Workers of the World! There Is Efficiency in Idleness

In Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian novel, Player Piano, things get a little awkward after industrialist Dr. Paul Proteus, escorted in a black government limo, passes a crew of “Reeks and Wrecks,” or displaced laborers who could no longer compete economically with the machines that filled factories like Proteus’ Illium Works. In the street, some 40 construction workers are hunched over shovels and pitchforks, all watching a single man fill a two-foot-wide pothole. With an abundance of idle …

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