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Sociology and Social Psychology of Organizations

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Conformism-Rebellion Spectrum What's the Matter with Kansas     Conformism- Rebellion Spectrum Overload and Workaholism
Information Overload Hitech Startups Toxic managers: The Problem of Corporate Psychopaths Workplace Bulling Communication with Corporate Psychopaths Micromanagers as a Special Type of Corporate Psychopath
Tamotsu Shibutani Obit What's the Matter with Kansas Open Source as a Social Phenomenon Reviews

Random Findings

Etc

Since a corporation is indeed a kind of "living entity" it is often populated with the diversified (sometimes dysfunctional) personalities. Organizational goals (at the top level) are pretty fuzzy. Top management often distort organizational goals to suit their needs. There is also kind of organizational Ying, Yang dichotomy, the polarized interaction/interrelationship's) of the formal and the informal organizations (internal cliques).  The declared goals of the formal Organization are not necessarily those of the informal organization.  Corporate culture as it relates to members of organization provides some contexts, and parameters too strong deviation against which lead to expulsion, but there is an intricate interplay of formal and informal rules and often individual who blatantly ignore formal rules prosper in organization because their behavior corresponds to deeper and more important set of informal rules and customs.

Business decision making is based on so called bounded or limited rationality.  Rationality is defined as the behavior in which a person is able to chose among several alternatives (means) the subset that supposly helps him/her as well as other the organization members to achieve the goals dictated by higher levels of organizational hierarchy. But it is important to understand that rationality of an individual in business setting is limited because the number of alternatives he must explore is large and not all vital information is available at a time of decision and the facts that he might operate with are often distorted (that especially true for higher levels of hierarchy). Because of the limitations of the psychological capabilities and qualification of the individual (see Peter Principle), it is impossible for any business decision-maker to be purely rational.  That means that any organization is only partially rational, kind of Alice of Wonderland environment. 

It looks like human organizational behavior often more corresponds to primitive a stimulus-reaction pattern in symbolic environment that has a complex set of symbols from the current "stage" as well as several additional, background "stages" (like historical stage and fictional -- books read, film watched -- stage) than an intelligent choice among alternatives.

Due to information-processing limitations of individuals the system is designed in such a way that filter information while it flowing up the hierarchy. That means that information fed to the top is often completely distorted and has no links to reality. Training ("trained incapacity") and indoctrination also reduce rationality in organizations. Due to this effect of limited rationality, "organizational men" typically makes a decision not to maximize the utility as does the "economic man", but to "satisfy" superiors, who in their turn are completely unaware about the real situation due to information filtering process.

I think that one of breakthrough associated with so called symbolic interactions approach to social psychology (see the classic Shibutani book below) is that it tries to extend the usage of language (symbolic system) on areas of human behavior that are not directly associated with speech and cognition. This approach assumes that human beings live in a world of symbolic objects that includes but is not limited to symbols that represent things, ideas, people, activities, and purposes.  All the mite and in any activity individuals form non-linguistic symbols that help them to anticipate what others will do in response to their acts and plan their own subsequent acts as well as better control their own behavior.  In symbolic integrationist social psychology the human being is understood as complex symbolic language processing machine that acts and reacts to a composite symbolic environment consisting not only of the current "stage" but also what happened in the past and some "virtual world " stages  to which individual has access (created by books read, films watched, etc).

The capacity to employ symbols in imagining the responses of others to our own acts also gives us the capacity to be conscious of our selves. The individual can become an object to himself/herself.

The other Shibutani book, Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor (1966), demonstrated that

 "rumors are not merely the result of faulty communication. In ambiguous situations, people often respond like pragmatic problem-solvers, pooling their intellectual resources-which include accurate data, guesses, beliefs, speculation-constructing consensus from whatever sources that are available. Since much of life is filled with ambiguity, this book is of much greater importance than is suggested by describing it as a study of rumor. Many of the most crucial personal, group, governmental and international decisions have to be made with inexact information. The increasingly rapid pace of social and environmental change necessitates increasingly rapid decision making amidst a flood of information, making the study of collective information processing in ambiguous situations critical."

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Old News ;-)

[Sep 07, 2018] Procrastination Is More About Managing Emotions Than Time, Says Study

Sep 07, 2018 | science.slashdot.org

BeauHD on Saturday September 01, 2018 @09:00AM from the it's-all-in-your-head dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: [A new study] identified two areas of the brain that determine whether we are more likely to get on with a task or continually put it off. Researchers used a survey and scans of 264 people's brains to measure how proactive they were. Experts say the study, in Psychological Science , underlines procrastination is more about managing emotions than time . It found that the amygdala -- an almond-shaped structure in the temporal (side) lobe which processes our emotions and controls our motivation -- was larger in procrastinators.

In these individuals, there were also poorer connections between the amygdala and a part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC). The DACC uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take.

It helps keep the person on track by blocking out competing emotions and distractions.

The researchers suggest that procrastinators are less able to filter out interfering emotions and distractions because the connections between the amygdala and the DACC in their brains are not as good as in proactive individuals.

[Feb 05, 2018] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Feb 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Self-improvement and success often occur together. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're the same thing.

Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealisticallv positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired. Be perfect and amazing and crap out twelve-karat-gold nuggets before breakfast each morning while kissing your selfie-ready spouse and two and a half kids goodbye. Then fly your helicopter to your wonderfully fulfilling job, where you spend your days doing
incredibly meaningful work that's likely to save the planet one day.

But when you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice -- all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time -- is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you.

You learn about the best ways to make money because you feel you don't have enough money already. You stand in front of the mirror and repeat affirmations saying that you're beautiful because you feel as though you're not beautiful already. You follow dating and relationship advice because you feel that you're unlovable already. You try goofy visualization exercises about being more successful because you feel as though you aren't successful enough already.

Ironically, this fixation on the positive -- on what's better, what's superior -- only serves to remind us over and over again of what we are not, of what we lack, of what we should have been but failed to be. After all, no truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of a mirror and recite that she's happy. She just is.

There's a saying in Texas: "The smallest dog barks the loudest." A confident man doesn't feel a need to prove that he's confident. A rich woman doesn't feel a need to convince anybody that she's rich. Either you are or you are not. And if you're dreaming of something all the time, then you're reinforcing the same unconscious reality over and over: that you are not that.

