I'm perhaps speaking from a place of privilege, but it's not that hard to achieve. I've been doing this my whole life, from minimum wage jobs through decades of professional career.
Sit on the couch. Take a vacation. Quit your job. Say no to overtime always and forever. Blow off weekends often. Nothing is as important as others will tell you it is. You're going to die some day and when you're on your death bed you won't regret the times you did nothing.
The guy with the moustache is a blue collar worker and the other one is white collar worker (actually in Tech/IT)
You watch it today, in 2020, and it's shocking that it was made 20 years ago. This tells me that Judge and the other writers managed to latch on to some very timeless things.
Not sure what they are, but they nailed it.
Office Space is pitch-perfect, but then he went and created Silicon Valley and King of the Hill too. I can't personally confirm that King of the Hill is accurate, but I've heard it is. Silicon Valley just nails it though, and it is far more specific than the Office Space type stuff.
i genuinely thought it was that important, but looking back it was really not a big deal at all (and the judge knew it) :)
Another level of enlightenment is when you understand somethings don't have to be done at all.
Taking months between jobs and going to 4 days/week is more uncommon though.
- A lot of companies are ok with 80% (most often that means 4 days of full time work). Some aren't, but especially towards more experienced roles, it's not out of the ordinary at all.
- 40h is actually somewhat rarer. I've been interviewing recently and lots of smaller companies think it's a point of pride to have 45h or 43h weeks. When you point out to them that this 12.5% rise in hours should also come with a 12.5% pay rise, they are baffled how you would come to that conclusion.
- 4wk vacation is the mandatory minimum. 5wk is nice and often available.
I love the idea of taking lots of time off, but on a personal level I have a lot of guilt surrounding that. I know it's not rational since ultimately it's my life, but it's still something I need to work on to get over. If you have tips on changing my mindset surrounding this, I'd love to hear it.
I think that they might have been a little disingenuous. Their post was far too long and properly typed out to be from a real sloth.
That’s how I don’t feel guilty. I am not doing anything and you can do whatever you want in life too.
I find it tough to achieve though. I am currently at 4 days per week but would like to be at 3.5 days, that’s my optimum (lower than 3 days and I will go insane of not exercising my mind).
It's not like paid work is the only place where you can exercise your mind
Fair enough, I thought about doing that too. I chose for the mind, but IMO the body is a good option as well, especially because if you choose the right profession (i.e. light to medium exercise), it probably means you'll live longer.
The issue with work is that it is constrained to one thing (web dev in my case). I can use my free time to do whatever (relax or other exercises such as meditation).
What I realized early in my professional career was that position trumps everything. For example, if you are born into a great enough position, you are set for life, pretty much regardless of anything else. Then I figured out (slowly over time through trial and error), which positions I could move to from the one I was in, where I could either: a) do less work for same pay, or b) get more pay for same work. Although a lot of times switching positions required intense "extra" work.
In the end however, it seems to mostly just been a lot of luck in the way things played out, together with an intense desire to, in the long term, reduce my work-related load/responsibilities.
i highly doubt somebody on a minimum wage job can choose to work only 4 days a week.
> I frequently take many months off between jobs, sometimes a year or more.
Definitely speaking from a place of privilege. Single moms living in poverty don't have the luxury to care for her mental health. She probably can't take even a few days off, voluntarily, much rather months or years.
Let me ask you (caymanjim), in the months and years you take off, how do you subsist? The average American has, what, less than $500 in savings?
Privilege colors your views on reality, and I would love for all of us to get there, but let's not imagine that this "isn't hard to do". It is. It really is.
What cracks me up is that oftentimes, the victims don't even care or don't get nearly as mad as the bystandars. Same story with tech workers getting mad about how Amazon pays their employees. Is there any real harm being done here?
So I gotta wonder, why are the bystanders more mad than the alleged "victims" themselves? Do you realize how screwed up this is?
And for anyone in that situation: how many of them are too poor to pay rent?
Can you clarify, cause I'm not sure what issue you're addressing? Am I a "bystander" in this, or an "alleged victim"?
As a "bystander," you think, therefore, that I am not poor/in poverty? What gave you that idea?
And, sociologically speaking, sometimes single motherhood is connected to privilege, or a lack thereof.
The weirdest part, though, is voluntary taking several months or even a year between jobs. Now that is proper privilege.
Probably because we assume that when he wants a job he can get one, and one that pays for all the time of as well, at the drop of a hat. But it's not so for someone without in demand skills.
I have, over the years, walked out of well-paying, high responsibility jobs (Civil Service, IT) because the stupidity of the petty empire building and office politics became too much to bear. Sometimes I've been in a situation where I had saved up enough 'rainy-day' money to give myself time off to do other stuff - finally get a degree, write some books, work on an open-source project or even, yes, spend a couple of weeks staring at a wall while I daydreamed. When I've had no money, I've taken welfare cheques, or worked in menial zero-hour-contract manual labour jobs to keep food on the table, or started fresh in an entirely different service/industry.
Things I've learned:
1. Know how much money you need to survive with a roof over your head and food on the table. If you're earning more than that, you're in a good place.
