Let's Change the System: Why We Don't Need Jobs
The Threat of Disappearing Jobs
Explain to someone that the fossil fuel industry has to shut down, and the first response is ‘But then the jobs will go.’ This is false equivalence. Losing a job does not destroy the earth. Fossil fuels on the other hand do destroy the earth. So the one argument is not equal to the other.
This happens with many industries that are damaging our earth in that they produce one sort of pollutant or another. Of course, there are also countless businesses that produce things like yellow rubber ducks, eyelashes with glitter, and goods that are designed to break within a short period of time (planned obsolescence). When it is suggested that these businesses also close their doors as the goods they produce are not necessary and they only serve the landfills, there is the same response.
“But it will cost jobs!”
Why Do We Have to Work?
Human beings work, like any other mammal, in order to produce/find the food they need. In addition, they work in order to build shelters – to protect themselves from the elements and possible danger from others. In our modern world, they also work to fund education and entertainment.
Here’s the madness is our belief that jobs are more important than our lives, our health, and our planet.
We really don’t have to work forty to sixty hours a week to produce what we need. These days we have robots, artificial intelligence, and machinery to produce the goods we need. More importantly, we don’t need to produce goods that are designed to break or expire within a day or a year or three years because we need to keep buying so that business can keep operating so that we can keep earning a living!
But Where Will We Get the Money?
Money is a representative of our efforts. Again, we don’t have to use this system. It is, however, necessary to take a look at this system of reward.
Once more, we have a system of false equivalence, or to put it another way – a system of unequal exchange.
The wages and salaries of workers are hardly sufficient to pay for food and housing as a result of the idea that the ownership class is entitled to most of it as because they are ‘taking the risk.’
This is simply not true. It is an idea that was never correctly examined, because in the days that it came about (the 18th century), most people were uneducated, and they didn’t question the lords of the universe.
Workers, however, are exposed to far more risk these days than owners. A worker can go to university for four years and then discover that the area of work that they trained for is no longer providing jobs.
Workers are also expected to be available for a gig economy in which the ownership class asks them to be available at all times, and then only offers then two hours of work per week.
This is called risk.
The ownership class have little risk. They are getting virtually all the money that is coming in as a result of the production by workers.
So it’s a fallacy that owners are entitled to larger part of the cookie because they take the risk!
Who Will Pay for Universal Basic Income?
Again, the problem is not a matter of who will pay for Universal Basic Income. The problem is the idea that some of the lords of the universe in our society think it’s okay to have $131 billion while others starve. We have so many goods that are being produced on our planet that our planet is being destroyed, but still some people ask who will pay for UBI?
It’s a very simple equation.
We produce goods, for example, worth $1000 trillion. We take the number of people on the planet, and we divide that number into the worth of the goods, and then we have what we can afford to pay each human being.
The real problem with this (for some) is not that we cannot afford to pay a universal basic income to every human being. It is that, in doing so, we will upset the status quo who will no longer have substantially more than others.
Robots and AI can do most of the work humans used to do
A Better Reward and Reparation System
There was a time when money was based on the value of gold. Then it changed to being based on the value of industry (production).
So, in other words, if the Gross National Product was $10 trillion, then $10 trillion would be printed in money.
We produce more than enough to feed and house and educate everybody on this planet. The problem is not a lack of production. The problem is not a lack of ‘jobs.’ The problem is the division of the spoils.
Does it matter whether robots, AI, or machine produce most of our goods? We can still have a money system that is based on the value of the goods we produce. Only, instead of giving tuppence to the increasingly fewer workers that are employed to oversee production and a large dollop of the money supply to the ownership class, we can introduce a Universal Basic Income.
The unemployment rate is measured by calling 60,000 people and asking them how many of them have been unemployed and looking for jobs during the past four weeks. That discounts the people who have simply given up on looking for a job because, after six months or two years, they simply cannot find one!
But Some People Produce More Than Others!
That’s a status argument! What is true is that some people want to be worth more than others. In any real sort of terms, if you put people together, some might be able to produce three times more than other people (I do, for instance), but nobody on this earth can produce a hundred thousand times more than another human being.
Nor does this have anything to do with some people being intellectually more capable, running faster than others, being able to sing like a Presley or a Pavarotti, or have some ‘superior’ skill. Certainly, in the great scheme of things, if people want to use their skills to earn a higher income, the fact that a universal basic income is paid to everybody is not stopping that. They’re more than welcome to sing at the opera, paint like a Michelangelo, or run like an Olympic sprinter. No worries.
The fact that all people are paid a universal basic income based on what we collectively produce as a species is not a reason for those who wish to produce more being prevented from doing so.
The Irony of the Real Work that Needs 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 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!
Many people love the kind of work they do, but they hate the environment they work in - difficult bosses, malicious co-workers, etc.
The Work Ethic
There is no such thing as a ‘work ethic.’ It’s another one of those myths created by the ownership class in order to get the slaves to work themselves into states of ill health and misery.
In order to understand that, it’s necessary to understand what an ethic is. An ethic is a rule that ensures the greater survival (and well being) for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time. When ninety percent of humanity is working itself into ill health, misery, and an early death because some people want $108 billion or $131 billion in their coffers, then that has nothing to do with ethics.
In fact, it is a great evil.
Higher Innovation and Creativity than the World Has Ever Seen
Many years ago, the magazine Utne, ran an article on creativity. It turned out that creativity and innovation had nothing to do with diversity. Instead it had to do with the amount of free time and discretionary income available to people.
When people had time and money, they started becoming creative. They innovated. It’s the natural state of mankind.
I predict that when we get over this obsession (and false belief) that we all have to have jobs, and we switch to a better economic system (system of production and distribution), the world will see an increase in creativity and innovation that it has never seen before.
Would you be open to an economic system that was more in line with meeting the needs of all people, species, and planet?
Political Lies and the Job Market
It seems that every single politician out there is talking about creating jobs. And people desperately hope this is true because they are struggling financially and they need a job to provide the income.
The bitter pill is that no politician can create a job. And if they do make laws that release more ‘capital’ into the market place, there is no guarantee that the ownership class will use this income to create jobs. Donald Trump’s enormous tax cuts resulted in the lords of the universe buying more gold plated yachts, increasing the production of oil (so that they could make even more money), and/or relocating the company so that they could employ lower paid workers in less developed economies. Some companies even went to far as to cut jobs (and buy robots).
The truth is that there are fewer and fewer well paid jobs available. Too many people are working two or three jobs (forty to sixty hours per week) to simply get by. And what they get simply doesn't cover the rent! Of course, that's a well kept secret. It's all very well saying that the unemployment rate is 4% or 10%. But having a job that is killing one's health and making one miserable as a result of harsh working conditions, stress, and low pay is hardly desirable. Politicians don’t want the people to cotton on to their lies.
So why do politicians not just solve the problem by reinventing the economic system? Because they are feathering their own nests. They are paid off by business, and they like the millions they receive.
So the next time someone tells you that if this or that industry is shut down, it will lose jobs, you just look them in the eye and say, “So what?”
© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger