Surplus Humans and the Death of Work


It’s a simple equation: too many humans, not enough work. Low paying, physical jobs continue to disappear, replaced by mechanization. More cognitive work characterized by the need to think is increasingly likely to be automated and robotized. This has complex and dire consequences, and not just global economic ramifications, but moral ones. What are we to make of ourselves and of a culture that has intimately linked work with meaning when the work is outsourced or eliminated entirely?

A striking example comes from the richest country in the world — the United States. Recently and anomalously life-expectancy has shown a decrease among white people in economically depressed areas of the nation. Many economists suggest that the quest for ever-increasing productivity — usually delivered through automation — is chipping away at the very essence of what it means to be human: value purpose through work.

James Livingston professor of history at Rutgers University summarizes the existential dilemma, excerpted below, in his latest book No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea.

From aeon:

Work means everything to us Americans. For centuries – since, say, 1650 – we’ve believed that it builds character (punctuality, initiative, honesty, self-discipline, and so forth). We’ve also believed that the market in labour, where we go to find work, has been relatively efficient in allocating opportunities and incomes. And we’ve believed that, even if it sucks, a job gives meaning, purpose and structure to our everyday lives – at any rate, we’re pretty sure that it gets us out of bed, pays the bills, makes us feel responsible, and keeps us away from daytime TV.

These beliefs are no longer plausible. In fact, they’ve become ridiculous, because there’s not enough work to go around, and what there is of it won’t pay the bills – unless of course you’ve landed a job as a drug dealer or a Wall Street banker, becoming a gangster either way.

These days, everybody from Left to Right – from the economist Dean Baker to the social scientist Arthur C Brooks, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump – addresses this breakdown of the labour market by advocating ‘full employment’, as if having a job is self-evidently a good thing, no matter how dangerous, demanding or demeaning it is. But ‘full employment’ is not the way to restore our faith in hard work, or in playing by the rules, or in whatever else sounds good. The official unemployment rate in the United States is already below 6 per cent, which is pretty close to what economists used to call ‘full employment’, but income inequality hasn’t changed a bit. Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.

Don’t take my word for it, look at the numbers. Already a fourth of the adults actually employed in the US are paid wages lower than would lift them above the official poverty line – and so a fifth of American children live in poverty. Almost half of employed adults in this country are eligible for food stamps (most of those who are eligible don’t apply). The market in labour has broken down, along with most others.

Those jobs that disappeared in the Great Recession just aren’t coming back, regardless of what the unemployment rate tells you – the net gain in jobs since 2000 still stands at zero – and if they do return from the dead, they’ll be zombies, those contingent, part-time or minimum-wage jobs where the bosses shuffle your shift from week to week: welcome to Wal-Mart, where food stamps are a benefit.

Read the entire essay here.

Image: Detroit Industry North Wall, Diego Rivera. Courtesy: Detroit Institute of Arts. Wikipedia.

114 thoughts on “Surplus Humans and the Death of Work”

  1. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!

    Other then that, wonderful blog!

  2. Pingback: RMUTT Thailand
  3. Pingback: ean code
  4. Pingback: adam and eve
  5. Priligy Modo De Uso [url=]Where To Buy Cialis[/url] No Prescription Viagra Sidle Fail Cialis Generico Acquisto Online [url=]Online Strattera[/url] Cephalexin For Uti Propecia Pharmacie [url=]Kamagra Online Cheap[/url] Cephalexin And Strep Throat fedex isotretinoin 10mg cash delivery amex accepted – isotretinoin website [url=]Cheap Zithromax Pill[/url] Buy Levitra At Walmart Propecia Comprimidos 1 Mg [url=]Priligy Pastillas[/url] Does Zithromax Affect Birth Control

  6. My brother suggested I may like this website.
    He used to be totally right. This publish truly made my day.
    You can not consider simply how so much time I
    had spent for this information! Thanks!

  7. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful
    to you.

  8. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a great read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you will
    be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come
    back later in life. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great posts, have
    a nice day!

  10. Pingback: bullet sex toy
  11. Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided
    to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a
    look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, awesome site!

  12. Pingback: butterfly sex toys
  13. Pingback: sex toys cleaner
  14. With havin so much content and articles do you ever
    run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web
    without my authorization. Do you know any solutions to help prevent content from being ripped off?

