Here’s a preview of the short comic I’m currently working on:

The final product will be this level of detail/quality since I don’t want to spend another few months on it. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing where I thought of a Christmas special episode, wrote a script for it and decided it needed to be done in less than a month. I’m probably about halfway through producing these pages. I’m currently on vacation, which means I’m not really doing any paid work and allowing myself to be guilt-free if I’m completely unproductive. I have spent some of the time producing work though, so it makes me feel like I did something “extra” and thus I’m happier with myself. I have some more family visiting during the first week of January, and then I’ll likely work on a commission for another week and get back into Anaether stuff after that.

I’ve done a few streams on Twitch and I like it so far, even if for 8 hours absolutely no one talked to me and almost no one watched me. It’s the holidays and I think I was a lot more productive. What I like about streaming is that I’m either pretty focused with my work or I’m interacting with my audience and hopefully facilitating more meaningful conversations with them instead of sticking to only shorter ones on social media. I think I’m going to try streaming for once a week to see how it goes, and I’ll go from there.

In this post I want to talk about the cathartic subject of the subreddit, r/antiwork.

A little disclaimer though, in case you haven’t been reading my other entries mentioning this. I’m not poor, I’ve never been poor, and I’m extremely privileged. I’m not rich, my family isn’t rich, but I have been quite fortunate. I’ve never truly known what it’s like to be without the privileges that I have, but I’d like to at least speak up for people who could use more support.

Covid has, as of December 2021, killed over 800,000 Americans. I guess we’re counting from around February or March of 2020, so that’s about 300,000 to 500,000 deaths/year. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, for some perspective, every year the US normally has somewhere between 2-3 million deaths — from the usual stuff, like heart disease, cancer, car accidents and so on. So Covid has given us an additional ~17% of our people dying every year. This has been enough to overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare system.

We care enough about car accidents to put on our seatbelts. Every year about 40,000 people die from car accidents. According to the CDC, there were about 600,000 cancer deaths in 2019. Imagine almost that much more dying every year from some novel pathogen.

This pandemic has really ruined many people’s lives and taken away loved ones from so many families. I’m not gonna come up with an exhaustive list of how it has made life suck for so many people, let alone for people outside of the US. In this post I want to talk about my hopes from what I’ve seen on r/antiwork.

Society’s improvements aren’t just in technology, like with computers or infrastructure. The internet wasn’t available for my parents when they were kids, for example. I never thought of humanity’s capabilities beyond all the technical, material stuff. There’s also ideas. I mean, I guess I did learn about the Age of Enlightenment and stuff but all the material technical advances have been more apparent to me. It was only after my school years ended that I started to acknowledge the importance of mental health and also realized what a huge rip-off the USA is with the way it’s run.

r/antiwork has been incredibly satisfying to read through. I really used to think it was supposed to be normal and okay to treat minimum wage or “unskilled” workers with disdain. I thought we were all supposed to think, “God I hope I don’t get sick and if I do I deserve to die!” and think that way of others as well. This is pretty much literally how we think. How fucking absurd is that? There’s just so much dialogue between employees and employers like, “My mom just died, I can’t come into work tomorrow,” and the boss going like “The hell you aren’t! You’re coming to work tomorrow I don’t give a shit about your mom!”

What I think has been different now is people are quitting when the boss or their whole job is clearly not worth it. I mean, I don’t know for sure that people didn’t do that before, but I do know that people are realizing more than ever before that they deserve so much better. Well, I’ve known that for a little while now. I’ve heard of and seen how Europeans live and how Canadians got so much better accommodated by their government in terms of Covid relief funds. I mean, I work for myself and I still feel guilty for taking time off from my paid hours, even though I know all of my clients will be back paying me once I’m back too.

Companies and employers should be getting reined in by workers. Employers shouldn’t forget that employees are people. There should be an even playing field between those who pay and those who provide the service.

I’ve read on NPR that disruptive events, where people make huge sacrifices, tend to cause workers to demand rewards for their sacrifices. Recent examples are the World Wars. It seems that for a few decades after the 2nd World War, families were able to have a single source of income in each household and raise an entire family. Workers had pensions, affordable housing, healthcare, education and having kids wasn’t as much of a hassle. This makes total sense. Families gave up fathers and sons for the wars, and now the pandemic has seen a much larger death toll than both of the World Wars combined. Restaurant workers, supermarket workers, everyone working in our supply chains, educators, healthcare workers and other essential workers were all expected to risk their health, their lives and those of their loved ones to keep everything moving, even before we had a vaccine. Who the hell else would take care of these workers if not their employers?

It seems that the working conditions have declined largely because of a lot of corporate greed, conservative and corporate propaganda, as well as union busting. I’m not sure if Americans really look outside of our own country for successful examples of people demanding and receiving fair compensation for the work they put in, but it really seems like organizing, striking and unionizing have been effective methods at preventing abusive business practices by employers.

