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(6,440 posts)
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 01:28 PM Mar 2016

Welcome to the post-work economy

BEN SCHILLER 03.15.16 6:00 AM
If the goal of the economy is to provide decent-paying work for everyone, that economy clearly isn't doing a good job at the moment. Real wages for most Americans haven't increased in 40 years. Real unemployment—which includes the "under-employed"—is above 10%. Many jobs are now part-time, flexi-time, or "gigs" with no benefits and few protections. And, we spend a lot of money to subsidize so-called "bullshit jobs": more than 50% of fast food workers receive some form of public assistance, for instance.

And, even for people who are employed, work often isn't that fun. For all the talk of the meaning and purpose of our jobs, most people see them merely as a means to an end. Only 29% of employees in North America say they're engaged (worldwide, the number is 13%). And the reality is that a lot of work will soon be done by computer. Processing-type technology has already eliminated many "routine manual" and "routine cognitive" activities, notably in factories and offices. And new artificially intelligent machines are likely to take away more, even within professional occupations. Forty-seven percent of jobs are at risk over the next 20 years, one study showed.

Of course, there are many conventional ways we could deal with this, including improving education and training (so more people can work up the wage-scale and beyond the ability of robots) and raising minimum wages. But, over the long term, it's questionable whether even these approaches will be sufficient. The fundamental problem could be that work is losing its value. The thing that provided—that allowed families to prosper and individuals to build a sense-of-self—is under attack.

In response, many are now calling for a "universal basic income" (UBI)—where the state gives everyone enough to live on. This would put a floor under the class of people we're calling the "precariat," people for whom work doesn't lead to increased financial security. It would free us from the bullshit, allowing everyone to benefit from automation, not just the lucky few. And it would leave us more time for creative, fulfilling things, enjoying the "abundance" that new technology affords (think how useful and cheap computers are today and imagine what they might let everyone do in the future). There are several UBI trials planned in Finland, Switzerland, and Canada (and, indeed, several reasons why the idea is attractive).

More at: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3056483/welcome-to-the-post-work-economy?partner=wired
9 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Welcome to the post-work economy (Original Post) nxylas Mar 2016 OP
I like these articles! wobble Mar 2016 #1
Do you have a link to the VOX YouTube Video? angstlessk Mar 2016 #3
Here wobble Mar 2016 #4
Much too short...this is an egnormous idea angstlessk Mar 2016 #5
I will keep my eyes open wobble Mar 2016 #7
UBI simplifies almost everything while ensuring everyone can live in dignity. Kip Humphrey Mar 2016 #2
Sadly, that describes too many of the 1% nxylas Mar 2016 #6
Definitely a "good read". inanna Mar 2016 #8
Very good. I don't see it happening here, though Pakhet Mar 2016 #9


(16 posts)
1. I like these articles!
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 01:42 PM
Mar 2016

This would be a fantastic proposition for the United States. Unfortunately, this probably does not jive with the capitalist system. If the capitalist sees diminishing returns to his investment in capital, the capital investment slows.

I could spend hours just coming up with economic fluff arguments that could convince ignorant people to believe that this sort of idea would be a detriment to society. It is shocking how easy it is to mislead people about economics and personal finance. We could start by ingraining personal finance and economics principles into our society through compulsory education throughout the developmental years of ones life. I could see that as a legitimate step in the right direction within the capitalist system so loved by our Oligarchs.

I am a strong proponent of the Universal Basic Income, but there is no way that it could be accepted by our government's owners. Capitalists will simply not allow labor to derive direct benefit from their capital, unless they are so graciously given this benefit by the capitalist in the form of wages (or other benefits).

Vox did an excellent YouTube video about this issue, they dove into the history of the concept and how it was obliterated by the controllers of the government.


(11,862 posts)
5. Much too short...this is an egnormous idea
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 03:46 PM
Mar 2016

I want an hour or two to absorb the reality..

I recall in the early days of the internets when you got to choose which search engine to use, there were those espousing the great innovations giving us all leisure time..I was soooo very hopeful.

Now robots..I do believe our 'leisure' time will be spent in tent cities.


(16 posts)
7. I will keep my eyes open
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 05:53 PM
Mar 2016

a documentary on this subject would be quite an interesting watch. I will look into this.

I recall a lecture I attended during which my professor explained the concept of Keynesian Economics. The theory of productivity was that productivity would increase linearly and that we would all share in the successes of our economy. Robots would do the work and we would have a 10-20 hour work week with massive productivity, and great wealth to show for it...

The professor then showed us how the productivity had increased relative to Keynes estimation, and it was relatively similar considering the great advances he had hypothesized. Wealth creation had also kept up with the Keynesian expectation.

Increases in technology should usually increase the wage rate, in theory, commiserate to the advances in output caused by that productivity. Thus higher tax rates would be levied on the persons who hold these jobs, leading to higher velocity of money... ETC.

Unfortunately this is not our reality. He who has shall prosper, and he without shall have his prosperity determined by he who has. The capitalist in my above scenario would likely increase the wage rate marginally for the laborer assisted by the machine because "does not need to do as much as before". On the other side he will invest in the capital because "he has the means". Then the difference is allocated by (and often to) the capitalist.

One day we may be able to have our tent cities AND our jobs...

Kip Humphrey

(4,753 posts)
2. UBI simplifies almost everything while ensuring everyone can live in dignity.
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 01:56 PM
Mar 2016

it is a win, win, win, win. It doesn't even impact the 1% in any significant way. The only real losers are the bullies & bigots.


(6,440 posts)
6. Sadly, that describes too many of the 1%
Thu Mar 17, 2016, 04:10 PM
Mar 2016

They don't just want to have nice things, they want to have nicer things than everyone else. And even lower down the ladder, the puritan inheritance means that there are plenty of people who believe that life should be a constant struggle, and that financial security erodes character (in other people, of course, not in themselves).

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