Longing for a lie-in
Employment is not an end in itself. It just allows us to subsist. This is why it’s productive jobs we need today: ones that will allow us to consume goods and services produced with minimal human labour or effort involved. In my opinion, economic development and prosperity should above all tend to gradually reduce the amount of time we have to work to produce and supply our goods and services. So let’s stop obsessing over “job creation” statistics that should in no way be the end goal. It’s actually productivity growth – drastically reducing prices – that should be the objective that our post-industrial societies work towards.
There should be one main aim to rekindle our economy: to create more wealth with ever less work. For this, it is of course cross-border trade involving the use of robots that would allow for substantial gains in productivity. Didn’t a student, Andy George, try to make a sandwich all by himself, growing his own vegetables, rearing his own livestock, and – as far as was possible – not using any kitchen tools? This experience cost him 1,500 dollars and six months of his life, when today you only need to travel a few minutes to a supermarket and spend a few dollars to get hold of one. The same hour of work that was necessary to generate 10 minutes of light in 1800 now generates 300 days of it! Faced with such progress that owes entirely to the take-off in global trade – itself a divider of labour and generator of technological breakthroughs – it is now old hat to cling to the perhaps defunct idea of job protection.
May this nostalgia for the defence of workers definitively offer up its place to the reign of the productivity paradigm that will reduce our working hours even more and improve our quality of life just as much. Far – very far – from Emile Zola’s assertions, it is time for the paid worker of today to take back their dignity and concentrate more and more on their favourite activities. The opportunities being offered to us by the world of services are in fact gratifying and only the grinches and other pessimists will rue the loss of factory drones and gruelling manual labour. It’s therefore all society that profits from mechanisation, automation and – generally speaking – productivity, via the huge reduction in prices and working hours it brings. We should therefore rebuke the apocalyptic discourse claiming the degeneration of humanity and actively promoting the closing of borders, because we’ve never been so rich.