I’m feeling really good and hopeful about The Great Resignation. I’m sure people are and rightly absolutely fed up with having little to no leverage against their employers when they are being exploitive.

People have already been wanting universal healthcare, government-subsidized care for the young and old, affordable education and so on. But I think there’s so much other insane shit people don’t know. Like how every other country, developed at least, raises their minimum wages according to inflation every year. We should be pushing hard for that. If not at the federal level, then at least at the state or city level. This is a huge reason why people can’t afford jack shit. Everything’s been getting more expensive, but wages have not kept up with that for so many of us.

I really used to think it was a normal and good thing to glorify working myself to exhaustion and to deprive myself of sleep because of working so much. I remember growing up in my high school years thinking somehow that “welfare” was a dirty, dirty word. I also remember thinking the terms “communism” and “socialism” were dangerous or somehow evil words. I first learned about Franklin D. Roosevelt when I was in 8th grade, and I remember thinking he was awesome after I learned about how he pulled the US out of the Great Depression with all these public projects and social programs.

When I was reading George Orwell’s 1984, I thought “doublethink” was just a thing that only existed in his world he made up in his book. The thing is, English teachers aren’t going to outright spell out what kind of doublethink you and/or society already does all the time. As you get older and if you or people around you ever make you realize how much doublethink you do all the time, it’s actually kind of shocking and creepy. I feel kind of betrayed, like by the authority figures and society that raised me.

Off the top of my head, the most detrimental example of doublethink in the US is our relationship with the word “socialism.”

I mean to be fair, I think the most angry, loudest conservatives either don’t know what the hell they’re talking about nor even know the basic dictionary definition of “socialism.” Those who do actually know what socialism is and then peddle a bunch of right-wing propaganda to voters, well those people are just plain evil. A lot of them rule over our country.

I’m pretty sure the elderly enjoy pensions and social security benefits. The US spends the most out of any other country on their defense budget, and our military personnel have some of the best benefits I’ve ever heard of for people who don’t necessarily have to be that highly educated nor privileged. They could take 2 months of paid leave if they wanted to. They can get Lasik eye surgery for free. The government often pays for their housing, education, medical expenses and makes daycare for their children more affordable. I’ve been to a commissary (basically a supermarket) on a military base and their prices can often be half off too, with their food quality being basically that of Whole Foods. Pretty much a military member’s salary is just pocket money since all the basics are covered.

The US as a culture hates the shit out of the word “socialism” and their perceived idea of it. But we already have socialism. It’s mostly been for the rich and our military.

Another thing I kept being told when I was growing up was that I was expected to spend my youth working hard and saving up for retirement, only to start enjoying the fruits of my labor then. Or at the earliest, perhaps in my late 40s. I never questioned it. I was a kid, and I thought everything my parents said to me was true.

I’m glad people are realizing what a pile of shit that is. To slave away all your life, feel guilty about resting, neglect your loved ones for a boss or company that would fire your ass if you got too sick. This is especially bullshit because Americans don’t have the best health habits. Some 2/3rds of us are overweight or obese, you think that’s going to be easy to enjoy in our old age? It’s not just our diet. It’s also our normal, ambient stress levels. We don’t even consider stress to be a real issue, but it is. Being stressed leaves you much more susceptible to getting sick. I wasn’t raised to seriously consider keeping myself from getting others sick. I was raised to power through school and work while sick. This mentality in America especially doesn’t work well during a pandemic. Aging in America doesn’t seem great. It’s easier to take advantage of the elderly, not everyone has kids who would or could take good care of them. Retiring seems to be a pretty unrealistic goal for many.

I was so prepared for years to work some 9-5 job that I would actually dread commuting to. I mean, I wanted to work as an artist at a studio but I already knew that all the artwork I do for jobs and school always sucked compared to my personal work. I hate office environments, even as an artist. I have to get up early, commute, deal with people, go into meetings that have nothing to do with me and get constantly interrupted while I’m doing the very thing I’m being paid to do. I also felt guilty for leaving the office when I’d already been there for 8 hours, while my coworkers didn’t leave since they were diligent or actually liked their jobs. Or they just had a higher tolerance for work they’d rather not be doing.

People are realizing now that they don’t have to put up with the shit they’ve been putting up with, and I’m really happy for them. I’m also happy for people who have discovered that their work can just be done remotely. I’m not going to tell you guys exactly what I do for a living right now, but my business operates so much more efficiently. I don’t get “homework,” I don’t get stupid meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary and my meetings are very efficient, on-topic and effective. I’ve been working remotely for almost a decade now, and I’ve known how blissful it is to be able to have my commute reduced down to a shift in my body position from lying in bed to sitting up at my computer at my desk. I love that I don’t have to be so self-conscious when I’m in the bathroom. Or for how frequently I need to pee. I don’t even have to wear pants on video calls. For a while I almost never did, and these days I sometimes still don’t wear pants.

