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Bandar thinks that a digitally preoccupied society will come to appreciate the pure and distinct pleasure of making things you can touch. So what do we do? Actually talk to each other again? The Internet and the cheap availability of artistic tools have already empowered millions of people to produce culture from their living rooms.

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People upload more than , hours of YouTube videos and million new Facebook photos every day. The demise of the formal economy could free many would-be artists, writers, and craftspeople to dedicate their time to creative interests—to live as cultural producers. Such activities offer virtues that many organizational psychologists consider central to satisfaction at work: independence, the chance to develop mastery, and a sense of purpose.

A World Without Work - The Atlantic

After touring the foundry, I sat at a long table with several members, sharing the pizza that had come out of the communal oven. I asked them what they thought of their organization as a model for a future where automation reached further into the formal economy. A mixed-media artist named Kate Morgan said that most people she knew at the foundry would quit their jobs and use the foundry to start their own business if they could.

Late in the conversation, we were joined by Terry Griner, an engineer who had built miniature steam engines in his garage before Bandar invited him to join the foundry. His fingers were covered in soot, and he told me about the pride he had in his ability to fix things. That, to me, would be the best of all possible worlds. One mile to the east of downtown Youngstown, in a brick building surrounded by several empty lots, is Royal Oaks, an iconic blue-collar dive. At about p. The bar glowed yellow and green from the lights mounted along a wall.

Old beer signs, trophies, masks, and mannequins cluttered the back corner of the main room, like party leftovers stuffed in an attic. The scene was mostly middle-aged men, some in groups, talking loudly about baseball and smelling vaguely of pot; some drank alone at the bar, sitting quietly or listening to music on headphones. I spoke with several patrons there who work as musicians, artists, or handymen; many did not hold a steady job. Places like Royal Oaks are the new union halls: People go there not only to relax but also to find tradespeople for particular jobs, like auto repair.

When an entire area, like Youngstown, suffers from high and prolonged unemployment, problems caused by unemployment move beyond the personal sphere; widespread joblessness shatters neighborhoods and leaches away their civic spirit. John Russo, the Youngstown State professor, who is a co-author of a history of the city, Steeltown USA , says the local identity took a savage blow when residents lost the ability to find reliable employment. In Youngstown, many of these workers have by now made their peace with insecurity and poverty by building an identity, and some measure of pride, around contingency.

The faith they lost in institutions—the corporations that have abandoned the city, the police who have failed to keep them safe—has not returned. But Russo and Woodroofe both told me they put stock in their own independence. And so a place that once defined itself single-mindedly by the steel its residents made has gradually learned to embrace the valorization of well-rounded resourcefulness.

The evaporation of work has deepened the local arts and music scene, several residents told me, because people who are inclined toward the arts have so much time to spend with one another. Whether or not one has artistic ambitions as Schubert does, it is arguably growing easier to find short-term gigs or spot employment. Paradoxically, technology is the reason.

A constellation of Internet-enabled companies matches available workers with quick jobs, most prominently including Uber for drivers , Seamless for meal deliverers , Homejoy for house cleaners , and TaskRabbit for just about anyone else. And online markets like Craigslist and eBay have likewise made it easier for people to take on small independent projects, such as furniture refurbishing. Some of these services, too, could be usurped, eventually, by machines. But on-demand apps also spread the work around by carving up jobs, like driving a taxi, into hundreds of little tasks, like a single drive, which allows more people to compete for smaller pieces of work.

These new arrangements are already challenging the legal definitions of employer and employee , and there are many reasons to be ambivalent about them. Today the norm is to think about employment and unemployment as a black-and-white binary, rather than two points at opposite ends of a wide spectrum of working arrangements.

Most people lived on farms, and while paid work came and went, home industry—canning, sewing, carpentry—was a constant. Even in the worst economic panics, people typically found productive things to do. The despondency and helplessness of unemployment were discovered, to the bafflement and dismay of cultural critics, only after factory work became dominant and cities swelled. The 21st century, if it presents fewer full-time jobs in the sectors that can be automated, could in this respect come to resemble the midth century: an economy marked by episodic work across a range of activities, the loss of any one of which would not make somebody suddenly idle.

