Why Job Creation Won’t Erase Poverty or Solve Inequality


Work Used to be Essential in Order to Survive.

For most of mankind’s existence, work was essential to survival. The meat needed to hunt in order to eat. One couldn’t just walk into a butcher to buy a piece of meat. In the days before agriculture took hold, the tribe, or an individual, had to hunt and forage for food. When agriculture arrived, crops needed to be grown and animals needed to be herded.

In addition, the shelter needed to be found or homes needed to be built. Cloth needed to be woven and tools had to be made. All these things took a long time, and people often needed many hands working together in order to battle the many different elements needed to survive.

It wasn’t like today — a home builder couldn’t just purchase bricks from the hardware shop down the road. Instead, members of the community had to hack stone from a quarry or dry grasses for thatch roofing. All of these things were labor-intensive. Without everybody pulling their weight, a community wouldn’t survive very well. Work, therefore, was directly related to survival. As ethics are the rules that govern the greatest good (survival and wellbeing) for the greatest number, there would a direct correlation between work and ethics.

Mankind’s working day consisted of some three hours — in line with that of other mammals.

The Industrial Revolution Started the Process of Mass Production

With the arrival of the industrial revolution during the late 18th century, not only did mankind’s working hours go up from 20 hours per week to around 60 hours per week, but more and more products began to be produced. Weaving a piece of fabric would no longer take weeks or months to complete. It could now take a few hours. Clothing, once scarce, became more and more plentiful.

As more and more resources began to be produced, human beings were able to have easier and more plentiful access to items that were in short supply. Over the never few hundred years, essential items became plentiful, and there those products that were once thought to be rare luxuries became staple household items.

In addition, manufacturing items were no longer a matter of survival, they were also a means to accruing wealth — even when there was more than enough for everybody. Some began to see work (labor) as a means of accruing wealth — not as a means to survive.

Over-Production of Goods by the Early 20th Century

Somewhere around the early 20th century, too many goods were being produced. The major cause of the stock market crash of 1929 was the over-production of goods. Most people — 75% — lived in the country, and they did not need the goods that the factories were creating.

For instance, most women in the country were quite content to have three or four dresses. They did not need more. They spent all day doing housework, part of which was to do the laundry, and they could easily wash and dry clothing so that they never ran out. Nobody expected them to wear a different dress every day, and they certainly weren’t going dancing every night.

As a consequence of the lack of market for the number of goods being produced, many manufacturers went bankrupt. This was the major cause of the bankruptcy of the 1929 stock market crash.

That’s when Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, entered the picture. He introduced the concept of advertising, and he is also known as the father of propaganda and public relations. He recognized that the human brain believed anything it was told repeatedly, and with the advent of television and radio at about that time, he realized it was the perfect medium to repeat small bytes of data over and over again. Soon women were convinced that not only were four dresses insufficient but that they needed to replace those dresses every season.

By the early 21st century, so many items of clothing were being produced that major high-end fashion brands were annually destroying billions of dollars of unused clothing rather than lower the price of what is, in the end, surplus.

One of the underlying precepts of capitalism is that the more goods there are being produced, the cheaper they would become. However, as the greed of the ownerships class escalated, and as the basis of capitalism is perpetual growth and increased profits, that began to change. For example, De Beers Consolidated didn’t like the reality that diamonds were far from rare. In fact, they are rather worthless. So the company buried them in vaults rather than admit there were so many of them that they were pretty much worthless. It is interesting that now that mining is falling into disrepute as one of the causes of climate change, artificial diamonds are replacing mined diamonds.

Machines, Robots, and AI Now Produce Most Goods

Mankind no longer needs to labor in the fields and in the forest in order to find fare for his table. Mechanization, computerization, and now robotics (AI) and AI have steadily been replacing workers. I think it’s fair to say that there are about 15% to 30 % fewer jobs than there were 70 years ago — depending on the country.

With so man goods being produced, why do human beings have to work? Machines are doing the work for us. Certainly, it would be unfair to expect some to man the machines while others avoid employment and did the things they loved. Why not, then, cut back working hours to 20 hours per week — the number of hours that the human body evolved to cope with?

After all, is the purpose of the production of goods not to provide for the survival of mankind? Somewhere, the concept of labour has become warped. There is no such thing as a work ethic when all work necessary for the survival and wellbeing of mankind has been attended to.

After all, is the purpose of the production of goods not to provide for the survival of mankind? Somewhere, the concept of labour has become warped. There is no such thing as a work ethic when all work necessary for the survival and wellbeing of mankind has been attended to.

The balance between work and resources has long been lost. It is now no longer necessary to work in order to have the products necessary for survival.

The Warped Face of Business, Production, and Capitalism

In order to satisfy the ravenous appetites of business owners, a way had to be found to ensure the purchase of however many goods were being produced — regardless of waste, toxic production, and the fact that people were being worked to death in order to accomplish this.

