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What inspires you (part 4)

Hi All,

I’m conducting an experiment. Every month, I’ll post something that we can all discuss together in the comments. Think of it as a digital roundtable seminar.

You’ll want to read this short opinion piece entitiled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber.

Here’s the opening question:

Do you agree with Graeber? Why or why not?


  • Max July 14, 2016


    It always confused me the way people talk about jobs as if they were inherently desirable rather than as just a means to an end, whether that end is (from the employer’s standpoint) getting something specific accomplished or (from the employee’s) obtaining the means to access the resources available to a society, by way of cash. I look at the situation of driverless cars and think, “great, no people don’t have to waste their time and energy doing that monotonous labor,” but the more common reaction is, “oh no! There go millions of jobs!”

    Now, I understand why people are (and should be) anxious about automation and the progressive loss of work. We don’t have any other means of distributing the material wealth generated by a society. We think about income and jobs on an individual level of one person “earning,” while never taking a more comprehensive perspective of that income as just being your allotment of what the society, in its totality, produces.

    That, combined with “the feeling that work is a moral value in itself”, leaves us in a situation where jobs are constantly being made obsolete (at a rate that even the proliferation of “bullshit jobs” is at pains to keep pace), while societies as a whole are growing more productive at ever-faster rates.

    Without a long explanation for why I think this, I think that globalization and free trade (and the “race to the bottom”) will leave first world populations in a situation where we can either enact protectionist laws to restrict corporations’ mobility and labor options, or we can find an alternative or adjusted method of distributing (or “redistributing”) the wealth generated nationally.

  • Max July 14, 2016

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