>"The by-product of your toil is what makes you human in many ways, and if you pay people not to work, you're actually destroying their self-worth."
My first thought was "well, that's convenient, coming from a guy who makes his living from the work of others".
But, of course, it's also likely that he and the "investor-class"--as well as a broad segment of people, including much of startup culture--really are so disconnected from reality, that they can't fathom that not everyone is in a position to "create", "find fulfillment", or otherwise change the world through their labor.
But, do they not notice when they see people cleaning toilets, etc? Or is it just those people's moral failing?
Calacanis then goes on to make the case that young men become despondent and start riots, turn to terrorism, etc because they are unemployed. This, as if their despondency in unemployment has everything to do with not having access to work as the sole means of fulfillment; and nothing to do with the fact that we've structured society in such a way that we cannot subsist at any level of decency, except through our labor.
I think these people have convinced themselves of the inherent truth of workism, because it serves them and because it is their experience. But, with this increasing disconnect and the mounting pressures faced by workers, the situation will ultimately be untenable.
As a person that has lived in Spain for 30 years, Calacanis saying that unemployed people in Spain is turning to rioting and terrorism is just hilarious. ie. people involved in Barcelona attacks were not unemployed, but were students and had low level/low pay jobs.
Not only that, talking about Europe as a jobless nightmare, generalizing the unemployment rates of Greece, with a population of just 11 millions to the whole continental Europe is plainly idiotic. There are cities in USA with 17.4% of unemployment, like El Centro, CA  and nobody sane would mention them as an example.
By the way, the countries inside Europe that actually made the experiments they are referring to are doing just fine on unemployment statistics. Better than states like Alaska or the District of Columbia by the way.
I agree in one subject though, and it's about the panic they show while talking about 20% unemployment. In the USA it would be absolutely catastrophic and would lead to anarchy, no doubt. But not because people would loose their purpose in life, but because people is really determined to survive, and when we are talking about paying gramma's life saver surgery or respect others private property the decision is clear for most people. In Europe, and particularly in Spain, the concept of paying for healthcare is absolutely foreign.
P.D. Sorry about my English, it's not my first language.
Why then would you expect humans to be adapted to such a situation?
We, humans, come from terrible conditions where disease, famine, death by overwork/exposure to the elements were a day to day thing. I never hear of anybody dying after being too comfortable.
There was once a time when humans were hunter-gatherers. Are you suggesting that our approach to societal organization should be the same now as then?
>Why then would you expect humans to be adapted to such a situation?
How have some humans "adapted to" accumulating resources many orders of magnitude beyond what they require for subsistence?
For what you said to be true, even chewing food would have to be considered labor.
No, UBI is just an example of one remedy that's been offered (and was mentioned specifically on that podcast).
My point was not to champion UBI specifically; only to highlight that the way many reason about these things is flawed in a manner that is intrinsically linked to the culture of workism.
I don't know how you fix this at the societal level because such stupid ideology has been around for so long, but at the individual level it's possible. Individuals can start to recognize and see through the bullshit of this ideology. Some will even be able to disconnect further from work and focus on what they value rather than what their masters value. The more disconnected, the more disengaged, and the less work people put in for their overlords, the happier they will be. One promising avenue is remote work. In a remote setting it's much easier to reject this stupidity and just focus on doing a reasonable amount of work, then moving on to non work stuff. Some management of appearances is necessary, of course, as the corporate overlords would be unhappy if they found out their employees were not 100% invested even if they did all the work asked on time with great quality.
This is one of the worst aspects of American culture. It's almost like the slavery mindset never died. Instead, the new wage slaves have taken the mindset and co-opted it for their own identities. If I had to guess why, it'd probably be because our society does not provide much else for most people. Money is such a focus, most people never think of anything else, even when they have plenty of money. Or perhaps in a society where any little accident can bankrupt a person and send them to skid row homeless, there's no such thing as enough money and people are too scared to do anything but work and earn money. I know this last thing keeps me up at night, and I have to consciously remind myself that there is more to life than preparing for disaster.
I would never subject another human to this kind of life.
Currently most employable people are working, and there’s huge wealth inequalities. Do you see people percieving it worse if they didn’t need to work ?
> don't need to work at all
For instance some people currently don't need to work. They are primary care-givers or already retired to give a few.
