Archive for February, 2014
…if we’re going to debate the meaning, importance, dignity, and existence of work, we should be a lot more careful what we mean by the concept.
More from Peter Frase’s “Workin’ It.”
So let me try this, by asking: why should anyone be upset if some workers take advantage of Obamacare to reduce their working hours, or even drop out of the labor force?
More from “Why Do You Care How Much Other People Work?”
In that light, the viability of a solution like the guaranteed basic income—and whether it can be made palatable to Americans for whom work ethic is a prized national value—ends up coming down less to politics than to the fundamental question of how we see the role of work both in the lives of individuals and in society as a whole.
More from “Should the Government Pay You to be Alive?“
It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.
Read more of the recent essay by David Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.”
And while you’re at it, read “The Abolition of Work,” by Bob Black (1985). It begins like this:
No one should ever work.
Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.