2. Your job title and the numbers printed on your payslip do not determine who you are. Measure your worth in the relationships you have with your friends, family and work colleagues. Measure it in terms of your mental wellbeing.
3. There is no such thing as 'idleness'.
Therefore, I work to please that faceless few. I am happy with this, because it is nice to be appreciated, but at the same time I cannot help but feel that I am not building something meaningful in my more direct social circles.
> Blow off weekends often.
Yes definitely agree, best for health outcomes.
I think much more than valueing idleness it's also a massive indictement of the system we live in. The number of people who I've talked to who legitimately don't know what to do without work during the pandemic is staggering.
It says a lot that as a society there is so little attention paid to instilling curiousity in people and fostering people's potential that, left without menial work to do, nobody knows what to do with themselves.
The pleasures of urban populations have become mainly passive: seeing cinemas, watching football matches, listening to the radio, and so on. This results from the fact that their active energies are fully taken up with work; if they had more leisure, they would again enjoy pleasures in which they took an active part.
-- Bertrand Russell http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
The world could have 10000T in cash but if no exchange happens, everyone is poor.
Idleness doesn't necessitate consumption, and it's interesting that that conclusion was jumped to.
I would like to see some data on this. It may seem like it but I would say it's quite the opposite.
1897 - 18
1930 - 218
1970 - 1174
2000 - 17813
2019 - 30234
Still, would be interesting to see some comprehensive study on active leisure.
Also, athleisure is "active" in the literal sense, but is it contributing anything back to society? I guess one could argue it collectively reduces the cost of our growing passiveness. But I would argue, as someone who loves exercising, that exercise is just a video game that makes you feel progressively better the longer you play it instead of worse. It doesn't serve a broader purpose beyond a certain point of basic health, unless you are so good that other people derive satisfaction from your accomplishments (pro athlete) or you are doing it to form social connections (golf, intramural sports leagues, etc.) or like break a world record or something.
When I think of unique opportunities in urban environments, I’m thinking more along the lines of nightlife, live sports, music, and theatre, boutique shopping, art galleries, etc. which I don’t consider to be particularly “passive” activities either.
Know what you see references to all the time in previous centuries? Reading aloud as entertainment among family and friends, sometimes even in public places, and even staging little dramas at home. Kids might do the latter still, a bit, but one gets the impression it was much more common then. People didn't stop doing that because they were working more, they stopped because radio was invented.
When there was no radio or gramophone, if you could play the piano tolerably well and sing a little you were, to your social circle, hot shit. Not so much afterward. You could play a pick-up game on the green off town square against a neighboring town and people would show up and watch with enthusiasm. When things were expected to be repaired and a blanket might cost quite a damn bit to buy, being able to sew pretty well or being fairly handy at woodworking was far more valuable than it is now. Mass production has driven the social (and economic) value of both way down.
Direct personal enjoyment wasn't the only thing one could hope to get from all those "leisure" activities.
Oh, your sketches and watercolors? Yeah they're nice I guess. Have you seen Deviantart? Instagram? I follow 200 artists better than you, from around the globe, and most of them aren't even good enough to make any money at it. And so on. Social value approaching zero.
That said, I think there's also room for a new kind of very-local active-not-passive activity to spring up. We already see the beginning of this with mass tourism and the rise of mass-amateur photography thanks to digital cameras and cell phones.
Does anyone really think their picture of the Grand Canyon taken on their iPhone is better than the thousands of professional photos already taken of it? Yet people (me included!) continue to take pictures.
I'm not really sure exactly what form it will take but that kind of "sure but I haven't personally experienced it" take feels like it might re-open the doors that were slammed shut by the kind of mass media effect you describe.
Compound that with a kind of long-tail niche of hyperlocal activities and there's more scope for hope in the future. Sure things like theater and music have been are a lost cause. But maybe birdwatching in a nearby national park? Or groups that handle beach cleanup or beach erosion?
Maybe we're just in the middle of a (long) transition toward those kind of things.
For instance, many people are still gardening - not only because they like it, but also because the product, a beautiful garden, makes the effort worth it for them. I doubt many people would still garden if we could just display an equivalent garden in their AR glasses - similarly to how almost no one plays the instrument now because we've got recordings of music.
Today's equivalent would be smartphones, which are definitely harder to use the further out you are from civilization (I've got no reception 40 minutes from DT San Diego!)
I wouldn't look at that and conclude that these people are just domesticated livestock who have no self-worth beyond their job. A lot of legitimate hobbies and even just normal socializing are completely shut down or heavily restricted in a lot of places.
Of course there are some things we can do by ourselves, but not everyone is made that way. Lots and lots of people would rather while time away. "Dumb" by Nirvana captures this pretty well.
Can confirm that not one soul has hassled any of us for riding our bikes in the woods with our masks off.
Were it not for bicycle motocross, I think I would have jumped in front of a bus by now. Seeing my friends in the woods is one of the only things keeping me sane.
I cannot recommend cycling highly enough; not just as a pandemic activity, but as a way of life.
But even so, so what? The mask isn't going to let me ride as vigorously as I normally would, but I can still get out into nature and enjoy some exercise and new scenery.