Everyone and their TV commercial wants you to believe that the key to a good life is a nicer job, or a more rugged car, or a prettier girlfriend, or a hot tub with an inflatable pool for the kids. The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more -- buy more, own more, make more, flick more, be more. You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a fuck about event hi ng, all the time. Give a fuck about a new TV. Give a fuck about having a better vacation than your coworkers. Give a fuck about buying that new lawn ornament. Give a fuck about having the right kind of selfie stick.

Amanda Henry on October 30, 2016

A Much Needed Reminder to Choose Your Battles Wisely

As someone who has given far too many f***s about far too many things their entire life, this book was exactly the wake up call I needed. Even as a child in elementary school, I would have a miniature meltdown when I got a bad grade or if a friend was mean to me that day. As an adult, I got better at hiding these emotional upheavals and intense reactions to the world around me, but they never really went away with my maturity like I had hoped. I took to heart every disheartening news article I read and every crappy thing that happened to me at work or in school. I'd let it consume me, because I was never told to live life any other way or that controlling my reactions was even remotely possible; I thought it was just a permanent part of my personality. I always knew that it was more of a vice than a virtue, but I felt like I couldn't fully control it.

Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** employs a witty use of profanity laced with satirical comedy that's bursting with philosophical wisdom. Much of Manson's inspiration originates from nihilists, Buddhists, Albert Camus, and Charles Bukowski, but he brings those philosophies into a more modern and palatable perspective. He reminds us that life is too short to react so passionately about every little thing. We have a limited emotional capacity, and we often squander it on reactions to mean-spirited people or unfortunate events, completely forgetting that, although we can't control the world around us, we can control ourselves. This book has empowered me to exercise control over my reactions.

Shortly after reading this book, my husband commented at how "zen" I've become. I'm no longer angrily venting to him about all of the various ways the world upsets me. I still allow myself to feel and talk about things that bother me (I'm not aiming to achieve nirvana as a Buddhist monk), but petty things no longer have a hold on me. I let the negativity wash over me now without letting it absorb into my soul, and my life has been much more enjoyable as a result.

I was so inspired by this book and its philosophy, that I wanted a permanent reminder for myself to further ensure that I use my f***s wisely from now onward. For my birthday, I got this simple, but meaningful tattoo on my right wrist. The ∞ symbol reminds me of the infinite nature of time and outer space, and the 0 on the bottom represents humanity's relevance to time and space as a whole. It can also be translated as don't make something (∞) out of nothing (0) or a reminder that there are infinite opportunities to give a f***, but that I will remain steadfast in giving 0 f***s about things that don't really matter.

If you're the type of person who's struggled to keep their temper in line or if you're like me and you find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster because you take every event in the world and within your own life to heart, I strongly encourage you to read this book. If profanity is so much of a problem for you, that you can't tolerate reading the first half of this book (the last half is much less profane) you're probably too narrow-minded to have taken away any of the many philosophical benefits this book offers.

[Dec 13, 2017] Business Workers want bosses to get lost

Aug 19, 2005 | bbc.co.uk
Most workers reckon that their bosses are excessively bureaucratic, apportion blame wrongly and are inconsistent in decision making, a report has found.

Sirota Survey Intelligence questioned 3.5 million staff over three years at firms including global giants Shell, Tesco, Microsoft and Dell.

The belief that managers hamper staff is deeply ingrained, the report showed.

Instead, workers want to know what is expected of them, have competent bosses and better cooperation across the firm.

'Out of the way'

Sirota argues that the biggest challenge for many companies is creating an enthusiastic workforce as this is a key element of a successful organisation.

Dr David Sirota, Chairman of the research firm, believes that too often managers get in the way and hinder their staff's natural enthusiasm.

"People come to work, to work," Mr Sirota said.

"Unfortunately, they often find conditions that block high performance, such as excessive bureaucracy burying them in paperwork, and slowing decision making to a crawl.

"Management has to help employees perform, which in many cases means getting out of the way."

[Oct 27, 2017] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Oct 27, 2017 | www.amazon.com

stars

By Amanda Henry on October 30, 2016

A Much Needed Reminder to Choose Your Battles Wisely

As someone who has given far too many f***s about far too many things their entire life, this book was exactly the wake up call I needed. Even as a child in elementary school, I would have a miniature meltdown when I got a bad grade or if a friend was mean to me that day. As an adult, I got better at hiding these emotional upheavals and intense reactions to the world around me, but they never really went away with my maturity like I had hoped. I took to heart every disheartening news article I read and every crappy thing that happened to me at work or in school. I'd let it consume me, because I was never told to live life any other way or that controlling my reactions was even remotely possible; I thought it was just a permanent part of my personality. I always knew that it was more of a vice than a virtue, but I felt like I couldn't fully control it.

Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** employs a witty use of profanity laced with satirical comedy that's bursting with philosophical wisdom. Much of Manson's inspiration originates from nihilists, Buddhists, Albert Camus, and Charles Bukowski, but he brings those philosophies into a more modern and palatable perspective. He reminds us that life is too short to react so passionately about every little thing. We have a limited emotional capacity, and we often squander it on reactions to mean-spirited people or unfortunate events, completely forgetting that, although we can't control the world around us, we can control ourselves. This book has empowered me to exercise control over my reactions.

Shortly after reading this book, my husband commented at how "zen" I've become. I'm no longer angrily venting to him about all of the various ways the world upsets me. I still allow myself to feel and talk about things that bother me (I'm not aiming to achieve nirvana as a Buddhist monk), but petty things no longer have a hold on me. I let the negativity wash over me now without letting it absorb into my soul, and my life has been much more enjoyable as a result.

I was so inspired by this book and its philosophy, that I wanted a permanent reminder for myself to further ensure that I use my f***s wisely from now onward. For my birthday, I got this simple, but meaningful tattoo on my right wrist. The ∞ symbol reminds me of the infinite nature of time and outer space, and the 0 on the bottom represents humanity's relevance to time and space as a whole. It can also be translated as don't make something (∞) out of nothing (0) or a reminder that there are infinite opportunities to give a f***, but that I will remain steadfast in giving 0 f***s about things that don't really matter.

