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Work: Why are there so few decent jobs now?

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This is the second in a series of edited extracts from Why Things Are Going To Get Worse And Why We Should Be Glad by Michael Roscoe.

Why are there so few decent jobs now?

One of the biggest problems facing the world today, along with global warming, is a decline in the number of decent jobs. By ‘decent’ I mean reasonably well paid, full-time (at least 30 hours per week) and preferably of use to society as a whole, either because the work is in a real wealth-creating industry, or the worker is performing a service that adds value to the community.

Employment chart EU, US, Japan

In the book I explore the idea that we don’t need to work as much any more because machines can produce most of the stuff we need, and therefore we can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the fruits of the labour of all those robots. 

Although this is theoretically possible, there are several reasons why it doesn’t work, except perhaps in a closed system where the state controls the raw materials and the means of production and the people are rewarded for doing nothing.

I show why Marx had to be right when he said that labour is the source of all economic value, and how, in fact, work is the source of all value in our lives. Without work, we have nothing.

Which is why it is so important that we reverse the trend of declining real employment. I demonstrate how this decline is linked to the financialization of the economy, ever-rising productivity and the inequality that results from these related factors, and why digital technology is making things worse.

Chart showing self-employment in US & UK

Michael Roscoe is the author of Why Things Are Going To Get Worse And Why We Should Be Glad, published by New Internationalist.

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  1. #1 Deb Joffe 01 Jan 15

    I've just read the first chapter of your book on this site & am considering buying the whole book but does it answer these questions? (I'm no economist you'll see):
    I think you say demand for goods & services is declining as fewer jobs - but isn't consumption increasing globally? Or are you just forecasting a decrease?
    & why do we have to 'pay back' the debt when it is notional anyway? Why can't we just say it doesn't exist anymore?


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About the author

Michael Roscoe a New Internationalist contributor

Michael Roscoe is a journalist with over thirty years experience on British and US newspapers, having worked at the Financial Times, The Economist, The Daily Telegraph, the Independent, Wall Street Journal and Geographical Magazine. He specializes in the interpretation of data, especially economic data, and the illustration of such information in graphic form, accompanied by clear and concise text that cuts through the jargon to tell the real story. He is the author of Why Things Are Going To Get Worse … And Why We Should Be Glad.

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