Self-Imposed Slavery


For some, a task without reward is never worth doing. Why make an effort when no reward is to follow? Only a fool works for free. For others, the unpaid work is all that matters. Creating art or working for a charity is a labor of love whose benefits extend beyond monetary reward. These are the “self-imposed slaves” whose work is not about financial benefits.

A unique breed of worker is now becoming common in contemporary society. Wikipedia’s army of editors and creators work for free. Linux continues to be edited by volunteers and millions around the world dedicate time and energy to goals without immediate fiscal reward.

How might a society recognize and reward this new breed of worker? If one is to spend hours of one’s time working towards a goal is not fiscal reward due? The Huffington Post seemed to feel this was not the case but free labor only goes so far. For many it is the selfish sacrifice that has value but turn these labors into profit for another and the game has changed. “I’ll work on this because I care,” they might say, “but take it for your profit” and some might not be pleased.

In a society where large portions of work go without compensation we must work to recognize some new form of compensation. Perhaps not direct cash reward, but some reprieve or recognition should be awarded. Might we offer tax deductions? This may be too much. One key change that we can quickly change is public recognition. Volunteer work on a resume need not be disregarded. In today’s world this free labor means less that “I couldn’t find a job” and more “I had a passion and dedicate my time and energy to it.” Herein lies the power of this act and delivery of the profit where its needed- right back for those who do the act.

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