Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The health care toll today’s work culture exacts on employees (stanford.edu)
691 points by fahd777 on Mar 22, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 426 comments



Work has become a strange thing. I see people foregoing their best years stuck in an office, in the hope they can enjoy their later years. What utter nonsense. I'm not sure what the right answer is, but society has got something very wrong, as our work culture seems to surgically remove the wonder and enjoyment from our days. Hardly surprising that it drives people to ill health. Glad I broke out of that cycle a long time ago and quit my corporate job. The job was torture, quitting was scary and bumpy, but looking back it was an excellent decision.


I find this idea bizarre. It's like humans enjoyed their time for millennia and only now we have to work.

For all human history, the conditions of people were dire. Today people might be stuck in an office in their "best year", but people in the past had to toil all day to barely scrape by and didn't even have that many years to live.

It's only now that we live these comfortable lives with houses, heating, electricity, technology and a sea of information at our fingertips. These things all exist and keep functioning because people work.

And yet some think that "society has gone wrong", as if the past was paradise.

Work has been a human universal through history. There is surely an argument to be made about the fact that now we are so productive that we might not need to work as much as we had to.

At the same time I think we should be grateful that we live in the best life conditions ever seen by humanity.


This is actually false. The average American worker today works more hours per year than a 14th century peasant (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/08/29/why-a-medie...). Hunter-gatherers only worked 2-3 hours per day.

Despite technology allowing us to work less, we work more. Yes we should be grateful of technological advancement, but too many people are unnecessarily depressed and suicidal, and it doesn't have to be this way.


To some degree, yes, peasants worked less than modern humans, but also had to extend large amounts of effort to prepare food, attain wood for fires and light, build their own structures, etc. I slightly romanticize medieval life so I won't convince you that their lives were hellish and awful, but we take for granted the amount of work our society does for us.

Also, the idea of the high-leisure hunter gatherer is false. This is ideology masquerading as archaeology/history, and it confirms the biases of people who have genuine criticisms of modern life. http://quillette.com/2017/12/16/romanticizing-hunter-gathere...


Women particularly spent almost all spare time making clothing - because a pair of pants could take a month to make. Sure it wasn't backbreaking work in the fields, but it wasn't spare leisure time either.


You're right, it wasn't either but it was a bit of both. Our perspective often misses many aspects of home life in the past because we are living in such a radically different environment than even our grand parents and great grand parents. When we think of "spare time" we imagine the few hours we can snatch before bed when we zone out and watch netflix or browse social media. Spare time for people living a subsistence lifestyle on a farm before the modern era often meant the entire winter or at the least every moment after the sun went down when you were limited to staying in doors with a lamp or fire as your only light source.

It's only after you remove every modern convenience and distraction that you begin to appreciate how important these slow, repetitive, indoor tasks were to human psychology. They allowed one to make good use of their time indoors while distracting from the crushing boredom of having nothing to do and affording time to socialize with family and neighbours.

Now, I'm not saying this is an idyllic lifestyle. It was certainly one of the factors that drove so many people to the squalor of early industrial cities where they might be poor, filthy, and poisoned but at least they had light, drink, and entertainment. But I think it's important to point out that our ancestors managed to get by with a great deal less than we do today while still finding comfort and fulfillment and potentially expending much less effort and suffering a great deal less stress than we experience. It's something to think about at least.


> potentially expending much less effort and suffering a great deal less stress than we experience

How do we measure this? I've been less well off in the past, having to spend more time doing chores like that, and not having a 9-5 job filling up that part of my day. Compared to now - working more, but with more money - I was more stressed and less fulfilled and very aware of all the effort I was expending because I couldn't afford all the conveniences I would've wanted.


> You're right, it wasn't either but it was a bit of both.

It was not a bit of both. It was work. Yes, they could chat while doing some easy repetitive tasks, the same way as worker in work now chat while doing repetitive tasks. However, this was not low effort hobby you do whenever you feel like and can take random amount of time. It was work that needed to be done whether you feel like it or not. And preferably fast while keeping quality, because there was a lot of work like that. It also had to be done whether you are nine month pregnant or not and whether baby wake you up at night or not.

I don't know why you think it was supposed to be slow work. That makes sense only insofar you see and treat it as a hobby instead of as actual task that needs to be done, because you need result of it.

Fun fact: washing cloth without washing machine took whole day once a week. It was physically hard tiring work that required you to beat the thing to beat the mess out of it in cold water. If you want meat (which they definitely did not ate often), you gotta kill chicken. And clean it. Again, messy work that takes a lot of time.


Yes, and that physical exhaustion is what we were made for. Not sitting in a chair 10 hours a day. Your body is far healthier doing a few hours of demanding physical activity every day. It follows that our minds are adapted to that rhythm as well.


While the hunter-gatherer had been romanticized, basing your data on currently living groups is also flawed. They have all been in contact with modern society, which probably has influenced them in multiple ways. From taking over customs to limiting the area they can move in to the impact on the climate from factories, which all might be factors influencing their entire way of living. So the only way to actually study then is through archeological records from before the birth of cities, which are unfortunately limited in what they can say.


Yes, but there are still plenty of things we can objectively know. For example, skewed reproductive success is obvious in the genes themselves, and the increase in reproductive success for most people is a major benefit of a civilized society. (Also living in groups of people larger than 50 or so rules.)

Edit: 100% support a focus on archaeology. There's some really cool stuff waiting to be uncovered, like the new LIDAR findings in South America. Still, it's absurd to think that ancient hunter-gatherers lived in bliss, except when natural conditions were exceptionally good (not worth the consequences of droughts).


I wouldn't say it's the only way. You could certainly gather data from experimental archaeology. True, you couldn't duplicate the lives of early hunter gatherer's precisely since you would have to take certain precautions to protect the well being of the researchers and you would be limited in your choice of locations but you could certainly perform experiments that would tell you how much time was necessary for gathering food, hunting, preparing food, making clothing and tools, building and repairing shelters, etc.


I work my ass off. Lot more hours than would be technically necessary. High tech as well.

I've also gone hiking in the mountains in California. Been on the beach in Italy. Walked around in the center of Munich.

As a 14th century peasant I probably never even knew those places existed.

I can also get pain medication if I have a headache. I can go to a doctor to fix my broken bones if I happen to get one. Oh, and the likelihood of dying of a random infection or chicken pox is exceedingly low.

Is is worth spending more time in a nice, warm, comfortable office to be able to do all of those things? Hell yes. Is it all shits and giggles all the time? Of course not.


One thing that's always suspicious about those "peasants had more time off" claims is that they imply medieval peasants had a bright line between work and recreation in a way that's just not true. Talking about the day with your family while you spin wool or sharpen a sickle is... work? play? all of the above?

For all that we have issues with a culture where people check work emails at home and are otherwise on-call, we've moved remarkably far from a culture where work was truly pervasive, where it formed the backdrop of everything else.

All of which is to say that both the quality, as you point out, and the purity of our recreation have improved quite a lot. Counting up a nebulous "time off" value seems to seriously misunderstand the changes in how we live.


>Talking about the day with your family while you spin wool or sharpen a sickle is...

Sounding pretty attractive to me right now.


But that is a false dichotomy. Your working long hours in an office in no way helps or correlates with the ability of being able to travel, or to have headache medication.


Technically, you're probably right.

Realistically I also like to live in a nice house, do have to (well, by choice obviously) take care of three kids and like to enjoy a luxury here and there.

That takes money. I have tried multiple times to build my own companies, but sadly haven't been successful in that.

So that's for the travel argument.

As for the headache medication argument - I have that only because thousands of people have spent a lot of time in offices and labs developing those drugs and treatments.

Personally, my work mostly revolves around making wind turbines more efficient at producing energy by helping with data analysis. I also like to think that's my small way of offsetting the environmental damage I do by travelling. It's probably not enough, but still. something. So yeah, I'd say spending time at the office correlates quite nicely.


Alot of people are workaholics, maybe because they feel aimless and need some outside driving force. I work, but I also make alot of time for family and other activities. I turn down jobs that ask for more then 40 hours a week and I've quit jobs that had an unhealthy obsession with having your ass in a chair 8 hours a day at exactly 8am.


If you care about offsetting environmental costs of travelling, etc. consider donating to coolearth.org! About 70$ can offset an average carbon footprint for a whole year I think... It‘s one of the most effective charities against climate change and comes recommended by people such as Will MacAskill and Peter Singer who have founded a movement concerned with effective charity or „doing good better“. https://www.effectivealtruism.org/doing-good-better/


It's kind of sad to realise reading a comment like this now makes me instantly suspicious about whether or not this is "true" enthusiasm or something motivated by profit. It's a fundamentally hard problem to solve, but IMO it is one of the bigger hurdles facing places like this now.


Even when you're not doubting the recommendation enthusiasm, it's hard to not be suspicious of the charity itself, given how badly most of them are managed.


Work long hours to make money to pay for nice things like travel and medication because those things take time and effort to create and time spent creating should be rewarded and we reward people spending time working long hours creating things with money.

So yes, it does correlate.


ooh. much better put than my longer rant in sibling comment.


Maybe it does, if he works at Boeing.

The reason we have all these advances that increase our quality of life is because generations have worked their ass off to build them


Modern healthcare is the one thing I would be truly scared to give up. Fancy food, elaborate shelters, and rapid transportation are things that don't really matter much to your actual happiness. The idea that a cut on your thumb could kill you in your early twenties is pretty scary though.


I am not sure how the two are related. Are you implying that your view of quality of life (“work hard / travel the world”) is universal?

Or, that everyone who works hard reaps the rewards, ignoring the ever-increasing disparity in compensation?


Certainly, I've been very lucky. No argument there.

But the only thing I'm saying is to not over romanticise the past. The life of a 14 century peasant was not good compared to mine.

I also realise that a lot of the comforts I enjoy are because lots of people spent time in boring offices before me. The article sounds quite dismissive of that.

I'm forever grateful and do my part to help. Nobody owes me a good life.


I hear you and I think the comparison was quantifying the time spent in labor more than anything else.


So because we have it good now we shouldn't seek to do things better?


I never argued that. I do believe that things are much better now than in the 14th century though. That's the comment I replied to.

We should always strive to improve, but the article had the tone of "oh look how bad everything is" while implying that it hasn't always been like that. Things are far better now in almost any quantifiable measure than they have ever been in human history. Not enough people talk about that.


What if you quantify against Europe? The article is pointing out the unhealthy work obsession and work environment of the US. How many people do you know with vacation the won't take for fear of losing their job? That is not the norm in every country.


> How many people do you know with vacation the won't take for fear of losing their job?

None. How many do you know?


At least a quarter of my coworkers when I worked at HP.


No, but because we have it good now we shouldn't frame the discussion to seem that the current situation is dire. We can and should do better, but things are already pretty great.


Just an FYI: hunter gatherers haven't been a significant portion of the overall human population for thousands of years. Like it or not, humans uncovered an ecological niche in the form of agriculture that was vastly more successful than hunting and foraging. The cost of occupying this new ecological niche is that we started working all day, every day.

And it's nice that 14th century peasants didn't work much, but as the article you linked to says, that happened to be a time of particularly high wages because the Black Death greatly reduced the supply of labor. In other words, it was not at all representative of the general lifestyle of a peasant.


> The cost of occupying this new ecological niche is that we started working all day, every day.

That's not quite true. Farming is heavy, all day long work during sowing and harvest seasons, but other than these, which take a few weeks out of a year, it's not all that much work really. Keeping animals on the other hand requires some work every day (taking them in and out of the pasture, milking, cleaning sheds etc), but it's not all day long, it's really on the order of 1-2 hours a day.

Keep in mind also that for most of the history, farmers didn't really have all that much land to farm, and each farmer would work on much smaller plot than he and his family was physically able to. The reason for this is really Malthusian. If there's excess food, you have population growth, which makes you hit the carrying capacity only in a handful of generations. Look at American colonies for example. After they were founded, the population grew mostly through natural growth, further immigration being relatively unimportant -- foreign born population rarely exceeded 10%. Yet the population increased 20-fold in only 100 years.

This means that throughout most of the history, the farmer parents only had barely enough land to sustain themselves and 2 children -- only 2 children of each parent reproduced on average, otherwise you'd have population growth, which meant war or famine (or both). The farmer didn't have a lot of farming to do, because he just didn't have enough land to plow and sow.

If you are European, talk to some old people who grew up farming. My mother grew up on a farm in Eastern Europe, and her village only got electricity in early 1980s. When I talk to her, or my grandparents, or their neighbors, and I ask them if the life was poor back then, and what was the thing they needed the most, everyone always says that they had too little land. In America it was of course much different, for obvious reasons.


Great reply, thanks.

