As I walked home from the cafe where I sometimes go to do writing, I saw a tradesman’s car signage, and which stimulated the thought for this article.
How many houses exist in all the cities of the world? Many millions right? Of those houses in the wealthier cities, how many of them have roof guttering that collects leaves and other things that need to be cleared out so that the guttering doesn’t overflow into the ceiling or wall cavities, and doesn’t rust through? Of those houses, how many are owned &/or occupied by people unable ( or unwilling ) to get up and clear them from time to time? Well … enough to keep some roof guttering guys in work anyway.
So this roof guttering guy buys a vehicle ( which has to be manufactured & maintained ), buys some tools, other work gear, office equipment, and spends money on other business services, all so that he can have the dubious privilege of wasting the potential of his life & the many hours of his days, climbing onto people’s rooves and pulling gunk out of their guttering.
Now … I’m not saying he might not enjoy it at times, and maybe he feels it’s better than getting stuck in an office. Capitalism certainly thinks it’s good, because that’s a guy who is working, earning an income, and his business expenses keep other people in business and working too.
BUT … is it efficient? Not even slightly.
Here you’ve got a guy driving around burning fuel and going through other resources for what? To do a job that could have been solved by better design of roof guttering ( or some alternative ), and society misses out on whatever all those resources could have otherwise been spent doing.
Next: have a look around society and notice how many other jobs we could say this of … there’s tons of them right? Complete wastes of human potential and endeavour, and wastes of resources.
Why then do we do it? Because society has decided that you only deserve to live reasonably well if you’re working, and everyone else can just suffer and die. How the fuck does that make any sense?
If we went around and fixed design flaws, automated boring mundane & pointless jobs that don’t actually teach or utilise any particularly interesting or useful skills, and just gave everyone their basic needs without question … there would be more resources to go around, because we’d no longer be pointlessly wasting so much on redundant pointless jobs.
If capitalism has an answer to this, don’t hold your breath, because in several centuries of opportunity it’s done next to nothing of the sort … so either it can’t or it won’t.
Meanwhile: an alternative economic paradigm like this one, would not only do such things, it would constantly prioritise them, and without any need for specific direction to do so, for the simple reason that solving such problems reduces waste, reduces scarcity, reduces other associated deleterious ecological & social consequences, and increases opportunity for other things made possible by that shift in resource availability … and at no stage does it have to go to anyone with economic or political power for approval to do so.