A bitter irony of modern life is just when computers and robots should give people more time for creativity and relaxation, the opposite is often the case for many, a continued life of drudgery, as Lawrence Davidson observes.
By Lawrence Davidson
We have just celebrated Labor Day weekend (September 2, 3, 4) in the United States, the very heartland of capitalism. Apropos of the holiday, I happened to have run across a July 2016 survey with the original paradoxical title, “Job Satisfaction Hits a 10-Year High – But It’s Still Below 50%.”
What the survey reports is that “just under half (49.6%) of U.S. workers surveyed reported they are satisfied with their jobs.” These are workers in “traditional jobs,” which are typically eight-hour-a-day employment at conventional job sites. The report then compares this “just under half” rate to the reported job satisfaction of “independent” workers – those self-employed or working in an autonomous or semi-autonomous way. The reported satisfaction level of these “independent” workers was 65 percent.
The first number is downright depressing and the second is not very impressive. Also, consider what the report attributed the improvement (compared to say, 40 percent satisfaction in 2010 for traditional jobs) of the low satisfaction numbers to: “a decline in layoffs, stronger wage growth and expanding job opportunities [expanding labor market].” None of these factors addresses what ought to be one of the major, and obvious, goals of work – the fulfillment, as far as possible, of individual human potential. Or, to state it another way, providing avenues for the individual to “be all he or she can be.”
The conventional definition of an economy is a system of “production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” Historically, this definition of the way human beings produce and apportion both the necessities and accessories of life has proven incomplete, because it makes no reference to the psychological human need for being creative through labor.
This psychological need for realizing one’s potential in this fashion might not have…