Some economic thinkers believe that a greater level of unpaid work is an 'economic necessity' in our current time of crisis.
The long evolution to disorder that we now find ourselves in has incorporated the emergence of a grossly distorted system of currency exchange rates and a trading system where the essence of 'trade' has come to mean international cross-border transactions within the same corporations or network of corporations. Non-trade in essence.
Peter Dorman points out in his article 'The Financial Crisis Through the Lens of Global Imbalances' that "a substantial portion of the world’s capital stock is obsolete" now because its tied up with the dead-end dynamics of global imbalances and that exporters also possess capacity in many industries which far exceeds domestic demand. Peter goes on to say that the US failed to invest in capacity to reduce its dependence on the key non-renewable fossil fuel - oil.
William Catton long foresaw this crisis and describes it in his article entitled 'The Unrecognised Preview'
Both Peter Dorman and William Catton say that new institutions and policies are (or were) needed to accommodate more sustainable growth strategies. Catton pointed out that by the 1970s mankind had taken over for human use about one eighth of the annual total net production of organic matter by contemporary photosynthesis in all the vegetation on all the earth's land. That much was being used by man and his domestic animals.* It would require taking over more than the other seven-eighths to provide from organic sources the vast quantities of energy we were deriving from fossil fuels to run our mechanized civilization, even if economic growth and human increase were halted by the year 2000.
Catton concludes that we have been a long time in ecological overshoot. His predictions are frightening.
I hope Catton is wrong but whether he is correct or not in his pronouncements is irrelevant to the nature of the steps that I see are now needed to at least reduce destructive outcomes.
Vast new sustainable infrastructure whose design is guided by the principle of 'biogeochemical circularity' described by Catton is needed urgently. Systems of production need to move away from drawdown of non-renewable resources.
Such an immense transformation can't happen when many millions of people are unavailable to participate. Work, whether it occurs in a capitalist or ecologically sustainable paradigm, needs to be rewarded if it is to proceed apace. Whilst our production paradigms are now obsolete, the concept of paid work isn't.
* Odum 1971 (listed among references for Ch. 6), p. 55.