Should we be working less?

The Economist has a terrific survey on the future of work, and I hope I’m not too late in recommending it. The issue isn’t on newsstands anymore. But the discussion continues in The Economist’s blogs, which are taking up issues such as whether we really need all these jobs anymore, anyway.

The issues are:

– While many are unemployed, many jobs can’t be filled. We’re not re-training employees fast enough.

– A lot of jobs aren’t coming back. Technology has made them obsolete. 

– The freelance economy, meanwhile, is booming. Now if only they could all get health insurance.

It’s ironic that a magazine called “The Economist” is discussing all of these things because economists’ tools are so badly outdated. They can’t deal with such change.

Call in the philosophers. I’m a very bad one, so perhaps someone can improve on this discussion.

A couple of thoughts:

– Those who have full-time jobs now are often working themselves to the bone. Far more than 40 hours a week. Little vacation. Why are we not sharing these work hours among more people?

– Should we offer more part-time work so that families can more easily drop from two working parents to 1.5?

– How many societal benefits would we have from people working less? I’ll start: More volunteer work. More thoughtful blogs. More parenting. More part-time musicians and artists. 

So in the typical family, rather than having two parents combining to work 90, 100, 120 hours a week, wouldn’t that family and society as a whole be better off if those parents worked no more than 60? And what must we do to make this 21st century family model come true?

The Libertarian Three-Step Program | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

The post is simply political, taking issue with Ron Paul’s attempt to explain libertarian philosophy in a debate setting. The comments are terrific. Make sure to read the “Hyena” through “TigerMike74” section for rebuttals on the libertarian position itself and “Charles D.” for a thought on libertarian ideals being hitched to the wrong wagon. In other words, libertarianism sullied by people who cheer for hypothetical deaths.

The Libertarian Three-Step Program | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Fed criticism depends on definition of “inflationary” and “terms”

PolitiFact might be too harsh here, given that economists can’t seem to agree on the definition of “inflationary.” Seems a bit like architects who can’t agree on the definition of “load-bearing,” but fortunately, economists can only wreck our economy, not our buildings.

But it reminds me of my message board-moderating days, when our readers were speculating in late 2000 on Bush’s appointments in the next few weeks. They included a new Federal Reserve chairman. They were a little surprised to learn that the Federal Reserve terms of office do not coincide with presidencies and that the incumbent, Alan Greenspan, was a Reagan appointee who had stuck around through the Clinton years.

Is it harsh to think that Gingrich assumes voters will make similar mistakes, thinking Bernanke isn’t a Bush-appointed Republican but an Obama-ite? (Obama did, to be clear, re-appoint him.) And I wonder how many voters realize the new president won’t be able to do anything about Bernanke until 2014.

PolitiFact Georgia | Gingrich: Bernankes policies inflationary to extreme levels.

Sickness and stupidity? Box office gold!

The film Contagion sounds educational. And it sounds like something I would derive no joy or benefit from watching.

What is our morbid fascination with worst-case scenarios these days? The only nuclear annihilation films I remember during the Cold War are The Day After and a handful of films that served as Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder. Not blockbusters with big names in the cast.

Film Review: “Contagion” | Popdose

Monday Morning Music: The Samples, “As Tears Fall”

Belated this week to commemorate two people who suddenly passed away in the past seven days — one in my family, one (Bobby Rhine) in the soccer community. It’s such a sweet-sounding song with a lively drum beat (captured nicely in this live video) that I didn’t realize the first couple of times I heard it that it’s about a loved one’s passing. But it’s really as much about devotion as it is about death.

The Samples were an erratic band with moments of brilliance, and this is one …