Dude, work has been by the rich, for the rich, for about as far back as I know of. Probably forever.
It's comparative advantage, right? You use Uber because you don't want to drive. You use Deliveroo because you don't want to cook. The supermarket workers earn 1/5th what you do. The restaurant staff earn 1/5th what you do.
And so on and so forth.
Anyone who makes the transition from working to middle class knows this intimately. Suddenly you're on the other side of interactions.
Is it problematic? Sure it's problematic. The entire economy is problematic - if everyone were upper middle class we'd melt the ice caps, faster than we do already (damn.).
And indeed the link is even more basic than that. Once you get past what you can spend to maintain a lifestyle, wealth is basically a measure of how much of societies resources you can call in, and to make more of it the better options are to organise people to do useful work.
It isn't a class thing that the rich organise the work. Organising people is approximately what makes a person rich.
If someone is organising large numbers of people and is poor ... that is more than a choice, they'd have to be working quite hard not to be bouyed into wealth. It is easy and natural to leverage followers into riches.
Which means, if we are to remove wealth inequality, we have to disincentivise everyone from organizing other people.
It’s not new, but it’s a sign inequality is getting worse. A hundred years ago, rich people had live-in maids, and then they (mostly) disappeared.
There have definitely been jobs and businesses for hundreds of years that pay a living wage providing services almost exclusively to the wealthy: gold and silver smiths, upholsterers, watchmakers, falconers, tile-workers, high-quality tailors, courtiers, handmaids and butlers, etc.
At some point money becomes more than the hard money you buy your food with, but a means of control. Within some limits you can, at some size even have to, provide meaning to others through organisation.
Instead of worrying about the next paycheck you worry about risk, the perspective has to become ever more "macro", lest you lose money because the world model you use to make investment decisions with isn't close enough to the reality of the world. Which, at the highest level is just a cloud of beliefs, constrained by psychology and ultimately physics.
I'd like to read more about the experience of others, and how much it differs between people who have worked/lucked into it during their life and those who were born and perhaps raised with that knowledge and in this environment (inheritance).
How do you find meaning if everything can be accomplished by a mere decision to invest/acquire/influence?
What are the values of the (ultra-)rich? What does still have value to them?
Can leaders of large, complex institutions have a true connection to the reality of the process?
Is there a way to cope with the massive social responsibilities other than to ignore them or finding a way to accept "small" misfortunes (laying off hundreds of people, shutting down unprofitable companies) in pursuit of a greater good (sound resource allocation, long term strategy)?
Is there still something, beside history, science or religion you can look up to and find instruction? Or does one have to look to ones side, to the few lonely people at the top of the pyramid?
Simply put, what is their perspective on the world?
Or it makes more financial sense to 'rent' a ride than to own it. You shop at a supermarket because it is cost-prohibitive to buy from the source yourself.
Not every transaction has to be about squeezing out someone else for less money.
In the last few decades this has largely been framed as "natural" and just been shruggingly accepted but I'm not really sure how smart it is to put an increasingly highly educated workforce into a servant economy.
I think this is a flawed intuition. Remember how the early AI pioneers thought that chess would be hard while speech would be easy, and walking easier still? Precisely the opposite turned out to be true: the things humans think are easier are actually the things that we end up with the most skill experience in just by going through regular growth+development.
Jobs that require these such skills are actually highly skilled jobs; just because nearly every adult human being has the skill, doesn’t mean it’s not a skill.
I point this out because people worry about jobs being destroyed by automation “from the bottom up”, with the least skilled jobs first and then more highly-skilled jobs later on. But under such a framework, service jobs are some of the most high-skill jobs, that will be the very last to be automated. At some point, soft skills will be the only skills left.
Sending huge amounts of people that have obtained high levels of education at the cost of debt into low productivity jobs that are inequitable is a bad idea.
The question we should be asking is why these people are entering servitude instead of starting businesses, moving somewhere else and increasing economic productivity, which in some countries like the UK has stayed flat for a decade, and is barely increasing in the developed world.
I don't buy the narrative at all that we have somehow started all businesses that can exist and invented everything that can be invented so now we're all supposed to be maidens in cat caffees with 20 years of education.
> it literally does not require significant (academic) training
It does! It’s just that almost every human is given this training, usually by their parents. Just because a particular skill is common does not mean that it didn’t require a lot of intense effort to learn.