People absolutely should have their own time back. Some 2, 4 hours a day or something like that. You don’t have to get up so early, take the time to get ready and do that 30 to 60-minute commute or some 2 hours of traveling per day to get to and from work. I imagine people get to use that time to sleep, relax, spend more quality time with their kids, pick up some hobbies and so on. What the hell did we think our lives were composed of? When are we supposed to feel great about living? Our time to live has always been now.

I wish more people asked themselves when going through difficult times or lifestyles, “Do I really have to live like this?” Because every time I asked myself this, I tried to figure out possible solutions or alternatives. It’s helped me so much over time. It’s been a bit of a grind, but I’ve pretty much been better for it. My current business I mostly built out of necessity though, but I also realized I didn’t have to charge so little and I didn’t have to put up with certain clients if I really didn’t want to. I get paid pretty well per hour and I’ve reduced the stress in my life by a lot. I’ve cut the dread out of my life so much, the vast majority of moments in my life is filled with things I really enjoy doing and people I absolutely look forward to spending time with. I hope this is possible for you, and wish for this kind of life for you as well if your life is currently filled with dread on a regular basis.

I know that for many people, it’d probably be much harder for them to pull of what I’ve achieved if they haven’t been as privileged or fortunate as I’ve been. But I really hope that with this new shift in power in the job market that workers use their leverage to get what they really ought to have. People should be treated with basic dignity and respect. I wish we weren’t so gas-lit with this “how are we gonna pay for universal healthcare and free education?” bullshit. Like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have earnings directly proportional to their hard work, as if they were completely self-made. Like there’s not enough money in America. It’s really best left sitting under the asses of the top 1%.

I’ve been living and working in a bubble for years. Once I’m more actively conscious of others in my life who work full time, I begin to feel guilty with the way that I live. My boyfriend works much harder than I do at his job, and I could technically work just as hard as he does or more but I just choose not to. He’s fine with how much I work because he expects me to work hard enough to be able to take care of myself in case, for any reason, we split up. At the leisurely hours that I currently work, I can definitely live pretty comfortably.

I want people to live the way they want. If people get stressed or are working tough hours, I would hope they’re doing it because they really want to or they’re really enjoying it, and they’re getting a whole lot back for it.

There’s so much shit we really don’t have to put up with but we do because we’ve been thinking it’s just the way it is, and often our culture and our system has these things so deeply normalized.

Perhaps I can put some of the stuff on a list:

Working long hours with slave wages and no breaks
Getting abused by your boss
Taking abuse from customers
Taking on jobs with no benefits
Going into student debt for years and years
Never going to the doctor because of expenses
Feeling guilty for taking time off
Being afraid to take an ambulance or go to the hospital because of expenses
Thinking poor people deserve to be poor
Thinking people deserve to get fired because they got sick
Thinking the homeless need to somehow just disappear instead of getting properly housed
Thinking taking breaks/vacations/time off means you’re lazy
Needing to take time off (that we probably won’t be allowed to) just to vote

A lot of normalized mentality is dragging us down and keeping us from progress, aside from the assholes in government who refuse to implement policies that most of us would agree on.

Not making enough money? Don’t like your job? Go get a better job or go back to school and get a degree.
[Workers at low-wage jobs quit and many places like restaurants and supermarkets are short-staffed and have more limited hours] How dare they not go back to work! They must be lazy!

Don’t have health insurance? Don’t get sick.

You want legal abortion? No, you’re not allowed to have that. Just don’t get pregnant, and we’ll also round up all the rapists.

Can’t afford a house? Stop spending on avocado toast.

How can I put this wider peripheral view in a more clear, concise way…

From what I’ve seen, from different parts of the world that seem more successful with the issues that we’ve been tackling and across human history, it seems that things like respect, responsibility, kindness and compassion have been what helps put us in a better place.

We need to raise the floor of people’s basic needs. Everyone should have accessible/affordable healthcare, housing, and education. I don’t hear protests against our military members getting all of these things, even with the fact that they can be terrible and lazy at their jobs and still not get fired. It’s actually tough for military workers to get fired from their jobs even when they really suck at it. We’re the richest country in the world, so this “How’re we gonna pay for it” bullshit is just that. Tax the rich properly. Make the minimum wage a living wage. House the homeless. Make education free. Give us paid sick and family leave. Make daycare free and accessible. Make healthcare free. Make our prison system more effective at re-integrating people back into society. Help substance addicts safely wean off their drugs and get them jobs and proper counseling. Make election day a national holiday or make it on a weekend.

