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People used to have jobs sweeping streets; now they have machines that do that. In India they dug a canal by hand in order to provide jobs. A U.S. soldier wound up in East Germany after World War 2. After many years there he returned to the U.S. People said it must have been awful. He said, "Not really. You went to an office and were assigned a place to live and a job. (People did not work very hard at that job because there wasn't much to do.)

In the U.S., prior to unions there was soldiering. Workers controlled the pace of work. If someone started working too hard they were pulled aside and spoken to. This was so that people would not be laid off. Then science was applied to work methods. Assembly lines for cars vastly reduced labour costs. People, when they had to work harder,  wanted more money. Along came unions. The higher wages stimulated the economy. People with high wages spent more allowing lots of low paying jobs. People are now encouraged to become entrepreneurs, providing services to the rich and providing jobs to people less well off than they are.

The answer of course (and it will come eventually) is a Universal Basic Income. (It is already here for seniors, OAS and GIS.) The job will be to consume. Where once it was a matter of finding something to eat and a place to sleep and then look for a job, with UBI a person can plan their life.

I believe everyone wants to lead a full life. They will want more than food clothes and a place to sleep but we do have to provide the basics so that they can make a plan to move forward and we should help them with that.

Bill Moses, Owen Sound

photo: New York Public Library collection


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