Jobs-led development incorporating svecchiamento as an asset?

2. Economy and culture

“Work is a love made visible” wrote Gibran. Everybody including ill and disabled persons can and do enjoy some kind of work. Not all work is performed by employed persons. Actually, the concept of employment as currently used is only few centuries old. However, employment — even in this narrow current sense — is very important socially, economically and politically. The unemployed person has all sorts of problems: social, economic and political, as well as psychological. He/she cannot obtain loans, cannot form a family, or if he/she has a family, it can break as a result of unemployment stress. The unemployed person loses social esteem. Most importantly, the unemployed person becomes unhealthy, uneducated and poor. Over the last two centuries the pattern of employment changed. First, the proportion of persons engaged in agriculture in developed countries has decreased from about 90% to about 5%. The proportion of persons in manufacturing has also decreased, typically to less than 40%. The remainder is engaged in what is referred to as service economy. A wide spectrum of activities is lumped together under the heading of service economy ranging from waiters and clerks to physicians, researchers and educators, and it is necessary to disaggregate this sector. Before attempting any disaggregating of the service sector, one has to distinguish between monetized, non-monetized and non-monetarized work13. The classical industrial period is characterized by productive employment in which work is remunerated, i.e. monetized. All unremunerated activities with a market value, e.g. grandparents taking care of their grandchildren, are non-monetized. It is estimated that the total global non-monetized activities amount to about 70% of the total global monetized activities. However, there is a portion of non-monetized activities that cannot be easily expressed in monetary terms and we refer to this as non-monetarized or non-monetarizable activity including various forms of self-improvement and self-production, which prompted Alvin Toffler to claim that a modern consumer is transformed into a producer-consumer, i.e. ‘prosumer’. Many activities that are now in a service sector are constantly transformed into non-monetarized activities: e.g. self-service restaurants and travellers planning their own itineraries, making reservations and booking tickets via the Internet. The transition and transformation between these two sectors are not new phenomena. These have been occurring in both directions. As initiated already by J. Tinberger, the first Nobel laureate in economy, it is necessary to improve the concept of GDP14. It would be advisable, in my opinion, to distinguish the areas of research, education and health care from the other activities lumped together in the service sector. Many attempts of improving the concept of GDP are under way. Notably, the index of sustainable economic welfare — ISEW — corrects and enlarges the GDP by a monetary equivalent of unpaid domestic labor, while it decreases GDP for the cost of pollution.
Second, the reduction of the workforce in agriculture and manufacturing reflects the fact that fewer person-days are required in these fields now to achieve the same results. This is also true in some other fields, e.g. even for military activities in warfare. The reduction is generated by science and technology. There are activities that require more person-days and these are research, education and health care. Contrary to the ideas of ‘the end of history’, ‘end of politics’ etc., and contrary to the claims of J. Horgan’s book The end of science, research and education and consequently health care do not end15.
By working, a person enlarges her/his freedom and contributes to the wellbeing of fellow human beings. Work is one of the basic human rights. One could question whether the free market mechanism is adequate for assuring the fulfilment of any human rights. Though it may not be adequate as the only mechanism, it could very well be a useful addition. For example, it would be disastrous to reduce R&D exclusively to the demands and pulls of the free market, but it would also be wrong to exclude the free market entirely from the R&D, educational and health care activities.
Though employment is only a narrow segment of the entire concept of work, unemployment is currently a serious problem, even in countries which have not surpassed an alarming level of say 15%. This has prompted the Congress party of India to consider introducing a constitutional guarantee of employment16. Guarantee of employment does not and should not imply a rigid employment, a guarantee of maintaining a current job. It is clear that fast changes do require changes of jobs. A vibrant economy demands the easy replacement of workers — easy firing and hiring. These characteristics of the job market coupled with the fact that fewer person-days are required to achieve the same result almost inevitably lead to huge surplus of workers, and therefore to unemployment.
The only solution is to generate a much greater need for jobs, possibly different jobs, but also jobs having many similarities with present jobs. For instance, the areas where the demand for workers even now is much greater than the supply are in research and development, in education, health care, all highly creative and particularly high-risk endeavours. Of course, the workers needed for these jobs have to have somewhat different qualification from those their parents had just ten years ago. Most importantly, they will have to be able to change.
It seems that the idea of constitutionally guaranteed employment provides an additional impetus for creating a knowledge-based society, a society where the majority of inhabitants will be constantly learning and engaged in creative activities in every social sphere.
Development crucially depends on biological and cultural diversities17. The environment molds the biological species through evolution. Cultures are formed and evolve in constant interactions among themselves. Sometimes we belong to more than one culture. No culture is complete without these interactions. Though preservation of many different cultures is essential, it is neither possible nor desirable to maintain a culture unchanged. I argue that all cultures should change. Of course, most cultures have been constantly changing, however, not necessarily enough and sometimes irrelevantly or in a wrong direction. The modification of cultures while simultaneously preserving their essence (the question ‘what is their essence’ has to be explored and tested) is a major task facing contemporary society. Modification, change is an imperative, but also a risk. We argue that in order to minimize the risk any change of culture should satisfy the following four conditions: first, recognition and respect of individual human rights; second, compatibility with globalization and knowledge-based society;18 third, its own uniqueness; and fourth, the capacity to change without losing its value.

13 See note 3, pp. 86-88.
14 Already in 1908 A. Pigou pointed out the paradox that a person employing a servant and then marrying him/her causes the GDP to decrease. J. Tinberger initiated a reassessment of the GDP concept. In 1995 the world GDP was estimated to amount to 23 trillion USD, and non-monetized contribution amounted to 16 trillion USD in 1995 (see note 3, p. 88). In 2002 the GNI — gross national income — was estimated at 31.7 trillion USD, and in 2003 at 36.5 trillion.
15 J. Horgan, The End of Science, Helix Books, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, MA, 1996.
16 Uncommon Opportunities, An Agenda for Peace and Equitable Development, Report by the International Commission on Peace and Food, chaired by M.S. Swaminathan, Zed Books, London and New Jersey, 1994.
17 Harlan Cleveland, World Academy of Art and Science, Annual Conference 1994, Minneapolis, USA; H. Cleveland, Birth of the New World, 1993, Jossey-Bass Publ., San Francisco.
18 Ivo Šlaus and Mario Šlaus, Knowledge-based Society, Acque & Terre XIV, No. 2 (2003), Marzo/Aprile, p. 37-40/p.61-63.

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