Easier said than done, I know.

But where the hell would we be if people didn’t at least articulate these kinds of thoughts throughout human history? Can you imagine what it was like for abolitionists during slavery? A whole system, a whole economy and culture was built on committing brutal atrocities against black people, even some dozen of our first presidents were slave owners. We still look up to them in our history books. America had a civil war over slavery.

And yet somehow, we’ve abolished slavery. I mean sure, our modern form of slavery is our prison system, but it’s a clear step in the direction of progress. We always have more work to do. Years ago we had a black family in the white house, and that family was a great role model to us all. As I’ve been saying, we don’t get to the places we want with self-defeatism. We figure out possible solutions and focus on executing them. Our more desirable world doesn’t just fall into our lap, we don’t wait for every last person around us to agree and validate our ideas of a better world before we push for it, we have to believe in it first and work in that direction. Progress happens over longer periods of time, and it’s difficult for us to recognize that since, especially with American news media, negative reports are much more incentivized. When do you really ever hear good news making headlines? Does it ever take up the majority of any given news site?

What I really want to emphasize is how awesome it’s truly been to read about people putting their foot down and quitting abusive job environments in pursuit of better ones, or taking the time to try to shift their careers in more desirable directions. I’m seeing wages rise, and though that is a step in the right direction, workers should probably be getting paid much more and receiving full benefits, even if they are part time. If companies truly wanted better business, they should know it’s better for business to take good care of their employees. If they feel giving their employees a living wage and full benefits is too expensive, then those employers can’t afford to run a proper business.

One interesting thing about r/antiwork that I saw was that originally it was filled with people who believe in the abolition of work altogether or something closer to that end of the spectrum. I haven’t really read that much or done much research on why people feel that way, but I read the first few pages of Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness.” What I found really interesting was how in our history, the rich get to be idle because workers are expected to be the least idle as possible. The rich get to live off of the fruits of the working class’s labor. We don’t berate the rich for being idle. But we berate the working class people for being idle. For the longest time I thought we were done with having a class-based society. In reality we’ve been brainwashed to work and sacrifice for the big man.

What is this ideal world that work-abolitionists envision? From what I’ve read so far, it reminds of a world like Star Trek. All the basic needs are met. They can literally like, beam in whatever food they want on their spaceship, and all they have to do with their lives is go on their cool and fun adventures in outer space.

It does make sense though. Why should you give the best years of your life to some boss or company who wouldn’t have your back if you so much as catch a cold? Why should life be all about work? Shouldn’t you work to live, not live to work, especially for someone else’s thriving business? Life should be about work if you want it to be. Life can be about so many things other than just work. Before the 40-hour work week, people used to work way more, and there was a time when there were no weekends. We’ve been progressing towards more efficiency and more convenience. Why do we still need to keep burning ourselves out?

From what I’ve seen of countries that have at least all their basics down, they’re all better off for it. Not to say they don’t have any problems anymore, but they’re tackling “better” problems, and perhaps more effectively. At least their citizens won’t beg bystanders to avoid calling the ambulance when they’ve got their leg caught between a train and a platform.

We all want a world that’s better for us and our children. Our grandparents shouldn’t be giving our parents shit for not still working on farms, and our generation shouldn’t be getting shit for not wanting to commute for 2 hours a day to and from some dead-end job. I think we all deserve better.

So again, I’m happy for people in this Great Resignation. It’s probably one of the greatest things I can see that’s come out of the pandemic, considering all the terrible things that have come out of it as well. I’ve felt a lot of despair during this pandemic, so it’s good to witness something positive. I’m at least feeling hopeful.

The best, most realistic solution for workers is to organize, strike, negotiate with their employer/company and unionize. Negotiate living wages, benefits and hours. Negotiating only individually is the best way for the employer to just fire you and replace you with someone who isn’t so resistant, but if you make ~95% of the employees/workers in the company go on strike, you’re more likely to succeed at getting what you want. Also note that it’s easier on you as a worker if your company’s source of labor cannot be off-shored, like construction workers and restaurant workers where companies would employ locals. So far I’ve heard when workers are in unions, they seem to have the best, most humane working conditions, inside and outside the US. Since I’m not really in such a position myself and my living conditions are pretty ideal, I just want to show support and also try to start supporting striking workers by donating to them, spreading awareness and letting you know that I’ll be writing my representatives to ask for things like raising the minimum wage according to inflation.

Also as a reminder to my fellow Americans, the midterm elections is this year in 2022. Progress is not achieved with self-defeatism, and if you do not do your part to vote, you will more likely be represented by those who do not represent your interests. Being accountable for yourself is important, and I think we should all do our part to make our world a better place for all of us.

Happy New Year Everyone, thanks so much for reading.