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I think this is more true than many would like to admit. Maybe 'most work' as meaningless isn't the way I would phrase it, but I know many including myself that are often creatively and technically challenged, work an average number of hours, but feel the mental stress of burnout purely because of the guilt and resentment of spending so much time on the specific job function, itself.

To put it a little more abstract than 'kicking the dog', much of the work we do is in service purely of the bottom line - for products no one demands or needs, that solve no real human needs (of which there are MANY unmet needs), but generate maximum profit often at the expense of others or our collective future. Some work that centers purely around controlling capital serves virtually no real human function and has no actual output except profit (think banking, real estate, etc). Maybe I'm in the minority but these thoughts weigh heavily on me and make it much hard to make myself 'work', regardless of compensation. We keep at it because it's not feasible or enjoyable to be low-income in the world we live in, but we feel the urge that we should be doing something else. I call that a form of burnout.

I identify with a lot of what you write, especially about wanting to avoid hurting other people in the pursuit of profits. What has bothered me lately, very much so, is how in-the-minority I feel about this "social crisis" that I feel is occurring: hurting people/ourselves in pursuit of money that we won't personally even see. (In-the-minority from the people that surround me in my work and personal life.)

I'm [finishing] working through burnout from my own consultancy that I closed down a few years ago, reloading fuel for my next heat. Meaning is so important, because after a certain income threshold the money means less and less, too.

As an aside, the people I work among seems to be primo in what fuels my passion, even before getting to the work of the company mission. Always looking for camaraderie (and friendly competition) among peers and an acceptable "mission" that binds us.

Good luck to you!

> What has bothered me lately, very much so, is how in-the-minority I feel about this "social crisis" that I feel is occurring: hurting people/ourselves in pursuit of money that we won't personally even see. (In-the-minority from the people that surround me in my work and personal life.)

A key point I think. I'm not sure it is a minority feeling, but more a case of active propoganda/cultural influence that keeps 80-90% of people complacent ("We're the good guys! This doesn't feel right, but they just told us we're the good guys! Keep working!").

I wish I had advice for you but I don't. I just want to relate that it was also extremely hard on me when I had the same realization.

I also identify with you. I struggled to find the venture that hits the "golden point", where it solves a genuine problem, doesn't disrupt to the point of messing up lives, is beautiful (by virtue of having an arty-farty personality) ... and all that plus maximum but entirely ethical profits.

I think I found it: edtech. Edtech is a notoriously hard one to crack, and it's a long game. Fortunately I've always enjoyed working with children and philosophising about the best ways to teach and learn. The bad news: most edtech are flops.

Still, it adds a bit of meaning to the everyday hum-drum.

The unfortunate reality is that a lot of success boils down to IQ (and some other metrics of mental acuity,) which is mostly hereditary or imprinted, so that's depressing for a lot of people in education who started off wide-eyed and optimistic.

Also, an efficient, nationwide online schooling system (CAVA in California as an example,) would be the end of something like 90% of the teachers in the country. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Who even knows...

Everything has trade-offs.

Hmm my edtech aims for global literacy; so a reading programme for ESL kids who may be disadvantaged enough to only have access to a smartphone.

So that at least frees me from that glum thought of IQ vs Nurture tug-o-war.

While I'm at it, I might as well advertise:

--------- If anyone is interested to join my adventure please feel free to contact me via my profile. ---------

Someone with good tech skills will especially be welcomed, as I'm a bit rusty, and plus it's more enjoyable to make pictures and courses. I'm based in the UK but I'm not fussy about having an online collaborator :)

Hi there. You can come join us on the "light" side at business bootstrappers.


I'm less certain than you are that good online education resources for K-12 would also mean the end of teacher jobs.

The anecdote about bank teller jobs and ATMs comes to mind - https://www.aei.org/publication/what-atms-bank-tellers-rise-...

