Monday, November 24, 2014
The father of invention
They say necessity is the mother of invention. I say laziness is the father. It's laziness that has driven advancement. We live in a modern world because we are too lazy run down deer with a spear and dig roots out of the ground with our hands.
So how come laziness has gotten such a bad rap? How did being a hard worker become such a virtue? We know that doing something the hard way is supposed to be kinda stupid. Seems like a mixed message to me. No wonder workers are stressed and bit crazy these days.
I used to be a firefighter. When we weren't all that busy, it was good thing. Sure, we'd do things like safety inspections and fire education for the kids. We'd train and maintain our equipment, but that wasn't really working hard. Half the time I could do that part of the job with a mug of coffee in hand.
It was horribly bad when I was working hard. Buildings were on fire. People's lives were at risk. The city's tax base was going up in smoke. Equipment was being damaged and worn out. Firefighters were getting injured. You really don't want to see firefighters earning their pay.
Some years back an efficiency expert was doing a study at the local mill. The machines were humming along and the workers were pretty much just hanging around. The expert thought there were way too many people with nothing to do. When he wasn't looking someone threw a spanner into the works. The machine went down and then everyone jumped up and was very busy. The expert was happy to see everyone so busy. What an idiot. When the workers were busy the company wasn't putting out any product.
Of course, those mill jobs are now gone. It didn't matter how hard everyone worked as they couldn't work for less than a living wage. Operations got moved to countries with much lower wages. The workers in those countries have a strong work ethic because if they don't work they'll starve.
Those jobs are doomed too. Workers have to make enough money to eat. They will be replaced with machines that don't eat or sleep. So where's the virtue in hard work? It won't stop the machines from taking their jobs either.
There is going to be a lot of people with nothing to do. Too bad the system isn't set up for them to be lazy. If they were paid a living wage to stay home they could buy the goods and services the machines are providing. Time could be spent in pursuit of art, literature, music, scientific research and philosophy.
The alternative is for them to take on some hard work: revolution, destroying the machines, and hanging the ownership class from lampposts. Work work work.
So maybe the whole work ethic is not so much about work as it is about control. People with time on their hands think too much. They say they want us to be smart: work smarter, not harder! That doesn't mean they want us doing a really smart thing for 5 minutes then let us go home. The human race has been smart enough to eliminate much of the drudgery of existence. Yet the owners and rulers still want to see us earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.
Isn't it time that laziness gets the respect it deserves?