Work

Work is an interesting concept - one I'm just starting to get my head around. I am not alone, but you have to dig for it - the main stream flow is based of conventional, past thoughts. So what is work? In the world we live in, work is often equated with earning our daily bread, and workers are often seen as in a battle with employers. But that takes a very narrow view of work.

Being productive is good for humans in so many ways. Of course so is what we call recreation. As with so many issues neither side is all right or all wrong. Both are partly right - but need the other part of the picture to present a complete view. And we think of work as how we earn our crust  till we retire - but it's much more than that. We need to restructure our society somehow (and I leave that to those who have greater insights than me - but probably not politicians).

Today we hear that 1% of the population control 50% of the world's resources. Unless you're part of the 1% (and if you're reading this you're probably not) then this surely is obscene. If you're waiting for politicians, then you're going to be disappointed - again.

So I've been thinking both about work and about the distribution of wealth. As more and more functions are made redundant, including many due to technological changes, we will have new jobs created. I won't even start to guess at what these might be. We saw with the coverage of the 30th anniversary of "Back to the future" they got some things right - and others they totally missed. The big one they missed was the internet.

Despite new opportunities, there is still likely to be an overall reducing demand for traditional work - and workers. Even where there is a growing demand (e.g. aged care) there is continued downward pressure on costs. If this is so, it seems there are two likely scenarios.

One is that we find new ways to distribute wealth, allowing people to work at what they enjoy. For those immediately thinking of "slackers" and "no-hopers" and "bludgers", I discuss one aspect of this in an article on social issues. While I don't expect to see an idyllic paradise, it would be nice to think we could progress towards this.

The alternative I see is an increasing social divide between the ever fewer haves and the rest of us. There have been books and movies on this which describe possible scenarios far more dramatically than I can come up with. Suffice to say it's not a future I want to see.

I remember playing a game at a young people's gathering years ago. We were in four groups, and each group had to decide amongst themselves whether to submit a white or a black counter. I forget the detailed rules, but the only way we could all win (which we were told from the start) was if we all put in the same colour. The catch was if one team chose the other colour, they got double and everyone else lost. That night I saw that if people can get ahead at the cost of others, some will.

I'm still looking for significant answers - one that will appeal to all people. Our future is undecided - but it's not looking hopeful, even to an optimist.

Last Modified

Last modified: 28 November 2020.