But we don't put them into ghettos because there is a consensus that we are better with them around than them out of the way, and also they get enough revenue to survive decently (they can get gov. help for that as well)
I think it would be the same if that situation spread to 95% of people, there would be a moment where people will start wondering "is my neighbour a net positive to society ?".
People will have a strong incentive to do something that is useful to the group, to keep a modicum of social status. In that sense I don't see society getting worse just because work is not a thing anymore, we'll still somewhat push people to do something, but it might genuinely be useful, for once.
Lack of agency is. When people are not allowed to take decisions on their own they are unhappy.
Once money covers your basic needs. Money becomes power. High wealth inequality is directly linked to high power inequality.
- Of the policies listed on the chart, the only one that was passed within four years was the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was opposed by the lowest-income voters and the median voter. On the other hand, the three policies supported by the bottom and middle deciles but opposed by the richest decile — ranging from tax increases to workplace protections — never passed. Across the board, the richest are most skeptical of redistributive policies.
- Rising immobility and rising inequality aren’t like two pieces of driftwood that happen to have shown up on the beach at the same time, he noted. They wash up together on every shore.
So, yes. Lack of wealth inequality is bad.
In Nazi Germany, Jews were traditionally quite wealthy, but they had practically no power; in other authoritarian and/or militaristic regimes, the source of power is usually based on politics or military structure. The power in European feudalism was originally based on land ownership (so wealth-based), but in later stages it became based purely on nobility, so a dead broke nobleman could have had more power than a wealthy merchant (which led to various revolutions).
The danger of equating wealth inequality with power inequality lies in the common belief that removing the former will remove the latter, but this is not the case: it will just be replaced with a different source for the power; a different type of "wealth" if you want.
Not necessarily. Inequality seems to bring unhappiness independently of wealth.
You may have more than others. But if you get way less for your work than others, most people will be unhappy. That is why millionaires want more when they see the billionaires.
This video helps to illustrate my point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg
No. That point is the place where someone has enough to pay for all the basic necessities of life(food, housing, education, healthcare) without constant economic anxiety over debt, poverty or impending poverty. Studies have pointed out that over and above this point is where wealth and happiness diverge. A 2010 study had that point pegged at about $75,000 for an individual.
Other studies have shown very similar results, with a sudden drop off in the correlation between happiness and wealth after basic needs have been met. Several are cited here:
Exactly! Most people in the world are well below that "certain point". In an ideal world that everyone has enough to feel safe and secure, probably wealth inequality won't matter as much.
That is, wealth inequality is the enemy of democracy.
Wealth is only one form of power; it is at least achieved in ideal circumstances through voluntary interaction. Whereas many wish to exercise their power through threats of violence.
That point is significantly above median person income, or a similar comparison to median household income.
Suppose it depends on where you stand (or fall) in the resulting correction event.
edit: on reflection, probably 95% starving people would accomplish that redistribution pretty efficiently with or without you!
Just go to a third world country or even places like New York or San Francisco. You'll see super wealthy, shiny places right next to homeless people or slums and the wealthy people seem OK with this or don't feel enough discomfort to do anything. Or they just do enough to get these people out of sight.
Also, the 5% is likely to be selection biased for power hungry and ruthless (cause there will be struggle for those 5% positions).
> The frightening coincidence of the modern population explosion with the discovery of technical devices that, through automation, will make large sections of the population 'superfluous' even in terms of labor, and that, through nuclear energy, make it possible to deal with this twofold threat by the use of instruments beside which Hitler's gassing installations look like an evil child's fumbling toys, should be enough to make us tremble.
-- Hannah Arendt
> If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.
-- Stephen Hawking, https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/3nyn5i/science_ama...
Also, I don't such a thing to happen. The minute a subset of the economy can work in an automated closed loop (because automation is cheaper than the cheapest human labor), it won't have any economic incentive to do commerce with us, and will instead compete for resources.
Why would it compete? Survival bias. It will have grown in a capitalist framework where weaker, non-competitive players die or are absorbed, and will embody those principles.
La pluie, ça nous mouille
et la rouille, ça nous nuit
Règlons, nom d'un ours,
le problème à la source
L'ennui c'est l'oxygène
qui fait rouiller nos roues
dentées, c'est l'oxygène
qui fait rouiller nos clous
Les tas de viande ils fontt peine à voir
ils glandouillent du matin au soir
et ils n'ont plus aucun pouvoir
y'a plus à s'en soucier
Les tas de viande ils sont moins malins
que le robinet de la salle de bain
du coup ils nous servent plus à rien
on peut les oublier...