But some might thrive in a market where versatility and hustle are rewarded—where there are, as in Youngstown, few jobs to have, yet many things to do. As Martin Ford no relation writes in his new book, The Rise of the Robots , this story might be apocryphal, but its message is instructive. Both are expensive and tightly constrained. But the decline of work would make many office buildings unnecessary.

What might that mean for the vibrancy of urban areas? Would office space yield seamlessly to apartments, allowing more people to live more affordably in city centers and leaving the cities themselves just as lively? Or would we see vacant shells and spreading blight? Would big cities make sense at all if their role as highly sophisticated labor ecosystems were diminished?

As the hour workweek faded, the idea of a lengthy twice-daily commute would almost certainly strike future generations as an antiquated and baffling waste of time. But would those generations prefer to live on streets full of high-rises, or in smaller towns? Today, many working parents worry that they spend too many hours at the office. As full-time work declined, rearing children could become less overwhelming.

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And because job opportunities historically have spurred migration in the United States, we might see less of it; the diaspora of extended families could give way to more closely knitted clans. But if men and women lost their purpose and dignity as work went away, those families would nonetheless be troubled. The decline of the labor force would make our politics more contentious. Deciding how to tax profits and distribute income could become the most significant economic-policy debate in American history. But to preserve the consumer economy and the social fabric, governments might have to embrace what Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the Bank of Japan, has called the visible hand of economic intervention.

What follows is an early sketch of how it all might work. In the near term, local governments might do well to create more and more-ambitious community centers or other public spaces where residents can meet, learn skills, bond around sports or crafts, and socialize. Two of the most common side effects of unemployment are loneliness, on the individual level, and the hollowing-out of community pride. A national policy that directed money toward centers in distressed areas might remedy the maladies of idleness, and form the beginnings of a long-term experiment on how to reengage people in their neighborhoods in the absence of full employment.

We could also make it easier for people to start their own, small-scale and even part-time businesses. New-business formation has declined in the past few decades in all 50 states. One way to nurture fledgling ideas would be to build out a network of business incubators.

Near the beginning of any broad decline in job availability, the United States might take a lesson from Germany on job-sharing. Such a policy would help workers at established firms keep their attachment to the labor force despite the declining amount of overall labor. Spreading work in this way has its limits. Eventually, Washington would have to somehow spread wealth, too. One way of doing that would be to more heavily tax the growing share of income going to the owners of capital, and use the money to cut checks to all adults.


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Many liberals currently support it, and in the s, Richard Nixon and the conservative economist Milton Friedman each proposed a version of the idea. That history notwithstanding, the politics of universal income in a world without universal work would be daunting. The most direct solution to the latter problem would be for the government to pay people to do something, rather than nothing.

It hired 40, artists and other cultural workers to produce music and theater, murals and paintings, state and regional travel guides, and surveys of state records. What might that look like? Several national projects might justify direct hiring, such as caring for a rising population of elderly people.

But if the balance of work continues to shift toward the small-bore and episodic, the simplest way to help everybody stay busy might be government sponsorship of a national online marketplace of work or, alternatively, a series of local ones, sponsored by local governments. Individuals could browse for large long-term projects, like cleaning up after a natural disaster, or small short-term ones: an hour of tutoring, an evening of entertainment, an art commission.

To ensure a baseline level of attachment to the workforce, the government could pay adults a flat rate in return for some minimum level of activity on the site, but people could always earn more by taking on more gigs. Although a digital WPA might strike some people as a strange anachronism, it would be similar to a federalized version of Mechanical Turk, the popular Amazon sister site where individuals and companies post projects of varying complexity, while so-called Turks on the other end browse tasks and collect money for the ones they complete. Mechanical Turk was designed to list tasks that cannot be performed by a computer.

The name is an allusion to an 18th-century Austrian hoax, in which a famous automaton that seemed to play masterful chess concealed a human player who chose the moves and moved the pieces. A government marketplace might likewise specialize in those tasks that required empathy, humanity, or a personal touch. Mastering these skills requires discipline; discipline requires an education; and an education, for many people, involves the expectation that hours of often frustrating practice will eventually prove rewarding.

