Tessa has a strong interest in economic systems, political systems, and social systems. She has studied them extensively.
Work Essential for Most of Mankind's Existence.
For most of mankind's existence, work was essential. That was because it took a long time to find and create the resources that mankind needed. A woman couldn't just walk into a butcher to buy a piece of meat. She had to wait for her husband or for the tribe to go out and hunt, and if the hunt didn't produce anything, then the tribe or the village had to do without food.
Likewise, a contractor couldn't just purchase bricks from the hardware shop down the road. Instead, members of the community had to hack stone from quarry or dry grasses for thatch roofing. All of these things were labor intensive and they took many hands.
Without people being involved daily in these tasks, insufficient work would be done to enable the group to survive. Work, therefore, was directly related to doing those tasks that enabled mankind to survive.
The Industrial Revolution Enabled Mankind to Have Many More Resources
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 up to 60 hours per week, but more and more products began to be produced. Instead of weaving a piece of fabric taking many months to complete, it could be woven in a few hours. Items of clothing, once scarce, became more and more plentiful.
As more and more resources began to be produced, human beings were able to have access to items that were in short supply. Unhappily, slowly, over a long period of time, the economic system (the means of production and distribution) now changed emphasis from merely resources needed for basic survival to some human beings growing wealthy through that the production of those resources.
Work began to be seen as a means of accruing wealth - not as a means to survive.
Fashion Houses Destroy Excess Goods
Over-Production by the Early 20th Century
Somewhere around the early 20th century, too many good were being produced. The major cause for 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.
So many manufacturers went bankrupt because they were stuck with items that they produced and weren't wanted or needed.
That's were Edward Bernays came in. He was Freud's cousin, and he introduced the concept of advertising. He recognized that the brain believe anything it was told repeatedly, and with the advent of television and radio, they were the perfect media vehicles to carry the message. 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 unusued clothing rather than lower the price of what is, in the end, surplus.
One of the underlying precepts of capitalism was that the more goods being produced, the cheaper they would become. However, De Beers Consolidated didn't like that idea for diamonds (the world's most worthless, over-produced stone), and so they hid they in vaults rather than admit there were so many of them that they were almost worthless. Many fashion brands destroy billions of dollars of new clothing rather than lower the price.
The World Has Changed: Machines Now Produce Many Goods
Business is driven by profits, and there are two factors that don't sit well in the world of the 21st century. The first is that computerisation and AI have been replacing workers, and the second is that in order to maintain profits (and make even bigger ones), more and more goods need to be produced.
The first factor has resulted in increasing joblessness and the second has resulted in excessive marketing and advertising that had completely brainwashed most people to believe that they need and want things that they don't.
In addition to this, business is so set on increasing profits that they a) pay workers less and less and b) charge more and more for the goods.
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.
Robots and AI can do most of the work humans used to do
Modern Production Has Led to Two Unfortunate Outcomes.
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 eco-system 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."
Why the Hysteria Over 'Lost Jobs?'
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.’
What is not said is that if workers don't have jobs, they won't have an income, and if they don't have an income, then they won't be able to obtain the resources they need in order to stay alive.
This is simply not true.
According to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), there is no reason why governments who print their own money cannot just pay everybody who does not work a living wage (say about $2000 per month). MMT indicates that as long as the goods are being produced (by machines), there won't be inflation. That's because the worth of the money being printed is equivalent to the goods being produced.
Of course, there are objections to paying people who aren't working an income as well. This mainly comes from those who are paying taxes because they assume that they will now have to pay higher taxes in order to support those who are not working.
Of course, if the government is simply printing money to pay people UBI, then nobody is paying more taxes.
Modern Monetary Theory
The Idea of a Work Ethic is Fallacious.
There is strong resistance against the idea that it's okay for people to receive money without working. For some, it's resentment by those who are working, and they would also prefer to receive 'free money.' For others, they have been indoctrinated with the idea that work is holy, and God frowns on those who don't work. To quote Paul, the apostle "Who does not work, shall not eat." Or to quote Hitler on the gates of Auschwitz, "Work makes you free."
The bottom line, though, is work was and is only a means of providing what we need. There is no inherent evil or good in working or not working.
If resources can be provided without working, there is no problem, either ethical or otherwise. Not working does not threaten the lives of humanmind because there are insufficient goods.
Then there's the factor that, depending on the country, between 75% and 95% of people hate their jobs. There are all sorts of reasons they hate their jobs - bullies for bosses, office politics, over-work and under-pay, or the insight that manufacturing yellow rubber duckies means most plastic waste to contribute to global warming.
Until we eradicate the idea that there is something evil about receiving resources without working for them, we cannot disengage with our current economic system, and our current economic system is having devastating effects on both humanity and our planet.
There is Real Work to be Done!
The irony is that there is a difference between a job that is being done to make a profit for someone else, and the work that needs to be done to clean up our planet.
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. However, nobody is paying us to do that because there is no profit in it.
Changing our economic system to one that is not based on profit but rather on sustainability and ensuring that printed money goes to everybody ensures that people will be willing to do work that is not profitable.
For instance, if the government said, "We will give you a living wage if you work twenty hours per week picking up plastics or clearing the landfills or help with clearing the oceans," the real work would get done!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 16, 2019:
Interesting and exhaustive. Thanks.
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on December 02, 2019:
This is all so true. There is enough on our planet for everyone. People would be happier, and better able to find solutions to our problems if they didn't have to spend all of their time working at a meaningless, soul sucking job just to pay the bills.
The problem with politicians trying to promote this idea (besides their vested interest in the system) is that they will be called communist or socialist and never get elected.
That idea that rich people deserve all the wealth, and poor people are only poor because they are stupid and lazy is so ingrained in our society.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 21, 2019:
It is incredible! Thanks again.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 21, 2019:
I hadn't. Thanks for the link.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 21, 2019:
Thank you so much for saying that. This is such an unusal perspective that I was expecting to get my head bitten off. Have you seen the Labour Party Manifesto in the UK that was released today. It is incredible.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 21, 2019:
Hi Tessa, This is the state of affairs in America also. I believe greatly in universal income. I believe it encourages innovation, as you have said. Great article about an ongoing problems. We really need more time to clean the earth!