Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Future of Labor

On Labor Day 2008, I'd like to step WAY back from the present day and take a science-fictional look at the future of labor.

We justly glorify the working men and women who built this amazing industrialized society around us. But it's changing right before our very eyes.

Politicians take pride in standing up in public and saying "Jobs, jobs, jobs. My policies will promote more jobs."

But let's face it. "Labor" and "jobs" are just synonyms for "work", and that's something that's always way more popular in the abstract and for other people than it is in the concrete and for you.

Nobody really likes work. It's a means to a living, that's all.

And we're constantly finding ways to get out of it. The 40-hour work week, child-labor laws, pension plans, early retirement, sick leave, family leave, and other accomplishments of the union movement weren't put in place due to any soppy sentimentality about the nobility of labor.

This effort is succeeding. When you add children, college students, and retirees (and, I suppose, the incarcerated) to the ranks of the unemployed, we discover that we've found a way for over half our population to get out of work.

I contend that this is a good thing, and that in the future we'll find ways (thru automation, robotics, etc.) to save the other half of the population from mundane drudgery as well, so each of us can finally live labor free, pursuing pleasurable creative and recreational activities or just loafing.

Now THAT'LL be worth a holiday!


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