Jobs are misery. Conservatives do not know how to respond to this because so much of the right is awash in “work hard and go to church” style thinking, but if we get to the core of conservatism, we can see an answer. Conservatism conserves the best that humanity has discovered. This includes liberating people from horrible jobs.
That task contains two parts. First, we can stop sending people to unnecessary jobs; second, we can make existing jobs better. This requires confronting a reality that offends the egalitarianism of conservatives, and using solutions that offend the special snowflake pretenses of liberals.
Eliminating unnecessary jobs requires rethinking work. An obstacle that arises here is that in our media-government lingo, “creating jobs” is always good, so our political authorities will oppose this idea. On the other hand, the way they create jobs — subdividing existing tasks and creating more by law — reduces the value of the end product, so there may be more opposition to them than they know.
The most important part of the idea of “unnecessary jobs” is the “unnecessary” part. Any role which does not directly produce can be eliminated by reducing the vast amount of regulation that requires paper-shuffling roles, and providing indemnity for corporations against certain kinds of lawsuits. Without civil rights, union-related and other government-imposed categories of liability, many paper-pushers could be sent home. In the same way, we could cut out a lot of middle management if companies were more free to hire and fire.
“But that’s against the worker!” says the well-educated (i.e. witless) modern person. Actually, it’s a question of what benefits the worker. Being able to quickly transition jobs, and having lower costs, benefits the worker by giving them more flexibility with fewer obligations that keep them entrenched in the nine to five. If we stripped aside all of the regulatory and liability crap we’ve added since 1945 or so, the average worker would have a lot more money and it would become easier to find new jobs because hiring would be less expensive. This would liberate many people from ugly job situations and force management to treat its employees better as a result.
In addition, we could halve the workforce by sending women home to have families. Those that are unmarried can live with their parents so that, instead of spending two decades in casual sex while wasting time at paper-pushing jobs, they can instead get started with families and have more time after the kids are grown to do fun stuff. Our bars, cafes and shops are filled with lonely single women who are wasting time trying to “date” when they should be looking for a marriageable candidate and creating a family instead.
That act alone would obliterate the perceived need for importing workers. Suddenly, we would have plenty, and competition would return in a positive form that emphasizes finding the best possible match for any job that is possible. Right now, hiring people is expensive and full of legal risk, so employers are highly conservative in how they hire. If that changed, they would take more chances on unproven workers and move many people up in the hierarchy.
In addition, we could shift our culture from a fatalistic celebration of the do-nothing cube slave job into one where proficiency was valued and thus, people took pride not in having a certain job, but in doing that job well. This in turn would reduce the manic number of hours people worked by redirecting our measurement of competence from time spent participating to results obtained.
Improving existing jobs requires making jobs relevant, useful and empowering. Jobs bore just about everyone because they are often “pro forma” or make-work done for the sake of appearances, repetitive and show no result other than a tiny detail in a large mostly redundant process. The solution here is to reverse all of those traits.
People feel power when they can have an effect. This means that they have an identifiable portion of the whole. Think of the credits at the end of a movie; even if a person has only a small role, they are listed and their work is shown as part of its necessary relationship to the whole production. Empowering people in the only sane meaning translates into giving them control over something where they will rise or fall based on performance, which encourages them to perform instead of languish.
In turn, giving people power reduces the extraneous and repetitious jobs because instead of the assembly-line mentality, where many people do small steps, someone walks a process through from beginning to end. At this point in our technological history, assembly lines are for robots; craftsmanship is for humans, and this applies to everything from filing loan applications to cooking a four-course meal. With the power to see a task from inception to completion, people feel they are masters of their own fate and boredom is reduced, as is job redundancy.
Employers counter this with the viable argument that it is hard to replace workers, so it is better to have a dozen cogs than two superstars. One solution to this is to hire people as contractors, and another is to avoid super-specializing jobs and instead, finding intelligent people and expecting them to “sink or swim” with learning the job. While this sounds cruel, it also gives them a sense of accomplishment and builds skills in a way that school never can.
This approach has to take into account congenital intelligence and temperament. Someone from farther right on the Bell Curve will by nature be less tolerant of repetition and lulls in the development process. Such workers need fewer hours of more intensity, where slower workers need the comfort of repetition and confirmation. This leads to conflict with the democratic ideology of empowerment through granularity.
The egalitarian ideal desires robotic, redundant jobs. In the minds of those who think equality is a solution to the challenges of life, the best job is one that anyone can do if given the right instruction. This approach eliminates the internal traits like judgment, aesthetics and depth of understanding and replaces them with external abilities like memorization, obedience and surface-level perception. Cogs utilize external traits; craftspeople use internal ones.
In an effort to validate our ideology of egalitarianism, we have made jobs into the type of dual hierarchy seen on Star Trek: a few main characters at the top do all the interesting stuff, and everyone else is a “red shirt” who can die and be replaced with zero interruption in the storyline. Egalitarian societies tend toward such “flat hierarchies with rock stars” because their ideology cannot admit the variation in natural ability, so it reduces everyone to a single level and elevates some on the basis of their supreme obedience. This does not promote the best, and as a side effect, it makes the people at the top remote and authoritarian. It is one of the supreme failings of egalitarian social orders.
Back in present-day reality, most people spend eight or more hours at the job and at least two preparing and commuting to work. This reduces their free time to fourteen hours a day, eight of which goes to sleep, which means they have six hours in which to exercise, eat and relax. That is enough time to waste on television, the internet or video games, but not enough to embark on any projects of significance, which keeps people forever in a loop where they go through repetitive days but never get a chance to work toward a real goal. They have time to make model planes, but not to build a plane, at least if they also want to get enough sleep to be healthy. Naturally, since the small amount of free time they have is where people have the most power and are most effective, they cheat on their time, which creates a society of sleep-deprived, bored, lifeless and zoned-out zombies staggering around going through the motions of unnecessary, irrelevant and demeaning jobs.
Conservatives have eschewed talking about the horrors of work because so much of our mythos in America rests in the “put your head down, work hard and get ahead” mentality, which itself is a compensatory behavior that arises in lieu of taking society as a whole in a positive direction. It is what people do when they believe they have lost and cannot change anything but themselves, so they desire to be successful as a means of offsetting the fact that their society is careening headfirst into the toilet.
However, the time has come to speak of all the ways in which the egalitarian liberal ideology has failed us since taking control starting in 1789. It has made life more boring, more crassly commercial, and more slave-like. It has given us “freedom” but then, because we must support the mass of others, strapped us into suicidally stupid, boring and ugly lifestyles in order to keep the system going. Like the Soviet Union, it removes the natural nature of free markets, free association and collaboration and replaces them with obedience and utilitarian, one-size-fits-all solutions. Since work is part of this, it should be noted that egalitarianism has failed there as well, and we should not be afraid to speak up for achieving a less miserable existence through an anti-work mentality.