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A Deadly Obsession with Work

Updated on August 28, 2015
TessSchlesinger profile image

Globetrotter, author, and thinker with interests in environment, minimalism, health, dancing, architecture, décor, politics, and science.

An obsession with work

A recent report by the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK showed that nearly 2500 ill and disabled people died within two weeks of being declared fit for work by council workers. The obsession with governments in the UK and the USA to ‘return people to work’ rather than pay them a life-giving benefit needs to be examined.

At the heart of this inhumane policy lies the priority of those in power to divert funds to other causes (wars, their own salaries and benefits, various secret agencies and agendas, etc.). In the heart of those who love power and money (and that is often the reason they seek election to office), power and money are more important than the lives and well-being of those of the general populace.

over a period of two years, 2,380 people died within 14 days of being taken off Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because they were declared 'fit to work' by a controversial assessment process.
over a period of two years, 2,380 people died within 14 days of being taken off Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because they were declared 'fit to work' by a controversial assessment process. | Source

Definition of work

At its basic, work is what we do to survive. A few hundred years ago, for the majority this would have been, for the most part, building a house for shelter, growing veggies and fruit to eat, and hunting for meat. For a smaller part of the population, it would have meant a trade, and for an even smaller number, it would have meant a profession. Then there were an even small number of those that belonged to the ownership class. These people did not work – rather they supposedly organized workers. Their elevation to those ranks, however, did not come from their ability to organize workers. Rather it came from ‘acts in service to the crown,’ or ‘heroic deeds in war.’ Neither of these attributes made them particularly adept in the organisation of labour. In return for their ‘ability to organize labour,’ they were granted quite a large share of the pie. The bottom line, however, is that work was linked to basic survival. It was, therefore, vital to work, for if one didn’t work, one was likely to die of starvation or other threats.

Robots replacing blue and white collar workers

Fashion models will be replaced by robots. Will your job be replaced by artificial intelligence?
Fashion models will be replaced by robots. Will your job be replaced by artificial intelligence? | Source

Creation of jobs or rethinking work

In the modern world, it is no longer necessary to work and it is becoming less so with each passing day. There are several reasons for this.

Somewhere around the 60s, sufficient food and other necessities were being produced as a result of mass production. The fact that production did not stop had more to do with a particular mind-set than the necessity for production to increase. In order for products to be assimilated, commercial propaganda and commercial brainwashing (advertising, marketing, public relations) became massive industries, and humanity stepped into the role of perpetual consumer and trash/landfill dumpster.

Within the next five to ten years, depending on which think tank you follow, somewhere around half of the world’s people will no longer have to work because robots (soft robotics and artificial intelligence) will be taking over. Far from these machines taking over just the lower end of the market place, they will take over various knowledge jobs as well.

The point is that our needs will be met by robots, the number of which will increase until there is no need for humanity to work.

Work in context

Many people are led by ideology rather than by evidence. This would mean that if they have an ideology that elevates work to the sacred, they will insist that people work even if there is no need to work. Based on evidence, however, there is a limited need for people to work. Those who are dictated to by ideology are pawns in the hands of politicians who will play on their self-righteous anger that others aren’t working. Therefore a peer pressure has developed that everybody has to work, regardless of there being fewer and fewer jobs and more and more production of goods. This plays into the hands of politicians to whom it gives permission to divert funds from the needy to their own pockets and agendas.

Jobs are disappearing

How to pay for social welfare

Many people are led by ideology rather than by evidence. This would mean that if they have an ideology that elevates work to the sacred, they will insist that people work even if there is no need to work. Based on evidence, however, there is a limited need for people to work. Those who are dictated to by ideology are pawns in the hands of politicians who will play on their self-righteous anger that others aren’t working. Therefore a peer pressure has developed that everybody has to work, regardless of there being fewer and fewer jobs and more and more production of goods. This plays into the hands of politicians to whom it gives permission to divert funds from the needy to their own pockets and agendas.