If you're the type of person who's struggled to keep their temper in line or if you're like me and you find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster because you take every event in the world and within your own life to heart, I strongly encourage you to read this book. If profanity is so much of a problem for you, that you can't tolerate reading the first half of this book (the last half is much less profane) you're probably too narrow-minded to have taken away any of the many philosophical benefits this book offers.

By VH on September 14, 2016
A surprisingly serious book - in a good way

There are a dozen of topics Mark goes through in this book. Some of the main themes are these:

(1) Choosing what to care about; focusing on the things/problems that are actually meaningful/important (= "giving a f*** about the right things")
(2) Learning to be fine with some negative things; always aiming for positivity isn't practical, and is stressful in itself
(3) Taking responsibility of your own life; it's good for your self-esteem not to keep blaming the circumstances for your problems
(4) Understanding the importance of honesty and boundaries, especially in relationships
(5) Identity; it might a good idea not to commit strongly to any special identity such as "an undiscovered genius", because then any challenges will make you fear the potential loss of that identity you've clinged to
(6) Motivation; how to improve it by accepting failure and taking action
(7) Death; how learning to be more comfortable with one's own mortality can make it easier to live

The first 20% of this book were a little bit boring to read, but after that, the experience was very absorbing. Just like Manson's previous book (Models), I will give this one five stars.

(BTW this book wasn't as humorous as I expected. It was much more a serious than a funny book to read. The final chapters, discussing the acceptance of death, made me actually a little bit tense and distressed.)

[Sep 17, 2017] Colleagues Addicted to Tech

Notable quotes:
"... dwelling on the negative can backfire. ..."
"... It's fine to acknowledge a misstep. But spin the answer to focus on why this new situation is such an ideal match of your abilities to the employer's needs. ..."
Apr 20, 2015 | NYTimes.com

Discussing Bad Work Situations

I have been in my present position for over 25 years. Five years ago, I was assigned a new boss, who has a reputation in my industry for harassing people in positions such as mine until they quit. I have managed to survive, but it's clear that it's time for me to move along. How should I answer the inevitable interview question: Why would I want to leave after so long? I've heard that speaking badly of a boss is an interview no-no, but it really is the only reason I'm looking to find something new. BROOKLYN

I am unemployed and interviewing for a new job. I have read that when answering interview questions, it's best to keep everything you say about previous work experiences or managers positive.

But what if you've made one or two bad choices in the past: taking jobs because you needed them, figuring you could make it work - then realizing the culture was a bad fit, or you had an arrogant, narcissistic boss?

Nearly everyone has had a bad work situation or boss. I find it refreshing when I read stories about successful people who mention that they were fired at some point, or didn't get along with a past manager. So why is it verboten to discuss this in an interview? How can the subject be addressed without sounding like a complainer, or a bad employee? CHICAGO

As these queries illustrate, the temptation to discuss a negative work situation can be strong among job applicants. But in both of these situations, and in general, criticizing a current or past employer is a risky move. You don't have to paint a fictitiously rosy picture of the past, but dwelling on the negative can backfire. Really, you don't want to get into a detailed explanation of why you have or might quit at all. Instead, you want to talk about why you're such a perfect fit for the gig you're applying for.

So, for instance, a question about leaving a long-held job could be answered by suggesting that the new position offers a chance to contribute more and learn new skills by working with a stronger team. This principle applies in responding to curiosity about jobs that you held for only a short time.

It's fine to acknowledge a misstep. But spin the answer to focus on why this new situation is such an ideal match of your abilities to the employer's needs.

The truth is, even if you're completely right about the past, a prospective employer doesn't really want to hear about the workplace injustices you've suffered, or the failings of your previous employer. A manager may even become concerned that you will one day add his or her name to the list of people who treated you badly. Save your cathartic outpourings for your spouse, your therapist, or, perhaps, the future adoring profile writer canonizing your indisputable success.

Send your workplace conundrums to workologist@nytimes.com, including your name and contact information (even if you want it withheld for publication). The Workologist is a guy with well-intentioned opinions, not a professional career adviser. Letters may be edited.

[Apr 19, 2017] What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness.

Notable quotes:
"... Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus. ..."
"... What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/ ..."
"... I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show. ..."
"... Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether? ..."
Apr 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
PhilM, April 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

"What have I to do with thee, woman?"

Christ was apparently a true cynic. See the wikipedia article on Cynicism before judging that; it's not original with me. Cynicism was open in its denunciation of all human convention. Nevertheless, it was non-violent, so "bringing a sword" means not the waging of organized war, but rather is a metaphor of conflict between those who support conventional morality and those who support the Cynical way of life; if indeed those were Jesus's words (if there were any words of Jesus, for that matter), as they are mostly incompatible with the rest of his speech.

Cynicism does derive from Socrates; from that part of the Socratic approach that questions community norms so aggressively that they have to kill you to shut you up. As for Socrates, so for Jesus.

It's amazing the doors that open onto the understanding of Christianity once its Cynical features are recognized, and the neo-Platonist frosting that was applied by Paul, and the forces of order later on, is demoted. The cake is actually quite inspirational; the frosting, pretty revolting. But the natural selection of ideas, that process which favors the survival of ideas that enhance power and authority, has decisively suppressed the Cynical core.

UserFriendly , April 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

What would Jesus disrupt? Clearly the banks. He would be all about debt forgiveness. http://www.michael-hudson.com/2017/01/the-land-belongs-to-god/

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , April 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

Re: What would Jesus disrupt? (just the question, not the linked article)

Wasn't there something about money changers in the temple? My view is that Forex is the great threat to whatever commonwealth anyone lives in – if not now, sooner or later. Always cheaper elsewhere.

So I reckon Jesus would disrupt the system of foreign currency exchange. I imagine that something more turbulent than disrupting the equilibrium of Forex trader's desks would be involved. Now, that would be a miracle!

PhilM , April 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Jesus rendered unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's. He was getting the money-changers out of the temple, not getting rid of them altogether. The spiritual path is not material, or military, it is in the mind and the soul. People cannot pursue a material, political, or social agenda of any kind, even one of redistribution, and still be truly "Christian," as Christ would have had it. They must give all they have and find their way in poverty. They must abandon judgment of the actions of their fellows. Just as Diogenes lived in a barrel, but did not much care about the decor of the Athens' St Regis lobby one way or another.

