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A World Without Work
Old 06-23-2015, 04:10 PM   #1
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A World Without Work

An interesting article (also rather long) that tries to answer the question of what the work world will look like in the future for the USA.


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The end-of-work argument has often been dismissed as the “Luddite fallacy,” an allusion to the 19th-century British brutes who smashed textile-making machines at the dawn of the industrial revolution, fearing the machines would put hand-weavers out of work. But some of the most sober economists are beginning to worry that the Luddites weren’t wrong, just premature.


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The transition from labor force to leisure force would likely be particularly hard on Americans, the worker bees of the rich world: Between 1950 and 2012, annual hours worked per worker fell significantly throughout Europe—by about 40 percent in Germany and the Netherlands—but by only 10 percent in the United States. Richer, college-educated Americans are working more than they did 30 years ago, particularly when you count time working and answering e-mail at home.


A World Without Work - The Atlantic
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:39 PM   #2
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I haven't read the full The Atlantic article you posted, but the topic reminded me of a podcast at NPR I heard recently.
Episode 625: The Last Job : Planet Money : NPR
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:54 PM   #3
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"Richer, college-educated Americans are working more than they did 30 years ago, particularly when you count time working and answering e-mail at home."


but it wasn't supposed to be this way.....


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Old 06-23-2015, 05:08 PM   #4
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As fast as technology increases productivity, new "stuff" that we want/need appears, so we can't just work 5 hours a week to pay all our bills. It might be an ipad, or it might be an MRI machine, but there is always something new to pay for. So I don't think everyone is just going to be out of work because we've automated everything useful. But lower skilled workers will suffer (just as they did during industrialization).
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Old 06-23-2015, 05:59 PM   #5
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The U.S. labor force has been shaped by millennia of technological progress. Agricultural technology birthed the farming industry, the industrial revolution moved people into factories, and then globalization and automation moved them back out, giving rise to a nation of services. But throughout these reshufflings, the total number of jobs has always increased. What may be looming is something different: an era of technological unemployment, in which computer scientists and software engineers essentially invent us out of work, and the total number of jobs declines steadily and permanently.
I wonder if the author has considered the global picture. Perhaps job relocation overseas has caused the jobs reduction and not just technology?
In any event, it will take a long time for this vision to reach full fruition.

I believe it is a question of economics. It was pointed out to me by one of my college professors in 1980 that your automated replacement is waiting on the drawing boards of IBM. All that is needed is for it to be cost effective.
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:26 PM   #6
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Too hot to handle. Can't you spin this into something about SS or SWR? Failing that, something central to ER like puppies or cats?

Ha
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:44 PM   #7
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Too hot to handle. Can't you spin this into something about SS or SWR? Failing that, something central to ER like puppies or cats?

Ha


I think they mention reusing dryer sheets in the article.
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Old 06-23-2015, 08:51 PM   #8
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As usual, fred beat them to the scoop:


Fred On Everything


"Finally even these measures ceased to be enough. College graduates began living with their parents and lining up for jobs a Starbucks because there was no need for them anywhere else. Resort was had to outright charity. Thus food stamps, Section Eight housing, free lunches at school, AFDC, and all the other disbursements of free money. Those receiving the free money no longer had any incentive to work even if the opportunity offered. In the cities generation after generation now lived on charity, largely illiterate and in what is never called custodial care. They are simply unnecessary. There is nothing for them to do. So they don’t do anything."
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:35 PM   #9
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As usual, fred beat them to the scoop:


Fred On Everything


"Finally even these measures ceased to be enough. College graduates began living with their parents and lining up for jobs a Starbucks because there was no need for them anywhere else. Resort was had to outright charity. Thus food stamps, Section Eight housing, free lunches at school, AFDC, and all the other disbursements of free money. Those receiving the free money no longer had any incentive to work even if the opportunity offered. In the cities generation after generation now lived on charity, largely illiterate and in what is never called custodial care. They are simply unnecessary. There is nothing for them to do. So they don’t do anything."
He is a better writer than the other person. However, the glass seems half empty to him.

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There you have it, all of economics in a small package. Buy survival gear.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:50 PM   #10
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Too hot to handle. Can't you spin this into something about SS or SWR? Failing that, something central to ER like puppies or cats?

Ha

Glad I caught your post Ha before my fingers started pecking on the keyboard. I was clearly going to stray down the wrong path so I will wait for the puppy thread.


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Old 06-24-2015, 09:06 AM   #11
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In the end there will be only two employees -- a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to prevent anyone from touching the machines.
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:31 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Big_Hitter View Post
"Richer, college-educated Americans are working more than they did 30 years ago, particularly when you count time working and answering e-mail at home."

but it wasn't supposed to be this way.....
No it wasn't, was it! Decades ago they were predicting that we would have all sorts of leisure time in the future! So much for that!

