravaging our earth’s resources and exploiting our international neighbors are accepted as simply the costs of doing business – and toward a life-serving economy.  In a life-serving economy, the goal, as the activist economist David Korten says, is to generate a living for all, rather than a killing for a few. […]

“We build this bridge by resisting – as much as we can – involvement with the extractive economy (including many forms of conventional employment) and by making up for the personal financial shortfall by turning our homes from units of consumption into units of production on a local scale.”

– Shannon Hayes, “The Real Battle is Elsewhere

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“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

– Socrates

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“The illusion that money is wealth needs to be shattered. Real wealth is a healthy planet and healthy relationships between all lifeforms; it is inner peace, world peace, balance and harmony in the home, the community, the world.”

– Carol Brouillet, “The Difference Between Money and Wealth: Creating Community Currencies

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“The opposite of hard work is quality work. Quality work may be done quickly, but it is never pushed. It arranges itself around the goal of doing something as well as it can be done, and it finds its own pace.

Another opposite of hard work is playful work. Like quality work it may be done quickly but is never pushed. But playful work is indifferent to quality, or even to success. When you’re doing playful work, you don’t care if it ends in total failure, because you’re having such a good time that you would look forward to doing the whole job again.”

– Ran Prieur

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“Considering the alternatives, I prefer self-employment to employment. After all, you usually make a lot more when you work for yourself and have much more independence. But my real choice is comfortable and creative unemployment.”
Steve Solomon

(Ed. note: Solomon is a longtime critic of wage-slavery, debt-slavery, and industrial agriculture, as well as a passionate and articulate advocate of personal sovereignty and homesteading as paths to freedom from a life centered around jobs and income-earning.  Don’t miss his well-curated Soil and Health Library containing a wealth of free public domain and out-of-print e-books, complete with insightful comments.)

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