Maybe if the "favored class" Americans took the bus or went to the laundromat like I did for years they'd want poor people to do well too.
Life is better here.
I've worked at two places who had this policy and it was remarkable how many people just burned themselves out by NOT taking a single day of vacation. There was always pressure from management to NOT take vacation, then you add in pressure from your co-workers to continually work late, push to get projects done on time, all at the cost of your sanity and physical well being.
My thought has always been if you're going to join a company who has an "unlimited vacation" policy, it's probably a good indication there's an expectation you're going to work yourself into the ground, then burn out and will need an extended amount of time to get yourself right.
If a company champions this policy during an interview, it's a huge red flag for me.
At risk of sounding like a management consultant, it was very much a matter of corporate culture. People at upper levels took vacation regularly and actively encouraged their reports to do so. One-on-ones often included asking about recent and planned time off, and "none, none" produced real pressure to use the policy. The lack of set days did save money when people left, which probably helped it stick around, but I think the initial adoption of 'unlimited' instead of some generous allowance was basically just a matter of not wanting to formally track vacation time. (One other significant point, especially for tech: there wasn't an expectation of having grand plans, and people who weren't taking time off would even be reminded that they didn't need any "good reason" to do so. I've definitely heard of places where taking a month off to hike the Andes is fine, but taking two days to catch up on sleep and errands is frowned on.)
I still don't take "unlimited vacation" seriously when I see companies advertise it; I'd want an account of the real policy, minimally from Glassdoor reviews or preferably from an employee I knew. But I almost never see US companies advertise 20+ days of paid vacation as a starting allowance, so if the goal is to maximize time off I suspect searching for 'real' unlimited might still be the best bet.
I've definitely heard horror stories about UPTO meaning "no time off", especially in crunch-happy industries where requests are simply denied. But people criticizing UPTO seem to describe it as an all around bad deal compared to allotted PTO.
Meanwhile, I mostly see companies (even successful, generous-benefits ones) offering extremely restrictive PTO. "Two weeks PTO for all uses, and you gain one extra day every few years" isn't an appealing offer in the slightest. I've definitely watched friends with graduate degrees and many years at one company try to decide whether to work sick or give up pay.
That doesn't make UPTO a reliable offering, but I'm not convinced that it's worse on average than the levels of set PTO on offer in the US.
Thinking adverserially: what's to stop someone from taking a month off then turning on notice on return?
I wouldn't take unlimited vacation as a sign of anything other than "we expect you to be reasonable and we don't want to micro-manage everything." Although if my experience had been different, I might think different.
It's also yet another way to ensure people who know they can just walk into another job (or that they won't get fired/laid off/never promoted) take loads of vacation, while people who _really_ need to be sure they stay employed or who might be having a harder time at work are always afraid to ask for it.
Buddy of mine worked for a company with unlimited PTO until recently. He would take 2, 3 months off because, as he put it, "I had them over a barrel" (he is extremely good at what he does). His colleagues, for the most part, did not.
In truth, though, the sole reason companies use unlimited vacation policy is that, in the US at least, it means unused vacation time does not accrue as a liability on the balance sheet, and companies aren't required to pay out for it if you leave.
I also have unlimited PTO and I definitely prefer it. No more worrying about hours, rollover limits, accumulation rate, how far I can go negative, etc. No more wading through vacation schedules wondering if the office is open on New Years Eve.
Same thing with free lunches - yeah, of course it keeps people in the office and possibly causes them to subconsciously work longer. But also...I get a free freaking lunch and I don't have to worry about it.
But Europe Socialism bad.
But America accepts some very poor immigrants and allows them to make money and be lifted up. Those are many of the people you saw on the bus.
No. Several European countries have had significant foreign-born populations for a long time.
However, a person from a neighbouring country (e.g. Mexico) would count as an immigrant in the US.
Just because states are massive in the US doesn't make them equivalent to different countries in Europe, which all have their own language, ethnic background, and culture. A German person moving 350 miles to Italy (from Munich to Venice) is definitely an immigrant, with a completely different background, even though the distance itself isn't even enough to go between Austin and Houston in Texas.
It's no longer the case (I read today that 1 in 4 Swedish schoolchidren wasn't born in Sweden!), and I wonder very much what that will mean for the future of Europe. The mass influx of Germans, Irish, Scandinavians & Italians in the 19th century radically changed what it meant to be an American, and it seems to me that Europe is about to go through an even larger-scale change.
Isn't it possible that the reason their middle-class is so large is due in some part on political decisions they've made?
I think it is at least worth exploring before we jump to the ethnic breakdown of the country. Political choices are something we can change relatively quickly compared to demographics. The US has a higher GDP per capita than Sweden and Denmark which implies that there is more money to spread around even with a comparatively large immigrant population.
If your entire country is the population of one large US metro and everyone is the same ethnicity and culture, there are fewer cognitive impediments to being empathetic at scale.
I think depends on how you define ethnicity and culture.
Sweden foreign-born population - 17.0% 
US foreign-born population - 13.7% 
Foreign born population wouldn't begin to address diversity in the US.
In Sweden it might be the case that foreign born population is the only source of ethnic diversity.
Whereas in the US, the people in northern Maine live in a completely different world than the people in Southern Florida.
And your contention is that Stockholm, Malmo, Kiruna, Haparanda and Skalstugan are all the same?
The 250,000 "white non-Hispanic" people in Louisiana speaking Creole Patois can't communicate easily with the 200,000 or so "white non-Hispanic" people who speak Appalachian English.
"Race" is a starting point, within which there are so many variances in the US. I've traveled a lot of places, but I've yet to find anywhere in the world as diverse at such a wide scale as that in the US. It's messy, violent, uncertain and magnificent.
Not only is this contention wrong , it is completely arbitrary. Ethnicity isn't just how you want to draw lines to prove some point. Sweden has multiple ethnicities within what you call "Swedish white, non-Hispanic". This is observed, most obviously, through different dialects and cultures. Swedes that border Norway are different than Swedes that border Finland.
The U.S. has multiple metropolitan areas that each has a larger population and more ethnic diversity than the smaller European countries. And that's before you even consider the country as a whole.
Yes, but that was true when the US had a robust middle class (roughly 1940-2000). I haven't seen any evidence presented that proves demographic diversity is the reason for increased inequality.
Meanwhile, we can observe political decisions over the past 40 years which have had an impact on how worker productivity turns into wages. Examples are a lower the top income tax rate, a stagnant minimum wage, the explosion of stock-based compensation, weakening the estate tax, the weakening of unions, high healthcare costs, etc.
Not really. Non-hispanic whites + blacks made up 95% of the population as recently as 1970. As of 2010, those two groups combined make up only 75% of the population. There have been radical changes in the demography of the U.S. in the last 50-80 years.
I actually agree with you that changing demographics are not the whole story, but the fact that the U.S. has gone from one (black Americans) to two (added Latin American immigrants — now 16% of the population) racially delineated underclasses does a lot to undermine social cohesion.
Source for U.S. demographics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_d...
The large immigrant communities from Italy, Germany and Ireland were not considered "white" when they first came to the US. Only later did that occur as definitions of race have changed over time, usually to serve a political purpose.
==the fact that the U.S. has gone from one (black Americans) to two (added Latin American immigrants — now 16% of the population) racially delineated underclasses does a lot to undermine social cohesion.==
Have you explored the possibility that people's obsession with this is what has actually undermined social cohesion? It has happened before in American history with the Know-Nothing Party.
==Source for U.S. demographics==
Your own source shows "whites" (72.4%) and "blacks" (12.6%) as making up 85% of the population as of 2010. You have decided to further delineate that into "non-hispanic white" which is not an actual race. Also notable that you don't split out the differences of Southern Italians and Northern Irish. Do immigrants from Spain count as white or Hispanic?
"Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots." -- Richard Rorty 
The USA previously decided three times to explicitly create its middle class. The New Deal, the Homestead Act, etc. Policy choices which were hard fought and narrowly won.
Wealth and Democracy: How Great Fortunes and Government Created America's Aristocracy by Kevin Phillips
Without active redistribution, accelerating inequity is inevitable.
That the rich get richer is just math. Not a value statement.
The US look a majority of its immigrants in the 90s and early 2000s, while Sweden took near-zero immigrants until 10 years ago.
Additionally, many Western European 'immigrants' are actually just people moving between different Western European countries.
An extraordinary 190,000 refugees are now expected to arrive in Sweden this year - double what the agency expected at the start of the year, and more people than live in Uppsala, the country's fourth largest city.
If the predictions are correct, Sweden will take 20,000 asylum applications per million people in 2015, double the rate even of Germany.
The strain is beginning to show everywhere from politics - where the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats are, according to two of the country's eight main polls, now the party with the most support - to finance, where both the central government and municipalities are struggling to find savings to cover the costs.
So no, the EU does not have more immigrants than the US per capita. If you remove European citizens moving to other European countries, they don't have as many immigrants by sheer number, either.
It's funny that the US is compared to the EU; the US is more similar to and should probably be compared to Canada, India and Australia
Total net migration: 2,324,066
Net migration per 1000 inhabitants: 4.60
Total net migration: 5,007,887
Net migration per 1000 inhabitants: 15.94
I almost died reading this blatant lie.
And if everyone is entitled to the same portion of the pie, what’s the incentive to work harder? Seeing your neighbor put in a third of the effort and produce the same economic result is demoralizing.
Don't sell yourself short, in tech you have skills that only a small percentage of the population are capable of doing. We might all say "Programming is easy" or "I really only work half the day" but for many people Programming is seen as witchcraft, and for many what would take a skilled developer an hour would take a whole day (or worse, they might just do the task manually).
If your not satisfied with programming you can of course go into teaching, if that's what you think is truly fulfilling.
It doesn't make it fair that in theory 'everyone' could get into it or that it takes probably much longer for someone to do my job than the other way around (like yes i think i would be able to sell things).
I don't know how we should incentive instead but it doesn't make it fair.
a) she couldn't do it, in which case by extension it boils down to supply and demand, or
b) she doesn't want to do it, because she gets a whole bunch of joy from the job which is invisibly priced into compensation (and which indirectly goes back to supply and demand.)
I don't see the discrepancy as any kind of market failure.
The reason teachers aren't paid well isn't because there isn't much demand for them, it's because the local governments choose to pay them poorly, and then they wonder why they can't find enough good teachers.
Companies that don't pay programmers handsomely will soon find themselves without programmers (or with really lousy ones), and then they'll go out of business. This doesn't happen with public schools.
What his story underlines is that teaching young human beings about navigating life is rewarded 3x less than churing out code that fits some business objective.
The market doesn't care about people, it cares about profit. In that system, human life is only important to the degree that it helps market dynamics.
I'm not saying everyone can teach equally. I'm saying most everyone can become qualified to teach. Please don't accuse me of saying teaching is easy. At the very least, a much larger subset can learn to teach than can learn to code.
This is true, but it's become a partisan issue, at least in the U.S, to talk about testing teachers in some way.
I believe a huge problem is finding a way to differentiate a good teacher from a bad teacher if you're not allowed to look at grades/some kind of standardized test. If you can take those into account, as long as a teacher comes into work on time I'm not sure how you could differentiate the good from bad.
An example I like to use is my AP Calc teacher from highschool, who had an average score of 4.7 for her students on the AP test. The average in 2012 was a 2.9 (the year I took it, it seems to be higher now, I can't say to as if they made it easier or if people got better though) . In many school systems though, if your teacher has an average score below the national average, you can't do anything about it.
OP's wife may place a high intrinsic value on teaching, which serves as a kind of internal subsidy. In that case you'd expect the job to pay less, because more people are being 'subsidized' by their desire to do it.
On the other hand, nobody is burning with desire to be a garbageman. Nobody is a volunteer garbageman, and garbagemen make more money than you might expect (or at least, they did when I was graduating from high school.)
There's a reason glamorous and fun jobs generally don't pay very much. It's not that complicated, and it's not sinister.
This is a pretty naive statement.
I personally switched from rocket science to tech and then to a FANG so I could get increased compensation and have a chance of catching up to Bay Area housing prices. My compensation increased 3x in the process. Most of my peers wouldn't do that.
Learning new concepts all the time, emotional waves, errors that can impact companies on a large scale. Programming is really difficult and requires constant engagement in the industry.
I also can imagine selling stuff is draining or catering for others.
I'm valuated more because i'm more needed and a company can make more money with me than without me. This still doesn't make it fair.
You're not taking into account the thousands of hours people have to put in to learning how to program. That's real work and sacrifice. It's not unfair that that investment pays off.
They got the smarts, the parents who read to them, etc.
Might not be a great metric, but we as a society have failed to invent and value a better one.
Capitalism would explain the difference between a tech worker's pay and a teacher's pay as based on skill and worker scarcity, not on who works the hardest.
Americans care very much about education but the system we're in doesn't. Kids have no value in a market economy until they have purchase power (or influence on purchase power). In a highly inequal society that means very fancy private schools, for those who can pay. And neglected public schools for the rest. The outlook of a market economy is not 18 years, it's 1 year (and often quarter-to-quarter).
> Kids have no value in a market economy until they have purchase power
Market economies are based entirely on investment. Market economies value investment and therefore kids. If people aren’t investing in kids, it’s because of market economy? as a matter of fact Americans invest tons of money in early childhood education and their children at an early age. It’s an American obsession. The problem is that outcomes have little to do with dollars invested. American culture at this point has devolved into pseudo fascist corporation and leisure identity worship, so people don’t even know what education is. Being a “geek” in America now means you watch tv and play video games. Buying your kid a tablet and plopping then down with some STEM edutainment software isn’t education. It’s just unfortunate, miguided ignorance, and we get what we pay for.
I dunno about "discovered", the 1950s were one of the most radical shifts in American life. Average Children were not running around with "purchasing power" prior to WWII they were working with their parents more than likely in some capacity, the war completely altered the economic landscape of America for a ceiling of better never before seen for the common man since we were the only ones left with infrastructure not bombed to fuck all. My grandparents are poor blacks from the south, that statistically puts them in the demographic set for worst possible outcomes, but they and most of their peers were able to raise large families and buy a house on factory jobs with middle-class wages in the 50s. That kind of wealth distribution opens up a lock of sectors.
This is demonstrably false. If Americans cared about education, they would demand their local governments do a better job of providing it. But they don't. Those governments pay teachers poorly, which doesn't attract quality people to the profession, and the taxpayers just complain about their taxes being too high.
In any case, we actually spend quite a bit on education, despite arguably worse outcomes than some other countries that spend less. Throwing more money at the problem isn't going to improve anything. The focus needs to be on spending the significant resources already allocated to education more effectively.
The attempts to equalize outcomes regardless of the amount of effort students (and parents) put into their education certainly don't help. Assuming they get their way and everyone is assured of equal pay for equal "effort"—why bother studying if cashiering at a fast-food joint offers about the same quality-of-life as managing a successful company, or performing leading-edge research and development?
Your gripe shouldn’t be with rich people, it should be with Americans en masse, who yelled and screamed all Sunday night in my apartment building about grown men running into each other on TV with such a passion you’d think they were educating their children. And then they’re poor? Boo hoo.
Maybe if Americans cared about education, showed passion for it like they do about Football, I would understand. You get paid 3x your wife because Americans care about what you produce, and they don't care about what she produces.
It’s easy to soak the rich but take a look around you, people prioritize everything except the one thing that matters: education.
My appeal was to the amount of effort required between jobs.
> And then they’re poor? Boo hoo.
Poor people are allowed to have hobbies and interests just as well as the rich. This sentiment is disgusting and you should be ashamed.
> You get paid 3x your wife because Americans care about what you produce, and they don't care about what she produces.
Trust me, I have worked jobs where I have been paid very, very well where nobody has cared about what I produced except the couple of people who were paying me.
I never asked you to feel ashamed for that. I'm asking that you don't require everyone go though the same struggles as revenge.
Get this... I also think the people who are working to create the things that you are talking about should be able to have hobbies. I also think the people making the things that get consumed should be able to make enough to consume them. You are trying to turn my argument in to what you want it to be, not what it clearly is.
You are saying that, because I think people should be able to have better lives, I am saying some people should not have better lives? That doesn't even make sense.
Imagine the look of those people in China who have to work to produce Tracfones, if they saw their Tracfone just given out to someone here for free, who didn't do anything to earn it? Imagine how they would feel? That feeling is not about revenge, it's about you denying them basic dignity. You're saying to him or her: you're a Chinaman, you have to do work, but we just take your work and give it to people for free. They must be better than you! They don't have to do anything because they're American. But you, you're just an inferior person from China so you have to work.
That's a brutal injustice in my opinion.
The revenge tack you take is also misguided. This is all about basic human dignity and people feeling like they deserve all this stuff from workers the world over, just because they live in a first world country. Or just because they live period. Being alive doesn’t entitle you to anything, and that’s probably where we disagree, because my guess is you think being alive entitles you to health care, and food and housing. But if that was true, and everyone took that entitlement, then where would all the actual stuff come from? Where? As I said, it’s the height of privilege to act like these things are human rights, because in doing so, you deny the workers who actually produce things common, basic dignity and equality.
From what I’ve gathered of non-US (European) tech jobs, I’d never have gotten an opportunity to work as a programmer because I never got a bachelors degree. Maybe it isn’t like that everywhere, but it feels good that a high school dropout can make 6 figures and live in a 2000 square foot house and easily support two kids and a stay at home wife.
I’d also likely never have learned to control my issues and gotten proper treatment if I hadn’t been left almost homeless when my family kicked me out for dropping out of college. As long as things were “good enough”, I poured my heart and soul into noble ventures like my World of Warcraft career (300 days played)! and League of Legends. I know I’m not everyone, in fact I’m likely an exceptional case, none of my friends who grew up similarly to me ended up achieving what I have, but if the safety net was too comfortable I doubt I’d have ever felt the need to climb out of it once I fell into it. I’m personally glad to live in the USA despite its flaws.
That said, it's just emotional on my part like I said in the OP. Yeah I knew people who were poor and who probably spent their entire life since that time doing drugs and collecting their assistance checks. (And to be fair I knew people who were rich and probably spent their entire life since that time doing drugs and collecting their monthly allowance. Both are far from the norm of the rich/poor people. They're just specific examples of not caring much about your life beyond it going on.)
I prefer to live in a world where five hundred thousand people are sitting on their asses doing nothing passing the seconds till their death through their own choices than in a world where fifty thousand people are running ragged feeling their bodies waste away not knowing where their time goes through the choices of people who just wanted a nicer lawn. The first world seems like it has more happiness per capita plus the outcome of each is a result of things like effort. The second world seems like it belongs in a SF story about the unchosen ones.
Americans have been conditioned into accepting a staggering amount of abuse and into perpetuating that abuse.
You need adversity to be great. Not all adversity is abuse. The American dream is about overcoming and flourishing to the limits of your will power, taxing people who have succeeded to provide succor to people who don't care about themselves is corrosive to the national spirit. Come visit some time, I'll show you around.
The US is right there with deindustrialized Britain and Italy with its massive North-South divide. These are not exactly models to emulate.
You could argue our current president had a pretty cushy childhood. Not sure if he's 'on fire' or 'striving for greatness' though.
Social mobility is heavily determined by a combination of race, IQ, gender, social-class, where you were born, and physical / mental health. All of that is dictated by luck when you are born. Our ego tries to convince us that we're "self made" but for the most part life is determined by "luck of the draw".
I think this kind of proves my point, people with cushy childhoods seem to turn out not great. I'd imagine he'd be a more effective leader if he spent more time overcoming adversity.
And Occupy movement happened on Mars.
I went back in 09 and it was effectively equivalent in my mind to a big swap meet or a hippie craft faire. Light years of difference between that an firebombing riots.
Universal healthcare, for example, might have allowed your mental health issues to be addressed sooner. And even if they were addressed some people just need more time to complete their education. My sister really struggled with college due to her anxiety and depression and a four-year plan just wasn't going to work for her situation. Unfortunately, college is so expensive there is a lot of pressure to finish as soon as possible. Like you, she dropped out. Now she's in the most difficult situation: the burden of the student loans without the benefit of the piece of paper.