Sure, I’ll almost always be fine in these circumstances, but the “cost” of wearing a mask is really nothing compared to the protection afforded me in the event of the unforeseen.
I still have my job, but not being able to go out and socialize in the evenings and on weekends is driving me a little nutty. Sure, I work on some side projects, read books, work out, watch films, etc., but it just doesn't come remotely close to filling the same void for me as having a drink and good conversation (in real-life) with my close friends, or swinging by my climbing gym, or seeing live music.
I don't think that means something is "really off" with me, or that I'm "domesticated livestock" - it just means my hobbies and the way I like to spend my time aren't as pandemic-friendly as yours.
I'd love to go jam with my band, but we're all in lockdown mode. I'd love to go to the playground with my kids, but they're all closed. I'd love to have a playdate with my friend's kids, but everyone is self-isolating.
These are not normal circumstances.
I see work as the way we contribute to society, how we help others with things that are important for them. In return, other people work on things that benefit me.
This is how we can live in wealth and peace unimaginable to most of history. This is a fantastic historic achievement, and I want to keep it going.
I do agree that we are much more than just workers, of course. But that feels like a strawman argument. Does anyone actually argue that?
And likewise, we are more than just self pleasers. If all you do is trying to entertain yourself every moment, I think a big part of life is missing.
“If any action of yours, then, does not have direct or indirect relation to the social end, it pulls your life apart and destroys its unity.”
That said, keeping yourself mentally healthy is just as important, to the social end.
I think people conflate the above with "wanting to contribute to society and benefit others" because you're not usually willing to pay for things that don't benefit you. However we all know there's a massive section of capitalism that's built on manipulating people to buy things they don't need or will actually do them harm, and there's also a huge section that benefits from desperation and will use it's political weight to increase said desperation if possible.
Of course in principle it's possible to have a company that balances a healthy profit with a useful and beneficial product, but in practice a vast majority of companies will abuse its customers and employees as much as legally permissible if it increases the incomes of the upper echelons. At least that's my view.
So nowadays I just do my job to get my stagnant wage, so that I can pay my extortionate rent.
Survival of the fittest. Competition on the market guarantees that, over time, the companies that do useful things and balance that with profits and employee needs will die off, while companies good at maximizing revenue by any means necessary will flourish.
That's my cynical realization. Both too little and too much competition on the market is poison.
wether or not that is a concious goal. it defintiely seems the result that is happening in our current culture
sometimes i think of it like a horse and a jockey, somehow the horse was acclimated to allowing someone to ride on its back, tell it where to go, and how fast to run... in return the horse gets a stable, some food and a trough... but even if the horse is compensated for its "work" its still a releationsnip of "rider" and "rode on"
Having come from years grinding at a desk job, it was startling to see that many millions (probably billions) of people live extremely happy and fulfilled lives without the need for menial jobs and "a career". Money is useful, but if you can shortcut straight to happiness why bother with the inefficient middleman.
We in the West tend to think our way of life is the "best" or the "only", but that is very far from the truth, and I urge anyone who is curious to spend time in parts of the world where work is not the meaning of life. Spend a summer in Spain and enjoy siesta.
What do we pay for with that grind: low violent crime rates, good roads so lower amount of traffic deaths, better health care.
Being poor or sick in Latin America or Africa sucks.
Speaking of the US, being poor and sick here also sucks but differently. You won't die of malaria. Instead, you will spend the rest of your days scraping pennies to pay for an outrageous medical bill because you don't belong to the class of people with good employer-provided health insurance.
Good roads and cars exist in Latin America and Africa as well of course.
Even though the actual opportunity cost of doing something "frivolous" is zero given the circumstances, the self-imposed perceived cost could feel much higher. There's a difference between not knowing what to do with oneself and feeling like one shouldn't be doing any of those things.
I was thinking the other day that I found it easier to dive deep into my side projects when I have the contrast of social outlets. If I just have my side projects, the balance is out of whack. It doesn't feel as meaningful as an outlet if it's the main thing. It's no longer this fun thing to do to give myself time away from others. All time is time away from others now.
Some people genuinely find “work” meaningful and purposeful and that should be okay if that’s what they value. If other things provide them meaning, that’s okay too.
Turns out for many people, there’s not much else they can be that would be an improvement over whatever they currently are.
 It occurs to me that another solution is to keep the work force, but double the work. This also happened; it seems like there are plenty of jobs that are just busy work with no real purpose.
The article says as much:
> In a sane world, Russell thought, the factory would simply halve working hours, maintaining the same wages but greatly increasing the time that the workers could devote to the joys of leisure. But, as Russell observed, this rarely happens. Instead, the factory owner will opt to keep half the workers on the same hours and lay off the rest. The gains from the advances of technology will be realised not as an expansion of leisure but rather as drudgery for some and jobless destitution for others, with the savings enjoyed only by the winner, the factory owner.
First, workers gain skill by the hour. It's more efficient to have forty hour work weeks for a workforce of half the size than twenty hour work weeks with the same size.
Second, many things in the economy are arms races. Housing, cost of education, status goods, actual arms for our militaries, etc. We have enough productivity for things like food to be very, very cheap but it just drives up prices elsewhere.
 Specifically land value, but also housing in the physical sense since raw materials and labour are not unlimited.
edit: the reasonable expectation is that half of the workers are fired and the remaining workers' salaries are cut. The Luddites were a result of noticing technological improvements lowered wages and employment at the same time.
Then the incentives are aligned - the more productive, technologically advanced the economy is, the greater your stock returns and the better off you are.
Is that not more or less the case for many people that have lived in the developed world for generations? You do not need to save a lot every month in order for it to compound into a meaningful stock ownership after 200 years. Median household net worth in the UK is £300'000, and that includes many many recent arrivals. For comparison, with a net worth of £500'000, you could draw ~£15'000/year in perpetuity if you wanted - is that not a much better alternative to UBI?
(Maybe if we had some more leisure we could become more imaginative)
This is precisely Mark Fisher's argument in Capitalist Realism. Capitalist realism dictates that the majority of people have become incapable of imagining something outside of a kind of binary choice. There can't be an alternate future, because we can't imagine it in the first place. This was bessed summed up, rather ironically, by Thatcher: "there is no alternative".
But yeah, those are the only places where markets are off-limits. If you try to make a totalizing system that forbids people the right to buy or sell (say, on your way to burning man or after church), you'd need gulags to control the social unrest. People like to buy stuff and sell stuff.
The answer is that it's effective propaganda. Starvation and gulags are terrible evils. If you can plant the idea in someone's mind that they are what you get when a society questions capitalism, then you've created a zealous foot-soldier for capitalism who feels he's fighting for good against evil.
Someone who zealously fights starvation and gulags is fighting for good against evil, but those were mainly the result of particular alternatives to capitalism: radical Soviet-style central planning and dictatorship. That's not the only alternative: there are others, including many that haven't been thought of yet. Also, it's not like capitalism is over and we know how it ends. Maybe it too will find its way to starvation and gulags.
I believe that's the problem with capitalism as it is today. Whomever owns the means of production has literally zero constraints on maximizing their convenience. The expense ends up drastically inconveniencing, to the point of being a barrier to access, everyone who doesn't own the means of production.
maybe cooperatives are a potential solution to that issue?
that does not follow: just because something is natural doesnt make it good or desireable
An highly advanced non-conscious AI takes over everything
Then people can rate each other. And gain experience levels like in a mmorpg. And then people work to improve their rating and levels
Hopefully the AI is smart enough to prevent fraudulent ratings.
Found your problem.
All that needs to be done is to properly mandate maximum work hours (no overtime even if the worker is willing).
We are close to that in Norway already. See https://www.arbeidstilsynet.no/en/working-conditions/working...
The Working Environment Act defines working hours as time when the employee is at the disposal of the employer. The time the employee is not at the disposal of the employer is referred to as off-duty time.
There are limits for how much you may work per 24-hour day and per week. These limits are laid down in the Working Environment Act, but may also be regulated by your employment contract and by any collective agreements.
The limits prescribed by the Working Environment Act for normal working hours are:
9 hours per 24 hours
40 hours per 7 days
The employer shall keep an account of the employee’s working hours.
Calculation on the basis of a fixed average
The normal working hours may be calculated on the basis of a fixed average. This means that you may work more than the limit for normal working hours during certain periods in exchange for working correspondingly shorter hours during other periods. The average number of hours worked must be within the limits for normal working hours.
Some things have to remain outside the realm of market exchange. Marriage is a good example. You just can't put a price on it. Ditto for kids, and a lot of other highly meaningful life experiences.
I think the problem is thinking that markets and commerce are the whole story. They aren't. There's just so much more to life: serving others, community, family. None of this is anti-capitalist per se.
I don't see the conclusion. I can only see there are many specific problems with capitalism.
But increasingly we are turning the valuation process over to algorithms, sensors, and other precision instruments. If we extrapolate this onwards, the market exchange will become vestigial in not that many years: the algorithms involved will already know how much can be sustainably produced, consumed, transported and trashed, and there will be known bounds to personal and societal consumption relative to planetary capacity. At that point, transition away from capitalism will seem obvious. And we might be closer to this point than it looks.
 - A phrase coined by Nick Bostrom, in "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies":
"We could imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today – a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland with no children."
I expect the global population to be reduced and/or reprogrammed over time (via genetic interventions) long before I expect techno-capitalist industrial society to implode.
The horror that is possible with technology is essentially unbounded, and any discomfort caused to humans can be overcome through drugs and similar measures. Hell, we're already medicating people in first-world economies in extraordinary numbers.
I like to think of what an amoral money machine would do as a base-case for what we set up the incentives to be. Then we can tweak the incentives to get the outcome, but we start with the machine. After all, moral outrage alone rarely has lasting change without policy change.
Things that encourage fewer-people w/ more-work-per-person are:
* Laws that explicitly disincentivize larger companies (that kick in at >24 people or >49 people, or that are flat per-person-on-payroll fees like medical benefits)
* The learn rate of individuals given sustained work
* Increased overhead with more individuals (i.e. communication costs, scheduling costs, hiring costs)
There's portions I can't immediately nail like the fact that if I share a desk with someone I can't spray my things all over it like I normally do. My hardware has to be out of the way and clean for the other guy.