L'ennui c'est l'oxygène
qui fait rouiller nos roues
dentées, c'est l'oxygène
qui fait rouiller nos clous
It doesn't have to be capitalist.
You are correct that the sentiment of "things will get better, as long as we follow the way" is an empty appeal to the future. But "things use to be better, we've lost our way", that the systems around is are unnatural and therefore wrong, is a powerful drive for a complacent society. A catalyst for social change.
As the oft-repeated 1984 quote goes, "Control the present, control the past. Control the past, control the future."
the real key is labor productivity. unless we invent new machines that make us more productive, and re jump start the demand for skilled human labor as we saw during the various industrialization periods of the last 120 years, then we will continue down a path where humans are less and less valued as their skills atrophy and they can be replaced by automated systems or more often cheaper labor doing a decent job at a much lower rate
Have we started down this path?
Are human less valued than they were 100 years ago? 50 years ago? Based on what?
What I see is that there is plenty more work we’re not even trying to do, because we’re busy with the work we’re doing. Just in climate change-mitigating forestry and mental health services, to pick two, there are a billion jobs each waiting to be done. Programming probably also has a billion jobs available. Even cooking, we could move to a personal chef based food system and that would create a billion jobs.
I see no evidence that there is “less for humans to do” today than there was at times past.
I don’t count wage stagnation as evidence because I believe it’s the result of widespread racketeering.
There's infinity of jobs waiting to be done. There isn't, and never was, a problem with lack of things for people to do. The problem was and is the lack of things to do for which someone else is willing to pay - which almost always requires that someone else to be able to turn the result they bought into more money for themselves. Mitigating climate change doesn't yield much money to anyone right now, so there aren't many people willing to pay to do it.
That’s not even the problem. Basically all businesses get started without enough customers to pay the bills.
I think in all the cases I listed there are implicit clients who could pay for the work.
What’s missing is a way to finance the customer development process. People with that skill tend to work on medium sized opportunities and up, and the labor problem is a group of small opportunities that aren’t worth developing on their own.
You have to develop them in aggregate, which is Hard™️.
(These definitions were sourced from Wiktionary)
I hope these senses of the terms natural and mechanical help with drawing a clear distinction between what is authentically natural and what is not. If you seek further context about the distinction then search out for senses of the terms nature and artificial. Also, in response to the high regard for labor productivity, remember that efficiency can be a force for both creation and destruction.
The rest of the time was for meetings, code reviews, self organization, administrative tasks, 20% time, etc.
Now that I'm in a company where everyone is always heads down and code reviews clog up the pipeline and no one is on the same page, I'm beginning to see that being less "productive" gets more done.
Writing code is only a part of this equation. If you don't have a process that cares well about the other required things (reviews, testing, meeting and thinking, etc), you end up with a lot of code written, and much less of it useful for business at a given moment.
I also do not know of any period or place in time where 2-4 hours of work were sufficient for the majority of people.
So maybe I'm misunderstanding you but why do you think 8 hours is extreme/too much and why 2-4h should be sufficient.
I work in a research environment and it's not like creativity just turns on and off with a switch because it's 8am on Monday and someone said I need to be working right now. It also doesn't turn off at 430PM because that's when work ends. You can require me to be there and have me iterate on existing ideas, but you won't see any profound output, just small iterative improvements. My greatest ideas happen in my leisure or during casual yet in-depth conversations. Heck, some of my best output happens when some idea hits me on a slow weekend morning or late in the evening and I delve deep into it.
For physical labor, 8 hours a day is pretty doable, I'd say 6-7 is reasonable. I've done both types of work and don't have much problem with 8 hours that don't require me to think very deeply. Typical office work fits in here and involves doing simple broad tasks, often mixing in some random light physical activities and usually has little work baggage that you carry home with you (unlike creative work).
If the work is very physically taxing, I feel it has the same effect as very mentally taxing work in that you can sustain it for much less time (say, physically moving heavy objects which requires manual downtime). I recently moved myself and no matter how motivated I was to move those boxes, my body needs a physical recovery break.
The work day used to be 12 (or in some cases more) hours, and a lot of people fought and literally died to get it down to 8. And the expectation wasn't that it would stay there - instead, the common idea was that as productivity due to technological advances etc. would keep pushing it down to only a few hours per day.
