The prospect of a jobless world is terrifying. Just thinking about it inspires fear that queasy feeling in the pit of our stomachs we wish would go away.
Apparently a jobless world is beyond imagining for most of our 7 billion-member human constituency. Explore the Internet, searching for predictions and solutions. You’ll find little speculation about a long-term job drought, no words of comfort, and few insights that may lead to understanding.
What harm is there in considering the implications of a long-term job drought, as part of trying to avoid one? If a job drought is inevitable, we need to imagine ways to prosper despite this frightening possibility. Headlines like “A Jobless Recovery” should be enough to jump-start our human conversation about a jobless world.
The very concept of jobs arrived in the human vocabulary only recently. The jobs of our hunter-gatherer ancestors included maintaining access to sources of food and water, avoiding life-threatening situations, exploiting life-enhancing opportunities, and creating a new generation of their kind. They were never paid to do these jobs.
The agricultural revolution was also a job revolution. The added food supply made it possible to sustain a growing number of workers who were not directly involved in producing daily bread. Civilization blossomed as the categories of human worker multiplied. Soldiers, teachers, artisans, craftsmen, entertainers, tax collectors and religious workers had jobs. The Industrial Revolution accelerated the job-category-creation process.
Our problem now is that technology is producing a growing percentage of our agricultural and industrial bounty. The workers’ role in producing the human bounty is shrinking fast.
With all the talk about job loss to low-cost producers, the low-cost producers will soon be threatened by technologies, which further reduce the number of workers. Workers who don’t get paid have little to spend.
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