Human beings must work in order to survive. This is not an opinion. It is a simple fact of nature. If you lay there and do nothing, you will eventually die. You could get someone else to occasionally stick a berry in your mouth and pour water down your throat but then that other person would have to do work.
The necessity of work is part of our nature. In fact, the more we produce, the better off we all are. Without modern productivity, every person would have to spend all day just gathering enough food and water to subsist – a condition that was common prior to the industrial revolution and a condition that unfortunately still exists for much of the third world.
In an environment in which all of your waking hours were devoted merely to subsistence, there would be no time to research life saving drugs, invent better smart phones, find new sources of energy, erect skyscrapers, launch satellites to space, or study black holes. In such a state, there would be no time to blog, post on Facebook, surf the web, listen to music, play video games, watch the sunset, take a road trip, go to the movies, visit a museum, take a cruise, go shopping, watch TV, attend a party, read a fashion magazine, practice an instrument, take a walk, draw a picture, sit on the beach, go to a sporting event, watch your kids play, take a hike in the mountains, or do any of the other things people in developed countries take for granted.
Productivity is essential to the furtherance of human life. As we find ways to produce more in less time, it allows for time to be spent on fulfilling other human desires which are unlimited. That is why advances in technology do not create unemployment, but rather create a rising standard of living for all.
In light of this principle, what if someone were to suggest that doing less is actually beneficial? Not less in terms of any given individual’s preference to work more or less based on their values, but rather, to do less in aggregate. If someone were to make such a claim, wouldn’t we have to question their definition of “beneficial” and ask “beneficial to whom?”
Well, such people do now exist and make exactly this claim. The Center for Economic Policy and Research, a liberal think tank, has concluded that working less hours is actually good for all of us. According to this article:
A worldwide switch to a “more European” work schedule, which includes working fewer hours and more vacation time, could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100, according to the analysis, which used a 2012 study that found shorter work hours could be associated with lower carbon emissions.
Evidently, working less will benefit us all, not by reducing our stress levels or for some other purported psychological or physiological reason, but to make the earth colder in one hundred years!
The article continues:
“The relationship between [shorter work and lower emissions] is complex and not clearly understood, but it is understandable that lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” writes economist David Rosnick, author of the study. Rosnick says some of that reduction can be attributed to fewer operating hours in factories and other workplaces that consume high levels of energy.
Let me get this straight. What is completely certain is that by working and producing less, we will all be worse off in terms of living standards since we will have less. Reality makes certain of this. However, based on a highly disputed theory of global warming and the “complex and not clearly understood” relationship between “shorter work and lower emissions” we should adopt a more “European” work schedule which means work a lot less. In other words, according to this study, we should reduce our material prosperity, life expectancy, and day to day happiness in order to possibly reduce emissions which may keep the earth from getting warmer in one hundred years. And, on this basis, we should be willing to endure even higher unemployment rates by throttling “factories and other workplaces” down while higher unemployment and less production somehow affords the ability for us all to take “more vacations” (assuming he does not mean unemployment is equivalent to vacation).
What this preposterous study really exposes is the environmentalist disdain for human life. As George Reisman has pointed out before, if these people were truly concerned with man’s welfare, they would suggest liberating the economy to create the greatest possible industrial base not only to cope with the day to day problems of human existence but also to cope with the possibility of “catastrophic events, whether those events be war, plague, meteors from outer space, intolerable global warming, or a new ice age.”
What the religion of environmentalism really opposes is man’s nature, i.e., the fact that man must reshape the earth in order to survive. If one believes the earth is some kind of deity to be intrinsically worshiped apart from any concern with human life what amount of “slowing down” will appease them? Is stopping the Keystone pipeline and preventing new coal plants enough for them? Are the 30,000 people that now won’t have jobs really just on vacation? How much less should we work? How much less energy should we expend in the pursuit of our life and values? How much less should we live?
Based on their actions and words, their answer is clear.