My father-in-law grew up on a very small farm in Poland. I know from my wife that when she would visit her uncle (who inherited the farm) in the summer, they would work long, hard days. I'll ask my father-in-law about winters. Something tells me there was plenty of work to be done in the winter as well.


This thread is getting pretty stale at this point, but I talked to my father in law about winters on a small farm and figured I’d relay the information here.

He said that winters are definitely less work than summers, but that means that work days are more like 10 hours instead of 14. He said they still have to tend to the animals (milk cows, feed chickens, feed and cleanup after cows, horses and pigs), gather firewood, pump water from the well, clear snow, etc. Plus they do stuff that they simply don’t have time for in the summer. Repair things, spin wool and hemp, pluck geese for down, etc.

That being said, when he was growing up in Eastern Poland, 7 years of school were mandatory and he said basically all families adhered to this requirement. This indicates that there was some level of surplus generated by this lifestyle, because children become pretty useful by 5-6 years old, so having them spend 7 years being non-productive at school is a big deal.


Indeed, the typical American now spends more hours just to pay for land to sleep on than hunter-gatherers did to live.


This isn't true. Hunter gatherer life is nearly universally harsh and violent. I posted an article on this in the same comment thread. Modern humans are miserable, for sure, but older forms of life were not better.


> Hunter-gatherers only worked 2-3 hours per day.

They were also dead by 35.


That is misleading. Infant mortality was high, but for those who lived past childhood average lifespan was not that far off from what it is today. https://condensedscience.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/life-expec...


What you said is also misleading. Hunter gatherers could live as long as people live today, but they frequently did not. Murder rates among hunter gatherers are insanely high. And there are all manner of disease that are no longer fatal, but once were. Heck, I've had several infections in my own life that would have been catastrophic 100 years ago.


OK. they only had a 50% chance of making it to 5 years old. That's much better!


So more “vacation”, but dead at 40. Sounds like a great trade.


Yes, that's a very good point. Work has always been part of the human condition, and middle class people in the first world are enjoying much, much more comfortable working conditions than their ancestors did. I think we should all be very grateful for that. But it's also a very modern thing for people to suffer from alienating, despair-inducing work. I think this alienation, which Marx speaks of in much detail, is the root of many modern complaints.

When you do manual work outdoors, there is a sort of physical element that allows you to get "in the zone" and it really feels like true work. But for white collar tasks like accounting, programming, and filing papers, there's not as often a moment for meditation or getting "in the zone". And there's something much more alienating about doing comfortable work that is held up, not because of the winter frost, but because of some corporate inefficiency.

Likewise, blue collar assembly-line labor, in which your entire day is spent building a single part for a huge machine, is much the same. The carpenter can feel delighted from finishing an entire chair, and a weaver might enjoy seeing many completed baskets, but the factory worker never knows rest, never knows any satisfaction, because the modern species of work never ends.

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:18-19)


You captured a core reason that I picked up wood working: projects finish.

An annoying aspect of software is that it takes a life of its own. It is never done, but there are feature requests, bugs, and updates.

You make a table, and that is it. It's done. Sure, you have to clean it, but mostly it will last a while until it breaks down.


I think many software projects should be called “done”, but startups hire lots of people and add tons of new features in the name of growth.

I’m working on a SaaS service that does one thing really well, and I think it’s pretty close to being done. The code is very solid, and I rarely see any bugs or error reports (thanks to React, Immutable.js, and Flow.) The infrastructure is autoscaling and requires very little maintenance (thanks to convox.)

There’s always more features and integrations I could add, but I’m getting enough customers without them. It will require some ongoing work (e.g. updates for security vulnerabilities), but I’m not too interesting in trying to turn my table into a house. I'd rather follow the Unix philosophy and build a lot of very nice tables.


Flow is fantastic. But nowadays I eschew Immutable for flow-static-land Lenses, with the amazing “decoders” library for handling JSON. That lets me use standard raw objects in a type-safe way with real runtime validation, and with cleaner types than you get with Immutable and Flow!


This is why I wish I had gotten into video game development rather than app development. Once the game is finished it is (for the most part) complete.


Are you being sarcastic? The game industry is the hardest and most miserable. Surely you haven't missed that.


I guess, if you pick badly then it probably is. I've been working in video games for 4 years now(as a C++ engine programmer) and I'm still enjoying it a lot. We ship a project, millions of people enjoy it, it feels great. The last time I had to do overtime was 2 years ago I think, I'm usually home by 5pm and get to do other stuff I really enjoy. The pay could be a bit better, but seriously, the superb job satisfaction and good work-life balance is worth the slight reduction in pay compared to companies where you hate every second of being there.


Alright, nice to hear there are still decent companies out there. Its easy to get the image that the entire industry is really bad.


The worst games to work on are the sports franchises, they have to be out before the next season starts because the team lineups might change next season.


I got into video game development. It is mostly fun and interesting work and I have never regretted it. Sometimes when I was younger I was exploited for my passion with long hours or poor pay but the game industry largely grew out of that. It can still be tough especially on triple A games with huge marketing budgets... nothing puts pressure on managers and a team like a 7-8 figure marketing spend or a launch deadline that cannot be moved (sports seasons, movie releases, thanksgiving) Video games are software and software does not like to be told to finish in the next N weeks no matter how many bugs or how complex they are, or new features that have been dreamed up and must be implemted. This is where tales of long death marches come from. Even those are not ubiquitous. Anyway finally I get to your point: games are online now and they often don’t finish at launch. You can now continue to fix bugs and tweak gameplay after launch and have users update. Not only that but work begins on downloadable expansions and some games have live stores and other online services like leaderboards. I switched to the mobile game industry which is a lot less punishing on staff because you rarely have hard deadlines and games ramp up more slowly. They tend to run for 3-5 years so there is no final release. This means more career stability because AAA teams tend to have layoffs after launch and sometimes disband entirely.


Not since the rise of DLC. With companies providing DLC support for years after release, games are moving to a SaaS-like model.

Take, for example, Crusader Kings II, a game released in 2012 that's still getting DLC and free patches subsidized by DLC sales to this day.

And there's also this infographic about day-one DLC that's been going around for a few years now: http://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DLCWor...


I read that's a rough industry.


There's no doubt that working outside is infinitely better than working in an office. In my street, garbage collectors, arguably, for some people, one of the least attractive and least qualified jobs in the world, sing every morning. They're happy and they're singing!

If you hear someone sing in an office it's because they're either crazy or have been fired.

But there is also something to be said in favor of repetitive, low-qualification work. It frees the mind while you're doing it: you can think about something else, or even, yes, sing -- and most importantly, it doesn't follow you home.

Modern mid-level office jobs where you're constantly tethered to the company, at all hours and even during "holidays" (if you can get any) are the worst of the worst.


I've mostly worked in offices. Most of them involved unreasonable time pressure-- someone will be mad if you're even 2 minutes 'late', and your time spent available for incoming work can be tracked to the second (and commented on in employee reviews). Involved managers who build healthy teams are too often punished rather than rewarded for it. You are also surrounded by people who, despite these conditions, apparently have sufficient free time to try to pull you into whatever local politics, gossip or sidechannel recruiting they feel like.

Between all that garbage and a commute which was a little too long & dangerous for my mental health, I quit.

To make ends meet, I ended up cleaning offices much like the ones I previously worked in. No one cares if I'm a few minutes late, as long as the work gets done. My goals are literally visible and easily measurable. When I'm done, I'm done, and as you say, I don't take my work home. People universally appreciate what I'm doing and tend to smile at me. I can confirm I have spare brain cycles for new ideas, as well. I definitely think people benefit from having some kind of tangible, repetitive work like this in their lives.

Yeah, the pay sucks, and I'm still trying to find that holy grail of a 'good developer job', but I am doing it on my terms now. In the mean time, my day to day life is significantly happier and more manageable. Sometimes, if the office is empty, I even sing.


Well said.

Often people forget the mental stress modern work places on us. I remember my Dad working hours but he was tired from physical exhaustion and not mental. He didn't have email or messaging that would distract him from a weekend of relaxation.

I was addicted to checking my email every once in a while and found my mind switching to thinking about work instead of enjoying the moment. Thankfully I broke that habit.

Today, I try and impress this upon other people who do this.


>When you do manual work outdoors, there is a sort of physical element that allows you to get "in the zone" and it really feels like true work.

The mind and the body are meant to be worked together.

I think that jobs like programming which minimize physical movement and maximize mental work are unnatural.

I've worked as a programmer, but before that I worked farm labour.

My meals and my sleep have never been as good as those days when I did a full day on the farm, feeding animals, milking cows and taking in the hay.


I think you may be over-romanticizing the value of outdoor work here. Let's take agriculture as an example of doing manual work outdoors. How is it more alienating to have a project held up by corporate inefficiency than by freak variances of weather? How is it not just as stressful to see a crop ruined by a hailstorm, or a chance summer shower at the wrong time destroy the value of hay that is ready to bale? Speaking as someone who grew up with this, and has also worked an assembly-line job in the past, it was actually easier to get into a meditative 'in the zone' state doing that than tilling a field or constructing a fence. And isn't having to milk the same cows twice a day, every single day the embodiment of the "species of work that never ends"?

This isn't strictly due to modern agriculture, either. Poor timing/freak weather events in the past wouldn't just cause farmers to lose their livelihood, it would also mean there was a very real risk of starvation. While losing your job and comfortable livelihood can certainly be stressful, there seem to be quite a few people who believe that work in the past wasn't just as, if not more, stressful.


This comment made me think of Tolstoy. His portrayal of the noble Konstantin Levin's experience with manual labour, mirrored my own modern white-collar experiences with outdoor labour.

The passage can be read her for anyone interested. http://www.bartleby.com/316/304.html


Excellent write up. You've put into words what I felt like but couldn't really express.


The article criticizes American work culture for very good reasons. Of course we should work and have jobs, but that doesn't mean work needs to be like it is in America.

Do you guys in America even know how it is in Sweden for example? We don't have this competitive culture, and companies are trying hard to make their employees feel good at work. Nobody really works full 8 hours at big companies and nobody is stressed very much. Bosses never blame anyone directly for anything since it's not allowed, culture wise. People are very relaxed.

When I read about American culture, it seems insane.


I'm pretty sure the idea is that we're supposed to be killing you, so the people in Sweden end up out of a job and only the frantic, stressed American workers survive. This, for the purpose of making just a few American capital holders impossibly more wealthy for the virtue of holding the reins on the madly charging American workers.

I think you're quite correct that it's insane, but you can also view it through the lens of class war. There are some people in charge who have an unthinkable amount of capital, and they would like it to be this way everywhere.

'Culture' is led by leaders. Company culture comes from the top down. If you had a company leader who earnestly thought hunting down and murdering workers in rival companies was the best way to be a company, AND he was allowed to pursue that unregulated and unrestrained, you'd see a 'culture' straight out of the darkest cyberpunk because others would play copycat and it'd become the new normal. You'd have to deal with it on its own terms.

Of course it's insane, and of course it's killing people: in a sense that's a feature. This is the operating system on which we run. There's only workarounds, or changing the OS out from under the 'culture' it produces.


Plus the month-long paid summer vacations!

EDIT: To be more precise: typically ~20 days in the summer and additional ~5-15 days in the winter. Averages by country, Sweden 26 days: https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/highlights/which-countr...

34 days (minimum?) when you include the 16 paid public holidays such as Christmas, New Year, Easter, Midsummer: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-most-...


It's more often 5-6 weeks. As a Swede I always feel alien to the hours Americans seem to put in.

I'm a consultant and work roughly 35h/w in Sweden. I often find this a bit too much, given that the work I do is disconnected from anything "real". Sure, my clients are always happy and I do fun things, but my family and friends is what's real.

I truly believe we should automate everything and let humans decide by themselves if they feel like working. If not, something like UBI should exist.


hey, if you have too much work, I'd be happy to help with some of it (preferably web dev and ML in python) -_- dy (a) deepmagic.io


From what I've seen, 10 days vacation per year seems to be the norm in corporate US, though I know people who get even less than that.


I'd say more like 10-15 days (2-3 weeks).

That's said, I will point out that most people posting on this site are in desirable enough roles that US work culture is a choice, not a requirement, even when you're living in the US. It just seems to be a choice that most don't consider.

I could easily find a position which makes 25% salary than my current position. Instead I took one where I never work more than 40hrs, where I have essentially 7 weeks PTO starting and it'll go up if I stay here long-term.

My quality of life is fantastic and I still make more than enough for a very nice lifestyle (and proper retirement/long-term goal savings).

I'm sure I could live even more luxuriously or retire a couple years sooner if I made even more money, but I don't think that would be remotely worth what I get by not going that route. Not to mention the people who just die or develop debilitating ailments before they ever really get to enjoy that retirement.


Everyone in EU gets at least 21 paid days off a year + unlimited paid sick leave, no matter if you're a surgeon or a cleaner. But yes, for bigger companies it's usually closer to 30 paid days off than 20.


To be fair, there are a lot of Americans who would prefer the Swedish approach, but are stuck. When I last checked Sweden was not as easy to get a visa for as some other countries.

Sounds lovely, though.


This is a largely valid point, but it has traditionally been much easier to see the fruits of your labor (often literally, as most people produced food, but if not, then in a small shop, a small manufacture of some kind, a small legal office...). Today we toil for owners we never meet, executives we would barely recognize if we pass them in the hall, customers we never see. We get the stressors, and never see the point.


And I find this sort of posts bizarre. The argument that "we are better of today than we were in prehistory or the middle ages, so quit your complaining". Yes, things are better, but no, that doesn't mean we should stop wanting to improve. We have accomplished a lot, but we have not reached the end-all stage of human development. Societies are better than they were 500 years ago, but they're still pretty damn flawed. We can do much, much better.


I'm not saying it hasn't been prevalent for a long time, but I just think it's daft. Even if it is how it has always been, things could probably change for the better. I'm certainly grateful for the times we live in, however I see a lot of capable people let their lives pass by doing mundane jobs with little enjoyment, and worse still, little social impact. Surely we can do better than this?!


Yes, we're better off in material terms, but today's work is the most meaningless it has ever been.


Could not agree with you more. Satisfaction is lacking in so many aspects of the modern work environment.


Past societies had classes, so conditions were very different depending on the class you belonged to. If you were a Roman patriarch you were expected not to work at all. Same if you were a 17th century French aristocrat.

The promise of the modern society was that everyone being "equal", we would all become aristocrats. In fact we all became slaves.

(And of course, hunters gatherers lived, to the best of our knowledge, in classless groups where each individual worked very little each day).


Work surely was universal, but 2 things are very different now

1. Working outside (as mentioned) just doesn't compare with office job, i.e. it provides physical exercise, fresh air, being close to nature/animals. Now we're simulating all these things with gyms/vacations/zoos (I think the quality of such simulation is out of question?)

2. Work had to be done with your family, now there is no simulation for this in our society at all. And I would guess it was much better option than running as fast as we can (as most corporate people do) at 6:00PM, away from these annoying faces :)


>It's like humans enjoyed their time for millennia and only now we have to work.

Has nothing to do with the OP's comment, and it attempts to shift the conversation to justification.

>For all human history, the conditions of people were dire. Today people might be stuck in an office in their "best year", but people in the past had to toil all day to barely scrape by and didn't even have that many years to live.

Again, why are you doing this?

>It's only now that we live these comfortable lives with houses, heating, electricity, technology and a sea of information at our fingertips. These things all exist and keep functioning because people work.

Who is arguing against work in general? The article and the OP are discussing working conditions. Work doesn't have to be torture. America has a very unhealthy relationship with the idea of work and what it means. No pain no gain, right?

>And yet some think that "society has gone wrong", as if the past was paradise.

In the last 40-50 years, American society has taken some significant steps backwards, and the workers have felt it. If you're comparing conditions to hundreds or thousands of years ago, why? What is your goal?

>Work has been a human universal through history. There is surely an argument to be made about the fact that now we are so productive that we might not need to work as much as we had to.

At the same time I think we should be grateful that we live in the best life conditions ever seen by humanity.

You finally brushed against the point in your penultimate paragraph.


Work seems to be largely disconnected from actual results or goals, and appears to be straying further into the abstract.

In the past work and exercise were nearly identical, now work looks something like sitting in a desk all day under fluorescent light.

Nutrition was once a result of simply eating what was available, but now has changed to a daily fight, something that requires constant effort and discipline in order to maintain as we are completely bombarded by those that seek to exploit our instinctive responses.

We've traded these and other things for safety, comfort, and reproductive success.


Equivalent animals certainly don't spend all day toiling. We aren't ants. I don't see any reason to believe that was the case for us.


For many animals, every day is a fight to live. Constantly looking for food.


Cats sleep 16 hours a day for example. Animals in nature are not constantly looking for food, except grass eaters who ear whole day.


This reminds me of a paper on primate stress level increases due to the amount of time they spend foraging (study was focused on deforestation but seems applicable here). It seems to suggest a biological ceiling for well being and reproductive success.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122102110.h...


True. That is also because digestion for them is wonky (IIRC).

However, they are a predator. Look at mice or other small creatures, and you realize their entire existence is the search for food.


Of course, most of them die.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37775622

Though if we weren't so damn focused on having so much crap maybe a few of those animals would still be around.


In the book Sapiens the author argues that life was perhaps better before the invention of agriculture, with relative comfort and less time spent on subsistence.


It's interesting that the skeletons found from the period after agriculture was introduced are significantly shorter than those from before.


The book also says how that world was incredibly violent and unsympathetic to the elderly/sick.


I don't think work in and of itself is the problem. The problem with modern day work is that it's become so homogenous regardless of desired outcome.

For example:

- If I want meat, I perform task X

- If I want heat, I perform task X

- If I want cothes, I perform task X

In previous generations (more recent than you might assume) many of these desired outcomes had totally different tasks.

Its also a false dichotomy that things are work _OR_ play. Many things are a blend of Work/Play/Hobby or more simply just "living".

It would have been an evolutionary advantage to be interested in and inclined to perform various types of tasks for early humans. Modern work suppresses this human need. This is why we have hobbies and people are depressed.

More "free" time to watch Netflix may not be the pinnacle happiness and fulfillment. This is not to suggest that life was "easy" in the past.


Your notions of history are incorrect. There were certainly periods of deprivation, particularly after the Industrial Revolution and before the New Deal in the US, but other than that, no, people were not owned so totally by their employers. They did not need to work as much to earn as little.

Between 1950 and 1980, the average wage of the lower 90% of the economy rose by 75%. Between 1980 and 2010, it rose by 1%. And during 1980 to 2010 we experienced the introduction of computers into the workplace. Average worker productivity skyrocketed at an absurd rate. Yet, every penny of that advancement and more was scalped by employers and shareholders. People are not being greedy in expecting more. They are intuitively sensing that they are being exploited more and more heavily every single year. No increase in productivity is ever reflected in increased earnings or free time or anything like that.

The notion of the New Deal was that 1 person working only 40 hours a week should be paid enough that they could raise an entire family on it comfortably. Do you think that could be done today? No, it couldn't. If you've got a couple kids, and you only have 1 40 hour job providing the income you are completely boned. You're poor. We have been racing backwards, and we have gained literally nothing for it.


>At the same time I think we should be grateful that we live in the best life conditions ever seen by humanity.

What metrics did you use to determine this, other than life expectancy? A zoo animal may have a longer life expectancy, but a free animal arguably leads a more satisfying life according to their nature.


It was more dire often, but it was also more leisurely during the times it wasn't dire. So now we're eliminated the dire situations, but we've given up the leisurely situations in return for more stuff (and also more safetly, organization, far greater adventures, and other things).


Yeah I love coming home from my hard as fuck underpaid job to turn on the TV and see idiots kicking a ball for $100 million dollars.

Something is definitely wrong.


> For all human history, the conditions of people were dire.

No. There's been societies based on slavery or indentured servitude and industrial societies treating workers much like slaves and there's been also almost idyllic, often agrarian, societies far removed from war, exploitation and hunger.

Furthermore, given the incredible amount of energy and natural resources that the average person in rich countries is consuming we should all be living happy and meaningful lives and work one our per week.

We should instead ask the difficult question - why are even the richest societies so unhappy?


Citation needed.

My understanding of primitive agrarian societies are that they have hard work, hard lives, poor diet, and a population that is generally at the edge of starvation. (In good times, population grows. In bad times...) You might want to read Guns, Germs and Steel as an example of a reference backing this view up. Or read through random snippets of history like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1315%E2%80%931... and get a sense for the very real struggles that people faced.


http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_w...

"Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek than today's"


Nine inch nails. “We think we’ve climbed so far, on all the backs we’ve come down...”


I don't have a specific text offhand that addresses this directly, but Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms addresses this general point. It's part of a series of related works, edited by Joel Mokyr, including last year's The Rise and Fall of American Growth, by Robert Gordon.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/farewell-to-alms-a-brief-econ...

https://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/series/title/the-prince...

Whilst preindustrial societies did see variable subsistence, the floor tended to be higher than today (Clark's introduction, available online, notes that the poorest people who've ever lived, live now, and in great numbers), and cycles tended to be long-term -- decades or centuries, not years. Whilst life expectancy at birth was low, from age of majority it was generally far less abbreviated. Disease was far more prevalent in cities (London was a net population sink well into the 19h century), and major instances of famine and plague something experienced perhaps only by occasional generations within an area, though wth mortality rates from 10-90% (far more typically in the 10-30% range).

You're familiar with Laurie Garrett's wwork on healthxare, and the fact that 85% of mortality decline since 1850 materially predates modern medical practice, including antibiotics, vaccines, and organ transsplants. The Conquest of Pestilence in New York City chart highlights this:

https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/wp-content/uplo...


These “idyllic” societies still had rough lives. Nature is not only a paradise. It’s ripe with disease, infections, predators killing you and your cattle, children’s and mothers dying during childbirth, droughts, and famines.

And wars exist also, and especially, among tribes.

Growing food without modern technologies, fertilizers and pesticides was also an extremely hard job. It’s not like growing tomatoes in your back garden.


This is something I have given a lot of thought to.

I saw footage of a gazelle being hunted by a cheetah. My reflexive thought is -- how unimaginably horrible. Here is an animal which is evolved specifically to hunt you down and kill you. And every moment you spend trying to live is a moment lived in fear of this awful creature. What a life! My horror does not even compare to the horror of this life.

But, watching the gazelle slalom and jump with incredible precision and grace, there is another thought: that the gazelle was also born to run. It uses its God given abilities to the absolute maximum possible extent. During the chase, it is in a state of complete flow, more complete than any Olympic athlete could ever hope for. The sheer concentration required, the exertion, the split-second decision-making required to avoid getting caught. To master this state is to escape the predator, and it must feel incredible to outrun a cheetah. Incredible in a way that is impossible for a human living a modern lifestyle to fathom.

To fail means to die, of course, and that cannot feel good to a gazelle. But it's just death. We all die anyway. Human beings, gazelle, cheetahs. It is a simple fact that you will die.

So, then, whose life is better? The gazelle's, whose time is spent performing in the most integrated and pure way possible? Or the human's?

The human's life, which is spent doing activities its body was not designed for, in social situations his brain is not built for, eating things his stomach was not designed for? And then, we die. Just like the gazelle.

Interesting to think about for sure. I myself have no option — synthetic insulin keeps me alive.


The gazelle is not self-conscious about it's life, and whether it's muscles are beautiful or not. It will never sense the beauty of what you're describing - from it's point of view, it will just feel fear, pain, then die.

Perhaps a higher-dimensional being would also see some beauty in our life that we cannot comprehend currently - like the gazelle can't comprehend it's Olympic flow, a human can't comprehend the long-term beauty of how they toil and work against the odds.

> whose life is better? If by better you mean, which being feels more emotion/happiness/satisfaction, it's an open question. But if better implies more progress and safety/longevity, then humans it is.


The gazelle may not be able to reflect on the meaning of its existence but it is certainly capable of experiencing its actions and environment. A lack of self-awareness is not a lack of enjoyment, it may even heighten it. Think of the droves of people working to afford some time to simply live in the moment, to experience the raw beauty of nature or a physical challenge. Without a self or ego projected into the future, every minute of the gazelle's life is like that. As you say, an animal can feel fear and pain but they are also capable of feeling relief, pleasure, and even joy.

If you attempt to quantify life in such terms you may run into issues, our longevity is meager when compared to a giant tortoise or a simple koi fish, for all of our progress and the safety it grants us we still succumb to the same fate, we still suffer and all of our works are washed away by rain and time.


> The gazelle is not self-conscious about it's life

This is a popular assertion about animals, but I've yet to see someone prove it.

Also we shouldn't overestimate how self aware the average human is.

Much of our lives are lived in a disconnected fog, disconnected from our bodies, our feelings and our minds.


I saw footage of a gazelle being hunted by a cheetah. My reflexive thought is -- how unimaginably horrible. Here is an animal which is evolved specifically to avoid your attempts to eat it. And every moment you spend trying to live is a moment lived in fear of this awful creature. What a life! My horror does not even compare to the horror of this life.