I think one other solution is to keep the work force, but double the output. I think this also happened (in addition to the other two that you identified). The overall productivity and output of society has massively increased.
All of the automation I'm familiar with is making the design and manufacturing processes more fluid, giving faster iterations at reduced cost. This allows the tech/process/whatever to progress faster. You'll finish your product sooner, but that means you can start the next sooner.
This whole concept of having more time assumes there's nothing else to do. There will always be something to do if you're not making something static, like soap.
Technological progress has made labor productivity itself a lot more uneven and sharply unequal than it used to be when Keynes was writing. So the currently most marginal workers tend to be laid off first, especially given the increasing regulatory barriers that have made low-productivity positions unsustainable since then.
As technology increases you need fewer people with higher skills to produce everything, but there is no reason why they should spend all their time producing a surplus to supply everybody else. They would rather stop and have Thursday and Friday off.
We all work in solidarity with those we need to work. Because it is more difficult to share out the unemployment than it first appeared.
The solution is to retire people earlier and have a public job option so younger people can always contribute their labour hours for others. Retiring people at 50 makes sense in a Covid world.
He was semi right. We've actually made work weeks longer, but less than 50% of people work (at all, let alone full time).
The issue here is equality. Keynes assumed everyone would be viewed ad equal and given the same time off. Instead a large number of people have been allowed to opt out entirely and others have been forced to pick up the slack...
I can't find the comment, but I do remember someone on HN suggesting that the gains of extra productivity are claimed by a corresponding increase in credit and therefore debt.
I would argue that the reason for that is that they more directly see the fruits of their labour.
 I mean unless there's a real and successful socialist revolution.
For central planning, one proposal I saw offered that the workers could be organized into sectoral unions that participate as a sector in government. This weight and common interest allows them to counter the weight of voters that ask for too much. It's also large enough of an agglomeration that the workers still represent society as a whole to a great degree.
Art, music, sport, leisure, time with family- all these things (and more) put us in touch with the greater things in life. We collectively live out the human experience in a way that crashes through barriers of language, and in my opinion, we also encounter the transcendental.
Work is simply a means - not an end in itself. I work so I can provide for my family. The good I am pursuing is the welfare of my family. That gives my work a higher meaning. Those engaged in charity work or volunteer work (also a higher good) are usually paid the least.
I find that the people who fall into the trap of treating their work as an end, are the ones the most susceptible to burn out, depression, and low life satisfaction.
Make time for the "useless" things. Go for a walk, read a book, look at the birds, listen to music, write a poem, get out those pencils you never use, play an instrument, watch a good film, go fishing, spend time with your kids, buy something nice for your wife. But for goodness sake, forget about work for enough time each week. You'll feel infinitely better.
what counts as virtuous etc, is just a set of beliefs you have. The person who "treating their work as an end" is not less happy, in the same way that a worker ant is happy doing what they were born to do (work themselves to death). Assigning your value judgement on someone else's life decisions just another way to be on a high horse. Who's to say that the workaholics are wrong to live the way they do?
Not an issue for me, nor anyone else I know who has retired early. Maybe the same sort of energy that supports early retirement also leads to a fully engaged post-retirement life.
As long as you love to learn or create (or both) you will have a shortage of free time, even in retirement.
Off the top of my head, I spend time on: foreign language, guitar, writing, blogging, photography/videography, programming challenges, fitness, meditation, cooking, history, math, politics, biking, kayaking, hiking, golf, travel, volunteering, reading books/magazines/news, watching movies/shows, surfing the web, home improvement and repair, investing.
And that's just the fun stuff. There's still bills, taxes, paperwork, repairs, laundry, dishes, on and on.
Honestly, I still don't have anywhere near enough time and am annoyed by how much time sleep steals. I have no idea how I went 30 years with 50 hours lost every week to work, not to mention raising a family.
It's a trite saying, but true: you won't be bored unless you're boring!
I'm in my late 30's and plan on "retiring" in my early 50's. I had kids in my late 20's, so we're good there (it's been tough of course). I doubt I'll stop working and will probably switch to working 2-3 days a week for a few months at a time, or getting on a few boards of directors and being an advisor/consultant, or something like that.
I work 70+ hours/week on average and have done so for over a decade. I know this pace isn't sustainable; I'm falling behind every year that passes me while I watch 23 year olds put in the hours I used to. So for people our age, we have to put the work in now if we want leisure time later.
America is turning into a winner-takes-most society and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It will become harder and harder to be a "punch the clock" person and retire at a normal age, especially as life expectancy continues to get pushed out.
I'd rather go live in a tent than spend 10+ years putting in 70+ hour weeks just to retire when all of my best years are behind me.
Besides, my best years are ahead of me. I'll be in great shape in my 50s with nothing but time and options. The idea that your 20s and 30s are the best years of your life is a very antiquated concept.
I did and I’ve never worked-worked more than 30 hours per week except for short bursts at a time. The more critical your work is, the more time you should dedicate to being at your best.
I don’t take any umbrage at your chosen path nor do I disagree that america is a winner take most society. But when most is a bunch of unnecessary consumer faff, maybe enough is better to shoot for.
These days I work 15-20 hours per week. I spend as much time as I want abroad/surfing/screwing around on the internet. I’m 35. I don’t care to fly first class or buy Vuitton. But I do have all my meals and my bed made for me.
I agree RE: consumerism. I save / invest most of my money and spend it on services like you (though I cook most of my meals since it's a hobby of mine; but same idea with a nanny, housekeeper, etc). I wear mostly free clothing from vendors and my suits (such that I need them) are all from Indochino; I drive a 12 year old used SUV around and live in a modest townhome in a not-great area of my city.
I have "enough." I enjoy work, a lot. I get the feeling a lot of people don't like working, or like their job, or something. It's not a chore. 70 hours a week producing and working is indeed a hell of a lot of fun. Especially for those years when it was gambling... but hey, what I do now is still almost as fun.
EDIT: Well, I have enough for me. Not for my family. To retire at age 40 requires a hell of a lot more money than I have now for obvious reasons, even if I don't plan on giving my kids a ton of money to live off of.
That said I still have a problem with the idea that working 70 hours out of every week is good - even if you feel energized, certainly you can’t be operating near your peak.
Take the world’s best in the world’s most star-driven market, Ronaldo. How many hours does he work every week? 10 real work hours, plus 10-15 of preparation? Would we expect him to be a better footballer if he also took a shift doing data analysis at McKinsey nights and weekends? Or is it better that he focus on being close to 100% of his potential on every match?
I’m sure you’re extremely good at what you do and I’m genuinely thrilled to see what you’ll produce when you can afford to be better-rested (if you don’t burn out before). I’m sure it will be your best work.
I think it's very difficult to become world class working <40h a week. At the same time I don't think this is something everyone should strive for. If you want a nice relaxed/balanced life, there's nothing wrong with that.
However the world would be a much sadder place without the obsessive-compulsives that spend an inordinate amount of time on their craft.
Both jobs, as you can probably surmise, have significant overlap. So being good at one makes me good at the other.
I think I'll be a good consultant. I actually might teach junior college or high school when I'm all done "working." That'll be a blast when doing it for the mission, not the paycheck.
Tomorrow isn't guaranteed so we should make time to experience life and live our values today.
I don't have any public words to say to you, but I would love to chat a bit if you ever want to.
My email is brunomtsousa @ the biggest search company email service.com
What I do instead is work for a year or two and then take six month or so off between the gigs.
There's a reason why these activities are often funded by patronage in the old days (nobles and kings etc).
However, if one desires to live with luxuries such as, gasp, housing and medical care, then life becomes extremely expensive, especially in US cities.
So increasingly as I see it, you either need to be making big bucks as a developer/executive, or you need to be living in a tent on BLM public land with your only expenses being food and a phone bill.
Just hope you don't get sick.
Also, food expenses add up. State food assistance programs are already overloaded (even before COVID), if you're a single dude living as a hermit you go to the back of the line.
Can you actually [legally] do this?
So I guess you would need two or three spots to cycle between if you wanted to do it legally, but you could continuously occupy public land like this.
Have we realized this? I think you'd find a sizable chunk of the country that disagrees. And I also think it's still too soon to say.
> That, after all, is what money is for.
Money that we don't have. We can keep conjuring money out of thin air if we want, but the effects of infinitely deepening debt seem negative in every case study I've ever read (to say the least).
We need our tax laws geared to increasing the velocity of money.
I believe that with the growing global middle class we actually do need to print money faster than we are, because we don’t want to be in a situation where people think that not spending is more valuable than spending. Wealth is not zero sum, and these new families need to partake.
It doesn't matter even if people do—techno-capitalist industrial society wants ever-growing efficiency and production, and if it harms humans (like, say, causing wide-spread depression) it will simply invent new mitigations (e.g. anti-depressants) that, natch, result in new products to sell that improve the GDP.
There are no brakes on this train and humans aren't even driving it anyway.
The obvious response to your request is "do nothing". And don't let anyone sway you otherwise.
I just think the individualism narrative has become dangerous, because it leads to people's refusal to participate in collective action. Or it leads people to believe they are not the "right individual", that they don't have what it takes to be the person to make change, and therefore they end up doing nothing. I don't think the collective approach leads people to "do nothing" but quite the opposite! There is no one who is "unfit" to contribute to collective action. The more people involved, the more powerful it is.
Yet barely anyone does that. We haven't realized this because it's not true.
This is the exact same issue with UBI. The universality of it undermines support.
Personally I decided long ago that I simply don't care enough about money to try & advance upwards into high paying positions that would eat upwards of 60 hours a week, and possibly much more w/ off-time emails, phone calls, texts, etc. Instead I have a 40-hour work week, occasional emergencies where I of course do a little extra. I'm paid well for it, and have turned down every overture of advancement because I neither want the extra stress nor do I want to leave behind meaningful work in place of important-but-not-enjoyable work I'd have to do if I moved up a level. Instead I get to perform mission-critical work solving interesting problems, and get home early enough to have a nice family dinner, talk to my kids about their day, get beat by those same kids in Fortnite, and pursue multiple hobbies. Not only do I get ample vacation time, I don't work in a place that frowns upon actually using it.
I don't see why everyone couldn't have jobs that allow for this sort of lifestyle.
The best alternatives to economically productive work are equally productive in different domains. For example, take gardening. You might be surprised at the quality of aerobic exercise you get working a large yard and garden. I recently took a heart rate monitor and found I could replace my morning jog. My heart rate was actually higher on average, and the sense of purpose was a welcome distraction from the work.
Unfortunately few are taught these kinds of healthful alternatives. I can only imagine what a difference in health and cognition there would be if schools taught hands-on agriculture and gave students garden plots.
I know “nobody reads the article” is an HN joke, but surely asking whether Russell uses the word idleness in his essay titled “In Praise of Idleness” is taking the mick...
I know what you're saying and for the most part, I agree. I don't want to give the impression that I'm disparaging what isn't immediately materially, visibly useful to me. I don't believe in "inutile beauty" from a philosophical perspective, but not in the sense that I want to do away with it...just that I don't believe it exists. I think everything has some effect.
So that's one thing I like about gardening -- I find (for me) there's a bigger cluster of positive effects around gardening than jogging. The produce makes my family and friends happy and there are little goals to keep me distracted from the exertion. I still get the cognitive effects of a hard aerobic workout, but there are other benefits too.
I'm curious, what would you consider an unproductive activity?
I could easily fill that time with dozens of ideas. But you see, I'm lucky enough to be a "creative" person. That is, I'm in love with the things I invent. The more I invent, the more passionnated I am. I can sustain an incredible level of activity just to achieve goals I create myself. But these goals are mostly non economic. So being able to just do my stuff without having to prove an economical value to it would be very much welcome.
I don't think that's idleness for the average person. It's more like nihilism and hedonism.
I'm not arguing that jobs are the solution, to be clear -- just objecting to the terminology. If everyone would use free time in the way you would, there would be no problem.
This is the kind of insanity Russel's original essay alludes to. If we weren't taught to fill every hour with "productive" work, then anyone could foster their creativity with idle pursuits that aren't limited by their ability to produce value.
People feel like they're not creative because they feel the constant need to produce something of value and are afraid to experiment with anything else. Creativity requires that type of experimentation.
The fact that we claim some people are creative and some are not is a complete facade. It's similar to saying "oh I can't draw" or "I'm bad at math" — well no, you've likely just spent less time practicing it... maybe you're too afraid to fail to even try.
People are the hardest resource to manage for a business. Finding them. Keeping them. Motivating them. Training them. Etc. Double the workers with half the working time is a lot more expensive.
So business will never choose to do this. If this would be better for society (emphasis on IF) then only regulation will make it happen.
In a sane world, Russell thought, the factory would simply halve working hours, maintaining the same wages but greatly increasing the time that the workers could devote to the joys of leisure. But, as Russell observed, this rarely happens. Instead, the factory owner will opt to keep half the workers on the same hours and lay off the rest. The gains from the advances of technology will be realised not as an expansion of leisure but rather as drudgery for some and jobless destitution for others, with the savings enjoyed only by the winner, the factory owner."
This is, amazingly and depressingly, the only thing that will ever happen. This is capitalism, unfortunately, and profits flow up, not down. Capitalism seems to work best when the bottom feeders continue to feed at the bottom, in the same ways, without dramatic changes in behavior.
Can regulation fix this?
That's like asking if regulation can solve racism, or stop domestic violence. It can help, but it won't minimize it to such a significant level that it will mitigate the issue.
Russell's argument is great, but the cold harsh winds of our capitalist reality blow in the other direction.
What if it was illegal to work more than X hours per week? X=20 for example.
Actually, let me answer my own question: Everyone would need to have 2 jobs, and every company would employ twice the number of people.
In a sane world, Russell thought, the factory would simply halve working hours, maintaining the same wages but greatly increasing the time that the workers could devote to the joys of leisure. But, as Russell observed, this rarely happens. Instead, the factory owner will opt to keep half the workers on the same hours and lay off the rest."
The cost for a single pin will be reduced and the labor required to consume a single pin will also be reduced. Money saved is an opportunity for leisure.
What a passive attitude. Unless you're in a straight jacket idleness is a thoroughly avoidable reality. Hustle matters most when you're broke and unemployed. If you're doing it right being unemployed is a full-time job, job hunting. Or building your own.
Even if you apply to every shitty job in your area you might run out of options. What then? Move to another city or another country? To do that you have to have some funds. If you have a house or property in one place you probably won't move so easily as well. So it might be that one has to wait it out.
Frankly, I expect this sort of thing before fusion power that is "too cheap to meter".
The first kind of work is a productive factor, like capital or land. It's just the brains and hands of a piece of flesh that does what it is told. A worker is always subordinated to capital, you are working for the capital of others. You never get the full reward, whereas people you never met will earn a share of every piece of value you provide.
It's funny, almost every second product I buy these days comes from firms which went to one or even multiple private equity hands in the past two decades. It is one of the reasons why I reduce my consumption to a minimum.
Neoliberalism hates equality, it hates social progress and it has absolutely no idea of how to do something different that would benefit society at large. There is no society for capital, there is revenue, returns and all human activity you are observing is partially there, because there is someone who just wants their profit.
