On Creating Jobs

Bertrand Russell, in 1920, wrote an essay "In Praise of Idleness".
It exposes the fallacy of the notion that it is intrinsically virtuous to "create jobs". He goes so far as to say "I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work."

What every civilised person wants is to have an income, some leisure, comfort, necessary goods, and the respect of the people they value most. The advance of technology ought to have made this possible for every person in the Western world without the drudgery that so many still endure in offices that produce neither useful goods, nor scientific knowledge, nor worthwhile entertainment.

Huge amounts of employment are created by forces desperately engaged in negating each other. Clearly those of us outside of any particular such contest can do without the labour of the participants. The most conspicuous such cause is war, of which it should be the job of an international police force to punish the instigators.

I do not know how to deal with the problem of legal quarrels, but it might help if we could curb our adulation of people who are merely wealthy.

So what about the claims made for wind turbines, solar power, "clean coal", and the entire automobile industry? If these things are not intrinsically beneficial, or can be replaced by something less expensive in Terran resources and human toil, then they cannot be justified by their "providing employment".

I believe that too many automobiles are being manufactured. If significant numbers of commuters, say 75% of those who drive singly, in cities like Washington,DC or Los Angeles would even bring themselves to find three other people who could without serious inconvenience ride in the same vehicle as themselves, they'd all get to work more swiftly, because the roads would be so much less crowded.

Soon, in the next 50 years, the fuel source will need to be drastically replaced, probably by some stored energy like hydrogen or electricity. This will make the present automobile engine manufacturing plant (at least) obsolete.


Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional