Lane Filler's recent column "I'd gladly split my job, but not my pay" [Opinion, July 23], touches on an issue that usually only gets whispered about in public.
The oncoming specter is obvious: Technology is indeed taking over traditional jobs. This is happening not in an Industrial Revolution kind of way: "Oh now instead of raising horses, you're building cars." Instead, it's, "Oh wait, this computer is doing everything on its own."
We might be facing the terrifying reality that there's just not 40 hours a week of work for every adult. This may give us more time to catch up with our lives -- to learn to play an instrument, invent something, exercise, spend time with family or start a business. We could do things that are just as productive to society as "work," but were too risky to invest time in while living the commonly accepted life of spending about half our waking hours at, getting ready for, or traveling to and from work.
Of course everyone agrees that this extra time sounds good, but Filler brings up the logistical obstacles. First, how do we pay for a reduced employment society without bankrupting ourselves?
One solution to ease the transition would be a basic or guaranteed income. Economists estimate that by eliminating all welfare -- and more important, means testing -- we could give every adult in the country $5,000 to $10,000 a year, without spending more. This might remedy the issue of wages that are artificially depressed because people are desperate and will work for less.
Sometimes when you're a hamster on a wheel, as Filler says, any change that no longer involves a wheel seems unfamiliar, and thus, undesirable. That doesn't mean it's not worth looking into.