I think that it’s bad that people have to have jobs.

I don’t think that jobs are bad. I’ve been spent the past couple of years without a job, and over that time I’ve noticed a lot of things that I miss about employment. I miss having coworkers, I miss working on a long-term project, and I miss having a reason to get out of the house every day. I didn’t expect to miss anything about having a job, but I miss those things very much.1 I’m not trying to say that I think that jobs are a completely bad idea.

I think that it’s bad that people have to have jobs.

I’m not an economist, I’m not a historian, I don’t have any numbers to show you, I don’t have any relevant non-anecdotal experience that I can bring to bear on this topic. Usually when I make an argument, I like to have facts and figures to back it up, and I haven’t done that research here, and I understand that this makes my argument a not-very-good one.

I just have this gut feeling that it’s bad that we live in a world where people have to have jobs, and if they lose their job they get really scared, and maybe they can’t pay their medical bills or they become homeless, and their family suffers too, and they’re at 100% maximum stress constantly until they can find another job. I think that people should be able to choose to have a job, and I think that it’s bad that they’re instead forced to have a job.

This is not a post about universal basic income, although I do think that UBI’s an interesting idea, and I hope that we continue to experiment with it.2

I don’t know what we should be doing instead of our current system where everyone has to have a job. But humans are smart, and I’m sure that if we thought about it really hard we could come up with some more ideas and try them out. I know that this is a difficult and expensive problem, but I also think that it’s important that we identify it as a problem. I think that more people should be thinking and talking about this.

I think that it’s bad that people have to have jobs or else they starve and die. I think that we as a society should have an explicit goal of getting to a point where people no longer have to have jobs, and can instead choose how to spend their time. I’m surprised that that’s not currently a goal that people talk about on the news and at dinner parties. I think that we should talk about this more.

I expect that once people no longer have to have jobs, they’ll be able to spend time on things that actually interest them instead of trading lots of years of their life for room and board. I expect that some people will vegetate and play video games all day, and some people will do drugs or whatever, but I also expect that a lot of people will get involved in their community, and in nonprofit-type organizations, and just generally have the time and energy to be able to really think about how to make the world around them better and then implement the ideas they come up with.

Those are just vague uninformed guesses. Nobody knows what would happen if we took our society and made it into one where people didn’t have to have jobs. I just think that it’s bad that people have to have jobs, and I think that we should be talking about this more.

I mean: If you were the president of the world, and you were in charge of figuring out how people spent their time and got their food and housing, would you have come up with this?


PS: I’ve heard this topic referred to as “post-work”, but I don’t really know anything about that concept/movement. I’ll look into it more in the future, I’m sure that there are smart people out there who have been thinking about this stuff for a long time and have shared a lot of insights. Right now, I just want to write down my current state of mind about this, because it’s been bugging me and it’ll feel better to have it out of my head.

  1. Don’t worry, I completely recognize that I am very, very, very fortunate to be able to have this experience and learn that I miss these things. I don’t take this for granted.

  2. I’m skeptical of people who say that UBI is a stupid idea because everyone needs to have a job because it’s good for the moral fiber or whatever. It’s very possible that we’ll find a lot of things that are bad about UBI, but in my opinion it seems like a compelling enough idea that we should really try it out, because maybe the good things will vastly outweigh the bad, and maybe not many bad things will happen. I know that people are currently earnestly investigating UBI, and I’m glad that they’re doing that. I donate monthly to GiveDirectly’s basic income experiment.

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