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In the barter economy, we give something that we produced in sufficient quantity to take something that we don’t have and that we need. In the money based economy, we give something that we produced for an amount of money fixed by the market. At this level, we don’t have to think about what we need exactly. Since the needs of humans seem infinite, the more money they can have, the more services and goods they can buy. Because of that, every worker tries to make more money either by working more, or by adding more value to his work to make it worth more on the market. For example, the employees of a company ask to get a higher wage for the same number of hours they work. Or the owner of a factory makes it work 24 hours to be able to produce more and thus earn more money.
Because work requires a good amount of time, the labor market has always to deal with the tension between what we call work and leisure, or work and holidays. In order to be able to eat and to survive, many people spent almost their whole life working, being caught like slaves in a system where they are used for the mere goal of increasing the production for the benefit of the capital owners. After the rebellion of many working classes, the balance of power shifted, and we can observe today a market of job offers and job seekers. Everyone is also free to start his own enterprise.
With the development of machines and technology, some philosophers thought that the era of leisure is coming. The idea was that with machines, computers and robots, humans could finally work less and would have more time for leisure. But this scenario was not fulfilled. This is mainly due to the fact that the goal of work is essentially to make money. And the more money one can make, the more he can exchange it on the market to satisfy his needs, and as it was said before, those needs are unlimited. That’s why we often hear the popular sentence that says “time is money” which actually means that “time is work and work is money”.
Because of this dogma of “more is better”, there is a pressure on workers as well on businesses owners to always make more. The consequence of such a dogma is that many people spend almost all their time at work, from early morning to evening. The retirement age is always postponed because the system requires more work. Signs of exhaustion, stress and burnout appeared almost everywhere in all the rich countries, and it is reaching very quickly what we call the developing countries. Many people wish that they could work less. Others unfortunately work for years waiting for their time of retirement to come, and realize afterwards that they alienated themselves, that they are unhealthy, old and considered as worthless and sometimes even as a burden within the society because they do not work anymore.
This amount of time people spend working make them also less able to extract themselves from their situation and question what they do. For many, the amount of time they have to be able to think beyond their work, their family and their country is extremely limited. Time pressure make them very vulnerable to all kinds of propaganda, unable to analyze deeply the infinite information they get, sometimes even unable to think about their decisions and the meaning of their lives.
Since we are almost all caught into the same system of production, we became a group of people mainly reduced to production and consumption, and it is more and more the only way we can survive or express ourselves. Our freedom is mainly within this jail of producing and consuming. Outside of that area, it is a desert and one does not even know what to do and how to live.