Noah denkt™ -
Project for Philosophical Evaluations of the Economy
Dialog with the Alter Ego on a British Government proposal for compulsory community work,
first drafted on Nov. 9, published on Nov. 10, 2010
Question by Noah denkt™ (Nd): What does our Alter Ego make of the British government’s proposal to force
those who are long-term recipients of unemployment benefits to accept unpaid community work such as roadside
Answer by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Well, it’s kind of a harsh policy measure, isn’t it? What does Noah
denkt™ think about this initiative?
Nd: In our opinion the government and society as a whole have a right to impose such a draconian measure if, at
the same time, they are prepared to provide its citizens with a dignified way to commit suicide.
AE: Ooops! What kind of a position is that?
Nd: Well, don’t you think that it is only fair to ask the government to offer its people a civilized way to avoid public
humiliation if that very same government otherwise forces its citizen to accept such humiliation in case they can’t
semm to get off the dole?
AE: Hang on, where is the humiliating aspect of unpaid community work? And where is the dignity in committing
Nd: The humiliating aspect in forced community work is not so much the work itself but rather the fact that you will
be put on display by the government for being a long-term unemployed. In that, this proposal is quite similar to the
medieval practice of pillorying people once their behavior was deemed unacceptable by the overall society.
AE: But living off other people’s welfare contributions over an extended period of time is indeed quite
unacceptable, isn’t it?
Nd: Surely, it’s fair to argue that such a welfare support should not be entirely free of charge. We therefore do not
question society’s right to impose this forced community work. We would expect however that this society is
equally fair to its citizens once they should decide that they do not want to be part of such cabal anymore.
AE: How can the government stop anyone from committing suicide?
Nd: Well, at this point in time, the general law does not accept at all that committing suicide is a justified approach
to dealing with the challenges that a modern, free and capitalistic existence imposes on to man. Hence, for the
time being the government has all the right in the world to lock you up in a psychiatric ward once it feels that you
are about to eject yourself from this world. And, as a consequence of this, it is so far next to impossible to kill
yourself without having to resort to some rather tasteless or inconsiderate measures such as hanging yourself or
throwing yourself in front of a train. Clearly this is not a civilized way of dealing with your desire to extract yourself
from conditions that seem unbearable to you.
AE: But suicide in itself cannot never be a justified approach to solving an existential crisis!
Nd: Why not?
AE: Because it creates a trauma for all those who are somehow connected with the person that has just killed
Nd: It may also create a trauma having to accept the humiliation of forced and unpaid community work.
AE: Well, that trauma can never be as bad as the one that is being inflicted on you by the suicide of a loved one.
Nd: We are not sure about that. Just imagine what it’s like having to spend all day in company of other brutes who
neither understand nor condone the humiliation you experience while being in their company. Surely that must be
quite hard to deal with too.
AE: Well, perhaps, an experience like this will help you to get a little less picky about the job you are going accept
Nd: In other word, this is all about adjusting your sense of adequacy?
AE: Perhaps so.
Nd: Well, we worked hard to evaluate our own sense of adequacy. It therefore seems quite difficult to us having to
subject our own judgment to that of others who have surely spent a lot less time on developing them than we did.
AE: So you are quite adamant about all this.
Nd: Yes, we are.
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appropriate or suitable for him. And to leave no doubt as to what this means we urge our user to also note our extended Legal
the right to kill yourself, legal opinion about suicide, humiliation of long-term
unemployment, humiliation of forced community work, dealing with long term unemployment,
managing long-term unemployment, forcing people into unpaid community work, reintroducing the long-term
unemployed into the work life, moral obligations of social benefits