I've read the entire transcript and I don't feel like what is described in the article is what was being said at all.
They aren't saying people don't have to work hard just to survive, they are saying people shouldn't have to work as hard as they do... They are both arguing for shorter work weeks, longer vacations, and for higher wages at the expense of employers profits.
One thing I've noticed is that a lot of people don't notice all the other jobs out there. That being said I'm a cook and there is always work and is one thing a machine will never replace. Decent pay, 40+ hours, raises, chances to move up, and its fun, on down time there is nothing to do but [censored]around, but i will say as in any job you do have to prove yourself. If there is one thing Americans love its well cooked food. Its a slave job at times but like I said its fun.
The central quote in this article is taken woefully out of context. In the full transcript (linked in the article itself), Larry actually starts by saying (emphasis mine):
"I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance, like Peter Diamandis' book. If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy - housing, security, opportunities for your kids - anthropologists have been identifying these things. It's not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I'm guessing less than 1-percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true. [...]"
It actually sounds like he's talking about society's ability to provide those basic needs, if we could only rearrange our resources and effort as people, presumably as per the book he mentions.
This is extremely disingenuous, even dishonest, reporting. I am disappointed.
While I disagree that Seth was being disingenuous or dishonest, I do agree with your view of the context. I think Larry was indeed speaking of society's or human kind's ability to support everyone with a reasonable quality of life. However, I think he also trivializes the work of "rearranging resources" as you say, because, we all know, in reality, society just isn't setup this way currently.
I agree his thought process was noble but he minimizes it so casually from a billionaire's perspective that it takes a lot off the original, core intention of "if we all just helped each other out," or whatever noble cause would achieve this quite literal utopia.
I'll admit that I may have minimized his larger point that technically speaking, society at large can provide basic needs fairly easily. However, as Dave indicated, that's just not something that will happen; income disparity is woefully bad these days, and our society is not one in which that's going to change anytime soon.
Thus, in my opinion, Page is seeing the world from the convenient position of someone who hasn't had to think twice about money in many years. (And good for him, he deserves it.) He doesn't seem to grasp the reality of living and working in the U.S. economy. A big problem we have is underemployment, yet he's espousing that as a great idea.
His comment that people needing to feel useful is accurate, but his notion of giving more people part-time jobs to placate them strikes me as condescending, and as I said in the piece, myopic. How many households are there there days that subsist on only one full-time income? How many would survive on two part-time incomes? Do these part-time jobs come with full benefits? Medical/dental, paid vacation, 401k matching?
And his idea of simply reducing the amount of time people work would be great, except there are very few people who can afford to do that. Are employers suddenly going to pay everyone for extra time off? Too many won't even pay for maternity leave. (Years ago, I once had to burn a vacation day to get my wisdom teeth out.)
Perhaps we do live in a time of abundance, but I don't think the middle class isn't seeing much of it, and as far as I can tell, Page doesn't understand that.