The Work Ethic

Released Wednesday, 14th October 2015
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The Moral Maze returns this week to apply its nose to the grindstone and naturally the prospect of work is exercising our collective mind. Ringing, perhaps guiltily in our ears, are the words last week of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Defending the changes to tax credits he said "We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years' time. There's a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country which is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success." According to one business expert he may have a point. Rohit Talwar, the chief executive of Fast Future, has said teachers should be preparing schoolchildren for a future that could see them having to work in 40 different jobs until they reach 100. For many this debate isn't just about increasing life expectancy and the cost of state pensions. It's about what kind of contribution society has the right to ask of its citizens and whether the common good demands that we try to meet it. Is work not just financially rewarding, but morally improving? Is self-reliance a virtue that is undervalued in Britain? Or are they both a moral smokescreen for a soulless, utilitarian attitude that sees us all as units of economic production and only values us while we continue to contribute? Isn't the true test of good work not whether it's 'hard' but whether it's fulfilling and productive? Whether we enjoy it? The Moral Maze chaired as ever by Michael Buerk. Michael is a man known for his love of hard work. He says he can watch it for hours.
Chaired by Michael Buerk with Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo, Giles Fraser and Matthew Taylor.
Witnesses are Sheila Lawlor, Dan Taylor, Tom Hodgkinson and Lord Maurice Glasman.

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