0. Employees are willing to trade "freedom" for job stability and increased average returns. Contracters will more easily defect for sporadic higher paying opportunities, which makes them less reliable.
1. Employers can overpay employees while ensuring that they know that they are overpaid, to 'domesticate' their employees and improve reliability of outcomes.
2. Decades ago, employers could also promise long-term job security to achieve similar effects, however rapidly changing markets mean their future existence (and ability to grant stability) is in question.
3. Instead, employees have fixated on cross-company careers, optimizing for general employability , which means that they must still conform to the requirements of a domesticated employeeship.
4. However, when employees have significant, direct, measurable profit impact skill, and can make or break the company, they can not be owned.
He also does an economic analysis of cursing, while explaining that maximizing employability tends to strip away the parts of people that can make them great.
2) As an employee, you must figure out how to measure your profit impact and consistently represent that metric as fact - socialize the idea that you have profit impact. You also want to figure out exactly how what you do and how you do it can increase or decrease profits: being the person who's able to both represent a meaningful metric and show how you've affected that metric, and how that metric should have affected the bottom line will make you the most valuable. If what you do does not impact profitability, then do something else.
Even then, I bet Uber has retention or reliability problems with drivers.
There are definitely counter examples, for example the cleaning personnel in many hotels is working on a contract basis. The more general observation is that being a contractor only gives you freedom if you have relative market power over your employer/contract giver.
The same applies as a regular employee, but less so: there is value in retaining a skilled labor force, and employers are more reluctant to give that value up by firing people, as compared to contractors. (Also, many legislations restrict hire and fire of employees, but that might be a different topic.)
Given a very acute risk of not finding any other contracts, contractors might find themselves having to live up to demands of your employer, ultimately ending up being less free than an employee in a comparable market.
It's motivating to get up and think I am going to work to get paid vs. not burning a vacation / sick day. At the same token taking a day off for a few hundred $ really makes you feel 'important'. Where taking vacation from a pool feels like something the company gives you vs. something you earn.
I found that being a contractor is usually easier, the work hours are shorter, the pay is MUCH better and 'job' security is actually higher (which really surprised me - I've never been fired from a contract job).
From a company's point of view; contractors are not good value. Sure, it's better to hire independent contractors than to outsource everything to an outside company, but a contractor is nowhere near as productive as a full-time employee.
The kinds of companies which hire contractors instead of full-time staff are often interesting companies...
I disagree, also speaking as someone who's seen a mix of runs as a contractor, consultant and staff employee. It's the individual who is very productive or not, not the role they are filling.
But contractors, like entrepreneurs, are self-serving individuals. If your company has a large codebase and you depend too much on contractors, they may create a 'clan' inside your company and they will have leverage over management. I've seen this happen in large companies, never in a startup though.
I agree though that it's not because they're contractors. It's more because they're greedy.
As I sit here entering my 12th hour of work for the day, this sounds remarkably legit.
Slavery is being taxed at 100% of you output.
Well, you get free housing and food so you have to deduce that. Especially when in some cases, slaves did better in that than poor free citizens.
In fact in ancient Greece and Rome there were slaves managers of other slaves, teachers, running businesses on behalf of their owners etc, and even allowed money.
The main issue is they couldn't leave -- though they even got that in some cases, e.g. if they fought bravely at some battle (e.g. Arginusae), or after some decades of service at the benevolence of their master.
Personally I don't consider totally voluntary any decision based on the need to feed a family. Nobody "volunteers" to work at McDonalds or tons of other "non-creative" jobs. They just get to choose between that and Burger King, Walmarts or something like that. But they must go to work, if not forced by fear of violence, then forced by fear of hunger and homelessness.
So between slavery and this, I'd say there are degrees, not absolute differences.
That may or may not be the case.
That's certainly not how slavery worked in classical antiquity, for the most part. It's not even how it always worked in the US South in the 19th century (e.g. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai/emancipation/te... has examples of slaves buying their own freedom, which is clearly impossible if you're being taxed at 100% of your output).
