Get over work

Another article getting at our need to get over the idea of everyone working in the traditional sense. All hands on deck made sense when there was more work to do than people to do it. We’re at the point where everyone working 40 hours a week is impossible. We’re going towards a point where everyone working even 10 hours a week will be impossible. Work qua employment isn’t some intrinsically great thing. People don’t need jobs, people need goods and services. If we can get the latter without the former, all the better.

I disagree with the last part of the article, though. Post-employment, “What do you do?” will become a more meaningful question, not less. Instead of commonly getting answers about jobs that really have nothing to do with the person, answers will reflect how one chooses to spend their time without unneeded restraint. Of the people I know who work in jobs that they don’t really care about outside the paycheck, pretty much all of them do far more interesting and worthwhile things outside of their jobs, and those who don’t would if their jobs didn’t suck their energy away.

In response to the common objection that without a need to work people will just become lazy, in places where universal basic income has been tried, employment stays around the same rate. The need for employment is, surprisingly, even lower than the current employment, too. With most office workers only actually working about 20% of the time, if not for a religious devotion to 40 hour work weeks, we could have many people already closer to 10 hour weeks with no drop in production.

Automation is also being held back by (unreasonably) cheap labor. Fast food, for instance, can be mostly automated. Cut off the need for employment and the wages people will demand to do those jobs rather than something more fulfilling will jump up, likely to the point where building the robots is cheaper.

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