But, watching the cheetah cut off its prey and pounce with incredible precision and grace, there is another thought: that the cheetah was also born to eat. It uses its God given abilities to the absolute maximum possible extent. During the chase, it is in a state of complete flow, more complete than any Olympic athlete could ever hope for. The sheer concentration required, the exertion, the split-second decision-making required to avoid dying of hunger. To master this state is to capture the prey, and it must feel incredible to finally catch a gazelle. Incredible in a way that is impossible for a human living a modern lifestyle to fathom.

To fail means to die, of course, and that cannot feel good to a cheetah. But it's just death. We all die anyway. Human beings, cheetah, gazelles. It is a simple fact that you will die.


In those idyllic societies that you mention, there are still teachers, senators, merchants, and diplomats who have to do work. The only people I can think of who don't do "work" in ancient history are religious monks and rich people living off of an inheritance.


It's not work itself that is the problem. Work actually should contribute to happiness, but the conditions must induce that. The negative atmosphere that exists in many work environments is terrible. Rather than leaving with a sense of achievement for your expended efforts, you leave feeling beaten down and unappreciated.


Monks were kept busy writing manuscripts preserving scientific and historical knowledge.


If you get too idyllic you get conquered by jealous neighbors


I agree wholeheartedly, and just so you know, once you get out of North America (the USA especially), it's often not like this.

There are millions and millions of people out there in their 20s and 30s who work part time and do whatever they want with the other time, because that provides "enough" money for the life they want to live.

I personally work roughly 50% time. I work a few years, then a quit and do whatever I want for a few years. Right now I'm driving around Africa, have not gone to work since mid-2015, it's fantastic.

My brother just built a house and had his first child with his wife. He works 4 days a week, looking to get down to 3. When his wife goes back to work she will work 3, maybe only two. They don't have a lot of money, but they have "enough" for the life they want and they spend a lot of time surfing, walking on the beach etc. They're both early 30s.


> They don't have a lot of money, but they have "enough" for the life they want and they spend a lot of time surfing

Right. and what happens when they get old? how will they ever be able to retire?


Are you asking this as someone who's already in retirement, enjoying what's left of the simple pleasures or are you still working like the typical American and planning for retirement?

It's sort of like most people turning their noses when someone (used to; now it's different) said they were starting a business: "Oh, well what happens when you fail and can't get a job? How will you ever be able to live then?" People find a way and it sounds like the people the poster was referencing, know themselves well enough to make their decisions. While on the other hand, comparing people to the "norm" many times comes from someone who doesn't know themselves and their wants well (or ignores them), and uses the norm as their gauge for "success," or what have you. For a subset of people, retirement isn't something they want or even need. One of the sentiments I hear often from those still working in older age, "What, retire? Now? I've been working my entire life, what the hell am I gonna do in retirement besides die?" or "60 years of doing shit I didn't want, so I could enjoy 15 doing only the things my body allows now."

Life's short. If you want to do things, do them. The only reason you don't is because you live in fear. There will always be drawbacks to going against the status quo, but that's the price you pay to get what you want.


I do believe we need to advance the idea of 'Basic Income' it will give people the freedom to de-attach themselves from toxic working environment or pause for a bit. I did that few times now. I never regret it. Giving people some social safety net to look after their family and make decisions about their well-being and happiness is a must. without making it easier for those who may abuse the system.


They're putting away money for retirement.

Because they are currently living on not a whole lot, they are not going to need a whole lot in retirement either, because they will be accustomed to having less money.

Before you get all uppity about healthcare costs, just remember there is only one developed country on the entire planet where anyone would even think about that. They don't live in it.

As a reference point, I was reading a very detailed write-up of what a single person would spend in retirement per year, and it was more than double what I was living on working full-time as a Software Engineer.


I'm sure you're aware of this, but a lot of people just don't have the financial freedom to even begin thinking about a decision like this, or it ends up requiring a lot of energy to make that plan viable. And as you've probably experienced, energy is not exactly abundant after a day/week/month/etc in an environment like that...


Oh I'm very aware of it. I tried once before to quit my job and go it alone, at the ripe old age of 22! I failed spectacularly. Reason - I only had 7k GBP in my bank. That simply wasn't enough money for me to live on and pay my mortgage till I found clients. I then put aside 10x times that amount, and things started to fall into place. Exactly the same skills, idea and enthusiasm as before, just a bigger cushion that meant money was not at the forefront of my mind driving crazy waves of anxiety.


Fuck me, wish I had 7k at 22, just around the time the internet bubble burst, basically fucked and went back to data entry for a while.


That 7k was very hard earned. I basically existed much like a pauper despite having a steady job. The amount felt like a lot to me back then too. 4 months later, I realised how little it was! If anything it made me realise how undervalued I was at work.


With the right financial planning, it can be done. But, if you've already taken on 20K in student loans and 5 year cell phone contract, it's gonna be much much harder. That's why we need to start teach financial education really early: like K-12.

Food and water can be quite cheap: the grocery stores are filled with healthy foods you can get for less than 1$ per lb in most of the US: corn, whole wheat flour, bananas, apples, grapes, onions, beans, rolled oats, etc.

The biggest problem with living cheaply is Housing, Healthcare and Tax. for the most part these are mandated by the gov regulations to be really expensive. Once those are solved, we'll be able to live quite cost effectively. I've seen some people get around that by living in a camper van, traveling the world - not for everyone, i know. But, the tiny house movement shows us we can get a tiny house for just 20K.


> That's why we need to start teach financial education really early: like K-12

What you are suggesting would lead to a generation that saves more and consumes less.

When GDP seems to be the only success metric that matters, I often wonder if such education is omitted intentionally.


The moment your life depends on a 7% return, you dont have a viable lifestyle for everyone.


I've already made this comment before, but of course, once people are taught something, they reliably have the same behavior, because humans are such previsible machines ! See various addictions, sex ed, advertising, yada yada.


Actually, we need to do is organize politically and demand that our political leaders use the vast resources at our disposal to build a society that takes care of everyone’s essential needs for free, rather than allowing them to be hoarded by a relatively tiny caste of unfathomably wealthy assholes. Teaching people to scrape by on scraps is the opposite of what we need.


I think you're suggesting redistribution of wealth from the ultra wealthy. It sounds logical: i use to think this was the answer to. But, The problem is, they're not wealthy enough for it to matter. even if you take every last bit of wealth 100% taxation of all their income from all time from every single billionaire in the entire US (about 2.3 trillion$ for the forbes 400), and spread it around giving it out equally to all citizens of the US, that would still only be about 8000$ per head. Any years after that, you'd get nothing because they'd having nothing else to give.

So taxation on a massive scale doesn't work. The problem isn't that the super rich are too wealthy. The problem is life is too expensive for most people. That's the problem we should try to address. In order to do that you'd have to reduce the cost of housing and healthcare.


Everything you say proves your privilege. If you work a minimum wage job there is no way you can put aside 20k in a few years. Taking on student loans is necessary for many to even get a degree to have a chance at a decent job. And poor people usually are excellent at managing resources, yet you go "poor people just lack character", while what they lack is money, which is stolen by a small group of people at the top because they are a bunch of vampires sucking the life out of everything.


Pretty much. There comes a time when it seems hardly worth sugar-coating realities like that. The whole topic is inextricable from the engine constructed to make a few victorious entities, whether they're companies or individuals or both, successful to a degree that justifies their apparent importance.

Funny how that importance is never 'serving people the best way', and is always 'thousands of times more powerful and wealthy than you could even imagine and consuming the blood of young servants in order to live forever'. With some of the most successful Silicon Valley capitalists, the latter is literally true: consuming the blood of the young in hopes of living longer.

I'm not sure how much more on-the-nose it can even get. It's kind of nice to see these things openly talked about. It's legitimate to ask, "This is possible, indeed is happening. Is this good?"


Funny that you mention privilege. Most people in the US don't have a degree [1]. Are you saying none of those people have decent jobs? Never mind the people on this very website that work in tech without a degree, there are plenty of other jobs that require no degrees and are compensated quite well. [2] is a good read, despite the fact that it's a little out of date.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_...

[2] http://www.er-doctor.com/doctor_income.html


There are over 300 million Americans. "None" could only ever be a hyperbolic strawman. But on balance, yes, those without a degree experience substantially higher unemployment and lower wages [0].

[0] https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm


Good point. In many cases the higher wages are somewhat negated by the time investment though.


the point is, people spend far more than they have to on college education. The cheapest 4 year degrees are much cheaper than the average ones. And, if you're not shopping around based on price (most people seem not to be), most likely your doing yourself a disservice. Of course, it also depends on your career plans.

I myself, went to the cheapest college in my area, even though I could have gotten into a far more expensive/prestigious college. I chose not to because I knew it would put me a great economic disadvantage to have so much debt. Software engineering careers and many other careers don't always benefit from more prestigious schools.

If more people shopped for colleges based on price then maybe universities will start competing on price and we can finally see them planning ways to make college cheaper instead of adding yet another good for nothing expensive wing to the campus.


People have been living trailer parks, with trailers worth far less then 20k for many years. The tiny housing movement did not show us much.


Nope, just that when people who are not poor live in small houses they live quite well, hardly shocking.


I really dont understand how in America, tiny houses doesn't get translated as slums.


Because what is called tiny house is a status symbol of the middle class. If a poor person lives in a small house or trailer it's called a slum.


I believe there's also a virtue signalling aspect that plays into the problems in the original article.

"I am so dedicated to my work that I willingly turn my home and outside-of-work life into the smallest possible monastic box, using less resources than the average Joe. Plus I'm so classy that it's a beautiful box, and it can't be cluttered by bourgeois garbage because my experience outside work is a stark void and doesn't generate things that would require space."

Whoa, that looks good on your performance review. All you need to add is 'and I'm never there because I work all the time. The only person who sees my house is Merry Maids, and they only have to send one person with featherdusters all over her. She twirls, and that's her job done for the week' ;)


Or the opposite; tiny house permitting made it more apparent that many trailer parks have inadequate septic/sewer systems.

Also see, the resurgence of Hookworm in Lowndes Al.


Is that more a function of density?


It's a function of lower income trailer parks not caring about building and sanitation codes.


It's true that not everyone can do it, but it's also true that most professional people who say this are just mentally stuck in an expensive lifestyle, and/or unwilling go somewhere cheaper.


If you are so fortunate to only have to work a 9to5, there is no excuse to waste these years.

How many musicians do you know that play in clubs? Most are working two restaurant jobs, renting a room, and scraping money together to buy strings, just for the chance to entertain a crowd for little or no pay.

It's all perspective, really.


“Only” work 9 to 5?

Don’t forget your commute. And you’ll still need your wife to get the kids to school and pick them up. Hope you earn enough for that and she’s happy st home. And you should help out with dinner and the lunches and homework. And when you get the kids to bed it’s 8 and you’re exhausted.

Enjoy your weekend.


Last month I moved back to London for a contract job. Yes it pays well, but because of the hours I basically have no life. I leave at 7:30, get to the office just before 9, work until 7, then head home and arrive around 8:30.

I really wish part time work was more of a thing in this industry...


I’ve been contracting in London for about 8 years now. In the last 2-3 years one of my primary criteria is that i only work till 5 and at least one day from home. Some of my best contracts, both professionally and financially came after implementing this filter. There’s hope.


I'm wondering what the point of modern society is if village life was more enjoyable.


The point of modern society would seem to be to enable the existence of people so wealthy they are practically gods and never have to work, except on what they want to.


A household with a single income? Laughs in Millennial


I chose not to have kids. Was a great call becauses kids are like 1,000,000 each (when you factor in investment returns).


My kids are worth more than all the money in the world as far as I'm concerned. Besides, there's a lot of cushion in that $1,000,000 figure. Frugality is so underrated.


Agreed. If raising a child were to cost $1M in 20 years, that would average $50k/year. I earn about as much and have two kids, so I imagine I would have noticed if it was that expensive.


Factoring in 5-7% annual return on investment, it's only about 25-30k per year, not 50k. (Given P(0) = 0 and P(n) = P(n-1) * 1.07 + $25,000, P(20) would be $1,024,887.31.) Perhaps still a bit high, but not too far off, especially considering that the second child probably has a lower marginal cost than the first.


Fair point, although most people don't get that kind of ROI for their extra money in practice (instead most of the money is "lost" in all kinds of fun things).

I could argue that $25k/year is still very high compared to my experience, but I have no idea how much daycare, healthcare and education cost in the US. It probably makes no sense to compare costs to a country where I would earn over double my current income...


Maybe it's counting college costs or something.


it's everything over 50 years. It makes a difference having a kid at 25 vs 35.


This comment elegantly displays what's wrong with modern society.

Yes, kids require a lot of things that cost money and a lot of time from the parents. Yes, they make you significantly less productive at work when something is wrong. Yes, life is much easier without kids.