Anesthesiologists, who are the highest-paying professionals in America, could be pushed out of the room now that Johnson  & Johnson has developed a system called Sedasys, which delivers low-level anasthesia...
Anesthesiologists, who are the highest-paying professionals in America, could be pushed out of the room now that Johnson & Johnson has developed a system called Sedasys, which delivers low-level anasthesia... | Source

The insanity of over-production

In a world with finite resources, it is madness to adhere to a philosophy of an ever-growing economy (an economy is nothing more than a system of production and distribution). There simply aren’t enough minerals, metals, trees, fish, land, etc. to go on providing for an ever-growing population, let alone provide for a philosophy of ‘business must grow otherwise it is a failure.’ It is also a fact that advertising would not be required if people didn’t need to be brainwashed in order to buy what they neither want nor need.

Fewer jobs created; fewer workers required

There is, of course, a resentment by those who work against those who do not work. There are a variety of reasons for this resentment. They include the following.

  1. Jealousy. Some people would rather be home as well. They would simply prefer not to work and resent that they have to work while they perceive others are paid for by government (their taxes) so that they don’t have to work.
  2. They want more than they already have and they assume (wrongly) that if the government didn’t support those who didn’t work, then they would pay less tax and therefore have more money. A more real outcome would be that government would find something else to spend the money on, or politicians would pocket the money themselves.

In the United Kingdom, there are only jobs for 73% of the population so it is beyond absurd that the government (David Cameron) wants to put people back to work by training them how to write a resume/curriculum vitae. In the United States, the unofficial unemployment rate is 25%. This, of course, is not widely known and political administrations are not keen for the general public to have facts. That would very much change expectations from government, and governments are comprised of people who are not miracle workers.

In a world in which jobs are increasingly disappearing and the population is forever expanding, how does one ‘create a job?’ The answer is that one cannot, and therefore another solution is required.

Given the opportunity not to work, regardless of how much you enjoy your job, would you rather not work?

See results

Universal Wage - Paying everybody a basic income - Thomas Paine

Unlinking money and profit from essential production and distribution

Changing paradigms is always difficult. Money (barter) and some sort of profit (increasing abundance) has been linked to human existence since the advent of the agricultural age. Unlinking it is not going to be easy. Yet it is necessary for the survival of mankind.

There are two sorts of production and distribution. The one comprises food, shelter, water, medical services, and various essential survival necessities. The other comprises the arts, the luxuries, the inventions, etc. These are not necessarily necessary, but they do provide for a sense of well-being and enjoyment.

One possible solution is decouple profit from the essential needs, thereby lowering the cost of production and distribution and making these items available to all people, and while profit would be permitted for non-essential products, a luxury tax would support those people put out of work by the disappearance of jobs.

In addition, a twenty hour work week would be the maximum permitted for all human beings as this was the norm for millennium before the advent of the industrial revolution three hundred years ago. Mankind was not made to work the number of hours he does. It results in enormous health issues, unhappiness, and violence.

Putting work in its proper place

Once this deadly obsession with work disappears, humankind will once more revert to a golden age. Creativity is the result of free time and discretionary income. When people do not have to worry about their next morsel of food is coming from, they are free to spend time in inventing, creating, learning, helping, and donating. Rest and having their basic needs met without stress brings out the best in humanity. It’s time we understood that the issue isn’t one of getting people back to work; the issue is understanding the purpose of work and putting it back in its right place.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      In the near future, robots will be working, humans creating ideas

    • Viki Pan profile image

      Viki Pan 22 months ago

      peachpurple, do you really believe that robots can replace humans in doing their work in the proper way? I really doubt that! It seems impossible even for the best hi-tech robots to do all those kinds of job people do every day. Personally, I wouldn't like to be healed or educated by robots. Yes, they can be irreplaceable when assisting people, but no one and nothing can replace human work. At the same time, it is unbelievable that the governmenrt of any country, be it the UK or any other state, can make ill and disabled people work instead of paying them the social payments. Even if a disabled person feels pretty well today, how can you be sure that he/she will not feel worse tomorrow? That's non-sense! And this non-sense results in the death of people who suffer from serious diseases, but cannot be supported by the state!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 22 months ago

      Being rather lazy in my nature however being a hard worker from habit , I must state that I don't know how this can "work ".No pun intended lol , Do you really believe that work has become obsolete ? And in America , there are more and more people applying and being granted disability benefits , There is no way ,however , that we can afford to just pay people to not work ! Our economy here IS becoming one of more and more "service " related jobs , sure there are jobs in other venues of employment but the service industry has become our new labor market - after the collapse of manufacturing . It is not , however , the central governments responsibility to support or provide a "living wage " for the masses .

