The Immorality of Idleness


Establishing and filling a personal economic war chest results in free-time which should be deployed wisely. Free-time is a luxury, in universal demand; but it is not always put to good use by those who obtain it. Idleness has always been one of the great social ills that public policy seeks to address.  Idleness is an evil that is not avoided by access to financial resources (which is why Universal Basic Income is a stupid idea – see my 6/21/16 post).  Sadly, millions of able bodied men in America are now succumbing to the sin of idleness.  Nicholas Eberstadt’s book Men Without Work (2016) takes an unflinching look at this growing moral crisis in America.


Free-time can be put to good use or it can be wasted in a way that diminishes a person’s moral value as a human being. Habitual idleness is a character flaw.  Eberstadt points out that millions of unemployed working age men (who are not looking for work) are unaware or don’t care about the vital distinction between leisure and idleness.  As Eberstadt puts it:


Bluntly stated, leisure refines and elevates; idleness corrupts and degrades.  Free-time can be devoted to recreation, reflection, and self-improvement as well as the pursuit of knowledge, spirituality, and the arts.  A respite from toil and chores is a prerequisite for contemplation and the deepening of consciousness that allows for cultural advance.


Leisure is the basis of culture. A habit of spending free-time idle is a personal flaw and it is becoming a social problem in the U.S.  How do millions of unemployed working age men support themselves?  They don’t.  Relatives, friends and the U.S. Government support them at surprisingly high living standards while they do very little to improve themselves or their chances for employment.  Eberstadt believes that there has been a quiet, revolutionary change in male attitudes about work and dependence.


An Estate Planning War Chest rests on a rock solid floor of hard work, thrift, physical training and noble leisure activity. Idleness is a vice to be carefully avoided.


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