Author Topic: Workshy  (Read 3981 times)

AllisonSays

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2021, 06:15:23 PM »
I have definitely internalised a kind of Calvinist thing where I 'enjoy' all kinds of work, even when I also find it alienating or demeaning or whatever. One of the big psychic changes for me of being more on the left was realising how deletorious that mindset was. I still get mad depressed when I'm not working though, so...

Re: Workshy
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2021, 06:20:18 PM »
Maybe the human jobs could be rota'd a bit like jury duty so everyone still gets more leisure time

The four day week is coming back in France I think. I'm all for it. A five day week is just piss, unless you actually really enjoy your job which is the minority I'm sure.

Doug Stanhope did a bit about the ideal being 100% unemployment which seems fanciful now but it is possible and why shouldn't it be the ultimate goal?

Re: Workshy
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2021, 06:20:33 PM »
I have definitely internalised a kind of Calvinist thing where I 'enjoy' all kinds of work, even when I also find it alienating or demeaning or whatever. One of the big psychic changes for me of being more on the left was realising how deletorious that mindset was. I still get mad depressed when I'm not working though, so...
For me, my time being unemployed (when I was fresh out of university) was depressing because I felt like I was a drain on both my family - through living with my parents - and the state, by claiming dole. When I look back on that period nearly 20 years on, I wish I'd appreciated having so much free time more - maybe learned to play guitar or something.

I deeply hate working for a living, and if I had the cash, I'd retire tomorrow and quite happily spend the rest of my life mainly sat on my arse playing video games. I've been lucky to go through my working life not really having to graft too hard, but I'm still acutely aware of my life passing me by.

Better Midlands

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2021, 06:30:19 PM »
Bullshit Jobs

Quote
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory is a 2018 book by anthropologist David Graeber that postulates the existence of meaningless jobs and analyzes their societal harm. He contends that over half of societal work is pointless, and becomes psychologically destructive when paired with a work ethic that associates work with self-worth. Graeber describes five types of meaningless jobs, in which workers pretend their role is not as pointless or harmful as they know it to be: flunkies, goons, duct tapers, box tickers, and taskmasters. He argues that the association of labor with virtuous suffering is recent in human history, and proposes universal basic income as a potential solution.

Re: Workshy
« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2021, 06:32:45 PM »
Wasn't Buckminster Fuller saying the same sort of thing decades ago?

Zetetic

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2021, 06:38:15 PM »
The most useful, satisfying and praise-worthy (apparently) work that I've done in the last two months has been in my own time, which is probably a sign of something.

Alberon

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2021, 07:19:53 PM »
I’ve a job which, while I don’t love it, I don’t actively hate it. I don’t lie awake at night fretting about it and I don’t dread getting up in the morning. I know I could do a higher paid job, but this way I don’t have the stress and it is so lovely to live without work stress.

Lockdown gave me three months at home and a small look at what retirement is like. If I could afford to I’d pack it all in now. One guy I worked with inherited enough from his parents to retire at 55. Just googled him and he’s had twenty years and counting of retirement in good health.

Lucky bastard.

Re: Workshy
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2021, 07:24:48 PM »
One guy I worked with inherited enough from his parents to retire at 55. Just googled him and he’s had twenty years and counting of retirement in good health.

Lucky bastard.
My dad had the chance to retire 11 years ago (at 57) and has told me he never regrets the decision - best thing he ever did from a work perspective and he's been able to spend the time with his grandsons and walking up and down the Cumbrian fells. But then, he did have a nice pension that kicked in at 60.

Dex Sawash

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2021, 09:10:41 PM »

More of a work introvert

Re: Workshy
« Reply #39 on: September 07, 2021, 09:20:08 PM »
My hunch is that a cost-benefits analysis is what might cause young British workers to have an aversion to some kinds of work. If a potential benefit of work is getting, say, a foot on the housing ladder and a pension which will keep you in comfort in your old age, how much progress towards that goal will spending a summer picking soft fruits in a Marches farm get you, and is the experience of the job worth that progress? If a potential benefit of work is around ideas of agency, satisfaction in a job well done, providing wider benefits to society, how far towards that does the same summer job get you, and is it worth it?

Well said.

I've long been skeptical of the "dignity of work" message and the centrality of work in our culture. But the landscape of work today is fucking abysmal and beyond anything I imagined having to work in while at university at the turn of the millennium; we had no idea how bad things would get. Any and every job ad I see today is either so ludicrously specific or highly-skilled that the poster clearly has someone in mind already and a legal requirement to advertise the job; or it's the sort of underpaid (even voluntary!) toil that shouldn't be wished on one's worst enemy. Where I was skeptical in the '90s-'00s, only a moron or someone completely out of touch wouldn't be skeptical today.

Most people do not work because they love to work or get satisfaction from it. They work because they are forced to, economically bullied into it. This is why some people call it wage slavery and why there are no Blues songs about how great the boss is and how splendid the bank manager is for looking after our plentiful and joyfully-earned wedge.

When a potentially meaningful job comes up, managerial bullshit will inevitably wreck it somehow. We live in the age of the manager and the drudge.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2021, 09:31:08 PM by Mobbd »

Re: Workshy
« Reply #40 on: September 07, 2021, 09:25:17 PM »
I have definitely internalised a kind of Calvinist thing where I 'enjoy' all kinds of work, even when I also find it alienating or demeaning or whatever. One of the big psychic changes for me of being more on the left was realising how deletorious that mindset was. I still get mad depressed when I'm not working though, so...

Does the work need to be meaningful? Would your depression be salved by a job that involved digging a hole til lunch break and filling it up again til 5? (Genuine question. I relate to what you said.)

Re: Workshy
« Reply #41 on: September 07, 2021, 09:28:51 PM »
FULLY-AUTOMATED LUXURY COMMUNISM.

Re: Workshy
« Reply #42 on: September 07, 2021, 10:05:12 PM »
Bullshit Jobs

The book is an expansion of an article that Graeber wrote - but really would stick to the latter; the former is a good example of the law of diminishing returns. I think that it's worth mentioning that that quote is a tad misleading - Graeber made it clear that he wasn't offering any solutions and although he does give backing to the concept universal basic income possibly offering one, from what I remember, that bit was more in passing and didn't read it as that's something he proposed.

Graeber is on strongest ground when he discusses the psychological harm people can experience when they believe their job is useless. But otherwise, his arguments don't stand up.

Graeber's definition of what is a bullshit job and how he categorises them is very arbitrary and essentially, it comes down to 'I think it's bullshit, therefore it is bullshit.' At best, it could be said that it's debatable; at worst; it reveals much more about the writer than what he's writing about.

There is a reliance on a very small sample of people saying what they felt about their work - didn't feel it made a strong case for the arguments and other research has debunked it.

touchingcloth

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #43 on: September 07, 2021, 10:10:03 PM »
My partner’s cousin’s partner developed and then sold some piece of financial services software shortly after he left university. The sale was for enough money that he never needs to work again, and whenever we speak with him he seemingly has no plans to. Lucky, wise bastard.

Zetetic

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #44 on: September 07, 2021, 10:15:06 PM »
The book is an expansion of an article that Graeber wrote - but really would stick to the latter; the former is a good example of the law of diminishing returns.
That article:
https://web.archive.org/web/20210902111628/https://www.strike.coop/bullshit-jobs

Broadly agreeing with Ignatius_S - I think Graeber ended up trying to make "bullshit jobs" do too much work. I recall a particular painful attempt to diagnose Brexit through a "nurses vs managers" lens that managed to ignore 1) the Band 4/5 registration boundary (and the issues of age, ethnicity, and education bound up with this), 2) that nurses are mostly managed by nurses, and 3) repeated attempts to ensure that nurses have as little administrative or managerial support as possible (which is why these tasks fall back to nurses).

Shoulders?-Stomach!

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #45 on: September 07, 2021, 10:15:38 PM »
Quote
I still get mad depressed when I'm not working though, so...

A lot of us are industrious and need to keep moving to different tasks and have structure, it's more that could be towards something more valuable to you and others.

TrenterPercenter

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #46 on: September 07, 2021, 10:33:00 PM »
Most people do not work because they love to work or get satisfaction from it. They work because they are forced to, economically bullied into it. This is why some people call it wage slavery and why there are no Blues songs about how great the boss is and how splendid the bank manager is for looking after our plentiful and joyfully-earned wedge.

you and touchingcloth are spot on imo.  UBI as vehicle to allow people to just not work is flawed.  Make better jobs, with better terms and conditions and realistically achievable gains for doing them.  The majority of people are not inactive people by desire, work provides growth, opportunities for socialising and the ability to work together (and help others); in short it is actually healthy - when workers are being looked after and properly respected.


Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #47 on: September 07, 2021, 10:40:39 PM »
Why can't people be in charge of their own activity though (both as individuals or through self-organisation). Why is it important people still go to adult creches?

AllisonSays

  • disappointed bridge
Re: Workshy
« Reply #48 on: September 07, 2021, 10:59:41 PM »
Does the work need to be meaningful? Would your depression be salved by a job that involved digging a hole til lunch break and filling it up again til 5? (Genuine question. I relate to what you said.)

It's a good question! I think ideally it needs to be meaningful or whatever, but in practice it just needs to be absorbing. I've had kitchen jobs that were obviously stupid jobs washing the plates of dickheads and I've been really happy in being absorbed in that work, that world, and I've had more 'meaningful' office or teaching jobs that have made me feel like shit because I'm doing it with like a tenth of my feeling, body and brain. I dunno!

shiftwork2

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #49 on: September 07, 2021, 11:03:33 PM »
Most work isn’t ‘meaningful’.  Some of it is though, and it’s a different life if it is.

gib

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #50 on: September 07, 2021, 11:11:10 PM »
i remember the old days
when we were all young

down the brambles and hedgerows
a songthrush had sung

and along came a tramp
a gent of the road

they put in some steps
back then in the day

course now they get handouts
and do drugs all day

Lemming

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #51 on: September 07, 2021, 11:32:11 PM »
I've had kitchen jobs that were obviously stupid jobs washing the plates of dickheads and I've been really happy in being absorbed in that work

Dishies solidarity. Same here, I quite liked being in the dish-pit back in the day, great sense of camaraderie with the one other person stuck there. Excellent feeling in winter when you step out of the restaurant at 2 in the morning and the chill air makes you realise your clothes are physically welded to your body with sweat. Could only do it for a couple months due to the BACK-BREAKING nature of it, but it was a decent time.

you and touchingcloth are spot on imo.  UBI as vehicle to allow people to just not work is flawed.  Make better jobs, with better terms and conditions and realistically achievable gains for doing them.  The majority of people are not inactive people by desire, work provides growth, opportunities for socialising and the ability to work together (and help others); in short it is actually healthy - when workers are being looked after and properly respected.

It's politically suicidal right now, but UBI should be advertised as allowing people not to work, IMO. Some of the policy's appeal comes from the potential it has to disintegrate the current concept of "work" as we know it, to prevent the demonisation of joblessness and the unemployed, and to give people the agency to focus on whatever projects they desire - many of which will still take the form of paid employment, I assume. It also gives people the option to abandon jobs when they've become exhausted and/or feel they're ill-suited, and makes it easier to pursue a job on a temporary basis without ending up stuck in it.

AllisonSays

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #52 on: September 08, 2021, 07:02:26 AM »
And the thing about 'meaningful' jobs (I'm thinking of social work and teaching, as ones that I've done, and nursing, medicine, paramedics, care work as ones that I've been adjacent to) are no less vitiated by managerialism, pettiness, bullshit, the application of inappropriate metrics and mechanisms, and so on. Certainly in teaching you need to try really fucking hard to feel like you're doing something good beyond being the two-in-one cop and creche manager your boss wants you to be, in my experience.

icehaven

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #53 on: September 08, 2021, 09:10:10 AM »
And the thing about 'meaningful' jobs (I'm thinking of social work and teaching, as ones that I've done, and nursing, medicine, paramedics, care work as ones that I've been adjacent to) are no less vitiated by managerialism, pettiness, bullshit, the application of inappropriate metrics and mechanisms, and so on. Certainly in teaching you need to try really fucking hard to feel like you're doing something good beyond being the two-in-one cop and creche manager your boss wants you to be, in my experience.

Quite. The problem with quite a lot of meaningful (i.e. socially useful) work being fuelled by community spirit is that it simply wouldn't get done once the well meaning but perhaps naïve volunteers realise how fucking hard they are and how much crap they have to deal with so a UBI should in theory drive wages for vital but difficult/unpleasant/boring jobs through the roof otherwise no one would train to be a nurse, or work in a care home, or be a binman etc. I'd happily still work if it meant I got paid enough to have a significantly better standard of life than the UBI allowed, but then (as 6 months of lockdown spent watching sitcoms and playing on my phone has proved to me) I don't have that many things I'm burning to do but don't have the time or energy. I can appreciate someone who does preferring to live a more basic life on just their UBI if it allowed them to pursue other projects.     
« Last Edit: September 08, 2021, 09:39:12 AM by icehaven »

TrenterPercenter

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #54 on: September 08, 2021, 11:23:47 AM »
It's politically suicidal right now, but UBI should be advertised as allowing people not to work, IMO. Some of the policy's appeal comes from the potential it has to disintegrate the current concept of "work" as we know it, to prevent the demonisation of joblessness and the unemployed, and to give people the agency to focus on whatever projects they desire - many of which will still take the form of paid employment, I assume. It also gives people the option to abandon jobs when they've become exhausted and/or feel they're ill-suited, and makes it easier to pursue a job on a temporary basis without ending up stuck in it.

I think this is the common thought about UBI at the moment, it being sensible but politically suicidal, there is much more to consider though.

First off UBI isn't a set thing or policy it is just thing people say to wrap around a load of potential policies.  Depending on what we are talking about depends on what problems arise. 

There is the UBI that pays you a base wage regardless of your whether you are working or not; this is very expensive and advantageous to richer people (it's like the winter allowance for people that don't need it); for them it becomes stored as excess capital and tends to not go back into the economy (it gets turned into assets and shares generally) for people subsisting of these they are become victims worse inequality as richer people have just got a pay rise exactly their total wage; it isn't long then that markets adapt to collect monies from this type of UBI (essentially an even more tiered economy than you have now).  I'm not sure what people think this does for mobility; on it's own it is just effectively inflating costs over the long-term.  Want to means test UBI then? OK see below.

There is then the UBI that is only accessible when you are out of work; which is basically the tories Universal Credit of sorts but let's say it was of the living wage standard.  The market will tailor itself again to this; things will cost more because more money is available in the system with those already with capital or access to capital able to best capture this extra capital in the system and turn it into assets (when I say this it basically means higher house prices and even greater concentrated control over commodities).  This doesn't translate to poor people buying their own homes or anything like that it just creates a two-tier economy.

The safety net is absolutely the important thing but I can tell you having originally worked in the industry through the Blair years throwing money at people doesn't work from a reducing inequality/improving mobility; being an able bodied person burdened with work to pay your bills is shite and of course UBI seems to tick the box of ah I wouldn't have to work or I wouldn't be in trouble if I left work; but on enmasse it means lots of people given money to sit out of the "real economy"; we've actually done this with disabled people in the 90s and early 2000s; we paid them for not working; result an economy that excluded disabled people.  This isn't over; there are millions of people out there now in this situation. 

Money is not the solution to things; it's blood in system; it's the structures and organisations that act as the organs which are the most important.  The safety net you describe is important; it's what social security was invented for but that isn't what UBI is about; it is about underwriting the long-term decision to not work and remove oneself form the labour market; it has the potential for lots of negative consequences both structurally and in terms of health.  Personally I see investment in institutions, aggressive tax policies for millionaires, solid working rights for employees with enforced adequate redundancy payments and access to legal representation for work disputes, person-centred, means tested social security with proper support (and a complete rejection of the term "benefit" whilst we are at it).  I loved the Corbyn policy of a National Education Service - that would have been the game changer but it sadly wasn't to be.

Re: Workshy
« Reply #55 on: September 08, 2021, 01:45:57 PM »
The amount of work we do is completely detached from what we need to do to maintain shelter, warmth, food, health, and even entertainment. If you set up, say, a communal farm with everything for basic needs, how many hours' work would people have to do in total? If you were planting, harvesting, and chopping wood by hand it would be hard, but what if you had all the latest machinery and central boilers and power generators?

But even basic needs like healthcare require such a complex supply chain (to manufacture drugs, make industrial chemicals and materials, produce equipment, train people, etc) that it's very hard to say just what's needed. Even making a tractor requires a vast workforce (although how much of that is necessary, and how much is creating crap you don't need, is another topic).

So I guess working out what's useful work and what's useless work is one way to get around that. But it still doesn't speak to how work is organised. We need to measure productivity to ensure people are working efficiently, but also need to ensure they're not producing worthless crap efficiently. Maybe gradual reductions in hours coupled with minimum wage increases are the realistic way forward, at least within a capitalist society. How a fully planned economy would handle it is an entirely different question.

TrenterPercenter

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #56 on: September 08, 2021, 01:51:45 PM »
We need to measure productivity to ensure people are working efficiently, but also need to ensure they're not producing worthless crap efficiently.

Exactly; the idea that all work is worthless is problematic; work is supporting the elderly, disabled and infirm, its educating children,  performing surgery to restore someones eye sight, allowing people to travel and see loved ones, making sure the water in your taps keeps flowing and is safe to drink.

It isn't that work is bad it is that how the rewards and better working conditions work in the world is badly skewed toward the pursuit of financial gain and not the productive useful societally improving things.

monkfromhavana

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #57 on: September 08, 2021, 02:47:26 PM »
I'm not sure that, if UBI was introduced, the existential "I am doing work of no value" depression wouldn't be replaced by "I am doing nothing of value". I could (and have) spent months on end sat on my arse, but it certainly (for me) heightened depression and anxiety. Whether that would kick in again if I knew I didn't *have* to work or not , is something I am not sure about.

I did fill my time with "hobbies of the unskilled kind"[1], which I continue now that I am a *productive member of society*, but I still think that my hobbies are as useless as when I did them as when I was unemployed. Would your average wage slave, if freed from the drudgery, suddenly decide to create art, or read classic literature, or develop themselves? Some would, but I suspect that a lot of people would just go to the pub.

Basically I think that humans need some form of meaningful work, whether that is meaningful in terms of value to society, or on an individuals terms, or as decent conditions and remuneration. Maybe being able to job share, work 1-4 days a week, work from home, work at times that suit you, get paid a decent wage to enable you to live and have UBI as your back-up, would be preferable to just letting people have UBI and leave them to it.

No-one would be punished for not having a job, but those who choose to do some form of work would be better off for it.

Iain Duncan-Smith, signing off.
 1. No, not masturbation[1]
 1. Not only

Re: Workshy
« Reply #58 on: September 08, 2021, 03:25:28 PM »
Returning to the sub-topic of the current employment landscape, this sort of thing happens too often (from someone I follow on Twitter but don't know personally):

Quote
Another job rejection. This one hurts because I had eight years experience of the work involved. In fact, it was identical to my last permanent admin role. I didn't even get an interview. Absolute horseshit.

This person is a good creative writer with an MA in creative writing and shouldn't have to look for "permanent admin roles" full stop let alone face this sort of shit.

Similarly (or oppositely?), my partner has to interview for her own job today. She doesn't expect to get it because she thinks it's all part of a ploy to move her to a far shittier branch office so that someone else can be moved into hers as a way to eliminate an historic job-share complication (which she objected to at the time).

Basically, we all too often have to beg for work that is beneath us (but we can't say it is because that's taboo for some reason) and which we only "want" because we have bills to pay. And then be treated like shit by managers. And all the while have act professionally and to pretend to love our work and are grateful for it.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Workshy
« Reply #59 on: September 08, 2021, 03:38:59 PM »
I'm seeing two slightly-related things recurring in this thread:
Conflation between inherent benefits of work and inherent benefits of stability.
"I need some form of [occupation, stability, routine, social contact etc etc] and so do other people too, so that's why we should keep work"

I think point 2 could greatly be satisfied on ones own terms by providing point 1 and the removal of the stigma of being jobless (and the conditioning that only jobs can provide point 2). I think if you remove the need for people to work, people will be more selective, so businesses that want to employ people and commune-like self-organising groups that want to do stuff will begin to appear somewhat similar.

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