As far as I can tell, as slavery has become less and less "socially accepted" it has also become more brutal, because only the brutes (and typically criminals, as it becomes illegal) engage in slaveowning. And people's mental image of "slavery" nowadays (at least in the US) is a conflation of what happens now with some of the worst cases of 19th century slavery in the US. It's only broadly similar to various social institutions in different societies over the last 3000 years that are all called "slavery" and involve people with varying restrictions on their freedom.
(In a way, it's recursive slavery - masters are often bound to someone else.)
Patent nonsense from the outset - the total workforce is basically half the population (in the US, it's currently at 160M out of 310M total pop). Even if every single member of the workforce was working your supposed grind (which it clearly isn't), it's not "vast majority of the population" territory.
Even if you just limit it to the working population, where are you pulling these "vast majority" numbers from? From the same "silent majority" that supports a given person's unpopular political opinions?
I recently severely pissed off a correspondent (who'd written Yet Another Article on the evils of capitalism) by equating compulsory taxation with slavery.
I think the GP means income tax since the conversation is about being a slave === being 100% income taxed. And yes, there had been an example of a successful income tax-less capitalist economy. The United States of America for most of the time pre 1913.
It's an interesting subject.
* people are terrified of fundamental changes to systems that provide their 'benefits', even if the existing system involves literal slavery
* people get really, really angry when you mention the 'slavery' thing; they don't seem to like really thinking about how the sausage is made, so to speak
* slavery is easy when quality of life is so good; it's easy to get bent out of shape when 40% of your income is being taken when your income is diddley-squat; when you're living like a 1700s king already, meh
* socialists have entirely and completely conflated the concept of a just society with compulsory taxation and state welfarism that it is almost impossible to get people to even acknowledge that the two can be considered separately
* self-described capitalists are often only capitalists when it suits them, otherwise they are often happy to suckle from the State tit to a far more egregious extent than any 'welfare queen' ever did
I don't do politics any more.
Imagine a country run entirely on a voluntary poll tax. You literally pay in order to vote. The last time I ran the numbers (along with the now-defunct Libertarianz party), it'd cost around $2.5k per working person to run core Govt. services in New Zealand on that basis, assuming 100% buy-in.
That's not a donation, exactly, but it's not compulsory taxation either.
Sure, poll taxes and similar have been used to exclude all but the wealthy from Government. Many types of legal structure can be misused: gun control laws to disarm black people in the face of the KKK, union laws to prevent non-white people from getting decent jobs, etc. etc.
But it's not a given.
Edited to add: and especially when you consider that the so-called 'sin taxes' that particularly burden the poor would be eliminated under that scheme.
The requirement to work is a given, at least for the foreseeable future. Humans need wealth to live: food, water, shelter, clothing. We need wealth even more to thrive: books, schools, factories.
None of this comes for free. In a state of nature, to refuse to work is to commit suicide, at a rate proportional to the hostility of your environment.
There are a lot of variables to adjust. You could work less, and enjoy more free time and a commensurately lower standard of living (still fantastically high by historical standards).
Or you could live off others. That's not always an ethical fault: consider invalids, or children, or the very elderly. So long as the people providing for you have a choice in the matter, that's fine from an ethical perspective.
Or - and this is where the ethical fault comes in - you could force others to provide your material needs for you. For example, welfare parasites and professional politicians (but I repeat myself).
So, no. There is no choice about working.
How the actual fuck did you read that into what I wrote?
... deep breath ...
What I meant was, and perhaps I was unclear, is that material goods are a requirement for life, and a good many of them if you want to thrive rather than just 'not die'.
Those goods have to be produced, by someone. Work has to be done. This is not negotiable. It is a fact of living in this universe.
If that work isn't done by you, then it has to be done by someone. You can't just "opt out" of work, all you can do is either a) do it yourself, b) let someone else do it for you, c) force someone else to do it for you.
Right now, my children are in state (b). There are many adults in that state too - they are dependant upon the work of others. In many case that's through no fault of their own, either, and I think that it's entirely just that a civilised society look after such people.
It seems pretty clear to me where I got it from. You are definitely fine with letting people live in misery at the best. It's pretty simple, there is no "actual what the fuck" about it.
