When my children were very young I worked on a loud, testosterone-infused trading floor. It was a deafening and frenetic environment where shouting was normal, activity fraught and language harsh. Every evening I came home to small boys already showered and in their pajamas. My oldest would recall every detail of his day in nursery school for me as my middle son shouted or sang while manically jumping on his tiny trampoline.
I sat slumped on a couch, my attention span shot and my patience worn thin. I sought quiet as an antidote to my day. Since performance at my job caused me a great deal of anxiety, I brought this home with me as well. For me, and speaking only for myself, this was a toxic combination.
Would a Different Job Make You a Different Parent?
By LISA HEFFERNAN
New York Times
OCTOBER 1, 2014
We must as free men and women avoid then suggesting no one would choose to work at all if we weren’t forced to work for others. If we look back at the writings of the 19th century, we will find there as well, this notion that slaves had no work ethic
and needed to be forced to work lest they suffer from the ills of not working. This doctrine that forced labor saves us from ourselves needs to be relegated to history’s appropriate dustbin.
We need only look around us at all the work being done for free, to see that people do choose to work even when not forced to work. Just look at open collaboration accomplishments like Wikipedia and Creative Commons. Look at open source achievements like GNU/Linux and its derivative Android. Look at all of the volunteers in our local communities (every month nearly 2 million volunteers dedicate more than 8.4 million hours of their time to hunger relief alone), or even within our own homes at the unpaid parental labor that raised us. Unpaid labor is everywhere.
Perhaps you are now thinking this all makes sense, but where will the money come from? It will simply come from the share of productivity gains made possible by technology that should already be shared.
Wage labor should be based entirely on free choice, but free choice should be fully free. To realistically achieve this freedom of choice, we must achieve the ability of people to have the voluntary choice of not working. If people can’t say “No”, they are effectively wage slaves with no real choice.
As part of enabling this actual choice, we should also all have the freedom to be replaced without fear by cheaper and better technological alternatives. Actually creating these choices will require nothing less than a sufficiently high level of income separate from wage and salary incomes. Without this, we will continue to push against machines, and continue to look for our very survival toward jobs instead of our freedom from them.
Machine Labor Day
What if we made Heaven on Earth our world-wide, species-wide goal?
This idea may sound ridiculous right now. Perhaps impossible. I also realize that it sounds super-idealistic in the current political climate. That's because our thinking is so backwards at the moment; our current societies so poorly designed. However, robots and automation could easily make Heaven on Earth possible in the near future
(as described in Manna and Robotic Freedom
). In fact, if we simply design our society to take advantage of robots, spreading their productivity benefits out to everyone rather than allowing the concentration of wealth, Heaven on Earth for everyone is easily within our grasp in the not-too-distant future. Along the way we can start to provide a Basic Income to everyone as well as incrementally shortening the work week.
Why and How Should We Build
a Basic Income for Every Citizen?
by Marshall Brain
September 15, 2014