Unemployment Is Not a Disease; That’s Why It Has No Cure

Couldn’t have said this better myself.

Robert Anton Wilson is quoted as writing:

It is arguable, and I for one would argue, that the only reason Wiener’s prediction has not totally been realized yet — although we do have ever-increasing unemployment — is that big unions, the corporations, and government have all tacitly agreed to slow down the pace of cybernation, to drag their feet and run the economy with the brakes on. This is because they all, still, regard unemployment as a “disease” and cannot imagine a “cure” for the nearly total unemployment that full cybernation will create.

Suppose, for a moment, we challenge this Calvinistic mind-set. Let us regard wage-work — as most people do, in fact, regard it — as a curse, a drag, a nuisance, a barrier that stands between us and what we really want to do. In that case, your job is the disease, and unemployment is the cure.

“But without working for wages we’ll all starve to death!?! Won’t we?”

Not at all.

I don’t see a date on this. The Tim Leary reference is a bit awkward but it all makes perfect sense to me. See what you think. There’s even a Norbert Wiener reference, as there should be. I wonder if I read this long ago, but some of it seems unfamiliar. On the other hand most of it could have come from me verbatim.

Comments:

  1. Related -
    "Experts support the idea of guaranteed income in Canada" (I'd call it "The resurrection of the Creditistes")

    http://www.straight.com/news/experts-support-idea-guaranteed-income-canada
    :

    Economist Paul Summerville says one thing confuses people when he talks about the idea of a guaranteed annual income. It’s the fact that he was an investment banker.

    ...

    Summerville, now an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, is rebranding the concept as a “Canadian citizenship wage”. “You would design the Canadian citizenship wage in such a way that families wouldn’t live below poverty,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is make sure that no Canadian lives below a certain income line.”

    ...

    “Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism,” Summerville declared in his speech before the B.C. Green Party.

    ...

    “If everybody gets a guaranteed income, then the income people need from employment is reduced, which makes it more affordable for employers to pay a living wage,”

    • BC Greens seem to be really happening with e.g. Elizabeth May, presentations like this at their convention, and now Andy Weaver running for the BC provincial assembly. Good.

    • Reading the original history of the social credit movement via that wiki link (and links contained) was somewhat head-spinning for me ... because I grew up in BC during the 70s & 80s.

      Labels aside, the hallmarks of an advanced society will become universal health care, free education to whatever extent desired, and a guaranteed income.

  2. John Quiggin has been writing about the liesure society vision. His latest article would be of interest here:

    http://www.aeonmagazine.com/nature-and-cosmos/john-quiggin-climate-change/

    In my first contribution to Aeon (‘The golden age’, Sept 27, 2012), I looked at an idea put forward by John Maynard Keynes: that within a few decades, with the right use of technology, we could achieve a society where people worked because they chose to rather than out of material necessity, a society in which working hours averaged 15 per week with no decline in quality of life. I focused on the technological and social constraints that could prevent us from achieving all this.

    However, there is no point in drawing up a utopian vision if it can be realised only in one part of the world, leaving the global poor permanently locked out. In my previous essay, I argued that, with another 50 years of technological progress and a modest effort to help the poorest onto the path of rapid growth, poverty could be eliminated.

    But can we share the advantages of the developed world with the entire population of the planet without running into limits on mineral and renewable resources? Not according to many environmentalists. They say we can’t even maintain them for the few people who presently enjoy them; that it’s technologically impossible to sustain current consumption levels on a global scale, let alone to spread prosperity more broadly.

    Having spent much of my professional life as an economist studying problems of this kind, I’m convinced that this is not true. The question is not: ‘Can we let everyone live like prosperous residents of the First World without destroying our natural environment?’ It is: ‘Will we?’

  3. Can't remember if I've asked this before, but have you come across Gorz (now sadly dead; useful summary of his thought in this obit). An undergrad teacher of mine introduced us to him; I haven't read his stuff in a long while. Seems like it might be of interest.


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