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Author Topic: By 1985, we can all retire at 38
snopes
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Comment: I have read the following (un-cited) statement in several books
about busy-ness and overwork, but have as yet been unable to verify the
accuracy of the statement. Was such a testimony made?

Testimony before a Senate subcommittee in 1967 predicted that "by 1985,
people could be working just 22 hours a week or 27 weeks a year or could
retire at 38." The major challenge facing people in the 1990s should have
been what to do with all the leisure time provided by our technological
wizardry.

This particular instance of this claim is from Kerby Anderson's article on
Time and Busyness, originally posted on Probe Ministries and reposted on
Leadership U
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/time.html

As I said, I have been unable to verify the Senate subcommittee testimony,
nor have I found reference to it outside a somewhat limited circle of
authors. Is it a myth, or just a case of poor reference citation?

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TwoGuyswithaHat
Happy Holly Days


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Weren't we supposed to have flying cars by 1985 as well?

Man, as a society we're certainly slacking here. I was promised a rocket pack when I got back from Korea

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diddy
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
The major challenge facing people in the 1990s should have been what to do with all the leisure time provided by our technological wizardry.
Simple, we just do more work than we did before adding to it the maintenance of out technological wizardry.

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skeptic
Deck the Malls


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I have heard similar, from about the same time frame. Supposedly we would have robots doing our emplyment for us, but even back then I thought it was stupid. No work, no production, therefore no pay.

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Eddylizard
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I seem to remember something similar from a (rather bad) BBC series from the '80's about computing. The suggestion was that since computers and robots would soon be doing a lot of the work for us in actual production, there would be more job opportunities in the leisure industry. It seemed like a circular argument, in that most of us will still be working, albeit operating a funfair ride instead of a welding torch, but this was a show that promised us the paperless office by the mid '90's

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BringTheNoise
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To be fair, there has been a swing away from production in the UK - although it appears to be going toward callcentres, rather than the leisure industry.

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Grand Illusion
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quote:
Originally posted by TwoGuyswithaHat:
Weren't we supposed to have flying cars by 1985 as well?

Man, as a society we're certainly slacking here. I was promised a rocket pack when I got back from Korea

In all fairness, civilians can now buy rocket packs, lasers, robots and, if they're wealthy, space vacations. The future tends to grow technology in wonderful but mundane directions. The best example I can think of is in the movie 2001, they had an artificially intelligent computer and the ability for manned interplanetary travel, but their chess game was blocky and flat. My computer's chess game is an isometric view of a marble board with pewter pieces (but who plays chess when there are so many other dynamic video games out there?)

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Bassist
Chess Nuts Boasting 'Round an Open Fire


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quote:
Originally posted by Grand Illusion:
The best example I can think of is in the movie 2001, they had an artificially intelligent computer and the ability for manned interplanetary travel, but their chess game was blocky and flat. My computer's chess game is an isometric view of a marble board with pewter pieces (but who plays chess when there are so many other dynamic video games out there?)

To be fair, there were no video games at the time 2001 was produced (in 1968). Even something as basic as Pong was a few years off. I don't think Kubrick could have easily predicted anything more than a computer that could play chess (and that was a vast stretch over what was extant at that time).

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Logoboros
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Also, if you gave up the expenses of cable tv, having a huge media center, internet access and computer hardware (and all of the electricity that requires), and were happy to settle for 1960s' medical treatments, you probably could live comfortably off of a much lower workload.

We are working much more efficiently, but our leisure expenses have grown in equal (if not greater) proportion.

--Logoboros

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--William Blake

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Buzzkiller
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Don't forget Parkinson's Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
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Grand Illusion
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
Also, if you gave up the expenses of cable tv, having a huge media center, internet access and computer hardware (and all of the electricity that requires), and were happy to settle for 1960s' medical treatments, you probably could live comfortably off of a much lower workload.

We are working much more efficiently, but our leisure expenses have grown in equal (if not greater) proportion.

--Logoboros

Some people would say that the increased expectations that technology has fostered has created increased stress levels, justifying the existence of greater and more elaborate leisure activities and medical care. Ward Cleaver would probably be pulling his hair out if he time traveled to today and assumed the role of modern worker, husband and father.

quote:
Originally posted by bassist
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Grand Illusion:
The best example I can think of is in the movie 2001, they had an artificially intelligent computer and the ability for manned interplanetary travel, but their chess game was blocky and flat. My computer's chess game is an isometric view of a marble board with pewter pieces (but who plays chess when there are so many other dynamic video games out there?)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To be fair, there were no video games at the time 2001 was produced (in 1968). Even something as basic as Pong was a few years off. I don't think Kubrick could have easily predicted anything more than a computer that could play chess (and that was a vast stretch over what was extant at that time).


That was sort of my point. It's easier for a speculative fiction writer to predict sweeping changes than to predict more mundane trends.

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There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who do not.

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" - The Brain

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WildaBeast
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Logoboros:
Also, if you gave up the expenses of cable tv, having a huge media center, internet access and computer hardware (and all of the electricity that requires), and were happy to settle for 1960s' medical treatments, you probably could live comfortably off of a much lower workload.

We are working much more efficiently, but our leisure expenses have grown in equal (if not greater) proportion.

--Logoboros

I'd add to that if companies were satisfied with 1960s production levels. Technology has helped us work more efficiently, but rather than having more leisure time our employers just expect us to get more work done in the same amount of time.

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"Unseasonable is an odd word to begin with. It sounds like it's describing something that it's impossible to sprinkle pepper on." -- Nonny

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me, no really
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I think there has been a big change in the labour market, like a few people have said. In the 80's looking forward, it was probably easy to see which jobs would become obsolete, and therefore say we would all be working less. I suspect though that it is harder to predict which new jobs would be invented (Web Designer, what's that?). I have heard somebody say that by the time my children (who are just about to enter school) are finished with school, that 70% of the jobs available to them do not currently exist. I'm not sure if that is true, but certainly during my schooling a lot of new job types were created, mostly in leisure and communications/IT related fields.

me

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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I think productivity gains will inevitably affect the job market, but not necessarily in ways that will benefit the middle class. Automation and other force multipliers tend to enrich the handful of people who own the infrastructure, and they increase the overall standard of living, but they eliminate more skilled jobs than they produce. We've already seen a lot of moderately paid, semi-skilled manufacturing jobs transition into low paid service jobs and an ever increasing gulf between the rich and poor. The way things stand now, the poor couldn't afford robots, and the rich have no reason to invent them when they can hire cheap servants from the legions of underemployed.
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