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No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea
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No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  33 reviews
For centuries we've believed that work was where you learned discipline, initiative, honesty, self-reliance--in a word, character. A job was also, and not incidentally, the source of your income: if you didn't work, you didn't eat, or else you were stealing from someone. If only you worked hard, you could earn your way and maybe even make something of yourself.

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Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 28th 2016 by University of North Carolina Press
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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Anthony Fairchild
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Why do you work? Some work to pay the bills, others find work meaningful and fulfilling. What would you do if you didn't have to work? Would you spend more time with your family? Would you become a writer or a musician? Or would you watch TV all day?

What will you do when your job is automated by a robot? Robots have been replacing jobs since the early 1900's and Artificial Intelligence will so replace many more. The truth is most jobs humans do can be done more efficiently by machines. It
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have never liked work as an institution and the fact that not only do we couple income and work, but also our personality and work, so I have my own reasons to say "fuck work". But Livingston not only says "fuck work", but also shows why full employment is impossible to achieve and will only grow more so in the years to come, and why a guaranteed annual income is not just a utopian idea, but a much-needed next step. And not only from an economic point of view. We have this work ethic, but so ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book after I heard a funny and irreverent interview with James Livingston on the Solecast. I've been thinking along these lines quite a bit as of late and Livingston gave me more to think about and read up on. I love this book and I am grateful to him for writing it. It is messy but perfect as it is.

Many people are out of work, many more will soon be. What does it mean to intentionally live without work? How can we imbue life and love with meaning outside of the outsized role
Adam Ross
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a captivating, short read. The subtitle is unfortunate, because it sounds like he is opposed to people making a living, but the book is actually advocating for a universal basic income.

The author is a professor of economic history, and he argues that our economic issues are largely because work has been in a slow-motion collapse since 1900, and that because of advancements in tech we are on the cusp of massive unemployment. Philosophically he argues that while work once helped shape
Alicia Fox
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I imagined that I'd like this book, since I generally support the idea of a universal basic income. The idea of "full employment" has run its course as we live in a world where work is taken over by machines, and those who produce writing, art, music, etc., are often not compensated. For the most part, I was right. Livingston does a good job describing how Democrats played a large role in defeating Nixon's Financial Assistance Program (FAP, 1970) which would have created such a system (though he ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
In the past few years there has been a flurry of discussion about the Universal Basic Income proposal. Much of this talk, understandably, addresses the political and economic aspects of this idea, as well as the strategies necessary to get it in place, particularly in the inhospitable political climate of the United States.

Livingston adds to the conversation by looking at the moral questions that arise when work is taken away as a centerpiece of personal meaning. (What do we do with our lives
May 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Sitting down with this book was to me like a luncheon date with a host who reaches across the table and dumps a tablespoon of salt on your entree and then proceeds to blast you with an overbearing intellectual conceit. I wondered who his intended audience was as he rattled off terms and names familiar to economists but certainly not to the uninitiated, shall I say? He wanted to title the book (please pardon the "french") Fuck Work, which his editor should have approved since the word is used to ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yup. That about summed it up. I'm not just for cutting the work day in half, I'm politically opposed to work! Full employment is unsustainable and not everyone needs to work. And why do we insist that they do? That we kick people on the streets for it? That we allow crime and theft and greed and banking to run rampant? FUCK WORK, and READ THIS BOOK!
Sebastian Waisbrot
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I got the book because I had already bought into the main idea. I don't think I've received much as I was already conviced.
Bookish Jen
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
For ages, work equaled having a job so you could put a roof over your head, keep your belly full, clothe your back and pay your bills, taxes, mortgage, insurance, car note and other life essentials. And if you had some of your hard-earned paycheck left over you might treat yourself to a day at the spa, a night out on the town or attend a concert or sporting event.

