Pay for the Printer


Pay for the Printer

Pay for the Printer is a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. First published in Satellite Science Fiction magazine, October 1956 under the title "Printer's Pay".

Plot

In a war-ravaged future, humanity has come to depend on an alien species known as the Biltongs, possessed of the ability to replicate items identically - although the copies only last for a short time. When the Biltongs become decrepit, the humans are forced to rediscover the skill of building.

Interpretation

The story is frequently seen as a criticism of social welfare systems, and the welfare state in general. The humans (who represent the individual, private citizen) in the story are capable of surviving with constant help from the Biltongs (who represent the state), but they are totally unable to achieve their potential or thrive in any way. Only with the elimination of the "safety net" do the humans become capable not only of caring for themselves, but actually advancing their own society as well.


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