Funny that you comment on nature, when civilization has made a lot of the horrible things that have to be dealt with in nature a lot less relevant. In nature animals are violent to each other, and will kill each other even of their own species. By your logic you must support killing each other, otherwise your argument about nature would be totally hypocritical.
The more civilized a place the more people can do their own thing without worry of harm or their needs being met. What you wrote below has nothing to do with a basic income. A basic income will make people less afraid of moving employers for example, making parasites that employ people in hideous conditions lose power. Threats from those psychopaths will have a lot less punch. That is a massive gain.
A basic income does not look like it will not alter how much people work. As an example, the MINCOME project showed that the only new mothers and teenagers worked substantially less in an actual experiment with a form of basic income, the people who work will still work. I will not repeat other sources here, any reader can look it up if they want.
What part of living in a modern industrial / post-industrial society is "in a state of nature"?
I give up.
You don't seem to be fully understanding of what slavery is. There is also a legal category. Slaves have no rights, they could not avail themselves of protections against abuse. Also there is a ownership / fungibility aspect, you can buy slaves on a market. This is what separates serfdom from slavery.
The basic idea of slavery is that an entire country, state and nation, participates in psychological and legal domination of subject people. If that's not happening, then what you're looking at isn't slavery. Human trafficking isn't slavery, the main difference is that it's a group of people that are surreptitiously creating a regime where people can be traded and not an entire country. One may call human trafficking "modern slavery", and people being trafficked as "slaves", because it is, after all, an abhorrent practice.
But slavery doesn't exist in the world any more and to say otherwise demeans the numerous armed conflicts humans have fought all over the world to end real slavery. People are not permitted any more to openly treat humans as cattle and expect the law to respect their 'property'. Not even North Korea could get away with instituting slavery, though one could speculate on whether slavery would be better for the people in their gulags now.
You can look at a particular criteria on a spectrum and draw a line. But we have better words to describe what happens when you remove criteria. There is a rich lexicon of terms we can employ to describe removing freedoms from people. Slavery becomes serfdom when you remove fungibility. When you remove state-participation, it's called human trafficking. When all it is is one person forcing another person to keep working, it's called forced labor.
The modern employment social contract is in no way, shape or form anything like actual slavery, to call it such is to misrepresent both employment and slavery.
Personally, if I were in a minor outlying area of the Roman empire, I perhaps would have preferred to become a Roman slave rather than be free out in the boondocks. I've read that a Roman conquest would always start with a call for anyone in the opposing army who wanted to be part of the empire to defect now and become a Roman slave, that was supposedly a better fate than losing in battle. In Rome I could, by hook or by crook, earn my freedom and perhaps even become emperor.
If I were in Africa, and I had a choice, I would perhaps choose to become a slave on James Madison's plantation rather than stay in Africa. You should read the book written about one of his slaves, he was truly extraordinary.
What made US slavery so bad wasn't so much the slavery but the racism. Roman slaves looked just like their masters. But when US slaves earned their freedom through manumission or simply buying themselves off their masters, a somewhat common practice in the run-up to the Civil War, they had to be careful or fall prey to slavers capturing them and re-enslaving them.
If it weren't for the racism, you could make a credible argument that enslavement in the US was, on the whole, better for the people involved, going by the standard of, if you had all the relevant information, would you prefer to stay home or go to the US as a slave.
Of course, American intellectuals made this argument at the time as a justification for slavery. The practice of indentured labor where people willingly sold themselves into bondage to escape their homeland lends some credence to this, but in my opinion the racism blacks experienced and still experience places it solidly in 'wrong' territory.
In her grandparents time, that was the term for the more than disappointed feeling freed slaves had when slavers seized their 'free papers', burned them, and then enslaved them once more.
It's not that far in our past.
That depends on the exact historical milieu. For example, slaves in Athens at various times had the right to freedom of religion, right to claim asylum at an altar, right to not have their owner kill them out of hand (or more precisely if the owner did this, he was brought to trial, at least in theory), etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Greece has some selected details.
Totally agreed with your last sentence, though. ;)
I'm in complete agreement with you, until you introduce compulsory taxation. That is morally equivalent to slavery: your time is being literally taken from you by others, for their own reasons.
Sure, it might also buy you healthcare and so forth, but the same argument could be made in defense of historical slavery too.
That is not slavery, it's not even close to slavery. And it is not your time being taken away from you, it's your money. One can figure out how to earn money less onerously, then taxation becomes less onerous.
Arguments that modern institutions are basically slavery cannot simply boil down to "the lives of poor people suck". That's always been true, your argument is so general it's meaningless.
States have always survived on institutionalized violence towards its citizens. The question is not of whether, but of what kind. There is no way around violence, we can only try to get by with less of it.
Taxation is much, much, much less onerous these days than slavery was. In fact, Taxation, in the agrarian empires of antiquity, was one step removed from slavery. Ancient peoples had to be coerced to produce an agricultural surplus.
It was basically like the mob. Produce as much as you can and give us 95% of it and we'll protect you from other bands of marauding barbarians. You wanted the people you gave that surplus to to be well-organized and powerful, because that had knock-on benefits.
It was better than slavery because your masters only showed up during harvest. They didn't take your kids and trade them away for a profit. They didn't kill you if you couldn't make quota, otherwise who would work the farm.
Slowly things like social contracts and human rights evolved. Taxation became less onerous.
Do you not see the connection between those things, especially in the case of income tax? And especially in the case of progressive taxation, which punishes people in proportion to their productive virtue?
Yes there is a connection between time and money. But they are not the same. A person can, throughout their life, learn how to trade less of their time for more money. That makes taxation far less of a burden than slavery. The two are not equatable in the slightest.
And progressive taxation does not tax innovation and growth as much as you might think it does. In the United States, it is often thought that getting "bumped into another tax bracket" has you paying a larger percentage of your income as taxes in very non-smooth way. But it is smooth, you only pay a greater percentage of money you make in excess of the 'dividing line'.
This year, the cutoff between 15% and 25% is $37,450. If you make $37,451, then you do not pay 25% of $37,451. You pay an amount somewhat less than 15% of $37,450, (to account for the lower tax brackets) plus 25% of one dollar. You keep less of your earned income, but there is never a disincentive to keep improving and growing.
Compared to alternative ways of funding the state, progressive income tax regimes have proven their worth in many countries. The US is the most economically powerful nation on Earth, so if a progressive taxation regime is bad, it must not be that bad.
I keep reading this as "there's this field of cotton you need to pick; if you get done early, have some time off."
I'll grant you that progressive taxation in the context of an objective tax law is significantly better than roving bands of armed thugs.
But that's not a very high bar; surely we can do better from a moral perspective?
You shouldn't. It's more like, "Here's a field of cotton you could pick, if you want to, we'll give you these pieces of paper with which you can buy whatever you want. Don't want to pick cotton but still want money? Here's a cotton-picking machine you could learn how to use, we'll pay you twice as much if you can figure it out.
Your moral argument seems to boil down to "give me what I want for free or I'm going to call you an enslaving bastard."
What I was referring to was the arrangement between the worker and the State, when compulsory taxation is involved.
Before states, you had endless raiding. Each farmer didn't have the resources to maintain an army to protect him. You can crowdsource that protection, but then you have a standing army, which is a necessary evil in a violent world.
Without a state and an army, some other state's army is going to move in and conquer you, therefore, there's no getting around the need for a state and the necessity of funding it. Being conquered is no fun.
States are still every bit as necessary now as they were before, aggression from other states is still a thing. And you can't fund a state with voluntary taxation, you won't raise enough money. Therefore it's compulsory. Your moral argument still boils down to "give me what I want for free." You may not think you want a state, but all that means is that you're blind to what would happen in its absence.
1) It's good to have a State.
2) The primary purpose of a State is not protection from other States, it's to protect the rights of its citizens, i.e. to uphold the law.
3) This may take the form of protecting its citizens against each other (Police, Courts, etc.) or against foreign threats (Defense). All are legitimate.
I think the only disagreement we have is over whether voluntary taxation would be sufficient.
Do you really believe that, say in the case of New Zealand, the majority of working adults wouldn't be willing to stump up $2,500k / annum - this, in the absence of any other taxation - to pay for the State and all the benefits it brings?
And one is only "free" in the "they won't shoot you for it" sense, not in the "you won't suffer adverse effects" sense.
If you want to complain about the fact that you've chosen to work long hours for a six figure salary (I know, it can be frustrating sometimes!) then go right ahead, but pick different words.
Substantially: You are downplaying a big part of "Slavery." The most important factor in a successful fight for freedom is the fact that you are fighting for your own freedom. There is no reason to have guilt over principally addressing your own.
I especially like his insight about those really comfortable not putting on pretensions or airs. Go to Bucks in Woodside some time.
The really good VCs are really good genuine people.
Those seem to be excerpts released by the author.
But I'm not sure that I agree with Taleb's glorification of Front Office banking roles in sales & trading. Like any sufficiently highly paid corporate employee, traders are compensated mainly through company shares which vest over a long period of time. These days a trader's bonus can even be clawed back, many years after being awarded. Rumour is that Wall St traders are often caught up in a culture of excess where bosses pressure them to spend/live extravagantly and become completely dependent on annual cash bonuses. For all the supposed risk taking tolerance bravado, traders are merely risking the firm's capital and not their own. In some ways it is similar to the expat role - just as some executives are chosen to be expats, some bank employees are chosen as traders and given enormous amounts of the firm's capital to bet with. No one can say what to look for in hiring a good trader, there is no consistent basis for selection, there are no academic or professional credentials for traders, the bank executives can choose to shutdown a particular trading desk on a whim, the worst fear of a trader is to lose this coveted position, and most people do not last very long as traders as their luck runs out eventually at the poker table. If an expat executive is like a diplomat fearfully being assigned from one foreign posting to the next, then I think a trader is like a gambler-slave sent to gamble with his master's money in the casino and he is in constant fear of the dire consequences that await if and when he loses too great a sum or fails to win large sums frequently. Trading jobs are usually a better deal for the employee than most comparable jobs, but it is still an employee job and it attracts exactly the kind of people who go to business school and actively seek low risk careers and dependence on a paycheque written by a prestigious employer.
Apparently wearing cufflinks was also a no no - which made me smile as the on or 2 days a year I wear a suit I ways wear shirts with cufflinks.
I am by no means an expert on legal or immigration matters, so you'll have to do your own research. Also, since you refer to an H1B but did not explicitly state the country, I'm assuming you're referring to the US where Skilled Immigration for Work visas are typically called H1Bs. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Cheers
 <http://www.immihelp.com/visas/h1b/h1-visa-transfer-faq.html> -- looking for a better source that's not commercial, happy for pointers.
I am in H1B. I cannot change my employer because my greencard has been filed recently. I have to wait for 8 years to get permanent residency. Every three years I have to renew my petition. I will be 40 when I get my greencard. I am going to get married now , my spouse resigned her job in India at Oracle and is going to sit at home watching TV & cooking in US, because she is not authorized to work with H4 visa. She is a Master's degree holder in Finance and fluent in English & French. Now she has to spent all her productive years in a rented apartment.
I140 work authorization is a ray of light. USCIS is like a chameleon , changing rules all the time , putting many skilled workers under anxiety and stress all their life.
So me & fiance is planning to apply for PR in Canada as soon as we get married through the express entry system and get out of this mess soon.
Speaking as a Canadian who's worked in the US you'll make less money out of two incomes in Canada than you will working by yourself at an H1B in the US.
I'm not defending the H1B system, which sucks, but you always can find a better way.
I was not presuming to know what will work for you, just mentioning there are lots of alternatives. Many require courage and effort, but still, they are there.
Don't forget that if the Canada plan doesn't work.
She can do many things that are not classified as work, though. And that's the important thing, she can still make/do/think/learn and might even go as far as unofficially trading with people for that (talk to a lawyer first - the trading part might not be such a good idea, but the first part sure is.)
Anyway, just pointing it out for the third time to try to get the point across, I find it a hard thing to do: You very frequently have more choices than those you think you have, and in the cases when you really don't it's because you've chosen a path that's led where you are, so you either get creative or get stuck.
