Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Work Is Only for the Productive

I find connecting human worth to productivity to be morally gross, but there is a lot of this rhetoric out there. We always hear about "being a productive member of society" as if it's akin to godliness.

Here's an example of productivity at work rhetoric from a recent speech by Nigeria's Minister of Labor, Dr. Hassan Mohammed Lawal:

Let me also use this opportunity to call on all employers of labour to stop stigmatising and discriminating against workers who are HIV positive. This is because a worker who is HIV positive is still very productive. It is illegal and against fundamental principles and rights at work.

It's one thing to call for an end to discrimination because it doesn't treat others as if they have inherent worth and dignity (or doesn't demonstrate justice, equity, or compassion in human relations). It's completely another thing to call for an end to discrimination because the discriminated against can still produce. This thinking puts the only value on productivity, which leaves the very young, the very old, the disabled, the sick also in the category of worthlessness.