David Graeber's essay on bullshit jobs is a masterpiece that demonstrates the pointlessness of most work, the psychological and spiritual damage this brings, and the way people are fooled into directing their well justified anger towards those who build lives of true meaning.
The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on its hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the 1960s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.
Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinetmakers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish... somehow they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless, badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does.
I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.
Indeed. The piece could be dismissed as a hippy-fueled desire for a utopian "welfare" state where nobody works and riches fall from the sky. If its possible to have that, I say why not, but there's another way to look at it that can appease the most ardent pragmatist.
In a world of rising population and dwindling oil/resources there's one quality that we have in remarkable surplus—human creativity. It's the source of any true sense of meaning, and any intelligent economy, or enterprise, would maximize that quality not stifle it.