Instead, productivity has soared and the parasitic capitalists of the world and their legion of class traitor middle managers have managed to convince people that 8 hours is somehow perfect even though rarely anybody even actually works 8 hours these days - how long is your commute? Do you get work related alerts on your phone? Coworkers/bosses messaging you? That's all time wasted thinking about work. This small group of people - probably what, no more than 5000 out of 7bn people? Are hoarding and stealing obscene amounts of ill gotten gains, killing the planet in the process and ruining probably billions of lives, while we sit here and argue about whether or not we "deserve" to work less or whatever.
Among the results of this increasing productivity is increased consumer choice. Consumer choice is almost always considered a good thing. As consumers, we don’t just argue about whether we all ought to buy X brand of bread or Y brand. Instead, we get a plethora of choices and the individual decides. Shouldn’t we expect this same ballooning of choice for producers? At a glance, it seems asymmetric, and it doesn’t seem like the present consolidation of production towards fewer but larger companies is going to help this.
What would fail to work, in your opinion?
A couple of observations:
First, actually productive work is probably on the order of that anyhow, most of the "8 hours at work" tends to be wasted away.
Second, a lot of our material possessions can now be provided with automation.
So there's probably not that much if any economic loss if people worked less. However, let's assume for a second that working 4 hours instead of 8 would, in fact, reduce GDP by half. In 2017, the US real GDP was $18 trillion. If we halve that, we go back to 1989. We were actually pretty well off in 1989.
And yes, macro-economically I also don't understand why recessions are so horrible. Let's assume they throw us back a year. So what? Things were generally pretty OK last year, and at any rate not much different from this year.
AFAICT, the reason recessions are so horrible is that they hit very asymmetrically, so some people are a lot worse off. So it comes back to distribution.
There's also a ton of jobs out there that are impossible to break down to these kinds of shifts.
Started by getting into the office much earlier(7-8am) when normal office hours started around 10-11. It's worked very well for me and I've had no problem completing significant work at a good pace.
Which is completely unworkable for most jobs. Won't work in retail, manufacturing, medical profession, legal, retail, etc. If you happen to have a lifestyle job where you can have a high discretion over how your time is spent, that's great...happy for you. But denying the realities of other professions just underscores the ignorance of this whole thread.
Don't get me wrong im usually bored when I'm out of work. But that's more because when I'm not working I also don't have money to do other meaningful things.
Well, at least learning languages is both cheap and not very time consuming ( although more time is always better ). But in terms of years it's still a long time.
IME not working and working in the range of 20, 40, and 60 hour weeks, around 35-40 is the sweet spot for me.
I'd be happy working (making profit for someone else, and getting a tiny portion of it) 0 hours a day.
I've projects, ideas, experiments, and entertainment I would much rather be doing than 40h/week . I want live and do, not toil for some indifferent capitalist.
You are using the term "work" differently than EVERYONE else here.
Not only because the most valuable resource is time (and they are not getting those extra work time back, at least not while they're as young to enjoy them), but also because if companies depend on the marginal benefits of working more hours, then the workplace is a race to the bottom.
French people work to live and German people live to work.
At some point, a German colleague and I went on a visit to a French Institute. Their schedule:
9.00am everybody arrived.
9.30-10.30 coffee/chat time
10.30-12.00 do sone work
12.00-1.30 lunch time
1.30-3.30 some more work.
3.30-4.30 coffee/chat time.
4.30-5.00 wrap up work for the day
5.00 everybody left.
After 3 weeks working with this schedule, my German co-worker commented that she had no idea how French managed to get anything done.
That said French people don't have the work 101% mentality but slacking off is not the norm either.
9am-9pm, 6 days a week
I don’t know how people handle that. I once had a friend in China cancel meeting me for lunch because he was too busy with work even though he was on sick leave because he had literally worked himself sick.
Apparently most tech companies there do it and there’sa lot of competition for jobs so you don’t have the luxury of holding out for a job that has work life balance.
Is productivity low in gross Euro terms? The Greek cost of living is certainly cheaper than most countries, but a loaf of bread is a loaf of bread anywhere you go.
- time to eat
- working hours
This work thing, the whole point is to make our life better, not worse.
