Digital Capitalism’s War on Leisure
Over time, with that operating system running in the background, the cultural acceptance of market encroachments into leisure and other domains would likely ebb as more people came to appreciate alternatives to the commodified life. And this could be accelerated with publicly provisioned options for leisure, recreation, and personal development.
With this in mind, the social-democratic project—and the future of both work and leisure—might best be served by a National Investment Employment Corps (NIEC) like that proposed by Mark Paul, William Darity Jr., and Darrick Hamilton. A government program to employ all willing workers would not just be in a position to raise wages across the entire economy over time. It could also put downward pressure on standard work hours, which was the original goal of organized labor. Eventually, it might also prod policymakers away from GDP-centrism, and toward a more humanistic policy metric that privileges leisure time—and the capacity to find satisfaction from it—as a measure of well-being, rather than as a Beckerian loss to productivity.
A public option for employment could also start funneling people into genuinely fulfilling social work of the kind Agar envisions, but in such a way as to avoid exploitation. Such work could include the restoration of public and natural spaces, or caretaking, entertaining, and communing with the elderly, disabled, and others outside of the labor force.
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