Ultimately the message was that to be poor and angry is to be a slave twice over; to be poor and happy is to be free of the chains of both wealth and resentment. Hence also the point that the poor are always with you; that has come up often here, and the real message is missed: that the most important thing is not necessarily to help the poor, but to be among them: to eliminate concern for material things from life entirely. The same goes for pain; turning the other cheek is not metaphorical; it is a statement that suffering imposed by others has only the meaning one gives it, and to deny that meaning is to deny them power over your mind.

I'm not saying that all of that is right, or even arguable; I'm just saying that I think the philosophical basis of it should be considered more profoundly, and given more respect, than it often is, when it is used for political polemic.

I believe Lambert's point was exactly that: that the money-changers should be thrown out of the temple; that Blankfein is not doing "God's work"; that the whole article was a depiction of the deliberate debauchery of the Christian message by conflating it with material enterprise. That article in the links was a spiritual horror show.

HopeLB , April 17, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Has someone written a good book on the history of usury? When did it become acceptable in the Christian dominated US? Islam bans it. Shakespeare talked about it. Our founders lamented their usurious debts. Think I read somewhere that the Zionists pledged, after WW2, to get out of banking altogether?

[Apr 17, 2017] Ostara, Ishtar And A Happy Easter Walk

Notable quotes:
"... Just as the day of rest was a spiritual discipline that demonstrated there is more to life than production and consumption - and so was a threat to every narrative of power and control... ..."
"... The spring festival was originally a fertility celebration, so the bunnies connection runs deep. And shallow. ..."
Apr 17, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Ostara, Ishtar And A Happy Easter Walk

Easter echoes the eons old human festivity to celebrate the March exquinox (in the northern hemisphere) and the arrival of spring. The dark and cold days of winter are gone. The bright time of fertility has come.

Today's fertility symbols of Easter, the egg and the hare, relate to the old Germanic fertility goddess Eostre (Ostara). Ishtar, a Mesopotamian goddess of love, stepped down into the underworld of death but was revived. The Christian resurrection of Jesus is probably a transformation of this older hopeful tale.

When the Christian message spread from its eastern Mediterranean origin its incorporation of old local gods and fables helped to convert the multi-theistic societies to the new monotheistic * believe. The gods of the pre-Christian religions were not completely discarded but their tales transformed to support the new united message the Christian preachers were spreading.

But whatever. - It is spring, the darkness vanishes and it is my favored holiday. This year the Julian and Gregorian calendars coincide. We thus follow the Russian Barbarians and wish us all

Happy Easter


Faberge egg with spring flowers and music box- bigger

Please join me, v. Goethe and Dr. Faust in our traditional Easter Walk:

Look from this height whereon we find us
Back to the town we have left behind us,

Where from the dark and narrow door
Forth a motley multitude pour.

They sun themselves gladly and all are gay,
They celebrate Christ's resurrection to-day.

For have not they themselves arisen?
From smoky huts and hovels and stables,
From labor's bonds and traffic's prison,
From the confinement of roofs and gables,
From many a cramping street and alley,
From churches full of the old world's night,
All have come out to the day's broad light.
...
How it hums o'er the fields and clangs from the steeple!
This is the real heaven of the people,
Both great and little are merry and gay,
I am a man, too, I can be, to-day.

* The Christian Trinity , the three aspects of the one God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a doctrinaire addition of the 4th century. It just adds an explanatory layer on top of the Abrahamic core of the monotheistic Christian message.

Glorious Bach | Apr 16, 2017 7:41:48 AM | 1

Hope, always hope--even in this dreariest of mean times.
Jen | Apr 16, 2017 7:52:22 AM | 2
Happy Easter to all and may we celebrate more Happy Easters to come!

Thanks B for reminding us that as long as we continue to celebrate Easter and remember what it represents, we are also celebrating hope, the possibility of renewal and setting humanity on a path towards peace and away from greed, violence, exploitation and lack of care for our fellow humans, animals and other travellers on this planet.

John Merryman | Apr 16, 2017 8:15:44 AM | 3
Actually the Trinity was one of the earliest pantheistic traditions incorporated and the most foundational to Christianity, as it incorporated the Greek Year Gods, essentially past, present and future. (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
A good book on the subject;
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30250/30250-h/30250-h.htm
John Merryman | Apr 16, 2017 8:19:09 AM | 4
Of course, the Catholic Church, as the eternal institution, didn't really care for a foundational concept of renewal and did its best to fudge the message. Which they did a good job of, resulting in the need for Luther to push the reset button.
John Merryman | Apr 16, 2017 8:27:01 AM | 6
Then again the essential fallacy of monotheism is that absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence of sentience, from which consciousness rises, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement from which it fell. The new born babe, not the wise old man.

It's just socially effective to assert the laws are given, rather than emergent with the processes they describe. The assumptions are still deeply embedded in western culture, even if the folk concepts have faded.

Frosty | Apr 16, 2017 8:55:06 AM | 7
sonnet 114

Or whether doth my mind, being crowned with you,
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?
Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true,
And that your love taught it this alchemy,
To make of monsters and things indigest
Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble,
Creating every bad a perfect best,
As fast as objects to his beams assemble?
O! 'tis the first, 'tis flattery in my seeing,
And my great mind most kingly drinks it up:
Mine eye well knows what with his gust is 'greeing,
And to his palate doth prepare the cup:
If it be poisoned, 'tis the lesser sin
That mine eye loves it and doth first begin.

William Shakespeare

fast freddy | Apr 16, 2017 9:11:27 AM | 8
Christianity proclaims that it is righteous and it is at war with (battling) ALL the other religions which are deemed to be (at best) false. The adherents to these other religions are misled (at best) or evil. Christianity says that it cannot tolerate (must destroy) evil. Accordingly, one day the king of Christianity will return to rule the world.

Islam offers up the same story.

What a perfect formula we have for fomenting war. Inspiring youths to kill for their (faith) religion.

Religion is a fundamental component in the justification of mass murder. It's been used this way for centuries and it has not ebbed.

les7 | Apr 16, 2017 12:24:55 PM | 11
Just as the day of rest was a spiritual discipline that demonstrated there is more to life than production and consumption - and so was a threat to every narrative of power and control...

So the resurrection is a symbol that the alternative narrative of the Kingdom of Heaven does triumph over the fear and death we all live in. Not only does the Kingdom of Heaven out-survive death, it transforms it. The resurrection narrative does not defeat the powers of this world through conflict. It 'outlives' them, most especially with those eternal qualities of mercy, forgiveness, life, light, and yes, love.

