The Disappearance of Work

Hoe

The Man With A Hoe

PART I

Until fairly recently, the basis of all wealth was in some way related to labor.  Someone somewhere either produced a product or performed a service.  Then someone somewhere either bought the product or accepted the service.  In between were various middlemen adding value, facilitating movement, or combining usage.  It could be as simple as a quilt made sold to someone who wanted to keep warm. It could be as complex as cloth woven into upholstery, added to the construction of a stuffed frame, made into a couch transported across distance by a wholesaler to a furniture store retailer who hires a salesperson to sell to a decorator to sit in a home of an investment banker who had originally invested in the factory where the cloth was woven in the first place who used the profits to buy the couch.

The above is all pretty simplistic but until recently work and wealth were inextricably interwoven.  As depicted in Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” all the hustle and bustle of commerce built enormous wealth that spanned a globe but was built on the back of someone’s labor.  In turn labor always had to obey the laws of supply & demand.  It was all well and good to sit at a huge board filled with cords and holes as hundreds of women connected the telephones of a nation to each other until they are all replaced by a little rectangle that speaks, takes messages, records images, and goes shopping with just a wave of the hand.

telephone-operators

 

cell-phone

 

Coming out of WW II, huge swaths of the world were in shambles and the United States and the USSR were in the midst of the cold war broken up into theirs and our shuffling dictators.  The third world was pretty much at the mercy of these arrangements even while Western Europe recovered fairly rapidly within ten years.  Global population stood at about 2.5 billion and almost all of them were needed to perform the work of the world for the simple reason that jobs from unskilled labor to the most technical limits of developing technology were plentiful and serviced that recovering world.

As of 1960 global population had grown another half billion to 3.0.  There was still plenty of room and a huge amount of work to be done by these new “Boomer” children born in the aftermath of WW II once they reached adulthood.  They were about the last generation in the developed world to be born into families with more than two children and their parents had the tools to provide them with good health and an education far beyond anything every achieved before by the general population.

The advent of the pill and the feminist movement meant that women were more in control of their lives and didn’t want them permanently tied to hearth and home.  The pill wasn’t the only medical innovation to hit in the 20 years after WWII.  Prior to WW II, as long as you could get a child to adulthood, the chances were that they would live to be the traditional three score and ten.  The only reason that the “average” age of death in previous generations looks lower is that so many children died young.  My own grandmother gave birth to nine and through home remedies and luck had eight make it, losing only one at three years of age.  The trick was to get them past the first ten years of life without succumbing to measles, mumps, diphtheria, whooping-cough, polio, and the various flues that might become an epidemic or even pandemic at any time.

In another decade, vaccine after vaccine had arrived along with all the various antibiotics to fight the most dangerous infections.  About the only thing left to kill human beings in large numbers was war and we had more than enough war to go around to be fought by these almost unreasonably blessed children.  Even as horrific as war can be when it came to population and necessary work, neither it nor disease killed enough of them .  In the realm of unintended consequences this was a whole lot of good that led to something very, very dangerous both for human beings and the globe as population hit 3.7 billion in 1970.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

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About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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17 Responses to The Disappearance of Work

  1. whskyjack says:

    Just ran across this and it looks very on topic.
    http://thereformedbroker.com/2016/02/25/abundance/
    ————————————-“There’s too much of everything and it’s not good for anyone. It’s hurting everyone. Paradoxically, abundance is now the enemy. This sets us apart from virtually every other society throughout history.
    You can blame the Federal Reserve’s loose money policies if you’d like. There is over-investment in every industry. It’s killing confidence. Nothing is worth what it used to be. We haven’t adjusted to this reality yet.
    Unlimited music, nine dollars a month.
    Unlimited movies and TV shows, thirteen dollars a month.
    Unlimited news and journalism, zero dollars a month.
    Facebook is free. Twitter is free. Snapchat is free. Instagram is free. Youtube is free. Video game apps are free. Texting is free. Sexting is free. Skyping is free. Chatting is free. Why would you spend money on anything? Where do you think people spend their time now? Endless entertainment and content, for almost nothing.”—————————

    Like

    • Jamie says:

      Definitely. And the constant input leaves no time for thinking, evaluating, personal involvement etc. Psychologically human being function best with only two or three choices at the most. Now we are being flooded with options or force fed the choices of others.