But having and raising children is literally one of the most natural things to want to do with your life. A culture that views children mostly as inconveniences is a sick culture.


The Shakers were a sick culture?

Modern society literally worships children, so you don't have to worry.

Or, as George Carlin puts it, "bunch of diaper sniffers."


> But having and raising children is literally one of the most natural things to want to do with your life.

"Natural" is not good. Life in nature is nasty, brutish, and short.

Some other things that aren't natural include eyeglasses, prosthetic limbs, vaccines, antibiotics, air conditioning, cooked food, and electronics.

I worship artifice, and I find the idea that natural things are laudable to be repugnant in every possible way.

I'm also a proud trans woman, and that's sure as hell not natural either. I utterly detest nature.


We are kind of puny in the grand scheme of the entire natural universe, and we have a lot to learn from it.

All of those artificial things you praise came about through the intense study of nature.

We can learn from nature and appreciate its great beauty without being a slave to it.


One could argue that many of the artificial things are there just to counter the negatives of other artificial things just to keep the whole thing going.


Unfortunately if everyone took this route, we'd encounter a whole new stack of problems.


This will realistically never happen, no need to worry. Yet a bit less new people everywhere would help so much.


Or eliminate a whole stack of problems, depending on your perspective.


The ROI for a child is priceless. :)


Only if you're that way inclined in the first place, which many people (and an increasing number) are not.


I got goats; I think they are a better deal. ;)


Live closer and smaller so no commute. Don't let the wife be a SAHM, this is utter nonsense.


Two restaurant jobs means 3 commutes with a 60 to 70 hour work week.

But true, I didn't add in family.


I think this whole "perspective" business is exactly how we got into the situation in the topic...


I agree! I just sold my house, moved into a smaller place, and paid off all my debt. Once free of my mortgage and car payments, I was able to quit working for the ungrateful bastards who used to employ me and start making changes to my life, and the way I use of money, so I can live the remainder of my life on my own terms. I use to think wealth was having a huge amount of money. I think that point of view was wrong. Now I view wealth as having my income and outflow perfectly balanced so I can remain free of debt and corporate bondage.


Your comment strikes a chord with me. Similar to the saying that someone reminded me of the other day, we spend huge amounts of time working to afford a house and then we are hardly ever there. I'm working on breaking out of it too - my idea is to move to somewhere with a much lower cost of living (im currently in one of the most expensive places) and then shifting to working 2-3 days per week, hopefully I can still do that for my current employer while in my spare time build up a few side gigs which I will eventually shift to.


>The job was torture, quitting was scary and bumpy, but looking back it was an excellent decision.

Can you share your story? How did you make it?


Sure.

I always wanted my own business as I saw it as a route to mental and financial freedom. I was under no false impressions of the difficulty involved as I've seen my family struggle (and prosper) while running their own businesses.

Anyway, I started by building a little product on the side whilst working. I sold the product to a few hedge funds and investment bank divisions that I could get into via my contacts (both from university and work). That little product turned into this: https://osrec.co.uk/products/heavymetl and provides good recurring income.

I then put together a SaaS product for bookkeeping/accounting/invoicing: https://usebx.com/app . It was rather well received, and we even got a few corporate clients to sign up. We're working on version 2, which I think will be even better! We tend to pick up customers that have become irritated by quickbooks/Xero/Sage.

Then there's the consulting piece, which is ongoing. We basically help institutions get out of sticky tech situations that your average developer might struggle with without specific financial regulation knowledge. E.g. helping an investment bank prove that their implementation of a data store for financial greeks is in accordance with BCBS239. Not easy to do unless you know the regs, and can suggest ways in which they can become compliant if they are not.

Random tips that I picked up along the way:

- Tenacity and passion are important - A healthy bank balance is important, primarily to keep anxiety away - Don't ever appear desperate for business. Big turn off for a client. - A well defined product sells better than a poorly defined one - A good product sells better than a bad one (i.e. don't believe the ship rubbish early mantra - it does have its place, however, if you are going into a mature market, users want something good and reliable first time or they bail) - Build things often and well. Don't be lazy with quality control. Have the guts to build without a framework! It can really bolster your technical prowess. - Be nice to people. A friendly interaction has often turned into business. - Be assertive with difficult clients. Often this applies to the non-techy clients that come out with sarcastic remarks such as "you charged us £50k for pressing a few buttons. Why can't we have XYZ as well as ABC?" or "I thought this was included in the original contract?". Make it clear to them that if they don't see the value in the service or can't deal straightforwardly, then we don't need them as a client. They soon come around, when they have to go back to their manual error-prone ways.

So that's it, in a nutshell! Sorry if I rambled. All the best :)


Thank you!


Do you have a job now? If so how is it better?


Judging from his profile he consults now: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=osrec


Yes, I have a consulting company now. Also starting to put together a few interesting products that my clients may be interested in.


Please tell us more. How does the stress compare? How does the pay compare?


Stress is non-existent now (apart from worrying about family etc). Pay was 0 for the first 3 months - that was scary, but I had some savings and I had an idea I was happy to go along with. My family was against me, but eventually got on board (after a year!). Now pay is an order of magnitude larger than my best salary as an investment banker (1.5 years later). My focus is now technology - it's my passion and I'm good at it. My clients still come primarily from finance, but now have one in healthcare too. I'm also starting to put together a few products I want to sell. Trying to grow organically, with a small team. I don't really want a big team; just a small team of really high quality people that can turn their hand to any task. Overall it's been enjoyable, but the start was tricky (especially because everyone around me thought I'd fail and end up back in a similar investment banking job). It's not for everyone, but at the time, I was so unhappy within myself, that I didn't really have another option.


I am also interested in the route you took, so I wonder if you would be open to talking about how you found your first clients?


Sure drop me an email via my company website and ask away :)


Cheers I will do that!


I'm not the person you replied to, but in early 2015, after a company went down from under me three months after I started, I figured out that maybe it was a bad idea to go join another one. I've been consulting, between twenty and thirty billable hours a week, ever since.

Pay: A little less. But I'm working about half the hours. I've had time to start a little side company and to work on another I'm most of the way through, as well as explore other maybe-careers (photography, videography, audio) without impacting my cash flow. I spend a little less money, but some of that is willing: I'm not at work, I don't have to pay $10 for lunch, I can make a small salad. I've had no trouble keeping up my retirement accounts. If I retire.

Stress: much lighter overall, but the occasional terror-spike. Finding work is challenging, and there have been dry spots that made me very antsy, but I enjoy it, and the company I do most of my work through is good at keeping me busy without having to spend my time on sales. I'm moving in with my girlfriend, and that'll just about halve my expenses while placing me in a much more convenient/walkable area, so this should go down further. (She is sometimes a little miffed that I work so little. But I cook, and I cook pretty well, and I'm paying rent, so.)

If you have an in-demand skillset, you can do very well. For me, it's devops, but it's devops informed with the way that I've done everything else in a tech group, from web and mobile to databases, so I'm not approaching it either from a sysadmin point of view or some dogmatic Agile-esque one, and I can help in a lot of ways.

Also, shameless plug: i'm always willing to chat with new prospective clients. ;) Email's in my profile.


Thanks for all of the detail! Your parting parenthetical is something I find myself doing to people too, but in reality maybe we all ought to work less.


I feel like it’s been this way since we were cast out of eden (aka the agricultural revolution).


What do you do now?


I've had the chance to see the toll that a stressful environment (big tech company) can have on physical and mental health - I've experienced it personally and noticed it in others that I work with.

The part about a big tech company being a stressful environment isn't the thing that surprised me, but rather people's responses to how they react to either being on the receiving side of the stress, and management's failure to respond to this or even try to talk about it.

The thing that bugs me the most about the entire situation is that most of the stress that seems to exist, mostly exists because of people who have no idea what they're doing, make decisions they have no business making. Then you have engineers that either come from cultures that are high in agreeableness, or they've never been very assertive themselves and just accept these decisions, thinking it's a situation of "if I don't do this I'm going to get fired".

Most of the people I work with don't even consider the option of just taking an extended period of time off to prevent being burned out because they're basically tied to their employment due to work visas (you guessed it, Indian and Chinese workers) and a lot of them are trying to support family back home. So even leaving their job and taking extended time off isn't a viable option.

Don't even get me started on how I've seen people's physical and mental health completely deteriorate. I know lots of people in my organization that are extremely depressed and wouldn't even be the least bit surprised if I heard they ate a bullet tomorrow.

This whole industry has just motivated me to work to achieve financial independence/early retirement as soon as I can just so I never have to think about working with incompetent people in my life again, or at least, have the financial freedom to cut those relationships once they do arise. It sucks because I know I'll be working on tech related projects for the rest of my life, but I have to ignore the desire to work on things that will actually make a difference so that I can build up that nest egg to have the financial freedom and peace of mind to actually pursue it.


At some point, you have to admit that the stress is intentional. That it is a part of a misguided strategy to extract maximum value from employees, while minimizing managements political exposure.


I think you nailed a large part of it, in this modest short paragraph. It's a little strong to say that it's ALWAYS intentional -- but frequently management has a very high emotional IQ and they're not oblivious to the effects of top-down policies.

If anything what was once intention for one person, turns into style/culture/rationalizations for many others. Let me try to turn the abstraction into an example. Have you ever heard a manager say about someone who works very very hard, "(S)he is passionate about technology"? My favorite one in the world is, "This is a startup, what do you expect." "This is a startup, if you want a 9 to 5 this is not the place for you."

As an older but still young enough (I hope) techie, I've learned to see that the platitudes and promises, the myth about changing the world or bullying about working hard (because what you describe reminds me of bullying) affects YOUNG PEOPLE the most.

And those young people, maybe a small percentage will make a lot of money at a young age. I know a few and I'm not even in Silicon Valley. Many others will piss their 20's away working long hours and drown their livers with company-sponsored drinks.


> wouldn't even be the least bit surprised if I heard they ate a bullet tomorrow

I know it's hard, but I think you have a responsibility to step in when you see things like this.

I've been severely depressed before, and if someone, even if I didn't know them very well, had done something to indicate that they knew what I was going through, it would have helped. Sometimes people who are suicidal are convinced that if they did eat a bullet tomorrow, no one would care.


I agree, I've been dealing with the same issues myself for the past 3 years and have just now started to emerge from it and actually have the energy to reach out to others.

I've started the conversation with the peers that I know well at this point and have encouraged them to start looking after their own mental+physical health, seeking treatment/help, because frankly, no one in my org's management chain cares about the consequences they have on others' wellbeing.

What sort of frightens me is that the more I look around me the more I realize that a lot of people seem to be having issues with mental health and stress - some are just better at hiding it than others.


People who treat their workers in this way should be ashamed. Such blatant exploitation should be illegal.


I’ve always found it very effective to use a “just say no” policy to out of hours work or more work than I can handle comfortably.

People stop taking advantage when you stop letting them. More than you might expect actually respect it. I don’t think this way of working has hurt my career progression, and it’s certainly done wonders for my mental health.


Yep yep yep.

I've had to fight numerous battles with my boss, along the lines of, "I don't care who scheduled the meeting, I already have plans tonight, and it's not reasonable to make me change them with no notice."

This mentality has turned out to be (a) well worth it for my marriage, and (b) not actually a big deal in the scheme of things.


>" I already have plans tonight, and it's not reasonable to make me change them with no notice."

I find the fact that you even feel you need to include this part disgusting. I'm paid for 40 hours a week. You are not required to pay me overtime. You do not get a second extra of my time


Well, yes.

I am salaried, and they do pay me well, so I'm willing to work more than 40 hours from time to time, when schedules are tight.

I think that for me, my criteria for being OK with more-than-40 are probably something like: (0) it had better not be that much more than 40, (1) it had better not be an exception, not the rule, and (2) it had better be something I can plan for, so I'm not jerking around my family/friends.


Additionally, if the company gives you other perks, it's often worth it.

If I can generally set my own hours, and you give me a ton of vacation time, pay me well, and give me other good incentives just for working there, I'm much more likely to put in a few extra hours every now and then if something comes up.


Agreed. I've found the more you stand up for yourself, the more your boundaries are respected. That said, I'm sure it doesn't work in all situations, or with all bosses, so I'm hesitant to blame the victim -- I've been lucky to have very good bosses in my career.


I've found that assembling highly in demand skills helps a lot with this. For awhile I was by far and away the best developer in my org (which is not to say that I'm a good developer, just that our org had 0 formal software engineering xp). This gave me very broad power to say no to projects or put in place prerequisites which had to be met before I would take on a project. It definitely pissed people off, but I was adding enough value to be able to take the stance "hey if you don't like it fire me".