That doesn't happen in Europe. The affordability of university in Europe allows people who need a bit more time to figure things out or to work through their own personal struggles to actually complete the program. And even if someone drops out they aren't left with an unmanageable amount of debt that will follow them for the rest of their life.
The "safety nets" in Europe allow young 20-somethings the flexibility to figure things out for themselves without completely screwing up their future financially. I think we really underestimate the value of that flexibility for a young person in the United States.
I was born American, I saw my chance for greatness, and I'm working on it. I'm currently a few years into my career - I've made a few hundred thousand for myself and at least a few million for my employers/society-writ-large, and I know that if I were European, I'd still be in school.
For me, the American system did a much better job of aligning my interests with society's interest.
Also seeing your boss put in a third the effort and produce 10 times the paycheck is also demoralizing...
Seeing your neighbor do it teaches you to switch jobs and work 1/3 as hard.
The reason this doesn't work is the same incentives people are discussing. If there are high-paying easy jobs, people will demand them and theoretically the wages will fall until demand for the job tapers off.
All of this is a bit unfair though, because "having a social safety net where poor people can have vacations and a happy life" is a lot different than the myopic, mean-spirited conservative reply of "but my neighbor is a lazy jerk who makes more than me!"
I'm 90% sure that my boss makes about 1.2x what I make.
But do they take massive risks without potential massive reward? A lot wouldn’t.
Unless they’re under the rule of a dictator and their life is threatened. That’s an incentive.
If the worst-case scenario is starting over perhaps the risk isn't so "massive." But when the worst-case scenario is starving then it's certainly a massive risk.
But if one is not inclined to be that type, I’m not sure what ensures them to the rewards of those willing to do so?
You forgot generational wealth.
In the U.S. the class into which you are born determines the class you'll reach more than any other factor. Overwhelmingly. It's not even close.
So, it's doubtful that poor people's problem is that they just don't take enough risks.
Interesting...I've always thought of the US as being more of a meritocracy than the UK and Europe in general. I mean that is what the American dream is all about right?
> American Dream
The so-called American Dream of social mobility does not exist anymore. It's a relic from the 50s, where a single income from a modest job could support an entire family, with a summer vacation every year.
The more modern examples of rags-to-riches bootstrapping-my-own-widget business are atypical.
The middle class is disappearing and it's not because they are upward bound.
Not in California. Public schools in CA get an essentially-uniform fee (from the state) based on attendance - about $40/day/child.
This helps make things more equal, and it is laudable.
Richer districts, however, have the ability to raise special property taxes, and use gifts from their wealthy residents, to supply extra services for their schools (like music/arts teachers, equipment, and facilities). So, even with a basically "equal" public system, rich districts end up with more.
The cultural script that the playing field is inherently fairer than anywhere else is what makes them accept bad conditions without question.
Who would downvote this, the data isn't even remotely controversial.
My motivation for doing what I do (which I'd classify as innovative) is not (just) the money. The money is nice too, but I don't think I could work in e.g. finance because I like technology and developing new stuff.
Right, most people don't want to work in finance. They do so because of the money. And generally financial CEOs/CFOs are smart enough to only pay workers what they have to. So the incentives are probably priced appropriately.
"Innovation" always takes a ton of muck work that has very little glory. I work at a chip company. For every engineer doing cutting edge work, you have 10 people doing very unsexy support tasks that are 100% necessary. These are roles people do because they pay well, not because they are interesting.
As for reducing the incentives, that is already done quite heavily: the US income tax about 1/3. With that you should be able to create a very effective safety line, it is not the successfuls fault it is pissed away on political corruption and a wasteful war on drugs/minorities.
Sorry to hear you are neighbors with a hedge fund manager. Do you have someone who inherited wealth on the other side of you too? That would be hell. ;)
It's less about how hard you work and more about what you know. But sometimes it's even less than that -- it's about perceived value rather than actual value. You could lose an important secretary and the business might lose a lot of money but often that isn't perceived like that.
As a native to the US, I think we really need to pay more attention to the middle way. We could use a little more social harmony.
And, how does that same group--that is supposedly so concerned about fairness--see as fair, a status quo which favors capital over labor to an untenable degree?
It's easy to come up with crazy, impractical ideas. The essence of innovation is turning those ideas into sustainable, marketable, and thus profitable products.
Huge strawman. Who's arguing for total and absolute equality of our outcomes?
I live in one of those "safety net" countries. We aren't all entitled to the same share of the pie, it's just that hard-working people don't have to go hungry or work 2 jobs just to get by, or at least not that often. People can get a very good and valued education without going into debt, and cancer doesn't make you go poor.
I get a greater share of the pie than most of my friends, because I was wise at choosing degree, and worked harder at it, and also I was lucky enough to be born with some mild gifts. But when friend's parents get sick, the families don't have to go into debt to get a great treatment.
I can't be expected to know how the economy and society will change, and whether they will leave me stranded after a bubble bursts or something. We can't all be great economists; not that they get it right either. I'll work my ass off to avoid that, but I'm glad to know my compatriots have my back (to some extent), as I have theirs now.
I remember working at the mall as a student in mid-90s, you could see that the key to being moderately successful in that environment was maintaining a car. Without a car, you couldn't move up to a management role (as you'd often have to come in early/late when bus transit was least effective), couldn't get a second job that paid more and you couldn't go to school to gtfo of retail.
Anything else, would be unfair and make me question the point of my efforts.
It also assumes that they had the choices better than the position they have.
There's also another assumption that the protections social safety nets completely eliminate incentive to put in effort. GP didn't say they moved to a nonexistant land where everyone is paid the exact same.
This work can also be physically hard, and be dangerous.
I concede that the rest of this list is choices you made, but I wonder how much of the part I quoted can be attributed to actual, conscious choice on your part.
Me personally, I'm in tech by pure luck. Because my mother let me watch Star Trek as a kid, because my father arranged for a PC in our house, because they gave me essentially unlimited and unsupervised time in front of it, and because I lucked out with education reform that transferred me out of the worst class in primary school to the best one in secondary school - only because of that, I picked up programming as a hobby. My job, my knowledge and my material situation are pretty much directly attributable to this. It wasn't my choice.
Things that contributed to my success that I had nothing to do with:
I was born in the US.
I have a reasonably high IQ.
My parents were middle class.
I was raised in a medium sized town on the west coast.
I was interested in computers and an early adopter.
I stumbled into jobs that let me use that interest and make a successful career out of it.
Certainly I made some good decisions along the way, but in different circumstances I could have turned out completely differently.
Some of it may just be a result of having decent parents that instill good values in you, like warning you about hanging with the wrong crowds or teaching you right from wrong or showing you interesting stuff.
I guess if one is looking for an excuse for their shitty upbringing, your parents are the first place to start, not society. Maybe if someone is a shitty parent we should be more aggressive about taking their kids away, instead of letting them reach maturity in their sorry state where it becomes increasingly harder and more expensive to get them back on their feet. Maybe people shouldn't be entitled to raising their kids automatically if they can't demonstrate they'll be a good parent. It may be the only way to solve the problem of poor and underemployed people breeding out of control and creating more poor and underemployed.
Or you were surrounded by such people, or the teachers and your parents didn't successfully convince you that school is important. Or the teachers were plain bad. Or you had too much resistance to bullshit.
> I guess if one is looking for an excuse for their shitty upbringing, your parents are the first place to start, not society.
Yeah, probably, and they could recursively pawn off half of the blame to their parents. My point here wasn't to assign blame, though, but to point out that the factors most impactful in one's economic prosperity are essentially beyond one's control. Blaming people born into poverty, or set on a course for poverty early in their childhood, or thrown into poverty by totally random factors, is not fair.
I believe that society has a duty to reduce this variance that's beyond individual control. To an extent, it does already, but we need to do more. It's in our own best interests - happy society is a stable society, and the more opportunities people have, the more productive and innovative the whole. There will be poor people and rich people for as long as you can rank and sort people by some attribute - i.e. forever. But that doesn't mean the poor must suffer.
> Maybe people shouldn't be entitled to raising their kids automatically if they can't demonstrate they'll be a good parent.
That's... hard. Right now, I think it would lead to much more suffering than it would help.
> It may be the only way to solve the problem of poor and underemployed people breeding out of control and creating more poor and underemployed.
That's not how it happens, though. It's not the individuals, and especially not poor people, that create underemployment, it's the market that does. Gainfully employed people end up unemployed, because the job market moved in some direction, raising some people to prosperity nearly by accident (like me and tech; I learned to program out of my own intrinsic drives, I didn't even consider profitability of this until way into my university years), and grounding others.
Also, if we want to create a society of people successful in the market, then there's a whole disconnect between choices they need to make, and the choices society teaches them. What society teaches is: be helpful, be hardworking, conscientious, moral. What to do to succeed on the market: always look for reward, cut corners, be comfortable about scamming people and making the world worse, be amoral. The question is, if we're blaming people for making poor economic choices, are we really willing to entertain a society in which people make right economic choices?
If by good major you mean computer science, then this choice alone is already extremely special. Only 3% of students choose computer science.
But America is a place full of opportunity and so after 10 years here and a lot of work I can look back and say that am much happier than I ever was in Europe since the day I got here! The deal is simple: work hard and the sky is the limit.
I started a family, have worked at Fortune 20 companies in management positions, bought a house a couple years ago. I am gonna retire at 50.
I hated living in Europe, the socialism makes people dead on the inside and there is no upward mobility for people that weren’t born into the right circumstances with the right degree’s and relationships :(
America has been excellent to me and I have done my best to do my part of the deal!
It’s not for everyone of course, there is some nice things about Europe and their socialism too...but overall I hated it simple because of what it does to people’s spirits.
America sure has its own problems...but IMO Europe is off much worse
Good thing you found a country where the culture might have helped you do things you didn't feel like doing back home, but don talk about it as though your personal experience is universal to all, because the numbers tell otherwise.
Why? Because while it sounds nice to say "avg german child moves from top 50% to top 65% while avg american only moves from top 50% to top 55%", American salaries are much higher, and cost of housing is on par or lower than Europe, so top 55% is a much higher financial increase for the American.
Now that you say it, I see a lot of these comparisons talking about odds of a person born in one quartile/quintile ending up in a different bucket as an adult. Often, it's specifically cited as the chance of a person moving between the highest and lowest buckets. Which on reflection is actually a composite measure of income variability, inequality, and societal wealth.
Running those stats alongside a Gini coefficient would help somewhat, since lower coefficients imply more similar gaps between adjacent buckets. But even that's not enough on several levels. It wouldn't distinguish where inequality falls, particularly patterns like the US and Singapore with large variation inside the outer buckets, so a Lorenz curve would be more useful. It also doesn't clarify the raw size of the changes - position in society matters, but it also matters whether a ten-percentile jump is a 10% gain in purchasing power or a 100% gain.
I'm a bit embarrassed, really. That's a massive gap in the utility of those stats, and I never even considered how many different things the same numbers could mean.
But that’s besides the point, the point I was trying to make is that America worked much better for a person like me.
Likewise I can imagine a place like Europe working better for some folks.
If only people had free mobility...maybe everybody could just love in a place that works for them
I intended to provide more of the later
It would be nice to have free mobility + something like a low-level UBI, for people who really need to be helped and not fall through the cracks. A rather low UBI that focused on just ensuring the basic necessities of life would most likely be quite affordable (e.g. in terms of overall tax burden, or fraction of GDP), and probably wouldn't even be perceived as "socialism". Then we'd probably see places like Europe lose a lot of their former attractiveness as they'd be left trying to manage their unwieldly, dinosaur-socialist states, as anyone with even the tiniest shred of ambition and initiative left would immediately flee for the more open parts of the world.
I think that's exactly the discussion we should have re: this tech/non-tech divide. Whether what we want is to help our neighbors, or live near only people who can (and choose to) help themselves. And there's definitely people in both camps and you know where you are because you live through both, like you and I did, and get an uncomfortable or bleak feeling at some point, not because of watching election talk or economic lectures.
Also I'm actually Canadian so I don't know where the thread's obsession with communism and Sweden or wherever has come from. The poor people on the bus from my OP see the same sky you guys do ;-)
I was born and raised in Europe and lived there 30 years.
What I will share here is from personal expierence and will be a generalization (because there is of course always exceptions).
What I meant by dead inside is that people there don’t do anything with the safety and freedom socialism provides. They don’t spend more time with their kids or follow the arts. People had no dreams or ambitions :(
There first thing that struck me coming to America was that not only did everyone have a dream, but they were actively pursuing it.
1. the barber where I got my first haircut was playing in a rock band and about to head out for a 4 month tour.
2. A friends girlfriend went from being waitress to becoming CEO of a organization everybody here knows
3. Lots of friend of mine are active as mentor for local underprivileged kids on the weekends
I come from a small town where you’d think there is a community and people support each other...but socialism erodes those ties. I have never seen anyone do something good for their neighbors in Europe...it’s the governments job to do so...which leads to nobody lifting a finger.
In Europe people actively try to prevent you from raising from the middle class by talking you down and being unsupportive. Additionally the government doesn’t waste a day to put another bump on the road to keep you where you are.
But to their defense they do a decent job of helping people at the bottom to get closer to the middle class
Please share you personal story too though so we get a better picture
It would be nice if more people could experience such things. That makes the story good, not bad. It is something we want to maximize, not minimize.