Poles are melting, climate changes, species die out, capitalism (as it is implemented; the theory is much more progressive) could not care less about killing its own foundations.
It reminds me of avant-garde capitalists operation like facebook. It could only start on an open web, and its endgame is own all you presence online. Walled gardens, armes guards, cash flow.
To complicate matters, many of the 'useless people' could be highly skilled and could theoretically launch their own businesses and start competing against established businesses and take away some market share...
But if the market is already saturated and consumers are already satisfied beyond their perceptual capacity, launching a business in such a saturated industry could not be regarded as a 'useful' activity in a broad sense (it's a zero-sum game).
This means that being able to capture economic value (profits) from an industry would not necessarily imply that someone is useful; in fact, an increase in profits may not bear any correlation with an increase in consumer satisfaction in that industry; in a saturated market, the profits for a specific company or individual could entirely be the result of political lobbying, social scheming, or luck and have nothing to do with increased consumer satisfaction.
Given that useless people are still capable of capturing profits from an industry by starting their own business, it would be highly unethical for the incumbents (those who own the means of production in the saturated markets) to try to stop the 'useless people' from trying to compete (since that would deny them access to the same fair playing field which the incumbents themselves had benefited from in the past).
Yet at the same time, it may be more efficient overall if, instead of trying to compete in a saturated market, 'useless people' would accept the reality that they are in fact useless and instead of trying to compete, they would get paid to be idle.
But if useless people get paid to be idle, then how will useful people who still need to work feel about that?
Also, even for people who have useful skills, there may be more people who have those skills than there are positions to fill.
How then do we choose which people should have a job and which should not? Does it make sense to select them based on skill if the skill level of the employee does not affect consumer satisfaction?
It seems like this would create an incentive for useless idle people to pretend to be or have been useful; they can't just accumulate enough money to go idle without having a backstory to go with it. Yet at the same time it is in the interest of incumbents (owners of the means of production) for these people to go idle instead of competing with them. To appease those who are still working, every member of the idle class needs an excuse (e.g. they sold their company to Google for a few million $). The economy then becomes centered around manufacturing backstories for new members of the idle class... Until the point where everything is automated and everyone can be idle.
I think the biggest problem with this story is that if we remove the market selection mechanism? What kind of alternative selection mechanism should be used instead?
Middle class people don't even have servants anymore, so we've got a long way to go before we have to worry about anything but an arbitrary number of unemployed decided through fiscal and monetary policy.
There is a book on that: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Bullshit_Jobs
Capitalism suffers if half of workers are unemployed. Because it is actually in the market's best interest, we will develop social - political structures that enable improved efficiency and high employment (because more workers employed means more commerce and a bigger economy)
This is material affiliated to the Labour Party in the U.K. which is associated to the International Socialist.
Why is it a subject here?
Please don't complain that a submission is inappropriate. If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it. Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead. If you flag, please don't also comment that you did.
But the reason I ask is this:
Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. That destroys the curiosity this site exists for.
I'm not sure that the Labour Party of the UK really counts as socialist these days, it's social democrat at most.
Capitalism can be defined as `an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit`.
Capitalism and free markets can't work if a strong government keep interfering, disrupting supply and demand and stealing profits - which is clearly visible in all the economic crisis we've seen in our recent history.
The opposite of anarchism is authoritarianism, which can be left wing (socialism or communism with publicly owned goods) or right wing (fascism, nazism - which comes from national socialism).
Now, large corporations benefits greatly from authoritarianism, because a strong central government is a single point of failure that can be lobbied and corrupted.
Why do you think middle class individuals pay half of their paychecks in taxes while big corporations pay nothing with fiscal loopholes?
Therefore, I think it's rational to assume that the environment in a large corporation is going to be leaning towards authoritarianism and promoting authoritarianism.
You can also add the fact that universities are increasingly left leaning and people in large corporations (and big tech in particular) tend to have higher level of education.
Of course, it's not great PR for the companies and it's not an easy sell on people, so they will need to masquerade their authoritarianism by saying appealing to people's emotions and saying that taxes need to be paid to "redistribute wealth to poor people" or to "protect our country from $external_threat".
The two party system serves as a way to illude people they have a choice and so that they can blame bad things on the other party.
Those of us who are lead on by nurturing emotions or economically comfortable enough to donate money will lean towards Democrats and believing the victimhood of minorities. Those of us who are poor or wants a smaller state will edge towards Republicans. The percentage of libertarians is so small, it's not even funny.
In reality, both Republicans and Democrats just kept increasing their spending and their power - and there is no sign of stopping. The USA are the largest employer in the world.
Because of these factors, I believe people and articles from large corporations will tend to have a left-leaning bias, which fits perfectly well with this left leaning article and it's not its opposite.
Ultimately, I agree with your analysis of the labour party: I can't think of any "left wing" party in the western world which is left wing economically - and this is because socialism has been proven not too work over and over.
The only meaningful difference between left wing and right wing parties nowadays is in the direction in which they edge (more taxes / less taxes) and where they stand on personal freedom issues (freedom of speech, gay marriage, etc).
I hate to break it to you, but rich people in general and big tech in particular are left leaning.