May we all celebrate this day and the lives of those who have pointed us all to a life of wholeness.

thank you b, for this site and for your work to host it.

Blessings!

John Merryman | Apr 16, 2017 1:08:03 PM | 14
Curtis,

Lol. The spring festival was originally a fertility celebration, so the bunnies connection runs deep. And shallow.

Piotr Berman | Apr 16, 2017 1:11:18 PM | 15
I checked and indeed, you can find Russian greeting cards "Happy Easter", but that seems to be copied from the West. More standard is to greet people on that day with words "Christ has resurrected", and post cards have those words but there are also other, less religious versions. From Holy Internet: " Traditional Easter greeting is Христос воскрес! (Christ is risen!) and the response is Воистину воскрес! (In truth He is risen!) ".
smuks | Apr 16, 2017 1:43:24 PM | 16
There was a nice cartoon in the paper yesterday:

A muslim couple walk past a shop, there's eggs & stuff and a big sign reading 'Happy Easter'.
One of them to the other: 'From what I understand, some rabbit was born to them...'

Happy Easter!

John Merryman | Apr 16, 2017 2:29:48 PM | 17
I think the next phase change of human evolution will involve a switch back from the linear, growth oriented view of the last several thousand years, to a more cyclical, thermodynamic conceptual foundation.

For instance, we think of time as the point of the present moving past to future, but the reality is change turning future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns. Events have to occur, in order to be determined.

Alan Watts used the example of a boat and its wake, as analogy, in that the wake doesn't steer the boat, the boat creates the wake. Events are first in the present, then in the past.

This makes time an effect of activity, similar to temperature, color, pressure, etc.

If you consider the actual, physical manifestation of time and history, this concept on which human culture is based, it is residue in the present state. What is measured as time; duration, is the state of the present, as events form and dissolve.

The overwhelming physical reality is the thermodynamic convection cycles/feedback loops in which we evolved. They underlay all aspects of biology and civilization. Right now, you might say we are at the crest of an enormous wave and it's mostly foam and bubbles, with a massive undertow.

fast freddy | Apr 16, 2017 2:52:32 PM | 19
Something biblical for Christians to ponder:

Everyone whom had died remains dead and knows and senses nothing. http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/9-5.htm

There is NO afterlife for ANYONE without the second resurrection which you await.

There is no purpose for a second resurrection if everyone who has died gets a free pass to a glorious afterlife.

Check it out.

Curtis | Apr 16, 2017 7:15:24 PM | 23
The Christians of the Middle East must be very resilient to withstand the onslaught.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-horrific-onslaught-on-aramaic-christian-community-of-maaloula-at-hands-of-western-backed-moderate-terrorists/5585352

james | Apr 17, 2017 12:24:33 AM | 24
thanks for the easter reminder, amidst everything else that is being focused on.. new beginnings which we surely do need... looking for new leaders to pave a new direction here at this moment and don't see anything on the horizon yet..
Curtis | Apr 17, 2017 12:44:41 PM | 31
It's shameful what has happened to Christians in the Middle East. In the west, I've only heard the Catholics say anything about this.
http://buchanan.org/blog/will-christianity-perish-birthplace-126816

[Mar 23, 2017] F@ck Work?

Notable quotes:
"... By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade ..."
"... requirement ..."
"... You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone ..."
"... F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ..."
"... F-k Work ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. The reason I prefer a jobs guarantee (with an income guarantee at a lower income level) is that the time an income guarantee was implemented on an open-ended, long term basis, it produced an unskilled underclass (see our post on the Speenhamland system for more detail).

Moreover, the idea that people are brimming with all sorts of creative things they'd do if they had an income to allow themselves to do it is bunk. For instance, MacArthur Foundation grant recipients, arguably some of the very most creative people in society, almost without exception do not do anything productive while they have their grant funding. And let us not kid ourselves: most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own.

By Scott Ferguson, an assistant professor of Film & Media Studies in the Department of Humanities & Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism; aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade

In the wake of Donald Trump's alarming election to the White House, historian James Livingston published an essay in Aeon Magazine with the somewhat provocative title, " Fuck Work ." The piece encapsulates the argument spelled out in Livingston's latest book, No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea (The University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

In both his book and the Aeon essay, Livingston sets out to address several overlapping crises: an alienating and now exhausted "work ethic" that crystallized during the Protestant Reformation; forty years of rampant underemployment, declining wages, and widening inequality; a corresponding surge in financial speculation and drop in productive investment and aggregate demand; and a post-2008 climate of cultural resentment and political polarization, which has fueled populist uprisings from Left to Right.

What the present catastrophe shows, according to Livingston's diagnosis, is the ultimate failure of the marketplace to provision and distribute social labor. What's worse, the future of work looks dismal. Citing the works of Silicon Valley cyber-utopians and orthodox economists at Oxford and M.I.T., Livingston insists that algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable, like some perverse natural process. "The measurable trends of the past half-century, and the plausible projections for the next half-century, are just too empirically grounded to dismiss as dismal science or ideological hokum," he concludes. "They look like the data on climate change-you can deny them if you like, but you'll sound like a moron when you do."

Livingston's response to this "empirical," "measurable," and apparently undeniable doomsday scenario is to embrace the collapse of working life without regret. "Fuck work" is Livingston's slogan for moving beyond the demise of work, transforming a negative condition into a positive sublation of collective life.

In concrete terms, this means implementing progressive taxation to capture corporate earnings, and then redistributing this money through a " Universal Basic Income ," what in his book is described as a "minimum annual income for every citizen." Such a massive redistribution of funds would sever the historical relationship between work and wages, in Livingston's view, freeing un- and underemployed persons to pursue various personal and communal ends. Such a transformation is imminently affordable, since there are plenty of corporate funds to seize and redirect to those in need. The deeper problem, as Livingston sees it, is a moral one. We must rebuff the punishing asceticism of the Protestant work ethic and, instead, reorganize the soul on more free and capacious bases.

Lest we get the wrong idea, Livingston maintains that social labor will not simply disappear in a world organized by a tax-funded Universal Basic Income. Rather, he envisions an increasingly automated future, where leisure is our primary preoccupation, social labor becomes entirely voluntary, and ongoing consumption props up aggregate demand. Eschewing utopian plans or prescriptions, he wonders,

What would society and civilisation be like if we didn't have to 'earn' a living-if leisure was not our choice but our lot? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed places, such as Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day?

Enraged over the explosion of underpaid and precarious service work? Disaffected by soulless administration and info management positions? Indignant about the history of unfree labor that underwrites the history of the so-called "free market"? Want more free time? Not enough work to go around? Well, then, fuck work, declares Livingston. Say goodbye to the old liberal-democratic goal of full employment and bid good riddance to misery, servitude, and precarity.

"Fuck work" has struck a chord with a diverse crowd of readers. Since its release, the essay has garnered more than 350,000 clicks on the Aeon website. The Spanish publication Contexto y Acción has released a translation of the piece. And weeks later, Livingston's rallying cry continues to resonate through social media networks. "Fuck Work" has been enthusiastically retweeted by everyone from Marxists and small "l" liberals to anarchists and tech gurus.

The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution.

In a previous contribution to Arcade, I critiqued the Liberal conception of money upon which Marxists such as Livingston unquestionably rely. According to this conception, money is a private, finite and alienable quantum of value, which must be wrested from private coffers before it can be made to serve the public purpose. By contrast, Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."

Thus upon encountering Aeon Magazine's tagline for Livingston's piece-"What if jobs are not the solution, but the problem?"-I immediately began wondering otherwise.

What if we rebuffed the white patriarchal jargon of full employment, which keeps millions of poor, women, and minorities underemployed and imprisoned? What if, in lieu of this liberal-democratic ruse, we made an all-inclusive and well-funded federal Job Guarantee the basis for a renewed leftist imaginary?

What if we stopped believing that capitalists and automation are responsible for determining how and when we labor together? What if we quit imagining that so-called "leisure" spontaneously organizes itself like the laissez-faire markets we elsewhere decry?

What if we created a public works system, which set a just and truly livable wage floor for the entire economy? What if we made it impossible for reprehensible employers like Walmart to exploit the underprivileged, while multiplying everyone's bargaining powers? What if we used such a system to decrease the average work day, to demand that everyone has healthcare, and to increase the quality of social participation across public and private sectors? What if economic life was no longer grounded solely in the profit motive?

What if we cared for all of our children, sick, and growing elderly population? What if we halved teacher-student ratios across all grade levels? What if we built affordable homes for everyone? What if there was a community garden on every block? What if we made our cities energy efficient? What if we expanded public libraries? What if we socialized and remunerated historically unpaid care work? What if public art centers became standard features of neighborhoods? What if we paid young people to document the lives of retirees?

What if we guaranteed that Black lives really matter ? What if, in addition to dismantling the prison industrial complex, we created a rich and welcoming world where everyone, citizen or not, has the right to participation and care?

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?

Livingston's argument cannot abide such questions. Hence the Left's reply to "fuck work" should be clear: fuck that.

1 0 24 0 0 This entry was posted in Credit markets , Economic fundamentals , Free markets and their discontents , Guest Post , Income disparity , Politics , Social policy , Social values , The destruction of the middle class on January 5, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 131 comments BecauseTradition , January 5, 2017 at 4:58 am

Again the seemingly endless conflation of work, good, with being a wage slave, not so good. Progressives would do well to focus on justice and that does not include making victims work for restitution. One would think Progressives would wish to f@uck wage slavery, not perpetuate it.

Finally, humans are social animals. Work provides a community. If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own. Yves Smith

I solve that problem with volunteer labor at a local laundry. I do it ONLY when my favorite worker is there because I like her, she has a family to support, she is overworked, she is in constant pain from fibromyalgia, has carpal tunnel syndrome and because of the interesting people I get to see there.

How can I afford to do meaningful work for free? Because I'm retired and have a guaranteed income from Social Security and a small pension.

And let's be honest. A guaranteed job as opposed to a guaranteed income is meant to boost wages by withholding labor from the private sector. But who needs wages with an adequate guaranteed income?

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 8:58 am

I'll also piggyback onto this, even though I am not keen on basic income until I see a little more work put into it.

Many people aren't actually contributing anything in any given work environment in our current system. To expect differently if we have a guaranteed jobs program seems naive.

In the administrative structures I've worked under (both private and non profit, often interacting with government), many workers have obstructionist compliance responsibilities. Decisions are put off through nonsense data gathering and reporting, signatures in triplicate, etc. It's why I've become a huge proponent of the Garbage Can theory of administration: most of the work being done is actually to connect or disconnect problems from decision making. When it comes down to it, there are only a few actual decision makers within an organization, with everyone else there to CYA. That goes for any bureaucracy, private or public.

David Graeber has detailed the "bullshit jobs" phenomenon pretty well, and dismantles bureaucracy in his book, and says all this better than I. But the federal job guarantee seems like a path to a bureaucratic hell. Of course, an income guarantee for the disabled, mental, physical, otherwise, is absolutely critical.

Left in Wisconsin , January 5, 2017 at 11:46 am

There is no magic bullet, whether JG or UBI. But I think the author and Yves are absolutely correct in asserting that there is no workable UBI under the current political economy. It would by definition not meet the needs its proponents claim it could because private (and non-profit!) employers would scream about how it was raising labor costs and otherwise destroying the "real" "productive" economy. A UBI after the revolution? Perhaps. Before? Extremely problematic.

On the other hand, a JG that emphasized care work (including paying people to parent) and energy efficiency would meet screaming needs in our society and provide many people with important new skills, many of which would be transferable to the private economy. But even here, the potential pitfalls and problems are numerous, and there would no doubt be stumbles and scandals.

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Two things:
1. Goverments can hire people without a JG, the argument that the JG is necessary for the goverment to find employees is therefore not a very convincing argument.
2. Increasing and enforcing reduced hours an employer can demand of a worker will strengthen the bargaining position of all workers. But the people advocating the JG appears to see the reduced hours of work as a bad thing? People get to meet people at work but the more pleasant interaction (to me) comes outside of work with the same people.

How many paid days off should a person in JG get? As many as Germans get? Or the Japanese? Or?
When can a person in JG retire? At 60? 65? 70? When does work in JG stop being a blessing and instead living at leisure is the bliss? Are we all to be assumed to live for work?

And finally: If income guarantee is too liberal, isn't job-guarantee too much of one of its opposites – totalitarian?

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Why on earth is a Jobs Guarantee totalitarian?

Jesper , January 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

most people are not creative and need structure and pressure to get anything done.

How does JG put pressure and structure onto people?

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:46 pm

I think a combination of both would be best. As has been said many times here, a lot of current jobs are complete BS anyway and I don't really want to be guaranteed a job just so I can take the dirt out of Boss Keen's ditch and then put it back in.

Then there's automation which has already taken away a lot of jobs and will continue to do so. That's not a bad thing as long as people are still getting an income.

As there likely isn't enough productive work to go around, ideally there would be a UBI and instead of a job guarantee, have a minimal job requirement . That exact amount of work required could be tinkered with, but maybe it's a couple days a week, a few months a year, or something similar. You'd have to report to work in order to be able to collect your UBI when your work was no longer required.

When you're not doing required work, you can relax and live off your UBI or engage in some sort of non-essential free enterprise.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I don't know what sort of fantasy land you live in. Being an adult means doing stuff that is not fun so that you and your family can survive. This is the nature of the human condition, from the hunter-gatherer phases of existence onward. You see to believe that you have the right to be paid for doing stuff you enjoy. And the sort of jobs you deem to be "bullshit jobs" would seem like paradise to coal miners or people who had to go backbreaking manual work or factory workers in sweatshops in the 19th century. Go read Dickens or Karl Marx to get some perspective.

Kurt Sperry , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Was this meant to be a reply to cocomaan's post? It seems like it's replying to something else.

If I understand "Bullshit jobs" aren't bullshit because they are unpleasant to do, but because they are to some significant degree unproductive or even counterproductive. Administrative bloat in acedemia is pretty much the gold standard here from my perspective. They are great jobs to have and to do, just useless, unnecessary, and often counterproductive ones. High rise office buildings are, I have always suspected, staffed with a lot of these well paid administrative types of bullshit jobs.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

The Civilian Conservation Corps is, to my mind, the single most important civilian jobs program of the past century because it provided millions of people meaningful work at a time when they could not get it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

The military also provides a similar function to many people with no other way out of a poor situation. It is likely that one of the reasons that there was such a huge economic post WW II economic boom is because many people (men and women) learned discipline and skills in the military and industrial work places during WW II.

Problems with deadlines are the key drivers for productivity. If there are no problems defined with no deadline, then most people will simply drift. Occasionally a Faraday, Edison, or Einstein will show up who will simply endlessly grind through theoretical and experimental failures on ill-defined problems to come up with something brilliant. Even Maxwell needed Faraday's publications of his experiments showing electro-magnetic fields to get him to come up with his great equations.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm

The assumption that work (for profit) is good is very entrenched in culture. The argument that people aren't motivated to work (Americans are lazy) is disputed by the sheer amount of 'volunteerism' (unpaid labor).

Corporations are not going to give up on marketing jobs as they get the vast benefit of labors efforts.No one system works it will take employee ownership to counteract the negatives of private ownership and a ubi along with a job guarantee and expenditures on leisure to shift from a consumer based economy.

I always thought that people were supposed to argue for more than they want and then settle. Here the argument is always on the right side of the political spectrum capitalism and private ownership. Privatize schools and then use a transfer of wealth through taxes and a captured labor force to work in them?

swendr , January 5, 2017 at 5:27 am

Job guarantee all the way, as long as our bosses aren't dicks. We've already kicked people off of public assistance and into shitty underpaid jobs. If having a job is so important, there should always be a good one available. And anyone that can't or won't work can live off a limited basic income. Makes for a smooth and just transition too when our dirty, dull, and dangerous industries are shut down or automated out of existence.

philnc , January 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

Which brings us, along the way, to the need for meaningful educational opportunities for those who the system has heretofore failed.

Concrete case in point. My cousin is a young, single mom in central North Carolina who works hard but is just barely scraping by. Recently my wife and I decided to help her out by giving her the money she'd need to get broadband service so that she and her teenage daughter could take advantage of free, high quality online resources like EdX.org ( https://edx.org , check it out if you haven't yet). But actually getting her hooked up has been a challenge because the Internet provider Duopoly dropped their most affordable plans sometime last year (around $15/mo) so that the cost will now be a minimum of $40/mo before modem rental, taxes and whatever other fees the carriers can dream up (for the techs out there, even DSL costs $35/mo in that service area). This in a state where there's a law prohibiting local governments from providing Internet services to its citizens in competition with the Duopoly, and where a private initiative like Google Fiber has stumbled so badly that it actually has had a negative impact on price competition.

Of course you might say this is a first world problem, heck at least we have (semi) affordable electricity nowadays. But this happens to be a first world country, where big business pushes paperless constantly to cut its own costs and a semester in college is basically the price of a recent model preowned sedan, _every semester_.

So, a guaranteed job for everyone PLUS the resources to learns what's needed to obtain a job that's more than another dead-end.

P.S. Anyone who has ever tried to use free Internet services at their local library knows that's not a viable option both because of restrictive timeouts and bandwidth caps.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Bosses will be more likely to be dicks when their employees are a captured labor pool. If you don't comply with commands you'll be out of your 'job guarantee'.

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 am

I support Yves' idea for a basic income as a default position for disabled people. Although I'll advocate for something a bit different if possible for the ambulatory: instead of a monetary income, let's provide free basic rations and solar panels, along with a small plot of land in a rural area, free gardening and household supplies, (including free seeds that are appropriate for the given area). And free classes in ecology, cooking, composting, soil management, blacksmithing, carpentry, appropriate technolies and any other good stuff I happen to think of.

As for what the guest poster wrote–well he seems like a good guy but this social justice warrior thing is a dying fad that'll provoke a very unpleasant counter reaction if it keeps up for much longer. I'm positive that Trump garnered thousands of votes in those vital Midwestern swing states thanks to the highly visible sjw activities on campuses, and theis backlash is only going to increase as this goes on.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

I have a son with a disability. Without a job, he would watch movies all day.

With a job he becomes a productive part of society. He loves it and he is dedicated. It also gives him the opportunity to bond with people which is hard when you don't have full autonomy because of some aspects of your disability.