I sincerely wish that everyone who wanted socialism just went to a socialist country instead of trying to import it here, and I really appreciate that you did. Thank you! We can admire and appreciate each other from afar. (100% genuine, well intended comment here). My family came to the US from a socialist country, seeking freedom and capitalism. I have no idea what to do now that socialism is arriving here.
It's luck based on what race you were born as, gender, social class, geography, family situation, and mental / physical health you end up with. If you're a middle-class white guy from the suburbs of a major metro your "social mobility" into a "tech job in SV" is a bit higher than most people.
Our egos like to think we're responsible for all of our success when most of the time it's luck.
This view is severely underestimating the role played by path dependence (e.g. your environment, wealth of your parents) and pure luck.
If you want a real view of the situation you have to place some blame on the people making choices holding themselves back. It's not that easy to see if you didn't grow up in that environment though.
But you're right that there is a culture of anti-intellectualism amongst a certain segment of poor people.
I will say, though, that I went to an average public school and did my best not to draw too much attention to myself because I was one of the smarter kids and would sometimes be picked on. Not usually too bad, but enough that I went through periods of depression during my high school years.
It probably stunted my trajectory (along with some other choices I made) in my career, but I'm doing well enough. It helps that I was naturally interested in computers, which ended up being a route to well-paying jobs, but if I was naturally interested in art more (and I sure doodled my fair share and have released games with art that I've made in the past), I might be one of those poor people that people such as the parent assume to be anti-intellectual today.
Hell, I know a super talented artist and animator that ended up taking a programmer boot camp years later in order to get a better paying job, and it just makes me feel sad, because he deserves to be paid well for following his passion for being as talented as he is, but this world is not set up for that, unfortunately.
You're making two assumptions: (1) There's a favored class, and (2) The favored class does not want poor people to do well. Both assumptions are wrong.
What? A Canta isn't a 'free car' for poor people. It's a mobility vehicle, which you apply for if you're eligible.
As for the washing machine thing: the only thing I found with 5 minutes of google-fu was that there's a on-loan system for people who are already dependent on government grants to be given one if their old one fails (and a few additional requirements). Furthermore: there are barely any laundromats in the Netherlands; it's not part of our culture at all. Hell, I'd be surprised if there are more than 50 in the entirety of Amsterdam (population 800K-900K), and those that are present would probably be near the centre where the hostels are, rather than in the suburbs where the poorer people live.
A good social safety net means that poor people are not so busy trying to survive that they actually have the opportunity to improve their lot in life if they so choose. If you're not burning up 4 hours a day commuting and several hours a week washing clothes, you have more time to read to your children, or take some community college classes.
There will be people who decide that a life relying on the safety net is fine for them. Is that a worse thing than there being no safety net and people who have to drive to succeed are largely prevented from doing so? Or people who are working hard getting their lives destroyed due to one streak of bad luck?
The point of the safety net in my opinion is to ensure equality of opportunity, not equality of ends. So you want to strive to ensure that children have an opportunity to learn and become productive members of society, in spite of the circumstances of their parents. You want to make sure that people who experience bad luck such as unplanned illness, economic downturns, natural disasters, etc. are not left totally destitute.
Or, turn it around: Why should you take the results of my work and give them to someone who won't (not can't) work? Why should someone who deliberately chooses not to try be considered entitled to me supporting them?
Someone who needs help? Sure, let's help them. Someone who just wants to be lazy? It's really unclear why they are more entitled to my money than I am.
We replace people with robots and retain the same output. We are more productive than ever before, yet work the same amount. Physical and uneducated work is being replaced by automation, yet we expect these people replaced by robots to find jobs to survive where there are now none.
I don't believe in Universal Basic Income though, we live in a society and it is our duty to contribute to that society. I think the answer is that we need to move towards a shorter workday. Raise wages and shorten work hours. People used to work 12 hours a day, now we work 8, why not move to a 6 hour workday? Eventually we may move into a post-scarcity society where all our basic needs are automated and work becomes an optional extra, but we're not at that point yet.
There are plenty of things people do that are valuable to society yet are not captured in the GDP, and are thus not highly valued by contemporary society. They range from visiting and looking after elder parents, playing with your children, writing poetry etc. Then there are undervalued activities which, due to being undervalued, are often rejected by people who would be good at them but can't afford a sacrifice (e.g. teaching, various kinds of social work, etc).
As the marginal cost of production asymptotes towards nil, peoples' sense of self worth from work (which is largely a modern belief anyway dating from the middle of the industrial revolution) can be sloughed off.
> I think the answer is that we need to move towards a shorter workday. Raise wages and shorten work hours.
I agree that we should do this urgently, but beware a belief in the "lump of labor fallacy".
Also, because people currently do develop a sense of self worth from their work, we should be investing heavily in helping people readjust to the loss of economic value in their work. For example governments offer retraining programs, but while a 20 year old coal miner may be able to find a job repairing trucks or writing reactive web apps, a 60 year old coal miner, who after two years of training becomes a 62 year old auto mechanic or web developer, will struggle to find employment. These people (both at 20 and 60) need assistance that also preserves their dignity.
I remember asking him if he gets bored during those 6 months not working and he said to me "I don't base my life enjoyment off of making someone else money". That advice has really stuck to me and its really cool to see the electronics projects he builds in those 6 months.
He also used to raise his birds in the office (when they were newly hatched) - that was pretty darn cool as a 1st grader.
IIRC that second six months is the true classical definition of a life of leisure.
Western society has become much more hierarchical in recent years. It is harder and harder to find any "cracks in system" on a fundamental level. Even if you would consider leisure to be neutral, and not in need of meaning, most people aren't even starting from a neutral point. So if you do something else you end up being underprivileged rather than in leisure.
This kind of runs through it:
Bonus material (wider in scope, though):
I think that's probably a whole other subject to be tackled.
Aristotle's core point above would be along the lines of:
Relaxation (in order to) -> Work (in order to) -> Leisure (the goal, for its own sake)
Leisure and relaxation being entirely different activities, or lack thereof.
Maybe think of leisure in this case being the activity of passion/deep interest or communal good or else that might not come in returns that pay for any other aspect of your life directly. Work being the activity (that you may well enjoy enough, or have interest in) that pays for everything and allows you time and/or resources for leisure. Relaxation is what helps you essentially stay sane and healthy in order to follow through with the rest.
So it seems like you aren't taking on peoples' ability for leisure, but NA society's values that prevent it [for most people].
So I am not saying it isn't a good idea. Just that it is hard from a practical perspective. Which is why younger people who take sabbaticals often end up in e.g. Asia.
OP's example was a fellow taking time off and exercising his other interests in electronics by learning and experimenting.