This is where advertising (soft brainwashing) comes in. Radio, television, the abused power of influencers, and any media in general are used to wipe all rational thought from the human brain. “Buy this car so that your neighbors will think well of you.” “If you do not buy this car, your neighbors will not hold you in high regard.” “Buy this car so that you can be seen as a leader in your neighborhood.” And so it goes.

The Unfortunate (or Not) Outcome of Automation

We are now producing so many goods that landfills are spreading across the earth and plastics and other junk is affecting the lifecycles of fowl of the air and fish of the sea. Our entire ecosystem is collapsing in the endless exploitation of natural resources and the toxic production of many goods.

Another outcome is that with the advent of machines doing the jobs, people are being replaced. There are whispers of 25% of workers being unemployed because there simply aren’t sufficient jobs for them. “The real unemployment rate in the U.S. may be at 25% already, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This figure exceeds the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 22.8% estimate of the real unemployment rate in April and makes the current economic crisis equal to the Great Depression in terms of joblessness.”

The Hysteria Over Lost Jobs is Misplaced

Voice to someone, that in the interests of preventing further climate change, certain industries might need to shut down. There is outrage and horror. ‘But then the jobs will go.’

Voice to another that one ought to tax the billionaire class out of existence — they actually shouldn’t exist. The outraged retort is ‘But that will result in no more jobs!”

Why on earth do so many people have to work themselves to states of depression, obesity, increasing health problems, mental breakdown, and in some horrific cases, suicide, just because the purpose of work has been hijacked by the ownership class?

Why are workers themselves so horrified at losing employment?

It is because the means of survival has now being tied to a job supplied by a business owner. Without that ‘work,’ there is no income and no means of survival for the labor class.

Universal Basic Income

So how do people survive if we cut this madness of being made to work when what we need is increasingly being produced through automation? More importantly, in order to prevent further climate change and begin the return to a more climate-friendly environment for humans and other species, we need to shut down the over-production and the toxic industries.

Obviously, the state prints money and distributes sufficient money to everybody so that they can live. This is called a Universal Basic Income. The objection to it is that corporations will need to pay taxes. Well, if we shut down the corporations, they can’t object, can they?

That said, we can just print the money. Yes, we can.

Let me draw an analogy here. Tom, Dick, Harry, and Mr. Biglord are all in business together. They have 40 different workers for them, and these workers produce 300 pieces of furniture every week. Then Mr. Biglord discovers that he can buy 10 enormous 3D printers that can work 24 hours per day and that it costs 20% of the cost of workers — plus he is producing twice as much.

This means that Tom, Dick, Harry, and Mr. Biglord will now take home four times more money and the workers will be sent into poverty. The State steps in and pays all 40 workers a generous wage. These people can now afford to buy what they need and have a little over to invest in creative ventures. Tom, Dick, Harry, and Mr. Biglord are producing as much furniture as they were previously. Only now there are more buyers.

It is not the printing of money that causes inflation. It is more money chasing fewer goods that cause inflation. If the same number of goods are being produced (or more goods are produced), inflation does not happen. There are some things that do happen, though.

As the wealth of the worker's increases, there is a lessening inequality. More to the point, as workers no longer need to work in order to survive, fewer and fewer people will choose to do so. When 75% to 95% of people hate their jobs (according to different countries), it’s a lie to think that people are passionate about their jobs. Most would give it up in a minute if they had the income to live without one. And that is not something that employers want. Who, after all, would do the dirty work, if they can’t find workers? I suspect that in no time at all, a great number of employers would increase wages, provide more reasonable working hours, and cut the bullying tactics. It is this elevation of wages to lure workers that will lessen the inequality. The ownership class will be forced to less profit.

There is Real Work to be Done

There is a profound difference between work and a job. Work is that which we used to do for thousands of years — provide an environment for ourselves which was optimal to our survival. There was a direct correlation between the work we did and the way it enhanced our survival as a species. A job is something completely different. A job is a thankless misappropriation of our efforts in the service of manufacturing bullshit products for the increased wealth of the ownership class.

So once we have UBI, it’s not a matter of sitting on our beautifully shaped behinds. It’s a matter of getting on with the real work to be done — enhancing our environment for our survival i.e. fixing up the damage that has caused climate change.

We need to pick up the trash, undo the landfills, figure out a way to eradicate the radiation caused by nuclear waste, and clean our oceans. Because the state is paying us, and because we now have the free time to volunteer, we can easily each donate ten or so hours per week to doing the work that must be done.

Changing our economic system to one that is not based on profit but rather on sustainability and ensuring that everybody has an income will mean the survival of our species and much happier lives for everybody. The lords of the universe (the ownership class) might even come to accept it.

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