      Like

  2. Tony says:

    Trump: There has been ‘no violence’ at campaign rallies
    Jose A. Dereal and Juliette Elperin
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/14/trump-there-has-been-no-violence-at-campaign-rallies/

    Like

  3. Tony says:

    When They See the Melee, Do They Hear the Message?
    Tavis Smiley
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tavis-smiley/when-they-see-the-melee-d_b_9464376.html
    “The mainstream media has had an almost co-dependent relationship with Donald Trump. It’s been practically quid pro quo. I’ve never seen a candidate spend so little and get so much in return. The data is clear. The network evening newscasts, for example, are still wildly overplaying Trump. This story of campaign rally violence is emotionally suffocating, but it’s also ratings intoxicating. The media, to my mind, has been complicit in creating this “racial arsonist” who continues to taunt his opponents, and encourage his supporters to verbally and physically harm protesters.”

    Like

  4. Tony says:

    The Donald Trump nightmare is here for good: Win or lose, he’s warped American democracy for years to come
    There’s still a path for Trump’s rivals to deny him the nomination. In the big picture, it might not matter
    HEATHER DIGBY PARTON
    http://www.salon.com/2016/03/15/the_donald_trump_nightmare_is_here_for_good_win_or_lose_hes_warped_american_democracy_for_years_to_come/

    Like

  5. Jamie says:

    Just saw an interview of Douglas Brinkley about his new book Rightful Heritage covering FDR’s Conservation Corps created to help save land destroyed by the dust bowl and created jobs necessary during the Great Depression. This will definitely tie in with this article as it may be time again for the haves to provide work for the have nots.

    Like

  6. Tony says:

    ‘The Americans’ Season 4 on FX: A Near Perfect Show Just Keeps Getting Better
    ‘The Americans’ returns for its fourth season this week. And it is still one of the most expertly crafted shows on television.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/15/the-americans-season-4-a-near-perfect-show-just-keeps-getting-better.html

    Like

  7. Jamie says:

    Just for fun, a quiz about which stars said which insults about Donald Trump He Reminds Me of a Drunk Uncle

    Like

  8. rebelliousrenee says:

    IMO, it’s imperative for liberals to not get hyperbolic concerning the subject of overpopulation. Back when Paul Ehrlich’s book “The Population Bomb” came out in 1968, he made many dire predictions that he claimed would happen within the next 20 yrs. None of them came to fruition. I think many people stop listening to the constant drumbeat of gloom and doom for mankind. I think a gentler approach is needed and much more appreciated. The younger generations seem to be getting that we humans are causing some of the “natural” destruction on this planet.

    Jamie… methinks your article here is a good example of that gentler way. Talking about the loss of jobs is something that most can wrapped their heads around. We need to be warned… but running around with your hair on fire and screaming “we’re all gonna die tomorrow” will not cut it.

    Like

    • Jamie says:

      RR
      That is the basic idea. We are simply running out of necessary work when it comes to basic survival. Sure war torn areas are in horrible shape and the various examples of desertification and famine are taking their toll, but the first world nations are caught between corporations that want to increase shareholder value (really stupid construct) and not having any customers because no one can find a job. Add in civic unrest because human beings don’t do well when they don’t have purpose, and you have a huge sociological problem on your hands.

      At various times both outright Socialism and/or Communism have been tried and failed as they bump up against human greed, lack of education, and sadly these days how to remain competitive in a global market when almost every price can be under cut by cheaper and cheaper labor.

      Over population is a severe problem, but you are right that people have to be nudged into the idea. The 1960s era predictions failed due to technology that couldn’t get universal agreement on the idea of eventual necessity for ZPG until now when we are finally getting agreement on Malthus was right. Unfortunately getting rid of four billion excess bodies tends to upset the relatives so slowly backwards is the only benign method and we may be running out of time.

      Like

  9. Tony says:

    Hello everyone
    I’m off to the Florida polls to vote for Hillary.. Looking forward to casting my ballot for her again. Hillary was good last night with Tweety..

    Like

  10. oregondemocrat says:

    Tony…Florida looks solid for Hillary…Glad you voted…

    Like

  11. Tony says:

    Yes, i think Hillary will do well here.. I’m hoping for a large margin to offset a potential loss in a state like Ohio.. Still hoping she will sweep all states but coming from Michigan, Ohio is similar..

    Like

  12. Tony says:

    Rep. Hastings: Hillary Clinton Is the Only Sensible Choice for Florida
    Rep. Alcee L. Hastings
    “As anyone who watched the news in 2000 knows, Florida has a way of shaping elections. On Tuesday, Floridians can pick a Democratic nominee for president, and, in the process, help put a candidate in the White House who can lead from day one.

    Hillary Clinton is that candidate. She has plans to address our greatest challenges and the time-tested know-how to see them through. Like President Barack Obama, she understands that the federal government, in partnership with states, can boost the economy and even help save lives. Clinton would build on Obama’s biggest achievements, while helping families better meet their needs.”
    http://time.com/4257502/hillary-clinton-florida/

    Like

  13. kcowley says:

    5 state sweep- let’s hold hands and sing!!

    Like

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