- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The leisure time argument si a notoriously weak one

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on October 03, 1999 at 19:34:23:

In Reply to: which Lark is this? posted by Gee on October 01, 1999 at 14:24:20:

I didn't want to get involve din this debate but I saw a fact being atrociosuly abused below.

: Whats its done is make possible the lifestyles and longevity that billions of people have today. Where once 99.9% 'enjoyed' the same standard of living,

Waitaminit, there is not a binary distinction between "civilization' and 'barbarism". technological progress and rises in teh standard of living (the two both advanced over time, but do not necessarily go hsand in handz) increased over a long period of time. capitalism developed within the last few centuries, it wan't soemthing that dropped out fo teh sky and suddenly suhered in a golden age; standards of living right befroe capitalism took hold were better than those (in Europe) of a hundred years before, and so on. To find a point at which "99.9%" of people were living in squalor, and at whichj conditions frist started improving, you would have to go way back into history- long before capitalism was even invented.

: ie the subsistence with their very lives held at the random forces of nature,

Well, actually, to a degree technological progress can make you MORE vulnerable to weather vicisstiudes; e.g, agriculture and the invention of cities, necessitated a sedentary lifestyle, which made people more vulnerable to droughts, flooding, blights, communicable disease, etcetera. To quote colin turnbull, "what teh hunter lsoes today he can regain tomorrow", such is nbot teh case fro a farmer or a factroy worker. In general, improvements in teh standard of living ahev lagged behind improvements in technology.

: now an ever increasing proportion are not held to such a flickering candle existence, not threatened with death with every turn in the weather.

see above. The only iron-clad argument you can make about human life getting better is that many diseases have been vanquished, multiplying human life expectancy by a factor of maybe four times. This is an immense achievemnet, but it is due more to the achievemnets of pure science rather than applied technology. No one was paying the doctor who discovered penicillin to find a new antibiotic; he noticed one day that some mold killed bacteria, and tehre we were. Likewise, most of teh fudnamental acheivements of science had no profitability or economic application at the time tehy were made, thus you can't argue that they came about because the profit motive. arguably teh greatest practical discovery in the mdoern world was Faraday's law of induction, which amde possible teh generation of electrical power. But at the time, it was seen as a useless curiosity- Faraday certainly amde no money off it. How, then, can you claim that science woudl not ahve advanced without teh profit motive?

: Ever more as a proportion. Abundance made this possible. Machinery and automation made abundance possible.

You couldn't have automation without teh pure-science developments that stemmed from intellectual curiosity ratehr than economic incentive.

:The service sector grew because people did not have to spend 14 hours a day like animals hungry for food.

Erm, major factual problem here. The san of soutehrn Africa, and the Pygmies, today's prototypical exampels of hunter-gathering societies, spent only 3 hours a day frogaing fro food and doing otehr necessary things for survival; they also ate a more healthy, protein-rich diet than we do. You can make other criticisms pof tehir lifestyle, namely their severe vulnerability to disease and their inability to maintain a large population on such a lifestyle (that is why they parcticed pre-emptive herbal birth control) but the leisure-tiem argument is a no-go. Especially since evdience consistently shwos taht Americans work longer hours today - both men and women, both at work and in the home- than they have earlier this century, also lonegr hours than any Western Europeans. The leisure tiem argument, actually, si a notoriously weak one.

: We can talk about the people whose lives are still so impoverished, but lets not blame automation. Without it we could even discuss them - we would be them.

Maybe, not clear.

: : Waht is required is a Citizens wage paid by the authorities

: I thought you didnt like authorities? which Lark is this?

: : to every citizen, as close as possible to, if not equal to the average workers income and totally tax free, additional income would be taxed at a flat rate of about 50% until introduction costs can be diminished etc. Labour is now decommodified and if you can't get a job you'll be alright and if you dont want to work, which SHOULD BE YOUR RIGHT, you don't have to.

: No one has to but somehow this wage is to be supplied. Who will willingly jumpm to the task of creating wealth for those who dont want to? Or shall the aforementioned authorities deal with the dissidents?

See the point above about intellectual curiosity being teh driving force behind so muchscinetific research- afetr all, no one becoems a scientist because they want to be a millionaire. If this holds true in one realm, why can't we analogize to other jobs as well?

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