    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  15. great publish, very informative. I ponder why the
    other experts of this sector don’t notice this.
    You should proceed your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  16. Pingback: adam and eve toys
  17. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve
    put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade content by
    you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated
    me to get my own site now 😉

  18. I think this is one of the most significant info for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The
    site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D.
    Good job, cheers

  19. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot.
    I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  20. Heya! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Carry on the excellent work!

  21. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs
    I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read through
    articles from other authors and use a little something from their websites.

  22. Levitra Generico Vendita [url=]Cheap Cialis[/url] Cialis Comprar Farmacia Purchase Plavix [url=]Cost Of Zoloft[/url] Baclofen 25mgachat Baclofen Cialis Wo Rezeptfrei [url=]Cost Of Cialis[/url] Who Has The Cheapest Levitra Piriton Mix Keflex [url=]Cheap Viagra Sales[/url] Buying Tretinoin In Singapore Finasteride Usa Price Quick Shipping [url=]Viagra 100mg[/url] Zithromax 6 Tablets 500 Mg Amoxil [url=]Generic Cialis 100mg[/url] Pharmatie Canadienne Viagra Generique Se Il Viagra Non Funziona [url=]Buy Zoloft On Line[/url] On Line Acticin Internet Comprar Cialis En Farmacia Online [url=]Buy Zoloft Online Usa[/url] Propecia En Andalucia Come Acquistare Viagra In Farmacia [url=]Cialis[/url] Generic Isotretinoin Internet Website Levitra Ohne Rezept Auf Rechnung [url=]Order Viagra Onlines[/url] Discount Fedex Amoxicilina Ospamox Get In Internet Viagra . Com [url=]Implicane Tablets[/url] No Prescription Foreign Pharmacies Is Keflex A Beta [url=]Buy Sertraline Online[/url] Fincar 5mg Buy Doxycycline Online Cheap [url=]How To Buy Kamagra[/url] Online Drugstore Usa.C Levitra Last Longer [url=]Cialis Online Pharmacy[/url] Propecia Venta Can I Buy Xenical Over The Counter [url=]Cialis Cheap[/url] Clobetasol In Canada Pharmacy Viagra Contre Remboursement [url=]Cialis Buy[/url] buy claravis accutane Buying Secure Ordering Stendra 50mg [url=]Where To Buy Clomid[/url] Where Can I Buy Plavix Generic Canadian Pharmacy Online Express [url=]How To Get Kamagra[/url] Antibiotic With Out An Rx Viagra Da Dolor De Cabeza [url=]Online Viagra[/url] Generic Amoxicillin Propecia Pack [url=]?Tadalafil[/url] Pharmacy Stores In Canada Viagra 50mg Preis [url=]Cheap Viagra Pill[/url] Levitra Paypal Viagra Kaufen Nachnahme [url=]Cheap Lasix Pills[/url] Zithromax Pneumonia Kids Liquid Amoxicillin Dosage [url=]Internet Order Viagra[/url] Buy Doxycycline In Mexico Effects Of Keflex Antibiotic [url=]Cheap Zoloft 50mg[/url] Pillenpharm Viagra Strips Prix Cialis En France [url=]Buying Kamagra Online[/url] Canadian Pharmacy Norx Propecia Side Effects Hair Loss [url=]Low Price Kamagra[/url] Pastilla Cialis Que Es Before After Using Propecia [url=]Order Kamagra Online[/url] Cialis Niedriger Blutdruck Acheter Lioresal En Canada [url=]Sildenafil[/url] Propecia Hair Growth Prevention Theusdrugsmart Pill Viagra [url=]Zoloft On Line[/url] Best Place Buy Cialis 40 Mg Online Order Propecia Pill [url=]Cialis Free Offer[/url] Buy Arimidex Online India Online Apotheke Viagra 100mg [url=]Purchase Cheap Zoloft[/url] Omifin Where To Buy Keflex Mixed With Alcohol [url=]Zoloft Pills[/url] Buy Tadacip Uk Lasix Without Prescription [url=]Buy Zoloft On Line[/url] Amoxicillin Drug Interactions Amoxicillan To Buy From India [url=]Zoloft 50mg[/url] Effetti Collaterali Levitra Buy Flagyl No Prescription [url=]Generic Cialis Cheapest[/url] Keflex And Water Retention Amoxil Dosing Guidelines [url=]Buy Levitra 20mg[/url] Propecia Length To Work Where Can I Buy Plavix Generic [url=]Kamagra Forum[/url] No Prescription Viagra Canada Online Ed Cause [url=]Biuy Viagra Online[/url] Faux Viagra Au Quebec Cialys Online No Prescription [url=]Cheapest Cialis Online[/url] Purchase Generic Cialis Online Kamagra Jelly [url=]Cialis Free Offer[/url] Viagra 100mg Dosage

  23. Pingback: kala jadoo
  24. Pingback: fitness
  25. Pingback: foldable wall bed
  26. My brother recommended I might like this website.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.
    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!

