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At Your Leisure

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:49 am    Post subject: At Your Leisure Reply with quote

In the 1970s, people were predicting we would all have so much spare time we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves. 4, 3-day workweeks. 4 hour days.

Our chief occupation was forecast to! Movies like "Futureworld" and TV shows like "Fantasy Island" explored whole animatronic hotels where people could play a role in a complete recreated historical era. Of course, we imagined our productivity to soar so high that we would have money to burn, purely on leisure.

I wonder if its time to return to that trend...seeing the last 3 decades as a necessary interlude between us and Utopia. I mean, if we were to all have stopped working in 1970, we would have ended up with society like that tv commercial where everyone runs all their portable devices on gasoline.

Even if we had things like solar cells and PCs and walkmen from the Apollo project, we still hadn't gotten them out of the lab and into people's homes.

But now we do. And what is today termed unemployment...might also be termed extreme leisure! The fact that our society can afford and pay people to be on unemployment for so long is a hint that maybe we have just finally gotten around to having that sky high productivity that will allow us to work a whole lot less and have fun a whole lot more.

How will a Leisure Society help? For one, we need to get rid of the extreme asset imbalances in society. Many suggest solutions like taxes and other penalties. Few want to use the free market system for what it is good at -- developing products to meet markets. Leisure, is the ultimate high value product. If we can develop $1 billion dollar year long fantasy that Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim "must have", then will have pulled down a pot worth taking! We have some examples today, or ultimate leisure activities...taking rides on space stations and ships. Also, high political office and its costly campaigns almost necessitate a large personal fortune and the spending of some of it (Meg Whitman for example).

But really, the Leisure Society was more was that we all would be wearing white shoes at 25, with wealth and plenty of free time. Maybe Portlandia presages the future, with it's theme of "the place where young people go to retire".

The Leisure Society

Here's a good essay on the history and current thoughts on the Leisure Society:
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