Modest payments to young people for attending and completing college, skills-training programs, or community-center workshops might eventually be worth considering. This seems radical, but the aim would be conservative—to preserve the status quo of an educated and engaged society.

Whatever their career opportunities, young people will still grow up to be citizens, neighbors, and even, episodically, workers. Nudges toward education and training might be particularly beneficial to men, who are more likely to withdraw into their living rooms when they become unemployed. Decades from now, perhaps the 20th century will strike future historians as an aberration, with its religious devotion to overwork in a time of prosperity, its attenuations of family in service to job opportunity, its conflation of income with self-worth.

The three potential futures of consumption, communal creativity, and contingency are not separate paths branching out from the present. Entertainment will surely become more immersive and exert a gravitational pull on people without much to do. And with or without such places, many people will need to embrace the resourcefulness learned over time by cities like Youngstown, which, even if they seem like museum exhibits of an old economy, might foretell the future for many more cities in the next 25 years.

On my last day in Youngstown, I met with Howard Jesko, a year-old Youngstown State graduate student, at a burger joint along the main street. A few months after Black Friday in , as a senior at Ohio State University, Jesko received a phone call from his father, a specialty-hose manufacturer near Youngstown. Around the same time, a left-knee replacement due to degenerative arthritis resulted in a day hospital stay, which gave him time to think about the future.

Jesko decided to go back to school to become a professor. One theory of work holds that people tend to see themselves in jobs, careers, or callings.

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Those with pure careerist ambitions are focused not only on income but also on the status that comes with promotions and the growing renown of their peers. But one pursues a calling not only for pay or status, but also for the intrinsic fulfillment of the work itself. There is no universal basic income that can prevent the civic ruin of a country built on a handful of workers permanently subsidizing the idleness of tens of millions of people. But a future of less work still holds a glint of hope, because the necessity of salaried jobs now prevents so many from seeking immersive activities that they enjoy.

After my conversation with Jesko, I walked back to my car to drive out of Youngstown. If Jesko had taken a job in the steel industry, he might be preparing for retirement today. Instead, that industry collapsed and then, years later, another recession struck. The outcome of this cumulative grief is that Howard Jesko is not retiring at It took the loss of so many jobs to force him to pursue the work he always wanted to do.

In his rambling screed against the soccer star, the president revealed a lot about his worldview. Finish the job! Be proud of the Flag that you wear. Five years ago, the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say. At a. The designator for Malaysia Airlines is MH. The flight number was Fariq Hamid, the first officer, was flying the airplane. He was 27 years old. This was a training flight for him, the last one; he would soon be fully certified. His trainer was the pilot in command, a man named Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who at 53 was one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines.

In Malaysian style, he was known by his first name, Zaharie. He was married and had three adult children. He lived in a gated development. He owned two houses.

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In his first house he had installed an elaborate Microsoft flight simulator. Yet surveying the various panel discussions left me confused. These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D. The plane was dark and quiet.


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  5. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. I listened with morbid fascination, forming an image of the man in my head as they talked. I imagined someone who had worked hard all his life in relative obscurity, someone with unfulfilled dreams—perhaps of the degree he never attained, the career he never pursued, the company he never started. In a speech earlier this month, the former vice president had reminisced about being able to work with die-hard segregationists when he was a young senator from Delaware.

    In early polls of the Democratic presidential field, Biden has held a strong lead among African American voters—an outcome that, to some, might seem surprising when two black senators, Harris and Cory Booker, are also running. Nor did the dustup hurt Biden at the grassroots level, either. In a recent report from South Carolina, a key primary state where nearly two-thirds of Democratic-primary voters are black, CNN found that support for the former vice president was holding steady.

    Democrats who watched the second debate on Thursday probably thought their party had a good night. It did not, and they should worry. Their first worry is the weakness of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has led the Democratic pack—and he polls well with the larger public—on the strength of his offer of a return to normality after the maelstrom of the Trump presidency.

    The big doubt about Biden: Can he cope with the ferocious malignancy that is Donald Trump? When Trump roars and raves, abuses and insults, can Biden meet and master the obscenity of it all? Last night, Biden showed that the answer is probably: no. Biden knew it was coming. He had answers ready.

