What lies in the future? What is inevitable, what is possible, what is inherent and what is to be chosen? Paul Jorion’s introduction to the French translation of James Livingston’s No More Work is an essay on these questions in relation to the future of work, and of resource distribution beyond wages. Jorion neatly challenges the link between livelihood and work. But though Jorion echoes Livingston’s deep skepticism of our attachment to (and moralization of) work (or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, of wage labor), he falls into three common traps in thinking about such futures. These are the trap of assumed human innateness, the trap of historical determinism, and the trap of faulty arithmetic. Yes, arithmetic. In fact, Jorion’s math is the least interesting, the most common and the least contentious of the three traps – but perhaps the most important to set right. This is a fundamental mistake in understanding the cost of a universal basic income. As Livingston (and many others) points out, by guaranteeing a livelihood to all, a UBI could help divorce distribution from work, enable bargaining for shorter hours and decenter the economic primacy of labor. Yet Jorion dismisses UBI in passing as unrealistically expensive. (Though Jorion’s alternative to UBI – abolishing money – can hardly call realism as its greatest strength.) One cannot blame Jorion for this: he merely...Read More
Author: Liz Fouksman
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