It’s holiday time, and once again we are about to see Capitalism at its worst. Making and selling more stuff than we really need. Call them whatever you wish — discards, throwaways, junk — but we can only use so many bathrobes, flower vases, candelabras, hassocks, and board games.
And yet, right now Capitalism is also making and selling something else. Not exactly something we don’t need, but something we as yet we don’t know what to do with. Time. The time-on-our-hands we will be left with, once our jobs are sucked up into that great labor-saving vacuum of modern robotic technology.
OK, so we’re not feeling it yet after sweating another hard day of work; but there are only so many human roles left in an increasingly automated society. No matter how many immigrants are stopped, walls are built, and rallies are held, in time we will all be facing the first time in history when we have more time than we’ve been prepared to use.
The challenge? Like that winter day stuck at home with nothing to do, how can we learn to use this time usefully, creatively, humanely? Few in Washington are talking about it. After all, it’s all so sci-fi and hard to imagine. And yet, like one of those mid-Atlantic hurricanes, it’s already brewing, destined some day to make landfall.
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