Couldn't agree more. I do think there's a sense of competition that can breed that working all night/available all night mentality, but I find that if I can actually focus 6 hours a day on being productive I'm outperforming those people that are emailing at 9pm, and I think that actually makes me look better to those above me. I have only my own career progression as evidence there, but comparing the years when I tried to be an all night go getter to the years I strictly cut off my work day at the end, I am more respected and more performant with the latter.


100% true.

> I don’t think this way of working has hurt my career progression

I am sure it has helped.


Yep.

The "if you give them an inch they'll take a mile" philosophy applies. My wife tends to try and accommodate, and it has meant she isn't respected in her current position.

Meanwhile, same company, I've made it clear that I have boundaries. I may allow some time after my usual working hours; if I do, I will leave early/arrive late the next day. I'm not putting in over 40 hours, and -I- get to determine when my schedule changes.

And, perversely, it's led to greater recognition, promotion, etc. The fact I act like I am in control leads people to believe I am, and should be given, control.


Having a boring office job is really depressing, and it's a shame that you're not allowed to complain about it because there are people in third world countries worse off. Rather than comparing ourselves to impoverished countries, we should take the lead in using our technological advancement to create more humane societies that don't tie people to jobs they hate living paycheck to paycheck.

Europe certainly has a better model here than the US (more vacation, unemployment benefits), but there's room for improvement (eg. basic income).

Personally I left my office job in NYC about 4 months ago and have been traveling for the last 2 months (in South America). Being here and meeting other travelers (especially European), digital nomads, etc. has really made me realize how toxic American rat race work culture is. One Colombian I met who spent time living in the U.S. summed it up the best - Americans only seem to think about money.

Now I know some of you will say "but Colombia is poorer than us!" That may be the case, but it doesn't dispute the fact that our culture has become toxic - money/work obsessed, 2 weeks/year vacation, usurious amounts of student loan debt, etc.

If you need an example of a country with a bit more sense - I met a 28 year old Finnish guy here in Colombia in the middle of a multi-month vacation. His job back in Finland? Working in the deli section of a supermarket selling sausages. Completely blew my mind. If he were born in America and in the same occupation, he would probably not have the time or money for a 2 month international vacation. I've got friends the same age in professional occupations (eg. economist for the government) forgoing vacations until they pay back their 6-8% interest student loans. Europe in general has a much healthier attitude when it comes to work/life balance than America. Though on the bright side, at least we have it better than Asia (minus the student loan and healthcare part).


As a Colombian myself who studied and worked in the US in the past, I can confirm how the focus on money as the principal mean of finding happiness is specially strong in American culture. This distinction I believe, makes it very hard for people in the US when things don't work out the way they wanted.


To the deli guy - I've had this experience too. When you meet someone who has what Americans would consider a "high school" job or "work between jobs" is very much someone's only job, it's really hard to wrap your head around it.


> Europe certainly has a better model here than the US

Makes you wonder why are there more Europeans moving to the US than the other way around.


There is no downtime anymore. You can never truly get away from work in an age of 4g connectivity everywhere.

I'm doing a bit of consulting with a startup at the moment, and one of our team members recently disappeared off on vacation. Good for him, I thought. Two days later, he popped back up on the company slack, working away from his tropical beach.

To be clear, this is not a case of digital nomadding. This is 10 days of vacation time that they somehow guilted him into throwing away after he had actually flown halfway around the world.

20 years ago, there was an expectation that when you left the office, you were unreachable except in an emergency. I don't see any hint of that expectation anymore. It's a combination of employers with serious boundary issues, and empoloyees fearing the ramifications of pushing back.

You really need to stand up for yourself these days. But at least I've found that if you do so, it generally works.


I had to cancel my honeymoon and my brother's honeymoon because of work.

I am an H1B from India working for the American subsidiary of an India company. For a short period of time, I was put on a project that was created by some other team and finally abandoned by the customer. Then, 1-2 years later, new customer management decided to bring the project back to life. Only thing was the new management didn't know it was still in prototype stage. They tried to go to market with it, only to find issues.

Unfortunately for me, when this customer approached my company, I was free and I got assigned to this project. I did what they asked to. It was only for a month of so. Then, I heard nothing from this customer for a couple of months. Then they showed up again asking me to make some changes, that lasted for 1-2 weeks. It repeated once or twice again. Then I never heard from them.

2 years passed by after I worked on this project for the first time. I must have worked on and off for 2 months total in this so far. I went to India on a 40 day vacation for my brother's and my marriage. I get an email from the manager who handles this customer that this customer has come back again and they want me to work. I tried to work from India as much as I could. But this manager insisted on me cancelling my vacation. Finally, he escalated to my actual manager's boss's boss, saying that I have to cancel my honeymoon. I was scared of loosing my visa, so I ended my cancelling my honeymoon. Since my brother and I got married within the same month, we had our honeymoon's planned together. So he also had to cancel.

The day I got the email from the manager asking me to cancel my honeymoon, I stayed in room for the whole day. I was incredibly stressed and miserable.

I was never the same person after this. I lost all my interest in work and my company. I will resign within 1 or 2 months and leave US altogether. There is a good chance I will regret it later, but it has become too much for me to handle.


I want to start off by saying that it was wrong of them to ask you to cancel your vacation, but in the end you threw away your vacation on the hypothetical that they would fire you, only to leave the company voluntarily. It seems like you ended up with the worst of both worlds. If you would have said no, then you'd be no worse off than you are now.


The guy is obviously going through an awful time, is it really necessary to point that out?


He's a human, not a robot. I'm sure he agonized over BOTH decisions. I'm glad it was fully rational and clear cut for you, though.


Look, I've had an awful day. Nothing to compare with your story, but bad enough to start shooting cvs like a machine gun. After coming home and a nice cold beer, I feel fine.

My reasoning is that in a couple of months max I'll have another job. A better paid job, with a sensible schedule (not this ridiculous 2 hour lunch stop), with a sensible dress code and standard ways to do things. While the people that made me feel bad today will be, no doubt, in exactly the same trouble that they're today because they don't know any better and they don't listen.

Don't leave the US for that bad experience. Do leave if you feel that you'll be better off in your country for other reasons, but not because of an awful person. Do you want to feel all your life that a single idiot ruined your life plans?

How much time do you need to stay in that company to keep your visa? From your story it seems that you've been there for four years. If it isn't much more than a year more, resist. Pretend indifference or, even better, feel it. Make plans for what you'll do when you can change jobs. Get support from your wife and family. And trust yourself.


> There is no downtime anymore. You can never truly get away from work in an age of 4g connectivity everywhere.

You can. Get rid of your phone. Most of us don't have a job that actually requires a phone, and it's really as matter of your work willing to take advantage of the fact that most of you won't push back when pressed. You can take advantage of the fact that they won't pay for you to carry a phone.

I finally got rid of my phone about a month ago. Started off deleting all the apps, stopped carrying it. Finally, took a roofing hammer and smashed it to bits. I may purchase a pay-as-you-go "brick" and leave it in the trunk of my car for emergencies, but otherwise I will never have an internet connected device that I carry on me at all times. It's needless for most of us.

You can talk about how convenient it is to have things like Maps at all times, and to be sure that is convenient. Just requires a little forethought and planning. Don't give into the FOMO, smash your phone.


I've never configured Outlook on my phone. If they absolutely -have- to reach me, they can text or call me.

The beautiful thing about that is it makes it difficult, but not impossible, to reach me. No one on my project has my number. They know who does. That person knows to respect my time. They also know I don't always pick up.

So there's multiple levels of filtering that means that if it arrives, it arrives as a voicemail, and is something so important it requires attention ASAP, -and- is something that can't be addressed by someone else (since if it is, it'll be faster to find someone who can figure it out than to reach me). So it's a very small class of problems that actually get through, and they're usually the ones I -do- care about.


A bit less extreme, but I put my phone silent mode about 6 months ago and never set it back.

I was probably checking it more for the first month to be honest, but after breaking my own and others expectations of a swift reply I find it much easier to respond at my leisure.

Edit: communication at work is expected over internal IM and email, and my previous solution was to not give out my number. I feel this works better.

After all, if I'm 3 hours late responding and it was dire I would have been contacted via other means.


Well done.

Perhaps a middle ground is having a dedicated work phone, and then turning that off when you are not on the clock and not rostered to be on call.


Android Work Profile can help with this. You can turn off the work profile, which completely disables your work account, apps, and notifications.

https://support.google.com/work/android/answer/7029561?hl=en


No phone? We need team players at this company. /s


You joke, but I've never worked in a place I didn't hear this literal sentence.


Sole developer, devops, and all the other I/T hats for a startup. Amazingly when I dipped out for a 2 week vacation in Thailand I wasn't bugged once. I informed them I would only have chromebook so I could only SSH into a server, very limited as to what I could do. I also ensured that nothing was released for 2 weeks prior to me leaving. The only exceptions were critical bugs.

I was amazed that I wasn't bothered once. The no release thing leading up to the vacation was a huge saver I think. Thats not to say I haven't been fucked by this company. I worked all day December 30th (Saturday I think) and a half day on NYE this year. But in general things I've put in like only doing releases on Tuesday to keep them far away from the weekend and only doing system patches once per month outside of super critical things (Meltdown and Spectre) have saved me. Again though I still get fucked on occasion.

But I mostly fuck myself into working either because I feel pressured by the sheer weight of ever building tasks and bugs or because there is something fun I want to try in our application, generally performance optimizations make me happy and give me a sense of accomplishment. I can be found doing those some early Saturday mornings before getting on with my day.


> I don't see any hint of that expectation anymore

From what I've seen, in a sample size of three commercial workplaces with software projects, I think it varies from person to person and company to company.

At my current enterprisey gig, my perception is that some of my colleagues are very poor at setting boundaries with work, especially in terms of signing out of the team's slack after hours. This isn't forced by the environment, it's people choosing to remain plugged in. Some of my other colleagues are much better at setting boundaries. I managed to last about 1.5 years in my role before checking my work email or work slack outside of business hours.

In previous gigs at a small company I've seen far worse culture in terms of crunch time to hit project milestones or close deals, but also fairly positive leadership at times from the CEO telling people to go home.

You want to work for a company where people signing in to company slack/Skype when they are meant to be on leave are kindly but firmly hounded by colleagues and management to disconnect and go actually have their holiday.


> 20 years ago, there was an expectation that when you left the office, you were unreachable except in an emergency.

Maybe I am sort of fresh in the workforce (3 yrs) but I just don't allow this - if I am not in the office I don't work. I don't have slack on my phone or whatever and I have strict boundaries working 9-5. Does it become worse when I have more exp?


No. A few companies may have toxic expectations from management (and some of the stories here do show people who work for such places); avoid them (quit if you mistakenly end up at one).

But most of this is self-inflicted via tacitly accepting and reinforcing cultural norms that don't actually need to be followed. I've yet to work at a place that attempted to abuse my boundaries once I made it clear I respected them. I.e., "Didn't you see that email I sent last night?" "I did when I got in today", they now know I don't check email after hours. No one wants to 'officially' say "You should have no work life balance; we expect you to be on call 24/7", so just making it clear that you won't voluntarily do it, and will presume that you are always truly off the clock when not at work, means they tacitly accept it.


I think it's mostly a combination of the work culture at any given employer or even within a team, and the habits/expectations of the people doing the work.

I keep weird hours due to working remotely and across time zones, and I do encourage people to contact me by phone for anything time-sensitive when I'm offline. But that almost never happens, people are usually OK with waiting until I get back online to answer their queries.

Some form of this is more the rule than the exception on my team, because the people who don't work remotely still have lives (pick up the kids, avoid the rush-hour traffic, whatever) -- and also have to be flexible about their hours due to the multiple time zones.

This includes people with 1 to 25+ years experience FWIW. So I wouldn't worry about it, if you want to have a strict 9-5 boundary you can find good places to work (just not on anything mission-critical). If you prefer to work 40 hours a week on some other reasonable schedule, you can also find good places to work.

I once had a colleague who worked a very strict 9-5 and could have been called in an emergency but we all understood it would have to be a REAL emergency before we bothered that guy. He did a great job and everyone respected him, despite his being probably the only guy in the building keeping such a rigid schedule.


This is the correct attitude. My comment comes from observing the 20-something crowd at this current gig. As near as I can tell, I'm the only one there who leaves work completely behind at any point during the week.

It's painful to watch. Glad to hear you're not falling for it.


>20 years ago, there was an expectation that when you left the office, you were unreachable except in an emergency. I don't see any hint of that expectation anymore.

This is commonplace in Europe. Vacation is vacation, and largely this is respected.