      Robot's will never be able to diagnose , fix or repair a plumbing problem , a health care issue , or a natural disaster for a couple of examples . It seems in this hub that you might be promoting a socialism type of an economy . Maybe not . But tell me , don't you feel a lift in working and contributing to your own livelihood ?.......a lot to think about here .......:-}

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 22 months ago from South Africa

      Viki Pan, even Bill Gates has mentioned that most people have no idea how many of them will be out of work shortly. Robots can now write novels so well that human beings cannot tell the difference between what was written by a human and what was written by a robot. Did you read the links attached to the article? And have you looked at the type of robots currently available?

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 22 months ago from South Africa

      AHorseBack, well, I guess you are going to be one of those people who are going to be caught unprepared. Whether you like it or not, everybody from the Pentagon, through Bill Gates, through government and commercial think tanks have confirmed that within the next five to ten years, artificial intelligence will be taking over half of human jobs. These include jobs that involve writing, authorship, serving people in restaurant (they already do this in China where there is a shortage of labour), etc.

      No, the hub is not promoting socialism. I promote socialism in other hubs. This one is strictly about the destructive attitude towards work, particularly in the United States where people are dying of stress related disease.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 22 months ago

      Interesting article. All I'll say is during my lifetime I've seen a lot of science fiction turn into reality. Remember the Dick Tracy watch...and how look at the Google watch. Robots have taken jobs from assembly line workers in Detroit and can now even clean your floors. Drones will change many things in the future. Yeah, things are changing and technology is only growing and become more capable.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 19 months ago from California, United States of America

      I totally agree with you on this and, in fact, I've written a couple of articles alluding to the facts you've presented here. I've thought for some time that work is a drain on energy and diverts what would be creative endeavors to things that are not creative but soul sucking. Great work you've done on this piece, I enjoyed it very much.

    • moneymindit profile image

      Money Man 14 months ago from California

      So should people just sit around and live off the government?

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 14 months ago from South Africa

      Moneymindit. Your question reeks of ignorance and arrogance. Do you honestly think that there are only two options? Work yourself to death and live off the government? I suggest you start traveling, reading, and thinking.

    • moneymindit profile image

      Money Man 14 months ago from California

      Tess, people need to feel useful. It seems to me that the one pushing a limited view of work is you, in this article. Why is the only option to work oneself to death? You stated that the "issue is understanding the purpose of work". I work, because I have needs like everybody else. I work so that I can provide a home, food, clothing, etc for me and my family. I am by no means working myself to death. You seem to be promoting a redistribution of wealth.

      Profits are what drive people to innovate, to create and to start-up businesses. Sure, many companies are lucky to just break even. Nevertheless, it is the profits that allow companies to reinvest in its people and in capital goods. Profits are what allow companies to make deposits into retirement accounts. Profits are what allow companies to match fund in 401k plans. Profits are what allow companies to survive periods of reduced cash flow. A company cannot survive just by breaking even, at least it will not survive without excess funds. Excess funds come from profits.

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 14 months ago from South Africa

      Your view is the view I was taught more than half a century ago. During the past 20 years, every single thing you are arguing has been disproved. Absolutely I am promoting a redistribution of wealth. Do you honestly think you wouldn't be wealthier and healthier if there wasn't a redistribution of wealth? You wouldn't be worse off. The billionaires of the world who are robbing you and yours blind will be Profits are not used solely to reinvest in goods and business that employ people, etc. VIRTUALLY ALL PROFITS ARE PUT INTO TAX FREE HAVENS AND USED FOR GOLD PLATED YACHTS. The small amount is reinvested is now buying robots.

      In fact, the president's office has just issued a statement in a very short period of time (2020 onwards), 80% of people of lower income workers will be out of work due to robots.

      https://theconversation.com/what-to-do-when-machin...

      Next, recent studies have shown that far from dying young, people who retire are happier than other people. They aren't working. They have an income. They can invest in their interests, their passions, voluteer in communities, etc. I can assure you that as a retiree I am happier than I have ever been. I have an income. I'm not stressed. I'm doing all the things I like.

      People ARE useful. They bake bread for their families, rear their children, clean their homes, empty the bins, look after parents, help friends, AND they create. It is only people with discretionary income and free time that have the ability and capacity to innovate and create. PROFIT IS NOT the driving force to create. Ask all the world's scientists, inventors, and discovers.

      The ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE MOTIVATED BY PROFITS ARE GREEDY PIGS AND SOCIOPATHS. The rest of us are content with our salaries. Do you actually understand what profit is? Do you understand that a business like Mondragon has been successful internationally, employs 84,000 people, and does not make a profit. They are so successful that Basque has become the most prosperous area in Europe, paying for people to get free university and has a massive social welfare program.

      No, excess funds DO NOT COME FROM PROFITS. Profits are taken after the company puts away for future investment, emergencies, etc. Go do six dozen business courses as I have. Or run a business as I have. Or grow up in business as I have. Or mix with the children of the rich as I have.

      You do NOT NOT NOT use your own personal experience to evaluate international trends and situations. That's because there are always exceptions. MOST PEOPLE ARE WORKING THEMSELVES TO DEATH, particularly in the USA which is the most obese country in the first world, with the highest number of mental illness in the world (half of its population), etc.

      Yes, you work to survive. What happens is you could survive without working? I am. I chose not to work. I have plenty to do without having to kowtow to a man who wants to make money at my expense.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 14 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Tess, I read a book 23 years ago which stated that increasing computerization will create a permanent underclass. This is coming to fruition day by day. My late mother also stated more than 4 decades ago that there are going to only two classes- the very rich and the very poor, NO MIDDLE CLASS. Her predictions are becoming truer each day.

    • moneymindit profile image

      Money Man 14 months ago from California

      Tess, Mondragon is a co-operative. Did you notice that Mondragon's managers make up to 8 times more than laborers? I wonder where the huge salaries come from. Answer = profits!

      Sure machines will likely replace a lot of jobs. However, somebody will need to repair those machines. Somebody will need to program those machines. Somebody will need to maintain those machines.

      Redistribution of wealth does not work. Communism does not work. Look at Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and every other Communist country.

      Capitalism might not be perfect, but it is the best economic system available.

      MM

    • moneymindit profile image

      Money Man 14 months ago from California

      Tess, let's pretend that beginning in May, HubPages will pay every Hubber on here $5 per month regardless of the quality of the Hubs being created. How would you feel about that? Let's say that you write very interesting Hubs, and you have more views than anybody else. In fact, you have so many views, that you generate a lot of income for HubPages. Yet you receive only $5 per month like everybody else. Even somebody who only gets one view per month receives $5. How would you feel about that?

      MM

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 12 months ago from South Africa

      Moneymindit, you have a misconception of what profit is. You're confusing a mark up that covers the cost of salaries and other business operating costs. A business can make a loss, a profit, or merely be sustainable.

      Mondragon's charter or constitution states that nobody can earn more than 5 times the person at the bottom, and they were specifically set up so that they didn't make a profit. They calculate what their costs are, then they price their goods so that they can cover all their costs. Salaries are included in costs - not profit. You need to go do a few accounting courses. :)

      https://hubpages.com/business/Mondragon-The-Most-S...

      As to your question as to how I would feel if everybody received $5 per month for writing any number of articles of any quality, I would have no problem whatsoever. The difference between you and I is that you want to feel superior and have more than others while I am quite content to have the same as others.

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