Sandwichman has a history of writing on the topic of “Lump of Labor” at Econospeak. “Are Jobs Obsolete” is another in a long series working less due to technological achievement minimizing the need for Labor in Manufacturing and/or Services processes. Speaking as a “throughput analyst” who has done brownfield and Lean” analysis, the need for Labor will lessen even more going into the future.
Citing Rushkoff’s 2011 CNN.com article “Are Jobs Obsolete?”, CEO co-Founder Larry Page also brings up the topic of the need of potentially working less. This is nothing new given Sandwichman’s plethora of posts over the years of fewer hours required in the work week.
While Rushkoff hesitates in saying the obvious, I am not afraid to sign up to it: “but since when is unemployment really a problem? I understand we all want paychecks — or at least money. We want food, shelter, clothing, and all the things that money buys us. But do we all really want jobs?
We’re living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That is because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, there is enough food produced to provide everyone in the world with 2,720 kilocalories per person per day. And that’s even after America disposes of thousands of tons of crop and dairy just to keep market prices high. Meanwhile, American banks overloaded with foreclosed properties are demolishing vacant dwellings Video to get the empty houses off their books.”
So why is food, clothing, housing even a problem given our present ability to manufacture with greater efficiency and throughput the needs of this nation and globally for that matter with a fraction of the Labor which was needed even as late as the sixties (Drucker/Ingersoll Engineers)? We are held to some artificial standard which demands 40+ hours of week of every person, able bodied or not, to the age of 67 before enjoying the ability to retire at a lesser percentage of the wages earned while laboring called Social Security and hopefully a 401k. The increase in wages for Labor has not kept up with the increase in productivity and neither have the hours worked been offset by productivity gains thereby allowing more Labor into the work force. Instead, productivity gains have been heavily skewed to Capital and a few while Labor has been set aside dormant and used as a control factor to any increase in Labor wages.
In a WSJ interview, Douglas Rushkoff talks with Dennis Berman: “Does America Really Need More Jobs? Hat Tip to Sandwichman at Econospeak. Worth a listen.