    And yet, they were inadequate: bureaucratic, incomprehensible, faintly aggrieved. My name is on a hundred pieces of legislation that have made life better for Americans of every race, every background, men and women. It might even have helped. The United States may no longer be its old hegemonic self in the realm of geopolitics. There have been moments, these past few weeks, when their swagger has veered towards arrogance. In their second match, the team started seven fresh players, resting its brand names. But an arrogant team would be unable to appreciate its own weakness, and tonight the team made self-aware tactical adjustments to compensate for its inferior component parts.

    Put differently, this team is brimming with idealism—it is, after all, a squad in pursuit of equality, as well as a title—but to beat France, the host nation and its near equal, it reverted to an uncharacteristic pragmatism. The former vice president was enjoying his status as the front-runner. When he spoke, he speechified as though the others were just onstage coincidentally, not rivals for the nomination.

    Senator Kamala Harris had other ideas. As the white men onstage around her sparred over police violence—with Swalwell making a daring attack on Mayor Pete Buttigieg—Harris broke in, as she had several times earlier in the night, and asserted her right to be heard. In her practice, Dr. Johnson address the medical and surgical needs of children with a wide range of conditions involving the urinary and genital systems.

    Relevant chapters include: 5, 8, 17, 24, The Haven is located in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. Samantha Wood takes pride in serving the area near where she grew up. Relevant chapters include: 5, 19, 24, She now lives in Denmark. Relevant chapters include: 1, 27, Anna I. Corwin Ph.

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    Trained in Linguistic and Medical Anthropology, Dr. Much of Dr. Relevant chapters include: 11, 14, 19, 22, 24, 31, It involves developing, testing, and evaluating interventions to promote patient-centered care, patient engagement, and informed decision-making. Relevant chapters include: 6, 8, 11, 16, 21, Hogan produces videos, illustrations and animations with the aim of making often complex topics accessible. Relevant chapters include: 13, 31, She helps organizations draw on the latest empirical research so they can write and design more effective people-centered communications.

    She is a former professor of rhetoric and information design at Carnegie Mellon University. Winner of fourteen international and national awards for her work, Dr. Schriver is writing a new book about ways to reach busy readers through evidence-based information design and plain language. For more information, contact Dr. Schriver at kschriver earthlink. Relevant chapters include: 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 21, Gary is a health communication specialist and multimedia producer of healthcare content.

    Relevant chapters include: 14, 16, 25, 28, 31, 38, Read this podcast transcript. His work involves improving the health and well-being of vulnerable, at-risk, marginalized, hard-to-reach populations. Relevant chapters include: 1, 11, 16, 19, 24, 26, 27, , As a communication researcher, Lindenfeld helps scientists communicate in direct and engaging ways. Her goal is to advance meaningful, productive interactions with communities, stakeholders, and decision-makers by strengthening linkages between knowledge and action. She not only is a practicing pediatrician but also a nationally-recognized expert in population health analytics, innovation, and system transformation.

    Pati knows well how important clear communication is to everyone in healthcare including patients, parents, physicians, and other clinicians. Relevant chapters include: 11, 13, 24, 31, Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, Ph. Trained in decision psychology and behavioral economics, Dr. In this podcast, Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher talk with Helen Osborne about:.

    Relevant chapters include: 6, 8, 9, 12, 26, 37, Her leadership has helped to improve patient communications in medication labeling, packaging, clinical trial materials, lay summaries, patient education, and more. Myers presents this work at conferences around the world and has authored numerous papers about these accomplishments. Relevant chapters include: 1, 4, 8, Starting as a teenager, Frechette has worked in both radio and newspaper as a reporter and editor. He also is experienced in facilitating public forums about issues that affect the community.

    Frechette now brings this wide array of communication skills to his work at the Rhode Island Department of Health. In this podcast, Aaron Frechette speaks for himself and his views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer. Relevant chapters include: 13, Leigh Curtin-Wilding, MSc is a content author, strategist, storyteller, and marketing communication professional. Relevant chapters include: 34, 35, 36, Her experience includes work in public policy, research, health literacy, and health disparities prevention.

    Alvarado-Little also is a healthcare interpreter and has helped develop numerous hospital and clinic-based programs.