Ehh. I used to think that too. In the UK the culture (at least in London) is pretty damn close to NYC or Silicon Valley in terms of evening and weekend work in tech. At least in better paying jobs.

For full time roles, they DO have 23 to 25 days vacation minimum, unlike that evil PTO of 15 days (or worse, unlimited vacation) where you have to cancel your honeymoon if you get the flu that year.


Yup, can confirm. As far as I can tell, only some managers do some work during their vacation, but I'm sure it's because they want to (i.e. they feel that the world would fall apart without them).


Not all Europeans. I work with a number of Swiss folks from my company and I remember thinking "jesus! I thought they had better work/life balance in Europe!".

Getting on calls at 8pm (due to time zone different), emails on the weekend, work travel on bank holidays, etc.


I had a colleague that interrupted the honeymoon because of a vague "we are swamped with work" remark from an asshat manager.


> I see a workplace that has become shockingly inhumane.

A thousand times this. Very few of the lessons my parents taught me apply in the corporate world. Be honest and straight with people, assume good intent, take responsibility, etc.

All that behavior will do is paint you as naive. Sure there's room for honesty and responsibility, but only when used appropriately (strategically). Strikes me as acutely inhumane every time my career is rewarded for suppressing those behaviors.

I am not even allowed to tell a candidate (another human being that probably NEEDS a paycheck) why I didn't hire them and what they can do to improve their viability.

Just because the company has discarded this person it also means I must discard them as well? It kills me every time, but I NEED my paycheck more than I prefer to help my fellow human.


Not really the company's fault here. Policies like this exist because candidates have and will sue the shit out of you for any flimsy accusation of discrimination they can cobble together.

Companies didn't create these policies arbitrarily and unprovoked. They became necessary because of some people who took advantage of the legal system to get settlements. It's in the company's best interest to protect itself from frivolous lawsuits, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Which isn't to say that there aren't people who actually are discriminated against, but in this example it's not a company "discarding" someone as much as it is covering its bases.


This fear is overblown in my opinion. If people really want to sue then they will sue based on the fact that companies hire H1Bs into the position that they applied for. Then the company would have to prove not that the H1B was the better candidate but that the American was not qualified. Who decides on that qualification? Well a judge/jury based on the job description. If your resume matches those qualifications and it's truthful then you may have a case. I think that is a bigger risk than giving feedback. Giving objective feedback may actually help you since you communicated the specific lack of qualifications. However, I do think that you can implicitly derive the feedback based on the interview questions anyway.


I worked for a company who was sued because a candidate told us he was the second coming of Christ. We didn't really address it, and ended up not hiring him. He used The fact that he mentioned it as grounds for religious discrimination.

He didn't win, but we still had lawyer costs and what not. It is not an overblown fear at all.


If he sued with representation this illustrates another point. His lawyer took on a stupid frivolous case, probably because he also needed the money.

I think the real problem is that people today are on an economic treadmill. That need to survive economically is what make people willing to put up with all the other things.


This is exactly it. The thirst for the dollar makes us more willing to swallow bullshit with a (feigned) smile. But what can we do about it? That's the worst part. To dismantle the machine requires the coordination of a significant number of cogs.


Or you simply avoid consumerism, do your best to improve your situation, and try to hit the $50k/year point where its practical (in much of the US) to retire early if you are willing to live on a living wage rather than an inflated middle class lifestyle.

Something like 27% of the country could retire by 45 if they were willing to make the sacrifices necessary.


First, stop the thirst within. I am going to try an experiment and live in nature on land that I buy. Why do we need so much junk?


You don't have to be so extreme as to live off the land. If people would just love below their means and save, they wouldn't be in an absolute crisis the moment they lose their job.


How many of us are really in a position we can do that?


Given that we have material wealth 5-50 times higher than most people who have ever lived, virtually all of us.

Given that we are on a status treadmill with legally created artificial scarcity -- well, I still don't think it should be that hard, but apparently it is.


Look up Jason Rohrer. He sustains a family of five on $15k a year. It can be done.


I would not be surprised if he represented himself.


People also act like everyone has access to good lawyers or ones that would take on a case like this. The aforementioned 'lying in business' part comes in to play here where instead of 'we don't hire [race x]' it's 'The candidate did not meet the qualifications' or some other bullshit excuse.

It would take some hard evidence for me, the unemployed or in the less powerful position, to really make a go of proving I wasn't hired because of some discrimination.

The fear of blackballing on the employee side for many things and the fear of lawsuits (which, when you sign on at employer, typically includes some language about arbitration these days) on the employer side are overblown, I agree, and makes everyone cut throat.

I want to make enough to pay for rent, food, and have some time off to chill. Your company wants to stay and business and make money. Let's make a deal that benefits us both.


And because lawsuits are expensive, and often lawyers won't take a case unless it will bring them publicity or a big cash payout.


This goes for firing too. I've seen people who were categorically under performing try to bring lawsuits claiming discrimination upon firing many times.


This is why they just have layoffs.


Correct in most cases but if they put an identical job title out at an identical location, they are still vulnerable so you have to pick someone a grade more junior or a grade more senior to replace them.


Or they work with recruiters.


Working with recruiters to hire the same position that was part of a layoff in the same calendar year is problematic for obvious reasons.


True, but.... A company can (does) decide how much time, energy and money to put into protecting its executives. There is a strong trend that all business decisions are made because execs desire for self preservation makes them prioritize legal safety over every other consideration, including productivity and innovation, not just over being humane.


>> I am not even allowed to tell a candidate (another human being that probably NEEDS a paycheck) why I didn't hire them and what they can do to improve their viability. > Policies like this exist because candidates have and will sue the shit out of you for any flimsy accusation of discrimination they can cobble together.

I thought that it was the other way around. You need to have always ready the reasons why a candidate has been rejected and give them on request. Otherwise, they can sue you as your reasons are not clean and transparent.

But, I guess that this depends on the country's laws.


The reason is simple: "We've found a candidate who is a better fit" although that is, in my experience, due in no small part to the fact that we've never not been able to fill a position.

Conversely, one company I worked for did have us provide candidates thorough feedback, though that was only for those who didn't pass from a code challenge to an interview. Perhaps the hiring managers have them feedback, I'm not sure.

PS: the code challenge we gave was carefully put together so as to both be reasonably quick to complete for a skilled developer, but be vague enough in requirements to not have a single answer that could be copy-pasted from a Google search. For anyone who didn't pass, I'd typically write two to three pages, focused entirely on objective metrics, and online resources for further learning should the candidate choose to apply again in the future. We didn't use it as a binary yes / no test, but to inform the discussion we would have in the in-person interview assuming the candidate had a sufficient level of skill.


> I thought that it was the other way around. You need to have always ready the reasons why a candidate has been rejected and give them on request. Otherwise, they can sue you as your reasons are not clean and transparent.

"We found someone more qualified. Thank you for your interest."


I don't think that would pass muster if challenged.


I admit I am not very well informed in this area. Why would this not pass muster if challenged?


It would be valuable if a 3rd party solved the problem of feedback minus the liability. Could be a business there. No idea what that would look like though.


It's called "Consulting"


Job seekers hire consultants? News to me. Good on them.


I can name at least two established companies (FB and SpaceX) that will tell you why you were rejected. I 100% respect when companies are willing to do difficult, potentially perilous stuff like this.


FB policy may have changed? I was rejected last week and they said they couldn't tell me why for legal reasons.


Maybe. I did get feedback from them, but that was a few years ago.


Yeah, basically everything my parents, teachers taught me was wrong. Been unlearning and retraining my mind for the last 3-4 years via YouTube and listening to people who learned the same lessons I did as a kid and changed themselves. I’ve worked so hard and in the corporate world had basically nothing to show for it so started something else. As long as your realize this and adapt you will be ok but I was in anger/denial for too long. People cannot do anything but ‘surive’ on a company wage. I had colleagues (engineers/devs) stressing about how to pay rent or bills while expected to come in early/leave late and focus.


> All that behavior will do is paint you as naive.

Then you aren't doing it right. There is something exceedingly shocking about a brutal bluntness. Master this and you will forever change your perspective on job interviews, relationships, marriage, and leadership. You will know when you really nail it because people will begin to describe you as articulate or eloquent.

Honesty is highly valued, which is counter-intuitive to perceptions of the corporate work culture where kindness is the most highly valued interpersonal quality. How can you be brutally honest if honesty often hurts peoples' feelings? Be confident and frame your remarks with a dose of empathy. People don't like having their feelings trampled upon, but they generally prefer that to little white lies.

> but only when used appropriately (strategically).

Epic fail. Always be honest and direct with people. If there is some policy preventing the most direct and appropriate answer then don't respond at all. People are generally good at discerning when you are tap-dancing or spinning your wheels (cowardly bullshit).

> but I NEED my paycheck more than

Once you have allowed your ethics to be compromised the blood is in the water. This is a natural stress that other people will detect as a deception and a weakness. You are compromised and available for manipulation. You are a puppet. If a job makes me feel that insecure, like the last one, I will leave and go work somewhere else.


> Epic fail. Always be honest and direct with people. If there is some policy preventing the most direct and appropriate answer then don't respond at all. People are generally good at discerning when you are tap-dancing or spinning your wheels (cowardly bullshit).

I'm doing that in my current company and I feel it will get me fired (which I don't mind that much). When asked why my development tasks are taking so long, I'm honestly pointing out the myriad of architecture/design and infrastructure/CI/CD fuckups I have to spend time dealing with every day (I work in a major bank). Of course, people responsible for setting up things this way are still running things, and don't want to hear about consequences of their previous decisions.


I remember hearing this when I was at Travelocity. "uggghhh, they are being a bottleneck". The easiest solution to this is to vocalize and advocate for best practices. If doing that crushes a project timeline then make the product owner or project manager accountable for defying product quality in email. The old "I want that in writing".

If the product is crap in production everybody will be harmed, but at least you might have a get out of jail card. When I have pulled this in the past it serves as a forcing function for decision makers to revisit their poorly conceived decisions. For some reason it is so much easier to make bad decisions and order the consequences of such across an organization than it is to simply own it.


The oddest thing about this culture is how people perceive "honesty" as equivalent of brutal. Honest praise exists too. Honesty means also saying things like "that was actually Andy idea". Honest criticism is almost never dunking on somebody till you tear them down. Honest criticism is nuanced and labels minor or honest mistake as minor or honest.

Honesty is not bullying and if someone's idea of honesty is that, then that someone is likely a dick.

Honesty is not about unleashing ones negative emotions on other people, but geek culture tend to equate the two and then proceed from there.


There are liability reasons for not giving feedback. If I’ve had a good connection then I will give informal feedback on the phone only.


Most any form of helping someone out carries risks. Part of what makes acts of kindness praiseworthy is the acceptance of those risks for the sake of another person.


>> Most any form of helping someone out carries risks.

Really? I've never heard that. Can you give some examples? Preferably ones that seem harmless but could go wrong. I guess providing such examples is my job but I'm too tiered, so help me out.


Killing the messenger - it's true but they'll punish you for hearing it. You may remember that saying, if not: "No good deed goes unpunished."

All actions can backfire, I remember an old friend getting reamed out by his friend he'd given a computer to, when the hard drive failed, for not providing enough free maintainence. Given!

I had a friendship nearly end when I repaired a friend's computer. Something else went wrong a week later and he just assumed it must have been something I did.

A generous uncle of mine is forever finding that temporary favors like free rent are bitterly resented when withdrawn. People ain't all nice all the time.

Benefiting someone is not the same as pleasing them; psychopaths and narcissists please others, but the rest of us like to mix in a little benefiting-but-not-necessarily-pleasing now and then. Otherwise, the world just falls apart.


''Dressed in faded, threadbare GoreTex, a couple of months shy of his sixty-ninth birthday, Pete was a gangly, slightly stooped man who had returned to the high reaches of the Himalaya after a long absence. In 1966 he’d made the first ascent of the Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest point. In 1958 he’d made history as the driving force behind the first ascent of Hidden Peak, a 26,470-foot mountain in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan—the highest first ascent ever achieved by American climbers. Pete was even more famous, however, for playing a heroic role in an unsuccessful expedition to K2 in 1953, the same year Hillary and Tenzing reached the peak of Everest.

The eight-man expedition was pinned down in a ferocious blizzard high on K2, waiting to make an assault on the summit, when a team member named Art Gilkey developed thrombophlebitis, a life-threatening altitude-induced blood clot. Realizing that they would have to get Gilkey down immediately to have any hope of saving him, Schoening and the others started lowering him down the mountain’s steep Abruzzi Ridge as the storm raged. At 25,000 feet, a climber named George Bell slipped and pulled four others off with him. Reflexively wrapping the rope around his shoulders and ice ax, Schoening somehow managed to single-handedly hold on to Gilkey and simultaneously arrest the slide of the five falling climbers without being pulled off the mountain himself. One of the more incredible feats in the annals of mountaineering, it was known forever after simply as The Belay.*''

Jon Krakauer wrote that in Into thin air


Someone knocks on your door, bleeding from a wound on their arm. Are the a person in need or an armed assailant waiting to gain entry into your home?