Look at it this way: in the medieval era, only the most highly-educated people were literate. Today, literacy surpassing the average medieval level is something pretty much every human being achieves by age 4.
Does this mean that literacy is an easy skill? Or just a common one that humanity has built an amazing education process for?
If you look at social/soft skills not as “human instincts” but rather as technologies—tools increasing our leverage by enabling access to different (usu. better) Nash equilibria in social-competitive environments—tools that humans at one point invented, and then gradually developed ways of inculcating from birth—then I’m far less concerned with the fact that jobs that require these skills might be some of the only skills left.
Such jobs that require soft skills are not low-skilled jobs, any more than jobs that require literacy are low-skilled jobs. Literacy was once the province of clerics and military officers; soft skills were once the province of courtiers, diplomats and therapists. Now both skill sets are evenly distributed, because we’ve learned to teach them better. But the jobs that require them aren’t lessened as a result of our increasing educational capacity! Your average hospitality worker from the modern era could likely get a medieval courtier laughed out of the room. They have a high level of skill. It just happens to be common.
(And, in fact, many people seek to cultivate their soft skills beyond even the level the education system brings them to, through continued exposure to harsh social environments. What do you think Twitter is, if not a practice court for aspiring courtiers? But, again, we don’t see it that way, because it’s such a common skill that we don’t see the people practicing it as practicing anything at all. We see people polishing their courtly manner as just “playing around”, the same way we see tiger cubs practicing hunting as just “playing around.”)
Yeah, this one really confuses me.
I think a lot of people are 'just comfortable enough'. They see it as a risk to move country, to move town, whatever. Perhaps it means losing friends, family.
The life of someone who earns 15K a year in London is just a joke compared to what it could be elsewhere in the UK or another country. Servitude is exactly the way to describe it.
Low-paid/unskilled jobs in high CoL areas are hell.
No it's not. That's just a story you're telling yourself. You're either working your farm or you're working someone else's farm. Everyone can choose either. They both have their pros and cons. The former is greater risk but greater reward. The latter is lower risk and lower reward. You have to choose one or another to survive in this world. There's no free lunch. Mother nature doesn't afford any other creature in the animal kingdom a free lunch, why should human's receive any other treatment?
Work predates the rich. Hunt or gather. It's the natural order of things.
It's true that there is more "Uber for X" businesses out there today, but 30 years ago we also didn't have "Digital Agencies", "YouTubers", "Influencers", "SEO Experts", "Security Engineers", "Software Architects" and obviously "Uber Drivers". But today people have different jobs than 30 years ago and that is alright.
Personally I see this market grow even more in the next two decades. One day someone's job will be to stand in the queue for me to buy me tickets to Wimbledon tennis tournaments or a new iPhone during a launch event. Some might say this is degrading work, but others will love it. We might call it "wealth work" today with a bit of a negative meaning, but I bet a few hundred years ago people felt the same about someone who was cutting your nails, scrubbing your feet and giving you a head massage.
A great glimpse into the future of jobs is by looking at Japan. In Japan you can hire someone to "cuddle with you". It's not a sex worker, but as people feel more and more lonely, it's only natural to see a new market rise in this space - where there is a new need (and money) there is a new potential market.
This is always going to be degrading because it's literally an artificial meaningless thing. The operators could just do this for a fee, but they're forcing someone to burn their time instead.
But once the times have changed where there's an actual demand for someone to stand in the queue in front of an Apple Store, then I am sure the perception will change too. Maybe the "Uber Driver" or "Digital Agent" is too busy during business hours but can afford someone else to pick up a phone for him. There's a physical limit to how many people can buy the phone from a shop, so it's not going to be a profession where anyone can do it, you'll probably end up paying quite a bit for someone who potentially has personal connections to the shop owner or gets some preferential spot in the queue so they can charge a higher fee whereas someone who is not at the same level might charge very little but also end up at spot #1001 in the queue and actually not being able to get your desired tickets.
You see what I mean? We can't write off this new market when we don't know yet what it will look like. All I can say, wherever there is need there is money and the more mature a market gets the more $$$ there is to make. Being a professional who can secure you the first iPhone during a launch event can be a hugely respected job one day.
The point was that it's not needed period. There is no point in having people wait for hours in a queue apart from satisfying the retailer's vanity. It's degrading to the prospective customer personally standing in line, much less a mere hired agent. The economically sound move would be to price the items at a point where there is no shortage, but if the company wants to create the appearance of a shortage at artificially low prices for dubious marketing reasons then they should just hold a lottery for the opportunity to purchase rather than making people waste their limited time in line.
