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« Thursday Morning News Dump | Main | Open Thread »
February 06, 2014

We're now living in a post-labor Utopia. Have you heard about this?

Calling Mike Rowe! Calling Mike Rowe!

“GDP growth isn't a good in and of itself,” he says. “The question here is what's going to create the most happiness for the greatest numbers of people. Being in a situation where people have to work full time or 40 hours a week at a job that may not be the best match for them because that is the only way to get health insurance is not the way you create the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.”

Do read it all. This article may be the stupidest piece of tripe I've read in years, and that's quite an achievement in the era of His Majesty the King.

This is liberal elitism at work, believe it or not. The upper-crust Democrats see some guy mowing their lawn in the summer, sweating and grunting as he pushes the mower around the steeply-landscaped back yard. Or they see the trashmen coming by to collect the feculent, festering remains of the weekend cocktail party they threw over the weekend. God, I'd hate that job, they think, and then a light bulb goes on in their heads. I bet they hate that job too! No one would do that job unless they had to! It's an outrage! And then we're off to the races.

Upper-crust liberals tend to have cushy, white-collar jobs that pay well. They tend to have stable families and live in decent neighborhoods. To them, "work" means something far different than it does to the guy outside laboring over their landscaping.

The guy out pushing the mower, or hauling away their trash, probably doesn't hate his job. He may not love it, but he probably doesn't hate it. It pays the bills. To the extent that he feels any outrage, it's generally at the shitty hot weather or the lazy gringo kid he hired as a helper this summer but who didn't show up today. It's not like he dreams of being a neurosurgeon or a performance-artist. He'd probably like more free time (who wouldn't?) but not at the cost of losing income.

In other words: liberals who believe this "less work is good" argument are Utopian idiots. They think everybody lives like they do, and likes the things they like.

Further, and on a different track: remember that huge, bloated, unweildy, horrendously-expensive welfare state we've built over the past fifty years? Remember how we're supposed to pay for that? Tax receipts, which is directly related to per-capita GDP. Drive down per-capita GDP (which is what ObamaCare is doing), and you make the huge welfare-state we've built even more unsustainable than it already is.

People without meaningful work and copious free time don't write symphonies or create great works of art. They don't live a life of the mind. They drink too much, or get in fights, or watch a lot of internet porn, or commit crimes. They don't contribute to the economy or culture, as a rule. They just...exist. And it goes on like that, sometimes for generations.

Labor is the fate of all humankind. Always has been. We work to live. Work gives shape and meaning to our lives. It's not just the income we derive from it; it's the knowledge that we are able to function as adults in the wider world, and provide for ourselves and our families. It's feeling the satisfaction of having contributed something to the maintenance of civilization, even if it means we haul trash away or keep the grass mowed. It's all honorable work, necessary work, and not something to be ashamed of.

It's not an outrage, it's just the way things are. To try and embitter people about that, to make them feel that the natural order of things is unfair, is just to do an enormous amout of harm to the very people you're claiming to want to help.
----
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen also responds to this stupidity, but more betterer and smartlier than me. Read it all. Here's a taste:

A simpler possibility is that people undervalue the long-term benefits of having a job and thus in both settings the contraction in employment is a quite negative outcome. That is then very bad news for ACA, if only in expected value terms.


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posted by Monty at 11:28 AM

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