In James Livingston argues that Americans must transition away

In “Fuck Work” economic historian, and
professor of history James Livingston argues that Americans must transition
away from the idea, that having a job is the only way an individual can build
character and a sense of self-worth. Livingston claims most Americans define
themselves through their work ethic. But, belief in this work ethic doesn’t
match the current labor market. Many jobs simply don’t pay enough to provide
workers with a living wage. Half of Americans with jobs qualify for food stamps.
American’s belief in hard work is based on the assumption that a fair reward
will be earned for hard work. While most full-time workers are barely able to
afford to live, others earn ridiculous amounts of money. Additionally, there just
aren’t enough jobs for everyone, and those that are available just don’t pay
enough. Livingston
says, “These beliefs are no longer
plausible. In fact, they’ve become ridiculous, because there’s not enough work
to go around, and what there is of it won’t pay the bills.” There have been 0 net jobs
have been created in recent years. Also, per one estimate, up to half of Americans
current jobs might disappear due to robots within 20 years. The idea that government
policies can restore the country to full employment is a fantasy. This can be a
chance to reflect on the current predicament. Why have a job that doesn’t
provide for your basic needs? Livingston believes American’s must look beyond jobs for other ways to build character,
income, and self-worth.

Livingston
wrote this essay, targeting readers who are unemployed and looking for work,
and those who work a full-time job that just does not pay enough. One could
also argue that his target audience is all Americans. The purpose of Livingston’s
essay is to address a few economic issues, the outlook of America’s workforce,
and a possible solution. He examines a workforce that is tired of unemployment,
underemployment, stagnant and shrinking wages; a workforce who resents the rich
whom they work for; and a polarized political climate. Livingston wants Americans
to know that the future workforce does not look good. If the current situation
does not change that eventually the system will fail. He also wants to persuade
Americans to believe in a possible solution. That solution being a universal
basic income paid for by taxing corporations. Livingston argues that, “Taxing the
profits of corporations to finance a welfare state that permits us to love our
neighbors and to be our brothers’ keeper isn’t an economic problem. It’s
something else – it’s an intellectual issue, a moral conundrum.” Livingston
wants Americans to wonder what life would be like without a job. 

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