That Social Machine Called Work
America must retool its social machine called work. The definition of work has to be changed from the one my children, myself, and my parents grew up with. Words icon on my iPad lists in long lists, 7 noun category definitions and 27 verb lists for work. To us oldsters, work was an occupation for which you are paid, when thought of as a noun and, as a verb, to be employed. Both cases brought into play a person exchanging time an effort for a payment in some mutually agreed exchange value, usually a wage in dollars and cents.
As we go deeper into the 21st Century, time and physical effort once carried out by human beings is now being carried out by robots. Factories once employing thousands now need only a few hundred people to produce the same amount of product and produce that product with a better quality.
So how in the world does a society develop a method to exchange dollars and cents to the masses of unemployed or underemployed so they too can live this American Dream ? Not living in opulence but in a dignified lifestyle having adequate shelter, food, health services, education, and cultural opportunities is The Great American Dream.
We must define work as effort expended for the good of the whole of society; such as, retrofitting urban blight, building and maintaining our public parks, maintaining our public lands, forests, waterways, and highways. These jobs have in the near past lost their importance, lost their value, lost the public's will to fund them.
We will pay for these jobs from the proceeds of those who have extracted value from investments that the whole of society has made which allowed the well off to gain vast wealth while taking advantage of what all of society has already invested. Included would be the value of products found underground, on public lands, or any other public asset.
We move into the future by realizing there was strength in the ways of the past which we best revisit. There was vast strength in the way the village operated. Those with ability were expected to provide for those of lesser ability : the aged, the young, the invalid. Each contributed to the sum total of whole through their ability to do work and took from the whole as their needs required.
Look around you and think how you would want our town to really be, then imagine how we can get there. If getting there requires some effort, think what work that isn't being done, if done, would get us there. Even if this type of work is now thought menial, this work is of extreme importance to us all.
This work has value to the whole population of the town.
"Make work", most called this effort in the past. True, and the key word is "work", newly defined to fit into our future. Effort extended for the good of the whole must take on a new paradigm for the good of the future. Rethinking our entrenched ideas of how people fit into the old molds must take place sooner than later so new molds may be created.
Ronald C. Downie