Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Myth of Full Employment

When I was in high school, back in the 1970’s, there was a lot of talk about the upcoming Leisure Revolution. Technology was doing away with the need for everyone to work full-time. We were led to expect shorter working hours and more free time.

Since then there have been giant leaps in technology, doing away with the need for even more jobs.

So it is a surprise to find that there are more jobs now than ever. When women insisted on the right to work, I naively assumed that there would still be only one job per family. Woman who wanted to work could do so and men who preferred to stay home and do the housework would have that right. Instead we have two income families with no greater discernible wealth.

Something has gone horribly wrong. We have doubled the workforce and slashed the amount of work that needs to be done. Logically nobody should have to work more than ten or fifteen hours a week. Instead, we cut only five hours from the full-time working week and added seven years to the retirement age. Some are even calling to make that ten. I can only assume that most of the jobs created since then must be adding nothing to the wealth of the society.

And still our politicians keep promising jobs, jobs, jobs, while finding ever more draconian ways to punish anybody without one. There are no dole bludgers. Nobody wants to live in poverty.
What we need is a Statesman with the courage to stand up and say. “The leisure revolution is here. We don’t have to work hard any more. Technology is doing the work and creating the wealth that we can all enjoy. We need fewer jobs and fewer hours at each job. We need to create less crap and toss less of our irreplaceable resources into landfill sites.

And we need to value the work that is done outside the traditional employer-employee relationship. Caring for the disabled, voluntary and community work, environmental rehabilitation