JOE HOCKEY: I have had a lifetime career involvement in financial services, both as a finance and banking lawyer, as Financial Services Minister, as an advisor on privatisation, a whole range of different jobs, and as Minister for Employment. Everything will come down to jobs over the next two, three years. Jobs, jobs, jobs. It is also a case about being prudent. I have been prudent in my own way with my own finances.
The new hurdles placed on Gunns’ $2.2 billion pulp mill show a similar disconnect between policy and actions. While Rudd ministers declare their primary focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs”, Environment Minister Peter Garrett wants Gunns to do new work on effluent, spinning out any final approval until after the next election.
Like Christ, the doleful personification of ancient slavery, the men, the women and the children of the proletariat have been climbing painfully for a century up the hard Calvary of pain; for a century compulsory toil has broken their bones, bruised their flesh, tortured their nerves; for a century hunger has torn their entrails and their brains. O Laziness, have pity on our long misery! O Laziness, mother of the arts and noble virtues, be thou the balm of human anguish!
~ Paul Lafargue, The Right To Be Lazy (1883)
I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached… Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.
~ Bertrand Russell, ‘In Praise of Idleness’ (1932)
People don’t just work, they have “jobs.” One person does one productive task all the time on an or-else basis. Even if the task has a quantum of intrinsic interest (as increasingly many jobs don’t) the monotony of its obligatory exclusivity drains its ludic potential. A “job” that might engage the energies of some people, for a reasonably limited time, for the fun of it, is just a burden on those who have to do it for forty hours a week with no say in how it should be done, for the profit of owners who contribute nothing to the project, and with no opportunity for sharing tasks or spreading the work among those who actually have to do it. This is the real world of work: a world of bureaucratic blundering, of sexual harassment and discrimination, of bonehead bosses exploiting and scapegoating their subordinates who — by any rational-technical criteria — should be calling the shots. But capitalism in the real world subordinates the rational maximization of productivity and profit to the exigencies of organizational control.
~ Bob Black, ‘The Abolition of Work’ (1991)
In this major new book, Sharon Beder unearths the origins and the practices of a triumphant culture of work in which the wealthy are respected and inequality is justified. Dr Beder shows that these values are neither natural nor inevitable. They have been actively promoted – through religious preaching, corporate propaganda, the education system, and socialisation – by those who benefit most from them.
Selling The Work Ethic provides an absorbing account and critique of this central aspect of modern capitalist society. Prompted by her conviction that humanity needs to unlearn and change these powerfully held but now pathological values if we are to reverse the declining quality of life in industrial society, Dr Beder illuminates the impasse we are now in.
Sharon Beder, Selling the Work Ethic: From Puritan Pulpit to Corporate PR (2000)