Letter: Full employment: neither socialist folly nor rhetoric

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The Independent Online
Sir: Frank Field's heart-warming advocacy of full employment (Letter, 30 September) contains many truths but underestimates the gravity of our predicament. The business people I have talked to on the matter agree that full employment as we have known it hitherto will never return.

When flint replaced finger- nails, when steam and petrol replaced humans and horses, some jobs disappeared but others were created by new demands. Body- work was replaced by brain-work. The brain-work of the many is now being replaced by machines requiring only the brain-work of the very few. The satisfaction of all our needs requires the labour of a minute minority.

The self-respect that comes from earning an honest crust in a traditional manner will have disappeared for most of our grandchildren. Even supposing that unprecedented exertions by the advertising industry were able to whip up sufficient demand for as yet unimagined trivia, would we want to be so manipulated?

Productivity is advocated as a way out of recession. But productivity means enabling fewer people to produce more goods. What does that do to jobs?

A political party that faces these daunting realities, while not ignoring immediately practicable short-term remedies, should surely be applauded.

Yours truly,

DAVID LEIGHTON

Newbury, Berkshire

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