Article 23

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 23 is full of so much good intention and I agree with it with all my heart and mind. It does, however, unfortunately bring to light so many of the glaring flaws in the very basis of our own economic system. Laissez-faire capitalism cares nothing of whether or not you need work. It cares only about the profits of the business person. Get as much for as little as you can, end of discussion. In that light employers will employ as few people for as small a wage as they can get away with.

This is, of course, an over simplification. A wise employer, especially the larger ones, will realize that without a well paid populace there is no one to buy their goods and services. Wise employers, especially the larger ones, are hard to come by (as I sit in Starbucks writing this, however, I realize there is at least one.) Companies like Wal-Mart pay their employees so poorly that they are forced to go on food stamps and compound that cruelty by supporting politicians that want to force austerity on us, at least when it involves the welfare state.

The simple fact of the matter is capitalism, at least the unrestrained kind, cannot provide us with full employment, at least not at a living wage. That is why we need public services, not just to provide for those that have no job, but to create jobs themselves. If we want to keep the wheels of economy turning, something that many fiscal conservatives say is their primary goal, then we have to make sure people have money in their hands, either through welfare or work.

We want to work, most of us, and not just to earn a living wage. Productivity makes us feel better about ourselves. Would I rather be making money with my words? Certainly, but it feels good just to be in a kitchen getting something done and being able to say that I put in an honest day’s effort for an honest day’s pay. Everyone needs this, and needs to know that both parts of that last statement are true.


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