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The Scheme for Full Employment: A Novel Hardcover – Dec 6 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (Dec 6 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031242163X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312421632
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,829,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross on Feb. 4 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mills's first two novels (The Restraint of Beasts, All Quiet on the Orient Express) are two of my favorite books of all time, so it is with a great deal of disappointment that I must report his latest to be rather thin gruel. The story here concerns itself with the titular scheme, in which men drive Univans from depot to depot on an intricately synchronized schedule. Of course since the whole enterprise is a welfare program, all they are delivering is spare parts for the Univans (which never need them). The scheme gets thrown into a tizzy when the "swervers" (slackers who like to leave work early) come into conflict with the "flat-dayers" (who believe in working the full eight hours). The scheme, the unrest, and the outcome are all related by a five-year veteran who remains neutral in the whole affair. I kept waiting for there to be more to the whole thing, for something to be reveled, but it all unspools in a steady predictable manner. The whole book follows the scheme, there's no home life scenes or non-work scenes. There's a little bit of Mills's deadpan humor and sly satire, but not nearly enough-and since he foreshadows the downfall of the system right off the bat, it's easy to spot the spanner in the works well before the end. As an allegory of welfare systems it's not that compelling and as a novel it's not that great.
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Format: Paperback
Man, was this pointless. There's hardly any story to it. The government tries this scheme where they pay people to waste time and get in the rest of society's way, some people want to slack off, other people don't, and they argue about it. That's it. All that happens is that they fight about it. The book's description makes it sound like all these strange, intriguing things start happening, but it doesn't. One of the guys in the book has a side business. He has it at the very beginning of the book, and he has it for the rest of the book. A woman supervisor appears. Yes. She appears. She doesn't do anything, she doesn't make a big difference. This is the kind of book where at the end of each chapter, it's written kind of like something ominous or suspenseful just happened, but you can't really tell if anything's supposed to be significant about it, but you think it might be just because the author seems to think it is, but then you keep reading and it turns out it wasn't. The author makes some points about motivation and socialism and people's attitudes towards work, but he could have just as easily done it as a short story, and it probably would have been a lot better. As it was, I spent over 200 pages desperately waiting for something engaging.
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Format: Hardcover
In the Scheme For Full Employment, Mills has taken an exaggerated satirical look at providing work for the unemployed in what is an extremely British novel that unfortunately fails to make much of a point, neither lauding the advantages of such a scheme or pointing out the obvious flaws.
The novel begins with a short page or two monologue on how the Scheme failed - serving at once to make us curious as to what the Scheme is, but also destroying any sense of wonder at the ending of the story. From there, we are slowly introduced to the workings of the Scheme through the eyes of the nameless narrator; little snippets of information divulged between lengthy detours involving cakes and new recruits and a whole lot of tea.
Univans are the name of the game, the drivers drive them, the engineers fix them, the managers oversee them, and they are used to transport parts for...more univans. Completely self-contained, we are told that the public honours and values these Univan drivers, though we are never told why. Surely the public would understand that the Univans do not actually produce a single thing, and thus are a greater strain on the economy than simply paying the workers an equivalent amount of money? Roads, Univans, uniforms, food, equipment, buildings - these all have to be paid for, and are a huge expense when you consider the alternative of simply paying the unemployed to sit at home.
Unfortunately, the social angle of the Scheme is never explored. Rather, we are soon involved in a debate between the 'flat-dayers', men who wish to work the full eight hours, and the 'early swervers', those who think it is alright to have an early exit when the situation calls for it.
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Format: Paperback
The Scheme, as it is called, requires drivers driving UniVans full of spare parts for UniVans from port to port. It is self-perpetuating, and provides everyone involved with full-employment. No one cares that they are not creating anything or are wasting resources -- they are all gainfully employed!
Except there is the small matter of the "early swervers" who try to get off work early. This causes a division amongst those who would rather do the full 8 hours or "flat-dayers" as they are called.
The book begins with a warning that the Scheme cannot go on forever and sure enough, human nature enters to destroy even this carefully laid-out plan.
This is a great little book, a gem as itpoints out the absurdity of what we call work which can all be boiled down to human beings moving things around the world's surface. very good!
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