The extent to which modern technology has taken over the work of human hands may be illustrated as follows. We may ask how much of “total social time” — that is to say, the time all of us have together, twenty-four hours a day each — is actually engaged in real production. Rather less than one-half of the total population of this country is, as they say, gainfully occupied, and about one-third of these are actual producers in agriculture, mining, construction, and industry. I do mean actual producers, not people who tell other people what to do, or account for the past, or plan for the future, or distribute what other people have produced. In other words, rather less than one-sixth of the total population is engaged in actual production; on average, each of them supports five others beside himself; of which two are gainfully employed on things other than real production and three are not gainfully employed. Now, a fully employed person, allowing for holidays, sickness, and other absence, spends about one-fifth of his total time on his job. It follows that the proportion of total social time spent on actual production — in the narrow sense in which I am using the term — is, roughly, one-fifth of one-third of one-half; i.e. 3-1/2 per cent. The other 96-1/2 per cent of “total social time” is spent in other ways, including sleeping, eating, watching television, doing jobs that are not directly productive, or just killing time more or less humanely.
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