Eventually, we’ll start talking about the employment rate instead of the unemployment one and reducing it will be seen as a sign of progress. (“The US is falling behind. Our employment rate is still 23 percent.”) Unemployment benefits will be replaced by a basic income for everyone. Those of US who aren’t satisfied with it will be able to earn more, stupendously more, in the few remaining human occupations. Liberals and conservatives will still fight about the tax rate, but the goalposts will have permanently moved. With the total value of labor greatly reduced, the wealthiest nations will be those with the highest ratio of natural resources to population. (Move to Canada now.) For those of US not working, life will not be meaningless, any more than life on a tropical island where nature’s bounty meets all needs is meaningless. A gift economy will develop, of which the open-source software movement is a preview. People will seek meaning in human relationships, self-actualization, and spirituality, much as they do now. The need to earn a living will be a distant memory, another piece of humanity’s barbaric past that we rose above.
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