From open mike yesterday …
Employment and unemployment (both classical and structural) are two sides of the same coin; the one cannot exist without the other. This ‘coin’ [no pun] forms the central pillar of our culture as well as our society. Everything is centred on employment or “work”. Money must be earned (or borrowed) to pay the bills, to afford a roof over your head (whether owning or renting), to pay for schooling, holidays, gadgets, etc. However, a job also provides social status (low or high, regardless) and respect, a place and opportunity for social interactions. In short:laboro ergo sum. Think Maslow’s pyramid symbolising the hierarchy of needs.
We are indoctrinated from a young age that we have to provide (for our family and for our society, through taxes) and become economically-productive law-abiding citizens. To give us all a good/better start on the “career ladder” we are encouraged to send our children to ECE, good/the best (?) schools, and preferably attain a tertiary qualification or two (with a nice grand student debt!). In fact, by law our children must attend a school/schooling for 10 years.
For some it is work to live and for others the motto is more live to work but for both the so-called work-life balance is crucial it seems. It is clear that work and life are pretty much inextricably linked together.
With the globalisation of the workforce and rapid technological changes it has become harder and harder to find secure employment, a meaningful job, or enough hours/pay to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ or just to make ends meet. We used to be able to look forward to a semi-comfortable retirement, the “golden years”, but no more. We now have to work longer and harder to build a “nest egg” and we are not even assured of decent provisions for when the inevitable age-related health issues occur; with a lot of luck we might get to enjoy a few twilight years in reasonable health and then leave this plane for ‘a brighter future’ or the shadowy path of oblivion.
Given all this, and much, much more, it is hard to imagine a society that does not evolve around employment as the major part of people’s lives, as their raison d’être. Surely, there is more to The Human Condition than can be summed up by laboro ergo sum? It is hard to see an alternative that allows maintaining and evolving a complex and (technologically) advanced society with the seemingly inevitable division of labour. But I think we are dire need of an alternative given the issues with (structural) unemployment, poverty, inequality, raping & pillaging of the environment, and many other negative outcomes of the current model.
Apologies for the long comment; I wish you all a safe and joyful Christmas filled with whatever tickles your fancy.