Your Comment: A World Without Work
Monday, October 9, 2017 -- 9:04 AM
Laura Maguire

We're continuing to get some great responses to our recent show, A World Without Work, including this email from Paul R. Thanks, Paul, for your comments! If you have questions or comments on a show, feel free to send us an email at comments@philosophytalk.org and we might just feature it here on the blog.

1. Before you (or someone) decide how the world will work without work, you (or someone), need to decide how you are going to feed everybody.  I was doing some reading a couple years ago in well-respected science, health, and geographical magazines--from one article I got basically how much a of a certain type of fish you should eat (2 times per week if I recall); from another about how many total fish of that type are in the sea; and from another how many people there are on the planet.  A little simple math put together the fact that if everybody ate the recommended amount of that fish for best health, assuming you could harvest all you needed, the fish would all be totally consumed inside a year, wiping out that resource.  (Hmm, I think I could find some actual historical examples of that kind of thing already...) 

2. Don't forget that we don't just need a basic income; if we have serious health problems (this is for all of us, now, because no one know how "if" is going to turn out), we need healthcare and not just basic healthcare.  So how does who, get to decide who gets what?   

3.  If we somehow succeed in freeing all from the necessity of work and we guarantee health (not to mention housing with heat, air, plumbing, a little garden, etc. ...), a lot of people are going to have a lot of free time to somehow pursue their dreams--I think a lot of copulation will fit in there and if the past is a guide at all, there pretty soon is going to be a lot of extra people available to need more of #1 and #2.

The basic problem of sharing all this wealth is that we actually are running out of the wealth of the planet already (per capita, I mean, not that each capita is currently getting her or his actual "per," so to speak).  Early stages here, perhaps, but there are focal areas where this has been and is occurring already (check the news).  Star Trek had an episode where everyone on a planet got a fair share of everything on the planet and--death itself having been eliminated--they all ended up with about a square meter of space and enough nondescript nutrition to simply keep them alive.  If memory serves, their solution was to invite germs from the Star Trek vessel into their planet to reintroduce mortality (you can guess how they did that; just note that  seamen (you know, men of the sea, so to speak) have been doing that kind of thing for centuries  just in parts of our own little world).

I wish I had some answers but the only one that I am fairly certain of is that any plan for distributing resources (including all of our current capricious and mostly unfair ones) needs to get to a way of having fewer people on the planet or, in the long run, we're going to have some kind of planet like the Star Trek one (though maybe not with equal distribution). Let's see, now (this is an aside), commercial tomatoes and strawberries in this country have already pretty much arrived at the nondescript nutrition object state even now.  Though in some spare time perhaps someone should investigate whether the nutrition part of those objects actually did survive their commoditization...

Oh, and thanks for your Philosophy Talk show.  Love it.

Comments (1)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 -- 2:59 PM

Well, you have posted my

Well, you have posted my remarks concerning this post. I think so, anyway. Paul has admirably covered the matter, economically; psychologically; sociologically and politically---have I missed a discipline here? Any way we cut it, the matter of work vs. no work is thorny, at best. We are what we learn. We are what we inherit, genetically; sociologically; culturally and so on. In a nutshell, we ARE what we LEARN. And, regardless of how we proceed from THAT basis, there is no progress other than that which has been prescribed. This site has asked questions about a number of intractable issues, including racism and cognitive bias (which I have characterized as learned behavior). All (or much) of the work ethic which is so valiantly worshiped stems from the entirety of progress, which, again, we have been taught is the WAY of civilized homo sapiens. I do not dispute the gains we have achieved. Nor do I contend that there be some specific limit(s).But, as Eastwood famously said in one of his Dirty Harry movies: a man's got to know his limitations. And, as Wilber said more than once in his works: and just so. I'm enjoying a book right now entitled: THE HUMAN AGE. It deals with various current dilemmas we face, and some we'd rather not acknowledge. The Anthropocene era. Hmmmm.