Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Work and Leisure

Guess who gets to write off their subscription to The Journal of Leisure Studies?*
From FT Alphaville:
On abundance, post-scarcity and leisure
Robert and Edward Skidelsky, emeritus professor of political economy at the University of Warwick and lecturer on moral and political philosophy at the University of Exeter respectively, have penned what FT Alphaville feels is a must read essay on the impact of abundance and post-scarcity dynamics on price stability and the nature of labour, and work itself.

Entitled “In Praise of Leisure“, it picks up beautifully from where our own “Beyond Scarcity” series left off, echoing many of the same points.

Since we feel we’ve expressed our own views on the matter quite concretely already (here, here, here and here), we’re just going to highlight our favourite parts without much comment.
Our emphasis throughout, however.

On how technological progress makes possible a day when people don’t have to work at all:
Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.” Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all. Then, Keynes wrote, “for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.” He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years—that is, by 2030.
On the dawn of a Star Trek-style generation, which sees humanity dedicate itself to a much nobler purpose than just making money, and where appetite is finally satiated...MUCH MORE
The whole piece is worth a read especially if you have the ability to monitor your reactions as you go.

*For those with an academic bent there are a fair number of  peer reviewed journals in the field: