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Fri Aug 23, 2013, 05:07 AM

The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Back in the early-1930s, renowned economist, John Maynard Keynes, predicted that technical innovations and rising productivity would mean that advanced country workers would be able to work only 15 hours and still enjoy rising living standards.

In a highly amusing, but also somewhat depressing article in Strike! Magazine, David Graeber asks why Keynes’ prophecy has not come true and instead we find ourselves working a range of meaningless “bullshit jobs” that many of us hate:

There’s every reason to believe he [Keynes] was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

-snip-

So the bullshit tasks are not intrinsically bullshit. Work is work because you are paid to do it. There’s a certain amount of coercion even if you pretend to like the work (talk to book authors, I doubt you will find many who say they love writing books. They are more likely to like having written a book, which is a different state of affairs). But my belief is that the “bullshit” that Graeber bemoans is simply another face of income disparity. As wage gaps widen, the people who do lesser-paid work are seen as having less intrinsic worth as humans. The not surprising corollary is anyone who has work that is stigmatizing, even if subtly (cube farms!) is likely to resent it.

The complete article is at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/the-rise-of-bullshit-jobs.html .

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Reply The Rise of Bullshit Jobs (Original post)
TexasTowelie Aug 2013 OP
HumansAndResources Aug 2013 #1
DetlefK Aug 2013 #2
LuvNewcastle Aug 2013 #5
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blkmusclmachine Aug 2013 #3
LuvNewcastle Aug 2013 #4
fasttense Aug 2013 #6
Populist_Prole Aug 2013 #7

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 06:10 AM

1. Bring in Artificial Scarcity and Consumerism to fill out this analysis.

 

There is a film called "Pyramids of Waste" which traces the history of Artificial Scarcity. It is no longer on youtube, (those good 'ol days are over), but you can probably locate it elsewhere. Keeping people in their hamster-wheels goes back to the turn of the century (the last one), when production was reaching saturation. "Planned obsolescence" was created to manufacture the need for more work and more purchases - of the same thing over and over. Expanding the "consumer population" and resource bases was part of this, hence the need for WWI to build the infrastructure (per a report of the early Carnegie Foundation minutes by Reece Committee members investigating the foundations).

Our "left and right" today, to the extent that they are not completely artificial in the DLC erea, are essentially an argument over whether Business or Government should "manage" our lives for us. Goodness Sakes, the "proles" can't take care of their own affairs.

Obviously, when I say "left," I'm not speaking of "real" lefties, who support greater autonomy for "we proles" and hope to take the Democratic Party away from the "We Know What's Best For You" Elites. I'm talking about the ones who "believe" what the party's current "leadership" feeds them without nary a critical thought.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 06:31 AM

2. There are actual bullshit-jobs:

A while ago some corporate consultant was hired by my brothers company. He looked over everyone's shoulder, behaved important and looked into everything.
Then he presented several suggestions to the bosses to increase productivity.
When they were discussed with the workers, it turned out that all those suggestions were impractical and would actually hinder people at their job.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #2)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 07:07 AM

5. Lots of companies have at least one person doing that sort of bullshit.

It seems the bosses love to choose people for those jobs who have no knowledge whatsoever about what the company's workers actually do. I can't stand people who do that shit; they don't have an ounce of creativity. They do so much to complicate the worker's processes, destroy morale, and cause friction between workers and bosses.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 06:46 AM

3. .

 

.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 06:57 AM

4. I know all about bullshit jobs.

I've had plenty of them, and I've only liked one, being a bartender. But there's a lot of bullshit that goes along with being a bartender, too. I never really had a job that I enjoyed so much that I looked forward to going to work. I'd say that most of my friends would say the same thing.

I think that most people don't want too much leisure. They want work, but they want meaningful work. They want to do things that make a difference in others' lives. These sales and service jobs will suck the life out of a person.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 07:37 AM

6. Interesting article

 

But the lovers of capitalism will tell you the efficient marketplace created by capitalism would never create bullshit jobs. So why does capitalism create so many bullshit jobs?

Because it has to coerce or force people to do their dirty work. People forced into something they don't really want to do, don't do it well, don't do it quickly, don't do it honestly. So you got have inspectors, efficiency experts, careful accountants and security guards in order to force people into doing crappy, awful jobs.

And today we glorify theses crappy awful jobs as the capitalist moves them to other countries. But notice the jobs and a little pay move but the market does NOT. Most corporations still want to sell their cheap crap here in the US. China and India really have a very small market for cheap crap at inflated prices.

But the US does not have to go kiss the ass of overpaid CEOs to get these crappy jobs back here. We can find better, more efficient, more fair ways to run our economy without capitalism. We just haven't learned how.......yet.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Aug 24, 2013, 02:00 AM

7. They would seem contrary to capitalism but it plays right into the way we practice it.

To the uber capitalist, the holder of a bullshit job is a great poster boy: Makes lots of money in an "industry" that is the antithesis of the old dirty industrial last century economy, spending of said money drives the economy by trickle down bullshit. Conversely, anyone still employed in the old economy jobs of actually doing something productive, especially if they make a good living, is a drag on the economy because they make things cost more for the new economy beautiful people. Their spending, and its resultant effect on the economy apparently falls below the radar.

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