Re: Work or Pay Systems
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:18:33 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 27, 2008, at 6:01 PM, David Mandel wrote:

In my view, it becomes particularly insidious when the discussion leads to a policy of "work or pay" as an individual "choice," as if everyone truly has the same degree of choice. The result in an economically diverse community can easily devolve into a microcosmic class divide. Those who can easily pay a bit more instead of contributing fully to community work, freely deciding that other parts of their lives are just more important; vs. others who simply don't have the cash and therefore must devote more hours to community work. Talk about a formula for breeding resentment -- try overlaying this on that which may already occur with differential work involvement among economic equals.

This has often been raised as a concern, usually as a justification for not allowing people to pay at all. Everyone works. I think we need some actual data on whether allowing people to pay instead of work actually does produce a class divide. In my community there is no indication that it does. Of course, deciding this means making subjective decisions in assigning people a "class."

'Ability to pay' is also very subjective. Many members of my community have opted out of well-paying and time-consuming jobs in order to do the work they love and to have more time for it. Are they of a lower socio-economic class because of this? Higher?

However you define "class" and "hours of community work," this argument about breeding resentment and class division, as far as anyone has demonstrated in relation to cohousing, seems to be based on supposition and ideology, not fact.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing,Washington DC

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