Title of Page Here

Book Review

Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook

by Michael Fogler, 1999 (Second Edition)

Lexington, Kentucky

UN-JOBBING is essentially about pulling all areas of your life into alignment with your personal values and living more simply and consciously. Clear, concise and written in a gentle, easy style, this book offers ideas, information, and inspiration to free yourself from a life of merely making a living.

The author, Michael Fogler, describes himself as a "semi-retired stay-at-home-Dad, freelance musician, writer and peace activist." He leads seminars and workshops on peacemaking, nonviolence, cultural diversity and voluntary simplicity in his local area.

Fogler begins by taking us through his own journey from the empty search for "the one full-time career job complete with a benefits package and security" to the realisation of his true goal: "a home-based, non-job-dominated life" with all true financial needs met. In the chapters that follow he offers tools, ideas and suggestions on how and why to live such a life.

If "Your Life = Your Job" or "your life = your life" but you think you should get a job, or someone else thinks you should get a job, or you don't think you should get a job but you think you need more money coming in.....whatever your situation in life, I feel sure you will find something of value in this book.

Un-Jobbing consists of 9 chapters:

  1. Why This Book?
  2. A Baby Boomer's Story
  3. About "Making a Living"
  4. A Different View of Economics
  5. How Much is Your Job Costing You?
  6. What would be better: Higher Income or Lower Expenses?
  7. (Unlike Death) Taxes are not certain
  8. The Gamble of Insurance
  9. Your Conscious Plan for Livable
plus an Appendix which consists of an annotated list of organisations and publications relevant to anyone interested in "un-jobbing." This makes for an extremely rich resource in itself.

As I have found to be the case in my own life, when we get clear about what it is we truly value, many of our apparant needs and desires turn out to be illusory and drop away naturally. We move naturally toward a simpler way of living. An important point, which Fogler stresses in his book, is that this is not a question of sacrifice, deprivation or "doing without." It is a case of focussing our attention on what we really want out of life...

Some excerpts:


"Jobs are agreements to perform work for which people are paid money. The money has to come from somewhere. It doesn't appear by magic; it is not "created" out of thin air. The money comes from all of us - either in the form of taxes we pay to governments or in the form of our own personal spending - as we buy the products or services generated by the jobs. Therefore, jobs aren't "created," they're bought. And, they're bought by all of us. The more we buy others' jobs with our own job-earned money, the more pressure there is on everyone's job to make more job-earned money. When people wisely stop buying so much, suddenly fewer jobs are "created" and we' re in a "recession." (See more discussion on this in Chapter IV.) It's truly a vicious circle; and we're stuck in this circle going round and round and round.

Job "creation" as a solution to improve society is pure myth. This myth cannot possibly be the answer to inequality or injustice in the world - it's too competitive to be just. It surely isn't the answer to healing the environment, no matter how "green" the jobs are. Indeed, all economic activity has some environmental impact. And the myth of job "creation" surely isn't the answer to achieve a life of happiness and fulfillment. That seems clear. "Job" may equal "life," but it's definitely not tantamount to happiness or fulfillment.

What we have going with our jobbing orientation is chronic national busy-ness (alias "business"), which has proven itself to be unhealthful for humans and our planetary home. We must look in another direction. We must put less emphasis on jobs and more on cooperation, simplicity, and serving one another. This may very well involve meaningful work, but that's not the same as jobs."


The philosophy of un-jobbing asks us to question many things:
Un-jobbing is about questioning the high degree of competitiveness in our society and the high degree of separateness which that competive attitude brings into society.


Some readers may be responding to the above chapter title with a puzzled, "Wait a minute. Costing me? I think of my job as the way I make money."

Right. It is the way you make money; but your job also costs you a great deal of money. It's so taken for granted and assumed that we have to have regular, major income-producing employment, that we are willing to put up with all kinds of strains and drains on our lives due to our jobs. But make no mistake here, there are plenty of costs - monetary and other-wise - to having a job.

In this chapter (5) the author takes you through areas of your life one by one, getting you to look at, and write down, just what your job (if you have one) is costing you in financial terms. This could prove very revealing for anyone who has not fully considered the costs of working, financial or otherwise!



"...a useful how-to-do-it book... May the author reach many people with his cheery philosophy and directives for an un-jobbed life!"

--- Helen Nearing, author of Living the Good Life

"One of the things we're going to need in order to break out of our prison culture is a set of practical handbooks that will show us how to live when we're on the other side of the wall. Michael Fogler's Un-Jobbing is one of those handbooks."

--- Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael

"Michael Fogler writes with passion and clarity about the universal human desire to live simply. Un-Jobbing invites us to relax into a rich, creative lifestyle that values our souls more than our salaries. The book is provocative and practical -- a must-read."

--- Neil Chethik, syndicated columnist

"Our lifestyles are killing us and killing the planet. We all know that we must make major changes if we are to survive into the future, but, Where? How? Michael Fogler's Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook shows us where and how. This is an important and eminently practical book."

--- Michael Dowd, author of EarthSpirit

Reviewed by Sarah Nelson