Work is a Curse

That's right! It says so in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis.
"In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread."

This curse was laid upon Adam and all his descendants, by the Lord God Almighty, for the offense of disobeying an order not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

Whether you believe this or not, whether you think it's fair or not, is not my point.
My point is that there is not necessarily anything virtuous or desirable about "work". It is necessary to have an income, or the means of obtaining comfort and sustenance. As a retired person, I am free from the curse of employment. I do work in my garden, but not for economic reasons.

According to the old story, Adam and Eve had comfort and sustenance in the Garden, until they disobeyed the Lord. The whole point of the Industrial Revolution, including "labor-saving" devices and so forth, was to provide these goods at the cost of less work.

But nowadays, politicians, financiers, and all kinds of other high profile people with power and wealth seek our approval for "creating jobs" by their pet projects.

This of course denies the entire purpose of the Industrial Revolution. The ruling classes of the ancient Empires took care to have menial classes of people to do their work for them, and kept most of the income for themselves. A few of them even used their leisure to eat the metaphorical fruits of the Tree of Knowledge, and even passed the benefits to us, their successors.

It is quite obvious, from the fact that almost everybody wants an "executive" or supervisory job, that nobody respects actual labour. Well, that's not quite true. In the high and far-off days of the early computers, as a systems programmer I was told by my supervisor that I was being paid more than he was, and he was content with that. I believed him, and still do.
But maybe programming is like acting or painting -- it isn't really labour.

A person with what Robert Burns calls an independent mind will see the self-serving deception embedded in the ruling class propaganda that work is noble. A sufficiently educated woman should not find herself at a loss for something to do when there is no one to tell her what to do. The same goes for a man.

Perhaps everybody needs an occupation. In my ideal world, it would not be full-time devotion to spectator sports, or gossip, or foxhunting, or the latest fashions. Conceivably, entertaining one's friends might be sufficient. The "Scottish Enlightenment" owed a great deal to men who had means enough to gather together drinking and making intelligent converation. One need not go so far as to host a salon for the intelligentsia, although I believe that civilization has been somewhat advanced by people who did so.

Reductio ad Absurdum

As John Mortimer's character, the defense lawyer Horace Rumpole, points out: crime is what provides lawyers with employment.
Perhaps the perceived need to "provide employment" accounts for the fact that the USA has far more incarcerated people per thousand of population than even some of the most oppressive nations in the world.

Amusingly enough, computers have in no way made the work of lawyers less arduous. For every advantage that one side gains from their improved power, the other has received just as much.
Likewise, improved weapons of war, such as firearms, dreadnoughts, or nuclear weapons, can provide only a temporary advantage.

It seems to me unlikely that the enormous amounts of office space in modern cities can be contributing a commensurate amount of actual benefit (apart from distributing in a clumsy way the fruits of industrial production as wages and salaries) to the civilization that built them. Wouldn't the people in these offices be better employed on the same income, just playing with their children, their computers, or their gardens? Or even simply contemplating their navels?
How much benefit did Louis XIV's subjects gain from the dreary occupations of Louis's courtiers?
When Bernard Shaw's income rose to the point that he could have spent time as a customer in the fashionable shops, he wrote that doing so would have killed him with boredom.

Concluding Assertions

  1. It is no recommendation for wind turbines, or any other "green" energy alternative, nor for the entire coal burning industry, that it "provides employment".
  2. We'd all be better off with the work week limited to four days, or fewer.