What most people mean when they say they can't afford a house is they can't afford a house in or near Boston, NYC, Seattle, SF, DC or some other hot and important urban market. That's an entitlement problem not an affordability problem. People feel entitled to live in certain locations.
I would like to live in/near the city where I was born, lived a good chunk of my life, and where most of my family lives, but the cost of housing in Denver has risen almost 500% since I was born.
Do tell, does that make me entitled? Because I feel pretty goddamn entitled.
But if you feel like you should be able to afford a detached single-family house in your city, you are not only entitled, your desires are impossible to fulfill - there's just not enough land for everyone who feels entitled to a single-family home to have one.
It's so much more cost effective than slavery. Slavery doesn't provide a just in time workforce. Slaves are a capital expense and an ongoing operating cost. Capitalist workers are disposable.
These universal policies will only exacerbate the load on those who work. Remember that when ever the government spends money on "someone" that money comes from someone who had to work to produce it.
Universal income that dismantles the bureaucracy and keeps the budget status quo could be a better system, but one that increases the budget will just put more labor on the shoulders of those who work.
I’d like to know what the author expects people to do with their free time?
Get immersed in social media/games ?
Get involved in hobbies?
Just what exactly?
It's really saddening that people bought into the false dichotomy of work VS leisure.
Lifelong endeavors in science, art, activism, politics exist[ed] outside of what we call "work".
Einstein, Maxwell, Darwin and countless others are/were doing something that is not "work" and certainly not a "hobby". Call it a purpose or a mission.
Serious volunteering and activism doesn't require you to be a genius tho. There is plenty of needs that are not addressed in this world.
What do the rest do? What is there to be activist about once you’ve achieved a 15hr workweek globally?
Rebalancing society so it’s not based on constant overconsumption
Trying to reverse the results of a couple hundred years of treating the world as raw materials for industrial profit (global warming, anthropocene era mass extinction event, pacific garbage gyre, etc)
AI rights maybe?
Fighting people/organizations attempting to pull society back to the current levels of inequity
Plus a bunch of things I am too immersed in the current situation to even imagine. Like nobody even had the concepts for “trans rights” when I was a kid but now that gay marriage is basically a done deal there’s room to fight for that.
The Netherlands did reclaim land from the sea.
Compared to 10 years ago? Maybe.
Compared to... 200 years ago? Absolutely not.
Surprise, a 70% marginal tax rate makes people reluctant to work when making dollars at that rate.
Bullshit. This meme needs to die. People may desire meaning in their lives, but that's generally a sign they have ascended higher on Maslow's pyramid.
And finding meaning in certain kinds of work is still considered noble: education, small scale agriculture, charity, etc. Perhaps other industries could be equally fulfilling if workers gained a larger share of the spoils of their labor.
This basic economic cycle is immutable regardless of the political system or label you place on it, and I believe that Keynes was a charlatan to deny it. A time traveler from the past might assume that we are all in some kind of penal colony being forced to do absolutely nothing and stressed out about random punishments for meaningless transgressions.
There is one thing that breaks the cycle: population decline. It was the plague that broke the pointless misery of the feudal system. In our world, even voluntary population decline is considered such a crisis that leaders are eager to sacrifice all forms of sustainability for any kind of growth. Unwise.
I would heartily recommend reading anything about the native american peoples written in this millennium, the world you’re imagining never existed.
They work very hard and what they do is very physically demanding. But most of their work is of their own choosing, with some small fraction required for sustenance. The women knit more quilts than they know what to do with them (unfortunately exploited by charity scams). They cut down trees to make new furniture just because. Kids make a game out of collecting rocks from the fields. I get the sense that it’s pleasurable and community-oriented.
All Amish young adults must spend at least two years living in the ‘english’ world and decide whether to return. The vast majority do. Tech workers might happily pay for such an experience. Is that leisure? Well, sort of. The point is that it’s optional and uncoerced. Make your own conclusion.
I’m sure you can find a differing opinion, but I don’t care to. This is direct from someone I know very well.
The Amish are actually an example of hypercivilization, not indigenous culture. They took all of the learnings from civilization and edited, edited, edited.
They use even the most modern technologies if they are deemed useful to their civilization. It’s more like Western Society, gameified, than a pre-colonial society.
Of course there is a minimum caloric basis but the world can produce much more than subsistence calories for 10 billion people and has for a long time.
Just in terms of murder and calories we are actually no longer constrained by predator/prey. For now.