A person flagging down help on the side of the road. Are they going to do something while you're in a vulnerable position changing a tire?

Most any interactions where "help" is more than verbal information transfer usually lead to situations where the helping party is put into a position of vulnerability. To help someone is to literally "go out on a limb" i.e. put yourself in a precarious position.


^ this. also, there's an entire family of laws[1] designed to protect people from certain risks they take on when they decide to help someone in dire need.

These are all extreme examples, but I think the parent post example (not giving feedback b/c of liability issues) is cut from the same cloth.

Businesses take liability risks day in & day out. For some, the calculus concludes that (practically) selfless gestures, like giving applicants feedback, aren't worth that risk. That, imo, is a shame.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law


>A person flagging down help on the side of the road. Are they going to do something while you're in a vulnerable position changing a tire?

There have been at least 2-3 different murderers who have used that technique in my local area within the last 5 years alone.It's just so wrong that I can't even wrap my head around it.


I create random small jobs, and I risk a bit of money in hopes of getting what I want. I don't need to, but I get a joy from creating opportunities.


Everything appears to be a liability these days - that is the problem.


That is, in the US. I live in San Francisco, but I'm from Italy and have worked (and hired, and fired) people there in the past. I can assure you that all this "legal wall" around everything doesn't really exist in Italy, or at least it's vastly mitigated.

As a consequence, I was able to provide detailed feedback every time I rejected a candidate, for example, without even thinking of the legal consequences.


Agree this is a US problem and I don't understand why.

It doesn't hurt me why you didn't select me.

You didn't think I would fit in culturally. Ok, no worries.

You didn't think I knew enough of what you wanted to know. Ok, no worries.

You didn't like the way I was dressed. Ok, no worries.

You weren't really hiring but were just testing the waters. Ok, probably won't apply again but no worries.


Because the way our laws protect protected classes make it trivial to hustle employers.

I’ve been sued and served with human rights complaints for firing a sleeping employee (I wasn’t checking on the sleep/wake status of employees not in protected classes) and for allegedly terminating an employee because of their protected substance abuse issues.

It’s an incredibly time consuming, expensive and stressful process.


Wait, now I have to Google protected substance abuse issues. How is this a thing?


Speculating but addiction is a disease, and corporate HR usually terminates for something like refusing to attend treatment / etc.


Good intentions and problematic incentives.

Medical conditions give you certain protections for good reason -- otherwise employers would just fire employees with cancer to keep insurance rates down.

99/100 these things are good, but it takes a couple of jerks to make life miserable for all.


>>Agree this is a US problem and I don't understand why.

Because the US has very severe issues related to racism, sexism, ageism and many other types of discrimination. So the laws are much tighter, which results in extreme caution and risk aversion on the part of employers.


And other paces dont? Almost every country has severe issues related to all the above. In the US, we have litigation everywhere, you fall and slip in a supermarket? Lawsuit! You tripped over a pothole? Lawsuit! Heck, lawyers advertise to do this...


Part of this is we don't have a social safety net, like universal health insurance.

>you fall and slip in a supermarket? Lawsuit!

You fall and slip in a supermarket, due to a careless employee and now you owe hundred of thousands in medical bills. Some executive somewhere realized it was easier to extract that cash from a corporation than putting some person deep in debt.

Secondly, I believe America's relationship with race/sex/age discrimination goes a lot deeper than most countries, despite the fact we are younger.


We don't have a social safety net? That's a surprise since 2/3rd of my federal taxes go to social programs!


Because nobody wants to be caught holding the bag. I went to the ER once because of a bad reaction to a burrito. (Serious pain and my fiancé made me go)

When I needed back surgery a few years later, I attracted the attention of my insurer’s subrogation team, who tried on several occasions to get me to state that I was in a car accident during the burrito incident.

You get hurt in a big way, your insurer will make you sue.


I want to agree with you but other countries suffer from similar issues. Why is it different in the US?


I have had this experience with a few companies I interviewed with in EU, where I got feedback after rejection.

It feels so pleasant, yet strange, after having taken it for granted that I'll just get a templated rejection letter based on interview experiences in the US.


I've heard the "MeToo" movement, with its guilt by accusation, is having unintended consequences. Male executives are starting to avoid women employees in any situation where there are not other people present.

This means no going out for drinks to make a deal, no business lunch to brainstorm, no meeting on the golf course to pitch your plan. Not even a discussion of confidential matters in the private office of one or the other.


Huh. Well, for my part, I haven’t changed my behavior one bit due to it, and I’m (still) not worried in the least about being sued or something for treating my women colleagues as ordinary people. Shrug.


That'll work great until you run into an unscrupulous woman or a grey area.


Male school teachers I know in Canada tell me its common sense to never be alone with a female student in a room. One false accusation and your livelihood is DOA.


Years ago I knew a professor who had a glass door installed on his office for that reason. These days it would be insufficient.


That is very real, and I have observed this personally, especially with male managers who have female reports.


Too many law school graduates.


There are reasons for everything. The liability isn't so great that is outweighs the benefit; it's simply that the corporation ascribes 0 value to helping the candidate improve.


And there are competing humanitarian reasons for giving it. The sadness is that our laws choose the institution over the individual.


Do you mean liability as in liability for discriminatory hiring practices by providing feedback?


No.

Liability as in the more that you have said, the more likely it is that a lawsuit will be filed based on a misunderstanding of what you did say.

It doesn't matter how unlikely the lawsuit is to win on the merits. Fighting in court and discovery both bring costs and distractions that institutions would prefer to avoid.


Makes sense.

I did not know this existed.

Thanks, learn something new everyday.

Bafflingly to think about...

(https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/lawsuits-based-the-h...)


Companies also tend to settle frivolous lawsuits because it's cheaper. Not giving feedback is not leaving any opening for frivolous lawsuits over the reason given.


Its more like protecting the company from a Manager going of piste and saying we don't hire xxxx for these sort of jobs.


Exactly. A manager can say overqualified and the company gets sued for age discrimination.


If the candidate lives in a one-party state your ass is toast!


> I am not even allowed to tell a candidate (another human being that probably NEEDS a paycheck) why I didn't hire them and what they can do to improve their viability

I really like interview questions that have binary results. If you can do X, you can do this job. That way if a candidate fails, they pretty much know why they failed. They couldn't do X. It's not always possible to phrase questions like that, but when I can, I do.


"Very few of the lessons my parents taught me apply in the corporate world. Be honest and straight with people, assume good intent, take responsibility, etc."

"All that behavior will do is paint you as naive. Sure there's room for honesty and responsibility, but only when used appropriately (strategically). Strikes me as acutely inhumane every time my career is rewarded for suppressing those behaviors."

The corporate world is only a reflection of the society that makes it up. There are plenty of people who are dishonest and manipulative. There is no real way to "fix" the corporate world.

Ergo there are only two ways to fix it, both of them only involving yourself:

I see a number of comments here opining that the current workforce health crisis is driven by a "money is happiness" society. You know what money buys you in this case? Freedom. The freedom to act how you wish and not care about this game.

Once you are free from that, it is a matter of perspective:

"The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing."

- "This is Water", David Foster Wallace https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf


>Just because the company has discarded this person it also means I must discard them as well? It kills me every time, but I NEED my paycheck more than I prefer to help my fellow human.

I think they should have given you a personality test before giving you HR responsibilities. I'm not trying to disparage you, but you seem not particularly suited to that job.


It sounds less like workplaces are broken, and more that you're working at a broken workplace. Go somewhere better - don't give your best efforts to the place you're at. There are workplaces where being honest and straight, assuming good intent, taking responsibility etc will move you UP.


Comments like these are naive, if well-intentioned. Work cultures permeate industries, cities and more. Moreover, for most people, even in the lucrative tech industry such as ourselves, don't have the luxury to peacefully and calmly pick and choose the ideal job: rent is due, mortgage is due, savings go down, or anxiety goes up and we take what comes up.

The myth of equal contactual relationship between employer/employee is painful to see turned into a helpful platitude of the genre "if you don't like it, find somewhere else."


I always wonder what the life experiences and world view of someone like the person you're replying to, consists of.

The older I get, the more apparent it becomes that most of my peers and friends have lived extremely "privileged" lives solely based on the freedom of choice that they've had over certain aspects of life. In most cases the source of the privilege is a combination of well educated guardians and money.

I find when talking to these people, they can never seem to fathom why someone can't just simply "get out" of a situation like this, or don't seem to understand what it could possibly be about their upbringing that lets them see the world this way or gives them a certain advantage. A lot of them seem to just see this privilege as a scalar value that just corresponds to a net worth, rather than seeing it as this incredibly powerful resource that can seed safety, well-being, knowledge, personal skills, mental stability, ... the list goes on.


Yes workplaces are broken. I have been in those that are broken and in some cases I have persevered because of mortgage and other bills. But, I made choices to leave, even in the face of not having a new job to go to. Yes, it can be very difficult to do this.

However, if you stay in a job that is killing you in any kind of fashion, health, mental, emotional or spiritual, then you are staying for the wrong reasons.

There is always some kind of work available, even if you have to move to get it that will be better for you than what you may be in now. If you are in a horrible high tech job paying great money but it is killing you, then you may be better off riding the back of a garbage truck or cleaning the local municipal toilets.

Too many people fall into the trap that they have to stay in a soul-killing job because they have to pay the mortgage, the school bills, etc, etc,etc.

You don't have to do this and if more people actually bit the bullet and left, the reputation of those businesses would filter out into the broader community. As long as more people don't stand up and challenge the wrongness of these systems then they will continue to perpetrate.

The older I get, I have more and more peers and friends who are from all walks of life and at every socio-economic level. All face problems of some sort or another. It is a matter of what and how you do things. There are many situations that are extremely difficult to "get out" of. But you can, if you are willing to look beyond where you are and seek help. It is just that people don't seem able to do this.

When I first read the words "Fear is the mind-killer" in the Frank Herbert novel Dune, it struck me as having significance in everyday life. People fear many things. This fear stops them from moving forward. There is a solution to this fear, but for many people that solution is more troublesome for them than the fears they face, because it means giving up a lot of things (individual to each person) that they hold dear to themselves.

Seeking and knowing Jesus Christ is that way, but on His terms not ours. He never promised easy times or prosperity in the here and now. He did promised freedom and peace of mind in the troubles of the day. But of course, for those who rely on their own capabilities and knowledge such words are of little meaning and no effect.


I think this was the exact original motivation of "check your privilege".


The worst thing though is being at a particularly bad company, expressing this to a trusted few, and having them say "oh yeah, that's just corporate life, every place has it that bad."

They don't all have it uniformly bad in all areas in exactly the same way, and there is no shame looking for something that better matches your ethics, personality, productive style of working, etc. Don't stay at a place you know is wrong longer than you need to for being called "naive".


That's non-responsive to the comment you replied to:

> "if you don't like it, find somewhere else."

>> don't give your best efforts to the place you're at


I'm afraid these better workplaces are relatively small and there is not much at stake at positions UP (and not even much room UP). Otherwise it would've attracted people who knows how to make workplace work "as expected" to ensure benefits for their level and up and to some extent for shareholders


You get to choose your actions. All actions are allowed, though you may not like the consequences.

> "It kills me every time, but I NEED my paycheck more than I prefer to help my fellow human."

What's killing you here? "It" is your decision to comply. A more active phrasing might be "I kill me every time I choose to comply with management's requests..."

Also, it sounds like you chose to believe, if only by accident, that money is a human need. This is false...we simply have cultures around the world where asking our community for support is not considered acceptable. Again, this is a lie. If you ask enough people for help, you'll eventually find someone willing. There's more than enough of everything to go around, especially money.


> Also, it sounds like you chose to believe, if only by accident, that money is a human need. This is false...we simply have cultures around the world where asking our community for support is not considered acceptable. Again, this is a lie. If you ask enough people for help, you'll eventually find someone willing. There's more than enough of everything to go around, especially money.

But ultimately, it all comes back to money. That's the rub, isn't it? Whether it's your or someone else's, "money makes the world go round".


Yes, for now. Capitalism won't be dismantled instantly and will need to be phased out. It'll happen as people around the world relearn it's ok to ask for what we need.


I'm curious why people might be downvoting messages like these.

Could it be because it's harder for some to imagine the end of the species than the end/evolution of capitalism?


Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: