Quality of life has value too, Paul

Job sharing would solve the world's unemployment woes, and remind us that there is more to life than work.

The New York Times might boast a Nobel prize-winning economist as its star columnist, but what has Paul Krugman actually achieved? He is always bleating on about how America, and now Britain, should be printing more money.

In no time, the greenback will be trading on a par with the Zimbabwe dollar and we'll all be trundling wheelbarrows around to buy a loaf of bread.

The problem, of course, is that the poor fellow is so puffed up with his own importance that he is forgetting the fundamentals. I bet he works a 14-hour day, giving speeches, conducting research, writing blogs and other exhausting duties.

All of this should stop. He should be forced to lay down his pen and hand over half of his tasks to another person.

It's not just Mr Krugman who should step aside; everybody should be made to job-share. That way, there would be no unemployment.

And after all, whatever happened to the age of leisure? When I was young, we were promised that robots would be doing the Hoovering and computers would be doing the maths. Instead, everybody who can works like a donkey in a Spanish olive mill, going round and round in circles before dropping dead in a heap. Rather than watching the robots from the safety and comfort of a hammock, we have become robots. Time to rebel, say I. C-3PO, you have nothing to lose but your silly voice!

Now, I don't expect to be rewarded overnight for this brainwave, but I do rather think that the Nobel committee - so handsome, so fearless - will look kindly on this insight when they dole out the laurels and the cash next year. And why not a columnist from a Middle East newspaper?

For jobs are the fear, the dilemma of our age, and those that can create them are the alchemists of our time. Lack of jobs propelled the Democrats in the House of Representatives out in search of new jobs for themselves. Unemployment will threaten the existence of the Tory and LibDem government in Britain. "The coalition isn't working" - one can see the posters being prepared now. But do they really need jobs?

According to Raymond Torres, the director of the International Labour Organisation, between 30 million and 35 million people have lost their jobs since the financial crisis hit in 2008. There are 213 million unemployed people in the world.

Their woes would be solved at a stroke under my plan - something that would doubtless please the UN body, which says job seekers are demoralised and suffering from mental health problems. That is nothing compared with what it is like when you work: that can really make you sick.

My eldest son, just turned 18, has left school and recently endured a spell of hard labour in a hedge fund in the City of London.

"He is a charming fellow," writes the friend who I badgered to employ him for the princely sum of £5 (Dh29.50) a day, "but he seems appalled by the fact that people work from eight o'clock in the morning until eight at night".

Can this be true? If so, it sounds hideous, and my sympathies lie entirely with my poor son. How is one to play golf, shop, enjoy long lunches and an afternoon nap if one is expected to be sitting at a computer terminal for 12 hours straight, then repeat the same process the day after?

It is hardly surprising that some traders make the wrong decisions, buying £5bn worth of US Treasury bonds when they mean to sell them, or taking over companies when they planned to close them.

Back in the days when a gentleman's word was only as good as his last lunch, people took care not to wear themselves out. I chatted recently to a charming old chap, visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time. "I worked in the City for 30 years," he told me. "But I was very happy when it stopped."

Think how much happier he would have been if instead of pushing off at four o'clock every afternoon he had gone to his club at midday and stayed there? In this spirit, and to prove that my theory works, I have outsourced the second part of this column to my pal Warwick, a banker in the UK:

"Hello everybody. I hear that all I have to do is tell you a few things on my mind, then I can pocket the money and push off home. I thought I'd begin by telling you what it's like to be a banker. Here is how it works: the government gives you money that you lend to people to buy houses. For all this hard work, you pocket a bonus. When they don't give you the money back, you go to the government for more money, and immediately award yourself a bonus. Then you don't lend any more money. To make sure you don't have to give the money back to the government, you give it to yourself. Then you go heli-skiing.

What's that? Need more words? Okay. Did you know that last week it was the end of the Walkman. Or is it the Walkmen? Or is it Dead Man Walkmen or Walkman? Either way, it's curtains for Sony, the makers of the Walkwomen. They should give themselves a bonus before it's too late. Will that do?"

No, it won't do. This may be the only flaw in my new job-share scheme. Yes, I'm back. Maybe there is a good reason Mr Krugman wears a beard: he doesn't have time to shave because nobody else can do what he can.

I had been worried that if my co-worker did the job too well I'd be out of a job. Now it looks like we'll both have to join the dole queue.