In 1930 the economist John Maynard Keynes, predicted that by the beginning of the 21st century, capitalism would have been so successful people would only need to work a fifteen hour week in order to maintain a decent quality of life. As great and influential an economist as he was, he missed the carnivorous quality of capitalism to feed off others and to not know when it is full. So today, near on a century since his prediction, most people are still working a forty (or more) hour a week, just to stand still.
Yes, in global terms there is more wealth, improved health, and wider variety of leisure, at least in developed countries, but we are far from being a ‘leisure’ society. However, there is greater competition for jobs at lower wages with a growing global population and a predicted reduction in employment due to technological advances.
All of these developments affect people in developed and developing countries alike and these global shifts are reflected beautifully in Kyle Dargan’s poem, “Two years from retirement, my neighbour contemplates Canada.” An ageing neighbour, whose arthritis is ‘now a hymn sung/by the choir of his bones’ will not be having the retirement he hoped for, and looks to work his final years in Canada, where its map is “speckled with throbbing circles,/bull’s-eyes. Those are the job sites—so many,/one must wonder what is Canada building.” (more…)