Ironically, my only complaint might be that Taleb seems to get a little more self-congratulating by anecdotally revealing the lifestyle he is able to enjoy as you progress through his series of books. Perhaps this is more of a style device to broaden the books' appeal.
Whatever the case, the perspective you can gain from his writing is worth the time.
You get already a hint of it in the small excerpt linked, IMHO.
Somehow we've all accepted wage slavery as alright. Good even! If someone doesn't have a job we deride him as a lazy ass for not wanting to sell his labor to a capitalist. A solution: universal basic income. Give everyone fuck you money. Then you'll have a free society.
Also monetary freedom is only one subset of freedom. Being able to pick where and how much you work are valuable too. If we assume that due to taxation we play monetary zero sum game, giving more people choice on what they work increases total freedom.
We can also put taxes on corporations instead of people. Corporations are not humans, and therefore cannot be made slaves.
What you "earn" is partly due to your efforts, and partly due to you utilizing the infrastructure of your employer. So a part of your "earnings" is employer's.
You are being forced to brush teeth by the same entity, that forces you to work, so in this context even teeth brushing becomes "teeth brushing slavery".
Ah, we have found the key contention. An interesting thought is to consider a world of fully mobile people - who will move and who will stay in a country with universal basic income and high taxes?
The only way you get a world full of "fully mobile people" with no barriers to relocation is if the world is one sovereignty rather than several, in which case if there is a country with UBI and high taxes, its the only one.
But lots of people -- including rich ones -- who do have the practical choice to leave or stay (though they aren't fully mobile as borders and immigration policies do erect some costs and barriers to relocation) do stay in countries with relative high, progressive taxes and strong social safety nets today. I don't see why incorporate UBI into those social safety nets would change that.
Apparently, civilization -- as opposed to the law of the jungle -- is attractive to people, even many rich people. Who knew?
While UBI itself can be managed so as not result in runaway inflation (and, unless you deliberately build a positive feedback loop into the level setting, should be self-limiting to avoid that in the long term, though the wrong initial setting could have high short-term inflation), monetizing the UBI, like monetizing government debt, is a great way to produce high average inflation, destroy government creditworthiness, and increase volatility in the currency.
If you want to redistribute downward, taxing the wealthy directly is a lot more sensible than monetizing spending. And, in any case, none of the people that are opposed to taxing the rich are going to support monetization, and plenty of people that do support taxing the rich are going to oppose monetization, so it doesn't even make sense as a way of getting around the political difficulties of tax-supported UBI.
Um, if everyone has that much money, then it's not really a dramatic amount of money is it?
Having enough universal basic income to live on meagerly is one thing, but it's mathematically impossible to give everyone enough for everyone to be rich.
Remember, money is imaginary points we use to keep score. It has nothing to do with what 'rich' really means.
The exact amount required depends largely upon your expenses and lifestyle. If you are fine with living in a van down by the river, it might be only $100k. If you like things like showers and flush toilets, you may need $1M. Think of it like a suspended early retirement. If you are working, it is because you want to, not because you need to.
I have always considered this 'fuck you' money, but Googleing it seems not.
I find that a little sad.
If everyone else had it though it's no longer 'fuck you' money. People don't work this way.
Can somebody tell me the name of the book?
The pilot contractor doesn't seem like a great example, either. Contractors usually have to think about their reputations. I don't know the industry, but it seems unlikely that there's a huge shortage of pilots, given how poorly beginning pilots are paid.
By the time "Bob" in the story had the status and seniority number to be captaining a trans-oceanic route for a major, he'd be making well into six figures a year working 11-15 days a month. He'd have enough to lose that the Saudi prince would need to pay him his salary until age 65 (mandatory retirement for part 121 airline flying) to make his choice to walk away a rational one.
The rest of the text (and I would say even that part) is totally unambiguous, and offers nothing to be mistaken for "parody" of any kind.
In summary what I got from it is that if you really want your staff to "be there" for you then an employee is the way to go. If you want to save money and have talent, go the contractor route.
Taleb also publicly disaffiliated himself from the trades.
The whole thing is either the hedge fund Trying to capitalize on the PR... Or lazy sensational wsj journalism.
Or both. Read PG on PR firms