In the last of my years at Mega-Corp, management at my level could get company cell phones. I did not. I could see the problems it would cause, time micro-management and always-on. I wanted to be "away" sometimes. Can you imagine during the work day, getting a call from your boss, who has called you from a speaker phone in a big meeting... and you are busy in stall #3? It happened!
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Hitter View Post
"Richer, college-educated Americans are working more than they did 30 years ago, particularly when you count time working and answering e-mail at home."


but it wasn't supposed to be this way.....


I remember when automation was supposed to bring us the 32 hour work week.
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:10 AM   #14
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I haven't read the article (sorry, I just don't like reading articles about w*rk) but it reminded me about a story I saw a couple of days ago about the best employers for the millennial generation. One of the companies towards the top was Chili's. So...working at a restaurant is a good place to be? I can say as a former Chili's employee (also known as a 'Chilihead') that I wouldn't consider ANY restaurant as a "great place to w*rk".
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:24 AM   #15
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I haven't read the article (sorry, I just don't like reading articles about w*rk) but it reminded me about a story I saw a couple of days ago about the best employers for the millennial generation. One of the companies towards the top was Chili's. So...working at a restaurant is a good place to be? I can say as a former Chili's employee (also known as a 'Chilihead') that I wouldn't consider ANY restaurant as a "great place to w*rk".
Funny story:
Years ago, the son of an acquaintance was senior vice president of a nationally known sandwich shop company; pulling down serious money. You've certainly bought a sub there.

The parents of his prospective fiance were completely clueless and didn't want her to marry him because "he works at a sub shop!". Idiots. I guess the company provided Mercedes wasn't enough of a tip-off. No amount of discussion would convince them. "Why doesn't he get a job at the GE where he can get benefits"

Not sure if they ever married.

Tangental story of an in-law's cousin who married the daughter of the owner of a large tire company; the father offered the new son in law a senior job at the family business. After visiting the father's $8MM home estate, his parents still didn't get it and shook their heads; "get a job that offers some security".
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:35 AM   #16
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Funny story:
Years ago, the son of an acquaintance was senior vice president of a nationally known sandwich shop company; pulling down serious money. You've certainly bought a sub there.

The parents of his prospective fiance were completely clueless and didn't want her to marry him because "he works at a sub shop!". Idiots. I guess the company provided Mercedes wasn't enough of a tip-off. No amount of discussion would convince them. "Why doesn't he get a job at the GE where he can get benefits"

Not sure if they ever married.

Tangental story of an in-law's cousin who married the daughter of the owner of a large tire company; the father offered the new son in law a senior job at the family business. After visiting the father's $8MM home estate, his parents still didn't get it and shook their heads; "get a job that offers some security".

That is a good point. Don't get me wrong, when I was 21-22 years old, I enjoyed working there. There were lots of college age boys and girls, it was a fun place to be. I even considered leaving the AF and becoming a corporate trainer. They paid fairly well and at the time they were doing a lot of expansion world wide, so the travel would have been fun too. BUT...THANK GOD I didn't do that. I know that you can make decent money (particularly as a district manager or an exec with Brinker down in Dallas), but to make that kind of money...you have to w*rk some very long hours and that's never been my style!

As an aside about people snubbing their noses at one's profession, it reminds me of my Dad. He flew for Eastern Airlines back when the profession still had a decorum of respect to it. After some union issues, he left that world and went into business for himself fixing restaurant equipment (pretty much anything except plumbing). People often would chastise his for leaving such a "professional job" to become a lowly blue collar worker. Most of those folks had no idea that he made more money in a week as a lowly "repair man" than he made in 2 months when he was at Eastern.
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:44 AM   #17
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Can you imagine during the work day, getting a call from your boss, who has called you from a speaker phone in a big meeting... and you are busy in stall #3? It happened!
a consultant with a smart phone is essentially on call 24/7 whether or not he or she is on vacation

so yes, I can imagine it
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:00 PM   #18
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That's why I'm firing soon, to give some poor schmuck the chance to have my j*b...
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:35 PM   #19
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I remember when automation was supposed to bring us the 32 hour work week.
32 HOURS !... George Jetson was doing a 2 hour work day...

Automating Hard or Hardly Automating? George Jetson and the Manual Labor of Tomorrow | History | Smithsonian
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:37 PM   #20
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It was a good article, I liked the bit exploring the rising maker culture (as somebody involved with a Burning Man related art collective/makerspace, I definitely derive self-satisfaction from doing things like my current project of building a flame effect), and I think the overall trends sound plausible. The question of how to deal with the psychological impact of work not being available for those who need it emotionally is interesting.
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