This is exactly what I encountered when I visited several Eastern European countries in the 1970s, the heyday of communism. No one felt any incentive to work hard. "No one else does, so why should I?" They had a slogan for this: "We pretend to work, and the government pretends to pay us." The essence of communism is Marx's mantra: "To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability." This is a fairy-tale model of an economic system, and indeed a little-publicized fact is that Marx was a devout Christian and this slogan was elaborated from his favorite line in the Book of Acts. In real life, what a man takes from civilization must correlate with what he gives back, or civilization will collapse. And this is exactly what happened in the USSR and its satellite countries. Communism produces a negative surplus. It consumes more than it creates because its enterprises are so poorly run by people who have no reason to strive for success. They got by for a while by dissipating the surplus wealth leftover from the previous government. When that ran out they began conquering the neighboring countries and dissipating their surplus wealth. Eventually it all ran out--thanks in large part to the enormous fraction of their national budget devoted to supporting their military in the Cold War--while in contrast the capitalist economy of the U.S. prospered, precisely because of the military sector. When the surplus was gone, their economies collapsed and had to be reorganized on the capitalist model. Only China has managed to hang onto a semblance of communism, but only by the unique, traditional way the Chinese absorb all foreign concepts: by combining it with their own concepts. In this case they merged communism with Confucianism and capitalism, and it kinda works for them. Indeed. This is what happened in the Bronze Age, when cities became so large that business transactions were too complicated to do on a handshake. People were trading with complete strangers, fulfilling obligations that were incurred a year or more ago. At first, tradesmen, farmers and shopkeepers simply scribed chit marks on clay as evidence of what people owed them. Eventually this was elaborated into what we now refer to as "written language." Writing was invented by businessmen, not scholars or priests: the first written records were money! Who defines which skills are "important?" In a money-based economy, this is determined by the market. The fellow with the nicest house must be the one with the most important skills. The communists resent the fact that "the people" they claim to love so much might reward that house to a fellow who designs the most entertaining videogames or cultivates the strongest strain of marijuana. They want it to go to the fellow who thinks up the grandest theories of philosophy. But instead, in their countries, it always ends up going to the people who run the government. Well... there are such things as intermediate resources. I need a computer to do my job. They don't grow on trees but they're still resources.