  27. Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch
    break. I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, very good site!

  28. Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info approximately this subject for a long time and yours
    is the best I’ve discovered till now. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are
    you sure in regards to the source?

  29. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly
    all of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    Would you offer guest writers to write content to suit
    your needs? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or
    elaborating on some of the subjects you write concerning here.

    Again, awesome weblog!

  30. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you made running a blog look easy. The entire glance of your web site is
    fantastic, as well as the content material!

  31. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.

    Too cool!

  32. hi!,I love your writing very much! share we keep in touch extra approximately your post on AOL?
    I require an expert on this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you!
    Taking a look ahead to look you.

  33. When someone writes an paragraph he/she keeps the idea of a
    user in his/her brain that how a user can know it. Therefore that’s why this paragraph is amazing.


  34. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It’s always exciting to read through content from other authors
    and practice something from their sites.

  35. Pingback: Google
  36. My brother suggested I may like this web site. He was totally right.
    This submit actually made my day. You can not imagine just how so much time I had
    spent for this information! Thank you!

  37. Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was
    just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks?
    If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you
    can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

  38. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a
    colleague who had been doing a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me dinner simply because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this topic
    here on your internet site.

  39. Very good blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any recommendations? Cheers!

  40. I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your content.

    This great article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and
    keep checking for new details about once a week.
    I opted in for your Feed as well.

  41. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.
    I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back in the foreseeable future.

    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great writing,
    have a nice holiday weekend!

  42. Helpful info. Lucky me I found your web site unintentionally,
    and I am stunned why this accident did not came about in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  43. Good way of explaining, and good piece of writing to take facts regarding my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in institution of higher education.

  44. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our whole community will
    be grateful to you.

  45. Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up very
    fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?

    I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  46. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  47. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.

    thank you

  48. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new
    scheme in our community. Your web site provided us
    with valuable info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our whole community will
    be grateful to you.

  49. Great post but I was wanting to know if you could
    write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
    Appreciate it!

  50. Hey there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and
    both show the same results.

  51. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this article is awesome,
    nice written and include approximately all vital infos.
    I would like to peer extra posts like this .

  52. Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using
    for this website? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  53. Hey there! I simply want to give you a big thumbs
    up for your excellent information you have got right here on this post.
    I will be coming back to your website for more soon.

  54. This is the right blog for anybody who would like to find out about this topic.
    You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that
    I actually would want to…HaHa). You definitely put
    a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for a
    long time. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

  55. Exceptional post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Appreciate it!

  56. cash loans
    [url= ]quick payday loans [/url]
    cash advance payday loans online

  57. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back very soon. I want to encourage one to
    continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

  58. We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.

    Your website offered us with helpful information to work on. You have done a formidable job and our entire community can be thankful to you.

  59. You made some really good points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will
    go along with your views on this website.

  60. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we
    have created some nice procedures and we are looking to trade solutions with other folks, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

  61. Hello! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the great work!

  62. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s
    equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.

    The issue is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this in my search
    for something regarding this.

  63. This blog is full of brilliant knowledge that makes it a tasty resource for culinary workers, and people who love food. We can build up your following across your social media network, so that you can drive more fans to your blog. We use a sophisticated, intuitive method that gains genuine followers. See what this client writes about BrandBuilders and look up Brandbuilders now, to read more about our services and get your no-obligation free trial!

  64. I am now not certain the place you are getting your information, but
    great topic. I must spend some time finding out more or working out
    more. Thank you for wonderful info I used to be searching
    for this information for my mission.

  65. What i do not realize is if truth be told how you are not really a lot more well-favored than you might be
    right now. You are so intelligent. You understand thus
    considerably in terms of this topic, produced me in my view consider it
    from a lot of numerous angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested until
    it’s something to do with Girl gaga! Your individual
    stuffs excellent. Always handle it up!

  66. Fortunately, the next labor secretary ….. doesn’t believe in labor. As long as the robot at the drive through window doesn’t screw up my order or drop my Big Gulp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.