Not saying that teacher jobs are likely to increase, just that I'm not sure they'd go away altogether, either.

Why wouldn't technology be able to magnify mental attributes, just as it magnifies our other attributes?

This is one of my big problems with the idea of money being so separated from actual good these days. It also creates huge wealth gaps, and I have no idea what could be done to re-align it. Basically, I believe that the concept of money as it exists today is deeply broken and should be aligned with something which benefits humans vs something which is required in small to moderate quantities to not suffer yet which people obsess over, collect, and seek to increase with an unrelenting fervor, despite any damage it does to society or individuals.

Money is very broken currently.

"By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls . . . become 'profiteers', who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished not less than the proletariat."

Doesn't that sound familiar? The quote is, ironically, by John Maynard Keynes, the very person policymakers cite to justify stealing from the poor and giving to the rich via inflation, in the name of "stability".

> stealing from the poor and giving to the rich via inflation

Inflation is a tax on assets. Isn't that the exact opposite of taking from the poor?

Inflation is a tax on money, not on all assets. It costs those who have their assets located in money. The big fish don't and beggars neither. Lower-middle would be my guess.

It's a tricky problem. I guess to an extent government can tax wealth accumulation that doesn't do good and fund good stuff that doesn't make money but it's hard to judge/implement.

I think we're showing our evolutionary background, in particular greed. Having our monetary system essentially controlled by powerful private interests is a disaster too.

Interestingly, I've been thinking very much along these lines with regard to my present job. It occurs to me that the actual reason for my current role is to fleece the taxpayer of as much public funding as possible, and in about nine hours I'll be working a day just to fleece the city of property taxpayer's money.

A quick bit of arithmetic reveals that we charge a significant amount ($50k+) for what we do, but put <10% of that back into the final product. (I can only account for about 8% of it.)

Nobody needs what we do. If my workplace collapsed in an earthquake, nobody would notice. Most people don't even know we exist, and are very surprised that such a facility exists here.

As you say, these thoughts have a serious impact on me. Every time we have a new hire I urge them to join the union and to use the place like it's a one-night stand. I would do almost anything I could find, but there is little appropriate work for me.

What organisation really produces something meaningful? Perhaps most of it is different shades of fluff.

For example many government and institutional project assignments are a complete waste of time and money to begin with.

Quite often they're a checkbox on some bureaucrat's desk.

Some perfect examples of this is you can find when looking at the (technical) tenders the European Commission issues. Pick your (tech) topic and be sure find a few million being thrown at some research projects that are never being utilised, or of which the outcome literally doesn't matter.

All being funded with taxpayer's money. There are hundreds of these projects being funded every year, and they are a complete waste of money.

While there are people dying on boats to get into the EU, they are funding machine learning and AI research projects that would be laughably outdated 3 years ago.

However, if one company doesn't pick it up, another one will. It is a whole ecosystem of its own of companies and organisations applying for useless EU projects.

Perhaps the problem is not the companies fulfilling these assignments but rather the governments that issue them in the first place. Or the general public that lets their taxpayers money get wasted like that in the first place.

Yup exhausting to have this world view isn't it? And rising depression rates suggest, to me at least, that people that think this way are becoming more common.

When you find yourself in this situation, it's a good idea to "zoom out" a little and get closer to nature and real people.

I took long walks, trying to soak up the sun, trees, insects everything. I also walked all over the city and watched different people getting on with their lives; commuting, serving, sweeping, chatting ... and all the while paying attention to their facial expressions and language. And finally I volunteered at a school.

It will bring some calm. You will also realise how envious you can be of those in poverty.

That last sentence. Seriously?

It's probably a terrible way to frame it. Maybe a better way is to say something like "People whose lives do not revolve solely around pursuit of the almighty dollar."

I would like to think there is a happy medium and that there are people who have their priorities straight and are also not poor. But there seems to be a dearth of evidence for this thing I would like to believe. It seems like those unwilling to sell their soul for money often have damn little of it.

So, while I understand your reaction, I can't quite manage to feel offended at what is possibly not the best framing, but possibly not inaccurate per se either.

(Edit: I am not saying everyone who has money has their priorities screwed up. I am just saying it seems to be hard to get both things right. It seems most people err on one side or the other, even if it isn't how they want to live. Those who err on the side of other priorities often seem to really struggle financially. Those who place a high priority on money often seem to do so at a personal cost that those chronically without money are loathe to make.)

> It's probably a terrible way to frame it. Maybe a better way is to say something like "People whose lives do not revolve solely around pursuit of the almighty dollar."

Yes, but the notion that the lives of those in poverty revolve less around the pursuit of money seems far removed from reality. Poor people struggle to make ends meet. This means taking awful jobs they don't want, eating low quality food, not affording sick leave etc. Only wealthy people can afford not to worry about it. I can not "place a high priority on money" for a year and still make ends meet while not worrying for a second that I won't be able to get another well-paying job by the time I feel like it. It's because I am not poor.

Sure, there are vagrants and hobos whose lives revolve around the pursuit of food and shelter rather than money, but that's kind of the exception that proves the rule.

You are currently talking to a homeless woman whose life revolves around getting well when the world says that cannot be done. When I was younger, my life revolved around taking care of my family as I was a military wife and homeschooling mom for a lot of years.

I have had a class on homelessness and public policy, I have been homeless for over 5 years and I am the author of the San Diego Homeless Survival Guide. http://sandiegohomelesssurvivalguide.blogspot.com/

I know a hell of a lot more about what "vagrants and hobos" do than you do. And your contempt for people with less money than you is not really pertinent to the point I was making. You clearly don't understand my point at all and are bringing so much personal prejudice to this topic that I see no real point in trying to correct the nonsense you are spouting.

I think today is my bad wordsmith day.

I was so detached from feeling reality, I felt jealous when I saw scavengers in Nigeria finding 'treasure' in the junk yard that they can fix and sell in the market. And when I was in a not so affluent area at one time, and guys in rags gathered around a trolley were chatting away happily. And when a shopkeeper of a small booth looked so relaxed, watching the world go by with his shiny eyes and small smile.

These people I felt was really experiencing life. They're on the knife edge, yet they seem ... I don't know, they had something which I didn't have at that time.

I'm sure alright now. But till today I can't feel sorry for disadvantaged people: they are not pathetic masses, they're people who happen to be born in unfair circumstances and something's gotta be done - and pity is not one of them.

Based on the topic of this thread, you can look at it in a different way. All humans need a challenge (or, at least, I've never met someone who is happy without some kind of challenge). A challenge for survival is, perhaps, the most noble kind. Literature (in all cultures) is filled with fantasies of the "Noble Savage". It is easy to connect meaning to that life and death struggle.

In that context, if I compare a rich person sitting on their yacht, sipping a martini to a scavenger who excitedly sets to work fixing a broken clock in order to eat next week -- which person would I want to be like? I mean, yachts and martinis are great, but they don't tell me what kind of person I am -- only that I am rich. Happily tinkering away while struggling against all odds? I want to be that kind of person. So does everyone -- that's why the motif pops up in virtually every piece of fiction, from the Bourne Identity to Harry Potter.

It's a bit of fiction, but I still think it's important. In truth, having a meaningful, noble challenge is mostly orthogonal to having money. We do see people struggling to gain money so that they can escape challenge -- only to be miserable with the result. However, money can also provide the means to choose your challenge rather than to be forced to always deal with survival.

In the end, though, whether you have money or not, how you choose to respond to challenge is what determines what kind of person you are. I also envy and respect those who excitedly greet their challenges every day.

> However, money can also provide the means to choose your challenge rather than to be forced to always deal with survival.

This. I agree with the comment overall, but just in case someone is reading my comments from last night, there's another thing that I wasn't clear about.

Living to survive is something that no one can't possibly relate to unless they are already in that situation.

Although I never felt it, I have a mixed background and witnessed some realities of poverty. Let's take one scenario, which may be simple to you and me but can throw an entire poor family off-balance:

Say that you're sick. You may not afford to get medicine, and even if you can, it becomes a choice whether to sacrifice something else, like lunch money for your kids. Say that after a prolonged period of time, you decide that you do need that medicine after all. So your children goes hungry, and if they go to school, it will affect their studies. Their school isn't exactly well-off either. And now they have a parent who's sick, and who they have to take care of because there's no one else to - so they may have to miss school too. The parent has always been the breadwinner so the children are stuck in a deeper dilemma - who's going to bring the money in now?

Cue in multiple scenarios like this, where hard choices have to be made all the time amongst an environment where drugs, prostitution, crimes etc are more easily accessible ... what chances do these children have when they're all grown up?

Clearly when I was depressed, I romanticised those who were poorer than me (though it was true that they had something which I didn't have.) And like the commenter above this post, I agree that rich people can sometimes miss the plot of living itself. But poverty is a terrible master of destiny. It's a cycle that not a lot of people, let alone the generations that come after them, can just escape.

If you are reading this, please remember that you're actually wealthy, whether in money, health, youth, have access to the Internet etc. You can most definitely afford to 'tinker' - and go for it! But never forget the majority who are still trapped and have to make hard choices all the time.

Indeed, challenge or more broadly sense of meaning, is likely more important than creature comforts. The ideal is sense of security (probably from money in modernity) as well as meaningful goals. As far as I can tell.

I think the main point to focus on is not the relative condition of liveliness, but the mechanism of its generation - which is to have and engage with difficult life problems, struggling against them each day, even while knowing that there's some absurdity to it(because the premises are so often arbitrary).

In the popular context this always maps onto basic survival since it's very relatable and immediate: but for a person in a slightly more privileged state the problem is one of picking the thing to struggle with, because it's possible to walk away from so much of it, find a distraction and squander one more day. If walking away from everything were really the answer, suicide would be success, and we are disinclined to want to believe that. Neither does it work to try to engage with every problem you see as there are too many of those and you aren't going to be effective at all of them.

This motivates many of the conclusions of Stoic thought: the moderation, the development of awareness about one's sphere of control.

> This motivates many of the conclusions of Stoic thought: the moderation, the development of awareness about one's sphere of control.

I've always admired stoicism but found that the principles aren't exclusive to this. Buddhism, weirdly Islam too, and no doubt other sub-groups of religions such as Quaker-ism.

It's true that they are not exclusive to Stoicism but unlike most of the others these principles are central to Stoicism.

Why not? Is it such a taboo idea to question whether maybe those without a lot of money might not be happier, more integral, less living-a-lie? (Assuming there is enough for the basics of survival.) I've seen it first-hand. Some of them even feel sorry for the rich Americans. Sometimes what you gain by staying poor is worth more than the money.


I think the increased ability to talk about depression is a more important factor in rising depression rates. Unless the old rates had a model to factor in unreported cases.

Stagnation of income and living standards is probably the leading cause. It's not so great being in your 30's and barely affording to buy a house if at all.

think of how much top-tier human and financial capital is tied up in recreating photo sharing apps, let alone other banal software pursuits

Sadly, market (profit) driven ventures usually seem incapable of making the big leaps and can only incrementally build on the status quo. It seems that a fundamental change can only be brought in by state (see ex. state funding for Silicon Valley leading to computer revolution), which will only shell out the big bucks when facing existential threats, such as war (military being a huge driver in technology, standarization, organization) or ex. epidemics. In current times, there are no imminent existential threats (solutions to global warming would require global coordination, which likely isn't going to happen), so the states mostly take a back seat and we're left with Snapchats and Ubers.

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