Another example might be a hobby. A hobby is a great example of a leisure activity as its [usually] done completely for its own sake. For instance, a sheet metal worker who spends much of their time off work playing in an amateur cricket league [however unlikely and obscure an image that might be].
I don't think I understand, though, how you mean it puts anyone at odds with society. Could you elaborate?
They couldn't just take time off and have a similar life. By leaving work they would lose a lot of the connection to their de facto lives. It wouldn't be worth living in an expensive city, in a small apartment and have expensive coffee "just" to learn electronics. Increasingly the things in people's lives aren't "neutral". Their small apartments are made for going to work from, not necessarily for doing things in. But you can't necessarily move either without losing context.
On the other hand if you are already established. You have a house, a family, friends outside work and whatever else you need, it isn't necessarily that hard to go down in the basement and learn electronics instead of going to work for six months out of the year. Because your environment is "neutral" and exists whether you go to work short-term or not. A lot of people aren't really established like that though.
My advice to the person in question would be to pull your head out of work and sample a little more of that big city while you're paying so much to be there.
There's no reason why every moment of time that isn't paid for by work to be spent on work, outside of that being a choice (given our current example, which sounds like a well-enough-to-do tech worker).
Personally, I couldn't live that way, and I'm probably filling out a few of your checkboxes above. I like the people I work with, but I value [and fear] time too much to give it all into my job—be it tasks, networking, socializing, whatever.
The example you extended sounds more like a problem of agency than one of [a lack of] leisure.
It is. But you can't just take time of work, not replace it with anything and expect to be able to have some sort of leisure. At least not in my experience. I don't live in a big city anymore, but that doesn't really fix things. The equation is as hard as in a city, just in a different way. That is why people like 'bunnie' who do electronics as a passion end up in Asia. There are just so much easier to live and so many more things to do. People who stay e.g. in the US end up moving around different small to medium size cities instead looking for something that makes sense.
Work is additive, "free" time is not subtractive.
I don't understand any else of what you're saying. Electronics is something you can do anywhere, and I'd argue there's a gaping need in much of the spaces in between towns and cities in North America...
I think you're just discussing personal preferences at the end there.
It is just that doing electronics on the weekend when you are tired from work, you don't have enough time to finish even part of something, in a place where parts are expensive or you have to wait weeks for delivery isn't that enjoyable.
Doing electronics in a place where you don't have to worry about rent, you have plenty of time, there are plenty of other things to do, parts are cheap and there is a community is a totally different thing.
Far more people are going to enjoy the second scenario.
Here is an article about Shenzhen . The middle part is about people doing electronics for fun. This is probably around a year before Scotty, in the article, started Strange Parts on youtube.
In my current role, I could probably work 3 days a week and meet my same obligations. Our scrum master could be fired and nobody would even notice.
But, a post-scarcity society, where labor is nearly valueless, still requires everyone have their needs met regardless of what they "own". But in that future as through all the past, most people are born owning little more than their labor.
So a post-scarcity society does not just require the technology we are approaching. It also requires a radically different perception of ownership. This is the harder problem.
In the language of today, it means a person without property and whose labor will always be essentially valueless, gets the produce of someone else's robots, ownership of which will be passed down though generations. Changing this is close to unthinkable in current society.
But unless this massive social shift emerges, it appears that larger and larger portions of society will be converted into a euphemistically renamed servant class where their labor has not intrinsic value except prestige or amusement value to the person hiring.
Pardon the following if it's upsetting, but I notice our current path is to add more and more store clerks, waiters, maids, sign spinners etc. Not because machines/systems can't do theses things (amazon, self serve restaurants, billboards) but because the customer enjoys/gets a kick out of them.
On the current path, what would have become a post-scarcity society will instead have vast numbers of such people earning their minimum requirements at such jobs. Plus perhaps homeless people permanently converted into a prison workforce.
No he didn’t. He suggested we’d have chosen to work fewer hours and have more leisure because we could afford both greater consumption and greater leisure than were possible when he wrote. Higher wages than now, with shorter work hours than now is possible only with growth in economic productivity so we can produce more (goods, services) with less (material input, labour). We can’t just decide to work 20 hours a week and maintain our current standard of living by fiat.
Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (1930)
If you want to live in the paradise Keynes described you can. That’s what the financial independence, retire early subculture is about. Work for 20 years and retire instead of 40 or 50. Or those people who contract half the year and spend half of it in Thailand. If we wanted to take more of our compensation in leisure we absolutely could. People choose not to. They need to keep up with the Jones.
Try one-eighth as much.
> Converted amount ($100 base) $810.83
I understand that on empty roads at 3am in the middle of nowhere there are no consequences whatsoever, but generally that's a big infraction. Just watch few car crash compilations, ignoring lights is like 50% of the reason and the results are often very grim
In the US a common scenario is a private company installs the cameras for free and gets to collect most of the revenue. They adjust the yellow timing downward so that you don't have time to stop between the light turning yellow and it going to red. Then they send tickets in the mail to people who ran the light. Then if you do a study proving that they adjusted the timing downward to unsafe levels as a state sponsored scam, you get arrested and fined for "unlicensed practice of engineering".
Being Swiss, you give the American government too much credit. The government absolutely does not care about safety.
In other words, a society where there is more labor available than we actually need to fulfill demand (caveat: in high-productivity industries).
To illustrate, take the article's example: the shift from an agricultural to industrial economy. Someone walks off a farm, they get employment in a factor. That factory worker can make 10-100 widgets / hr based on their labor.
Now look at the post-industrial economy we live in now. In software and heavily automated industries, the same single laborer can make 10-1,000,000 "copies" of their work product.
It seems fairly obvious there would be a breaking point at which productivity is so high that it disengages from driving demand. One worker can only buy so much, and his or her fellows can't buy anything because they're not employed.
Film reels required manufacturing, assembly, installing, and operation, even if the content was already paid for.
Digital video? Revenue goes directly to the owner, minus some capital costs, but critically almost no labor cost.
What would a population do if people were able to act freely and do the things they cared about? How many folks would be fighting climate change but are _instead_ doing Dumb Shit That Doesn't Matter (most jobs) because we have to pay bills?
How many people work a job that is at best a net neutral to society, and at worst parasitic, because it personally enriches them, but makes everyone else poorer? How many are doing that only because they decided to buy a house close to work, so now they have a pile of debt, so now they _have_ to spend their time working for the last owner of the house instead of for themselves?
Why do we make it so goddamned hard to live cheap? Want university? That'll be an arm and a leg. Want a house? Expect to pay many, many years of income for it. Decide you're ok with a small home and riding your bike or taking the bus? Screw you, that's illegal, build a damn parking spot and make sure you meet minimum size reqs and oh btw you're not allowed to build in this old neighborhood because the existing homeowners' cartel made it illegal.
