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Further on the BS Problem

The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs is an interesting study into the problem of how society is apparently still dealing with the transition to the idea that it is not necessary to work 40 hours+ a week to live.


5 thoughts on “Further on the BS Problem

  1. (Why is this categorized under EoA…?)

    I’m afraid I don’t get what the author is referring to about the peril to the archons that seemed to manifest in the 1960s. Somehow, I don’t think he’s referring to beatniks.

    I suppose there’s also a matter of the archons WANTING to be the Idle Rich, and thus averse to THEMSELVES working even a scant 15-20 hours a week (something of a question of how much focus-requiring work a given archon actually already has per week, though). So they have to foist this off on somebody…

    But like at the end of the article, I’m not sure this is witting malice. The archons are still caught in a trance of “any sort of focused work is demeaning in and of itself”–and since the non-archons are somehow fated to be in demeaning work, the only options are “the entire world gets demeaned” or “the world gets at least a little light from its only real possible source–we Idle Rich”. So the trick might be HOW to break that trance.

    • As for the categorization, that’s just me not noticing the default option was checked. I fixed that.

      The article itself, as I read it, suggests (as I have discussed before, as well) that a paradigm shift in how society views work needs to happen.

      Instead of viewing work as being inherently necessary for its own sake, work should be viewed as a thing someone does because they have found something they most like to do and want to contribute to society in that way.

      And we have the wealth to do it!

      It’s just that a population of people who largely don’t need to work just to survive are not politically conducive to accepting the idea that society needs to be inherently stratified.

      Inherently stratifiied societies provide a nice a priori justification for the rich to scoop off far more than anyone can reasonably want or even need and appropriate it for themselves.

      Now people like to go on about how if you took everything a rich person has everybody would only get like $10.

      But we’re not talking ONE rich person, we’re talking many of them who collectively have trillions of dollars stashed away somewhere. $20 trillion distributed across the population of the planet is $2800, and for a sizable fraction of people, that could actually mean the difference between having a little rainy day cushion, or having nothing.

  2. This has to be the worst first comment to leave, but David Graeber – who wrote the article at that link – is so full of shit that it’s oozing out of his tear ducts.

    All of the evidence he leans upon appears to come from this report. Graeber fails to link to it, probably because it contradicts so much of what he’s arguing. For starters, look at the charts – many of the “useless” jobs are in engineering, nursing, and teaching. He waves those away, but the study offers explanations for everything else, as well. No, administrative jobs are not part of some conspiracy to force people to work – they’re due to globalization making organization of all kinds more complex. It takes a lot more people to run a company that deals with dozens of countries than it does to run a company that addresses only one. And the drop in domestic servants was met by a corresponding increase in service sector jobs – not the creation of “useless” jobs, but a shift from physical labor addressing a small number of people to machine-assisted labor assisting many people.

    For future reference, you should immediately doubt anyone who doesn’t offer sources. Graeber was clearly counting on his anarchist audience believing everything he said because they wanted to believe it. Remember to always apply Occam’s razor to crap like this, it’s usually not worth your time.

    • Well, there’s also Jeremy Rifkin’s books on the subject of work.

      And let’s be fair, Office Space wouldn’t have gotten the cult following it did if there weren’t a grain of truth about the way the service sector in Canada and the US hasn’t become a wretched hive of make-work.

      As well, there IS a strong cultural bias, especially in the United States, towards the Stakhanovite idea that if working is good, working MORE is BETTER!

  3. I think that the actual answer to this problem is a basic income guarantee. Outside the US, it’s generally accepted that people shouldn’t die of disease or injury just because they can’t afford the treatment; it doesn’t seem a huge extension to say that people shouldn’t be so poor that they go hungry or homeless. If you give the money to everybody, you wipe out all the cost of verifying that people are “eligible” for it — which in many places is significantly higher than the actual amount disbursed.

    There have been various studies and experiments showing that this can work pretty well. People don’t, for example, tend to sit around drinking all day. The core problem is the attitude, formed several hundred years ago, that people who don’t work are worth less than people who do — which goes on to explicit lies, like the one that all people who don’t currently have jobs are in that state because they’re lazy rather than because there aren’t jobs to be had. From which you get “welfare queens” and “dole bludgers” and all the rest of it.

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