those around us, that cause us to “work” longer than ever to get what we “feel like” we need. Given that ninety -five percent of actual physical work is today being done by fossil fuel energy rather than manual labor, 131 “jobs” are mostly just an inefficient, ad-hoc system for distributing this fossil largesse (and very unevenly). Thus, we may conclude that, strictly speaking, in the modern world, most jobs are mostly unnecessary . There is a more menacing undercurrent to this thought. Because the work accomplished using energy from fossil fuels is thousands of times cheaper than human manual labor, owners of capital (corporate CEOs, investors) find it cheaper to hire robots than human beings. Doing so improves earnings and creates cheaper products. Since “management” in market economies keeps profits rather than redistributing them, this improved efficiency comes at the cost of throwing people out of work (which then makes them unable to consume as much). When work is reassigned to a robot using cheap energy, the savings are redirected to the robot’s owners and away from those who were formerly part of the working class. Where Keynes envisioned a wonderful future of a 15-hour work week, we have many who instead have a zero-hour work week. We have enormous income disparity between “worker” and “management” class, and - in the near future - collapsing demand. When our shiny, cheap and magical fossil slaves first came out of the ground, glistening and eager to help us, no one envisioned that one day they would displace real human workers (except for the Luddites, of course, but no one listened to them). The major problem now is how the system should distribute the wealth. Taal: Y’all are interesting critters. Yo u have so many fossil slaves that at this point most of you shouldn’t need to work much at all, but you’re working ever-harder and ever-longer! Nowhere else has a species come up with such strange notions. The concept of “job” is one that you hardly think about despite it dominating your life. It establishes and enforces a de facto caste system, regulates wealth distribution, provides strong motivation to hyper-specialize in some large enterprise, provides social validation versus condemnation, provides a context for channeling competitiveness, keeps large populations too busy to be ungovernable, and provides a narrative rationale for wealth disparity which would otherwise seem intolerable. Jobs are measured in “inconvenience endured” rather than “societal benefits created.” On my world we have many possible life -paths, but nothing analogous to your “jobs.” Once necessary tasks are completed, we do fun stuff.
Human jobs are an emergent property of a social species. Before you had the fossil slaves, there were specialized trades and skills which made good
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