Lottery is perhaps better, but it's probably easier to game a lottery than a line, since a rich person can buy many tickets.
However, I think that if someone took the time they'd otherwise have been wasting in lines and used it productively instead then they could probably earn enough to afford the higher market-clearing price, and society would be better for it.
Re: your second point, I can't imagine that's accurate given the extreme differences that exist in disposable income and earning ability.
Edit: I'm realizing now that you may have been more focused on retail than events, in which case I suppose the identity verification option that I'm discussing I admit seems a bit stranger / less relevant.
I'm not convinced this is about equality, either. The time-intensive approach disfavors the lower-middle class the most; on the <em>very</em> low end of the income scale you have a lot of time on your hands on account of not having a job, but for that reason probably can't afford the latest iPhone even at a scarcity-inducing discount. Above a certain point you have enough money to determine your own working hours and can afford to spend time waiting in line for something you really want.
I may be wrong here, but I still think a middle income person is more likely to be willing to spend time in line than a high income person - maybe not as much because they actually _have_ more time available, but rather because they don't value their time as highly, see it as "cheaper" to spend it waiting in line, or are simply more accustomed to being made to wait in lines. Conversely, if I am very rich, I may very well be able to afford waiting in lines, but I may also be more averse to doing so.
Forcing people to stand in line in order to attend an event means that only those who are willing to spend time rather than money will be able to go.
This has effects on the type of person who ends up in the crowd - arguably people who on average are more interested in the event, even relative to a lottery solution since that would give you a more random distribution of folks along the axes of access to time / money.
That said, it does come at a cost.
I always thought standing in line to get something was odd. I tried doing it for a game once, and I felt miserable. What a total waste of time. Most game studios fixed it, by going digital and allowing preloads.
Doing that as a job? Oof. 0 skills required, just good knees. Definitely, sounds like a wise career move./s
It's not really artificial, it's the product of having first-come-first-served instead of highest-bidder products.
>The operators could just do this for a fee, but they're forcing someone to burn their time instead.
Ignoring the choice of FCFS instead of highest bidder, this is just what work is. Someone is offering their time in exchange for monetary compensation.
Yes, it is work. Degrading work, because it's completely pointless.
I could pay someone to move the gravel on my drive from one side to the other over and over again for a year. Someone would probably accept that if I structured it as an 8-hour job with health insurance etc. It'd be the most mind-numbingly boring thing ever.
Gig economy apps are not an open platform. Workers are in the thrall to their company of choice, and there is no upward mobility. Even a manicurist may be able to learn new techniques or save money to open their own store, but the app that told a stranger to buy Wimbledon tickets for you doesn't provide a plan for the worker beyond going from gig-to-gig.
I'm being very tongue-in-cheek, but as it turns out, the more you make, the more you spend. I view this as a great opportunity to supply a demand (or even better, create a demand! $$$).
The only change is now the positions are less long term employer commitment and more gig work than ever.
Lots of middle class women get manicures and pedicures. Besides, as hourly pay at the top rises, the rich are willing to pay more per hour for labor that saves them time. Economic growth is not a zero sum game.
I'm confused as to why investing (I assume in the stock market) "improves the productivity of labor, allows more goods to be produced at lower cost, and ultimately benefits everyone" - that money we invest in buying stocks, after the stock is initially bought from the business, is just shuffling chips around a table, it doesn't seem to be doing anything for anyone. Am I off base? How does a company see a direct benefit from already sold stocks?
> How does a company see a direct benefit from already sold stocks?
Normally when you buy shares in the stock market, other than from an IPO or secondary public offering, the company doesn't directly benefit from that trade. The company received its benefit up front when it sold the shares. Of course no one would have bought the shares if they didn't expect to be able to profit from them, either by selling to another investor or through dividends, so the fact that a market will exist is critical to any company looking to raise capital by issuing shares to the public. A high stock price is also beneficial to any company looking to raise funds through a secondary public offering, and may translate into actual revenue for capital investment if the company holds some of its equity in reserve.
What I really had in mind, however, was not buying existing shares from other investors in the stock market but rather venture capital, IPOs, private equity, and the purchase of corporate bonds. In each of these cases the investment directly injects money into the company where it can be put to work enhancing productivity.