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Flipping the Question

We see unemployment as a problem, but perhaps the issue is deeper. What if the whole notion of employment is fundamentally flawed?

Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi
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 I believe that the current definition of employment lends itself to criticism. Though it used to mean being engaged in a value-creating activity, it has since changed. The main problem is that we have been equating value with money. Thus, employment becomes any activity that helps an actor acquire money. Relying on an economic system of fiat currency that is based on debt and interest would only increasingly create inequality and exploitation since the logic of equating money and value is a circular one. In Latin, "fiat" literally means "it shall be". Thus, when we "generate" money through our activities, are we actually producing value or just creating consensus that we are?
I'm not going to go into details of why this happens, because it is not easy, or desirable for people to believe that they are being oppressed by governments and corporations. One proposed solution has been to move to a cryptocurrency-based economy since theoretically no group or individual can significantly abuse the production of money. I don't neccassirily agree witht that but I am sure that creating a value-based economy would ensure a better definition of development since it would be based on human values and dignity.
Pertaining to this challenge, perhaps we could address the deeper issues of human activity. How could we design a new model of employment so that the creation, distribution, and exchange of value is not affected by a person's characterisitcs (in this case age)? Money seems to discriminate, perhaps we could come up with something different.

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Great contribution Ashwin! I featured your research in a recent blog post on how we can approach this challenge by exploring widely and with more contexts. Check it out: https://openideo.com/blog/youth-employment-challenge-ambassador-update-1

I'm excited to see how this research thread has evolved so far. Looking forward to where you might take this!