Re: Work or Pay Systems
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 17:11:19 -0700 (PDT)
It seems to me that increasing assessments across the board to hire out
community work creates a worse class division than the work-or-pay option
does.  Instead of having no choice but to work off the assessment,
low-income residents have no choice but - not to be residents. Or be overtly
subsidized, if the community wants to.

> I think the opposite conclusion--NO ONE has to work, nor do they need to
> pay--is more humane: Spread the community maintenance costs evenly among
> all members, instead of trying to penalize folks for not putting in
> work. 
> Tim Mensch

If I understand this correctly, far from, "No one has to ... pay," it means
everybody pays.

Why is it "more humane" to require a set, highly regressive, payment of
money, while allowing each resident to decide for themselves how much time,
if any, they will offer to the community?  I've never understood this -
however "American" it is (a country with no national service requirement).  

The amount of discretionary money a person has is their income minus their
fixed expenses. Incomes vary widely. The amount of discretionary time a
person has is their total time minus their obligations. Yet everybody has
the same 24 hours in the day. 

It's certainly true that discretionary income can protect discretionary time
- convenience foods, cleaning or yard services, your own car instead of
public transit. Work-or-pay schemes are just one more example.  Of course
it's unfair.

However, we've already given people the choice not to work. Asking someone
to pay for the privilege at least gives those who are willing to work the
possibility of hiring out some of it, instead of doing their jobs and the
other people's too.

To paraphrase Churchill, work-or-pay is the worst possible work scheme,
except for all the others.
> The costs to handle all jobs that weren't being done under the
> existing system in a previous community were estimated at
> $6-$12/month/household. I would hope that any homeowner should be able
> to afford an expense of that magnitude ...

That had to have been an extremely high-functioning community.

We estimated this spring that it would take a special assessment of $25 per
month (or preferably a lump sum of $300) per household to hire sufficient
labor to make the most visible portions of the property somewhat presentable
for prospective buyers (an urgent concern, with at one point five units for
sale) - that didn't include less-visible but equally needed sprinkler
repairs, lawn aeration, or tree trimming, never mind cleaning or maintenance
issues other than landscaping. 

The assessment failed to pass, but some households donated their $300 or
alternative 20 hours anyway.  We're halfway through the summer, the money is
running out, the weeds are back in areas done earlier, and other areas
haven't been started on yet. If we'd had the full assessment, maybe we
wouldn't be coming back to square one.


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