You can build a modest home for ~$40,000. It's expensive because we made it (mostly) illegal to build new homes anywhere near jobs. Not only that, instead of putting homes where they're cheap to serve (close to electric, water, etc) we push everyone out to the middle of nowhere where it's massively expensive to provide services. Not to mention that instead of relying on your feet and a $300 bicycle to get around you now need a gigantic money incinerator (a car) for basic mobility.
God help you if you get sick or hurt. A broken wrist could bankrupt plenty of people in the wrong circumstances.
How many people make six figures (yes, that's a lot of money relatively speaking - try leaving SF before sneering) and still manage to somehow worry about money? How the fuck did we decide this was the best way to build a society? Why did we make everything so goddamn expensive?
Building supplies and calories are cheap after all - practically free.
Maybe it's because keeping a population in fear ensures they can't organize to better their situation at the cost of tearing down existing power structures.
If somehow housing were made affordable everywhere, how would that pattern be maintained? By definition, there would be nothing stopping "Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel" (from The Simpsons) from moving to Mountain View, CA.
So you end up with a situation where elite software engineers are trying to sleep, because they have work tomorrow, and Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel is keeping them awake by blowing up fireworks or firing his shotgun at 2am. What recourse do you have? You can't kick Cletus out--that would violate all sorts of human rights and so on.
So when you look at it this way, higher price housing is almost inevitable. Before you can have any realistic hope of addressing it, you need to figure out what to do with Cletus!
I'm not sure what to do about Cletus, to be honest. I'd like to say "enforce the laws about making tons of noise and discharging weapons" but I know that can be a fool's errand in some cases. After all, I was a loud student once.
Ultimately I think that neighborhoods near the core of cities need to grow (densify), as they did for most of history, and the existing homeowners can enjoy the consolation of watching their home become substantially more valuable as a result of somebody wanting to put 10 apartments there instead of one house. It's telling that in many places the most desirable neighbourhoods are the ones built _before_ current laws made them illegal.
'course, I just bought a house in the country, so we'll see how that goes.
Also, Cletus was a caricature... Poor people can be quiet and rich people can be loud.
1: High paying jobs aren't really increasing in number but are becoming ever better paid
2: Low paying jobs are exploding in number but not in wages paid.
So part of the problem is that there aren't many mid level jobs that get people in and help them then increase. Tech doesn't really automate the stuff that's not super low level (like cleaning toilets, or mopping floors), and it doesn't do stuff at the high end (M&A banking, negotiating policy, writing code). But it eats a ton of stuff in the middle.
Working 8 hours a day already leaves enough downtime in my schedule to get bored, but not enough to turn that boredom into something productive. 6 hours would be outright hell.
The problem is, the extra two hours don't really provide me with any compelling new opportunities to contribute! That's barely enough time to get at a school and volunteer and get back to work. Barely enough time to get into the flow of things if I'm volunteer programming. Etc.
But an entire additional day off of work would be great. I could commit to do real things. I could bake so much bread for the church's food shelter. I could build an entire web app using the city's open data to help people avoid tickets. I could spend an entire day in a classroom. Etc.
If you distribute service days evenly and treat them like "just another business function" for businesses, then you could pretty much replace the teaching aspect of higher ed with volunteers. 2-3 people prep+lecture+office hours one day a week, 2-3 people are spending all their service hours helping design curriculum, 2-3 people do a day of grading each week. A <10 person team can teach an entire university course @ 1 day per person per week. Multiply across the whole city, every company. Universal 4 year higher education for "free". And there's still tens of millions of volunteer days per week left over for all the other stuff.
That said, I don't think we will see shortening of the workday without some sort of incentive for employers. From their point of view, why not simply make more money? Indeed, for many boards of directors profits is the only goal.
IMHO, this is where a basic income would fit in. Perhaps when people are allowed more freedom of movement they will find novel ways to contribute to society.
On top of that, the 12-hour employee is accruing experience at twice the speed of the 6-hour employee. For some fields, putting in the additional hours can make the employee willing to work more hours more productive on a per hour basis. Obviously this doesn't apply to all professions, but for many professions it does apply to some degree.
You'd basically have to outlaw working more than 6 hours to keep overachievers from taking all the good jobs.
With regard to health insurance specifically, the way to solve that is moving the burden of healthcare from the employer to the state.
Instead of cheaper cars we're making safer cars, instead of cheaper houses we're building bigger houses, and so on.
Taking money out of circulation is a bit like making a loan to everyone in proportion to the amount of currency they hold; when you do decide to put it back into circulation, that increase in value (deflation) represents the interest you receive on the loan.
I agree that the belief that we must work 40 hours a week in order to be a good person lies at the root of many of society's problems. And I do think that people ought to contribute to society. But somehow that does not lead me away from the idea of a Universal Basic Income, but instead leads me to believe that something roughly that shape is what we need to save society.
I guess the key difference is who defines "contribute to society". If it is employers, then we need a system where as many people as possible must report to an employer who controls how they spend their time. (Requiring people to get paid a salary seems to do that quite effectively.) If it is the government that defines how one ought to "contribute to society" then we get mandated work programs. But if you believe that each individual is the best judge of how they ought to "contribute to society" then it leads to the belief that we should order society such that as many individuals as possible have a choice about how they spend their time. Some variant of UBI seems to me like a good way to achieve that goal in a society no longer tightly constrained by scarcity.
Or are you suggesting we ban working?
Well, with a sufficiently progressive tax, you might choose to stop volunteering your time for what will be diminishing returns in income.
A solution that incentivizes successful people to hold themselves back from fulfilling their potential is going to make society poorer overall. If you want to redistribute wealth, you should incentivize the creation of wealth so you have enough to move around.
But as someone already mentioned, would we want someone like Elon Musk to not work?
If not, you've just created a class who is going to be making a ton more money than anyone else.
Partial basic income would fit right into that if it helps people afford to work one job instead of two, or move to part time.
That's not how manufacturing works. Most manufacturing still requires human input because robots aren't very flexible. You have to build an entire line around a robot which means you adapt slowly to changes in the market.
If you are proposing the government cover the difference, then you're effectively proposing a bastardized version of UBI with an employment requirement, and payout that is proportional to current economic advantage. I'm not even sure it wouldn't cost more than current UBI proposals given that proportionality.
I don't understand why you would be in favor of this, but think UBI was bad. Or how it could possibly work, if it wasn't the government paying for it.
Imagine tons of other jobs where this simply doesn't apply - doctors, teachers, bureaucrats, farmers, drivers, shop/restaurant crew, people working in tourism, many factory jobs and probably tons of other types of jobs. Yes, I just mentioned more than 90% of the world population.
We can gradually improve efficiency of probably every single job out there, but simply slashing 30% will have very direct negative consequences on output for most people, in many cases directly proportional. Now who wants to take 30% pay cut?