But work doesn’t just mean money. Work also conveys discipline, education, skills, talent, passion, and making contribution to society
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm 50/50 on this one. I really enjoyed Livingston's voice, which is colloquial rather than stuffy and academic. I especially agreed with the foundation of his argument, that "full employment" is a band-aid that will not accomplish what politicians think it will accomplish when they promise to create more jobs, and that employment in general is no longer a way out of poverty. No More Work is essentially pushing for a guaranteed income, an idea that I think has great value (but, surprisingly, ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, business
I listened to this on audio. What was memorable to me wasn’t the subject matter, but instead was the voice of the author. This was another of those political books that made sure to trash the policies of the Bush administration. I sometimes wonder if authors chose first to trash a particular administration’s policies before they chose what topic they will write about. I wondered here. Beyond the author’s politics, the author also features his snarky humor, and I enjoyed this when not coupled ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book discussing the idea that given the shortage of work, as a society, we need to separate income earning and work. It discusses moral and social pressures behind working, and why we do it, how we justify it, etc., despite evidence that work and income don't need to be tied together. It is more of a plea for a change of social policy at a high level rather than what we can do at an individual or community level. There are references to philosophers as well, giving it an academic ...more
Christopher McQuain
Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A fascinating, fairly convincing argument delivered from a clearly learned frame of a voice that never quite finds its tempo or tone -- a deficiency sufficiently thorough that the sharp veers from the vernacular to the pugnacious to the citing/developing registers sometimes risk undermining the credibility of the whole. Still, a worthwhile and usefully provocative read, one that might lead the reader to deeper thoughts on its topic.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This was slow going for me, because I haven't had to read philosophy since getting a B.A. I had to re-read the section on why liberals were against income supplements, and still don't get it.

There were a lot of ideas in here about craft versus industry, men's work versus women's work. It was interesting to me that when experiments were done with income supplements, the men still didn't take care of children or do household chores.
Brad Fonseca
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short and to the point. Agree with it or not, we are fast approaching the point where most of the work we do will have no monetary "value" (in the sense of shareholder value). What work there is will be done faster and cheaper by machines and other automation. The author pushes you, the reader, to question why we feel the need to define our self-worth by the work we do.

I recommend this book as a quick primer on the concepts of guaranteed basic income and the post-work world.
Jerrid Kruse
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Raises the question concerning what we will do when "work for all" no longer makes sense (mostly because of technology). The book also highlights that we pay people we say we value the most, the least and those who don't actually contribute (the 1%) the most. While the book mad many important points and raises an important question, the author seemed to assume the answers were self-evident rather than attempting to explain possible answers or how to achieve them.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Meh, I feel like this could have been a short essay instead of a 100 page book. The author was super repetitive and didn't really have much to say beyond, "we're reaching a point where humans don't need to work therefore love will be our work". Which...was kind of a weird way to end a book/essay, but whatever.

Don't bother to buy this book. Check it out from a library instead. The couple of hours you spend reading it will be your only cost then.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought this book might be along the lines of The Four-Hour Work Week, but it is more of an academic discussion of what employment might look like now and in the future, particularly with the correlation of advanced technology = fewer jobs. It was definitely an interesting read but a little dry.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Reads like rambling free-writing, not logically structured into a cohesive form. Also, the author assumes everyone reading agrees with his premise, and therefore does not structure his arguments well. I feel it was disappointing.
Brandon Hoffman
Dec 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring As Heck

This book was awful. It’s a boring history of work and why it’s flawed. It’s basically the author droning on and on about the topic while repeating himself over and over again with an occasional “F*** Work” thrown in. I do not recommend.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some great ideas, but will never happen. It is impossible to change the way people think, even when their way of thinking is outdated, obsolete and just plain wrong.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I couldn’t always follow the arguments in this book, but I love it for the possibilities it suggests. Emancipation from work. Just imagine.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting argument for universal basic income, but I wasn't entirely sold on the 'fuck work' concept.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had heard of decoupling health care from employment, but not income. It makes sense, particularly if it is economically feasible. "Full employment" is not a worthy goal, but "fucking work" is.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
There are some interesting thoughts about work here, but I wasn't always able to follow the author's logic. Still, it'll make you think about the place that work takes in your life.
Joshua Lundin
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
In all honesty the intro and the first chapter all you really need. Especially, if you have heard interviews with Livington beforehand. I had on This Is Hell. I do like what he is suggesting especially with automation and lack of factory work in the country.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Not as puerile as the name suggest but nothing groundbreaking either.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars -
A very interesting premise.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Economists like Marx and Keynes (Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren) and had envisioned that material abundance would lead to reduced employment and increased leisure for humanity. James Livingston builds the case that we have reached this stage, and that it is inevitable. Rather than fighting it he suggests that we open our eyes to new possibilities of adapting to the changing times. The book doesn't give definitive answers, but lays the groundwork to start accepting and thinking on ...more
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“it guarantees a minimum annual income to every citizen, on the assumption that there’s no way to calculate a justifiable relation between hours worked and dollars earned.” 0 likes
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