Labor has grown less valuable over time as knowledge has become a larger determinant of value than physical input of energy. Technology has enabled output to increase exponentially compared to the days when a person’s physical time and energy were the limiting factors in production. Labor has had to increasingly speed up in order to remain economically viable.
A positive effect of this change has been that society’s work energy can be focused more efficiently and intelligently towards creating the goods desired. Mass production by machines scales much better than an individual’s physical efforts.
A negative effect has been that in some cases it has become so easy to produce some things which are not wholly good (e.g. weapons, products that degrade the environment) that a whole lot more harmful things are being created and waste is rampant.
A positive ramification is that standard of living has risen and more leisure or family time is potentially available to all since survival needs no longer require continual ongoing labor. Cultural norms have generally overruled this potential benefit, tending towards encouraging everyone to want more and more without being satisfied, resulting in competitive workaholism to develop even more economically remunerative operations, ever larger businesses and agendas. There is little sense of “enough” today in the economic realm, leading to an imbalance in family and soul life, a breakdown in community, increased stress, and less, not more happiness, in pursuit of more selfishly oriented gains.
Another negative effect of this diminishment of labor has been it’s impact on craftsmanship. Formerly, craftsmen took pride in spending many hours, days, years (centuries for cathedrals) creating artistically satisfying objects of great perceived value. Today, too often the speed of the marketplace dictates time and cost-cutting measures that undercut craftsmanship, Either the objects produced suffer a reduction in quality, or the craftsman suffe a drastic reduction in remuneration for effort and time. Both results are less preferable than the old world version where a worker derived satisfaction and financial reward for investing his knowledge and skill in a painstaking way that resulted in quality objects that were highly prized.