From my personal experience, a large percentage of people with a disabilities would prefer a job to income guarantee.

And many would be quite happy with what most consider shit jobs.

Arizona Slim , January 5, 2017 at 9:56 am

Amen, Moneta!

My mom shops at a store that hires intellectually disabled people to do things like shopping cart roundups and bagging customers' groceries. These aren't the kinds of jobs that most of us would flock to, but that's our perspective.

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

I have to second this. Having worked briefly with developmentally challenged students, they have a much easier go of things when they feel empowered, when they feel like they have some control over their lives, despite the challenges they face. Rendering them even more helpless simply increases frustration and exacerbates existing problems.

Which I think should be brought into the larger argument. It surprises me that any Marxist worth her salt would glomp onto this, when, it seems, the purpose is to further alienate people from the means of production and control over the political economy. When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be. Murray never met a poor or uneducated person he didn't want to drive into the ground, so I find it rather curious that he would suddenly be all for a form of social welfare.

And as to the boss point above, there's nothing stopping anyone from making the jobs program have a cooperative structure. As the article says, these are all political choices, not naturally occurring phenomena.

Romancing The Loan , January 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

When Silicon Valley types and Charles Murray are arguing for it, you have to wonder what the underlying reasons might be.

My tankie friends on Twitter think that basic income is a trojan horse that's going to be used to try and trick the American public into ending Social Security and Medicare. They're usually right, sadly.

Stephanie , January 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

It seems to me as if basic income would also be a great excuse to chip away even further at the idea if public education and single-payer health care as social goods. If your parents aren't able to shell out for them, well, you don't need to be healthy or literate to recieve UBI.

lyman alpha blob , January 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm

If there were both a UBI and a job requirement rather than a job guarantee, that might solve the problem you mentioned.

If everyone were required to work a certain amount in essential services like housing, food production, health care, etc before they could collect a UBI, that would require a trained and healthy workforce.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Yep. The level will be set by the requirements for rental extraction, and nothing else. There will be no surplus over that amount.

RC , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

As a disabed person myself I would argue it's not jobs that disabled people are necessarily after, it's being able to actively participate in society in a contributing, meaningful and productive way, to be included in something with a purpose, a purpose you believe in. If income is not an issue, most people would still engage in projects. Your son would watch movies all day only because there is no better role to play, we are at a transition stage where disabled people, still considered invalids, are being discovered to be not so invalid.

I take issue with the notion that disabled people would be happy to do any deadend work. We deserve more and better than that, everyone does.

I'm a deaf person with a talent which fintech wants and needs, which so happens to be ensuring our tech is accessible, inclusve, making it so much better; so disabled people can truly participate in society, to do all the same things tech supposedly does to liberate while making it truly liberating for all.

But we are also socially responsible for finding meaningful and significant work for the talents disabled people actually have, as opposed to getting them to do something stupid because it's something to do and they're disabled and so should be satisfied with whatever they get. We're not vegetables, nobody is. So that goes for non-disabled folks too.

Which brings us to the heart of this UBI/JG discussion, either you're coming to this from a perspective of people should have jobs, any job, cuz they're basically vegetables or some kind of autonomous machination which goes through motions and capitalism doesn't work without those machinations so there's some kind of moral imperative to labour or wage slavery, and the measure or class of a person is whether they are jobbed machinations/slaves, or UBI/JG is secondary to the question of are people as a whole happy and doing what they'd rather be doing, are they truly participating in society, as part of the human project.

That's the reality most corporations are facing at the moment. The meaning and nature of "work" itself is undergoing change, becoming "play", as capitalism shoots itself in the foot and in the drive for profit either necessitates socialism and classlessness, or mass social upheaval and less profits.

RC

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Thank you. It gets tiresome that the default is people are lazy. People are describing what seems to be human nature . the desire to connect with others and to contribute.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

After reading some of these arguments, and thinking about what I have experienced and seen, I think there are merits to both approaches (UBI and JG). From experience I can't entirely agree with Yves that people would remain unskilled and not pursue activities that engage with others and improve their lives and skills. Perhaps this is because I have always been fascinated by and have known many Hippy communities. I live in Eugene Oregon now, but grew up in San Francisco. The running joke I was told was that all the hippies left SF and came to Eugene because there were no jobs :-). I did see hippy groups in SF that did pretty much nothing but play all day. They didn't last. However, here in Eugene I see many lasting legacies of what they built after they "dropped out"; many if not most of my favorite businesses were created by these people: the alternative groceries like Sundance (supposedly Whole Foods was purported to model themselves after this store-bah!) and Kiva and Growers Market, the Saturday and Farmers Markets, Tsunami books. The Oregon Country Fair, the coops. Not all were directly started by "hippies" per se but the early hippy groups did much to create a culture and an environment that encourages this.

I also know a lot of people here that work "precariously" and there are times when work is hard to come by. But these people do not seem to sit around, they find other things to do, like learn about gardening, or get skills volunteering for Bring recycling (they do things like find creative re-use or "decom" houses slated for demolition and take out useful items), or Habitat for Humanity, or Center for Appropriate Transport (bicycle and human powered), or local tree planting and park cleanup. They often find work this way, and make connections, and get new skills. They don't have to But they want to stay active and involved.

This is why I think UBI is not such a bad thing.. I know many people who would benefit and still do many things like I've described I also am aware that there are more general tasks that society needs doing and that is where the JG might come in. But maybe Eugene is too much of an exception?

Of course, all this is besides what these policies may be used for by the PTB. That's an entirely different discussion; here I am arguing the merits, not the agendas.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I was careful to use the word many and not all people with disabilities.

My son has an intellectual disability. He needs to be instructed and the routine will not come on its own unless it is well practiced. But as long as someone is directing, he does great work.

It is obvious by your post that the menial job he would enjoy does not correspond to what you could offer the world!

I spent hours holding him in the NICU, worrying about his future until one day, instead of feeling sorry for the both of us, I looked around and noticed a regular guy, apathetic looking, spending his entire day cleaning and disinfecting the room then the thought came to me that someone with special needs could do the same job and actually be happy.

Around that time, I read an article about the problems they were now encountering with the integration of people with special needs in France. It would seem that when the job became boring, many would just stop showing up to work Why bother when the state and society has always been there for support that's what happens when individuals never get to feel true independence.

Any action that produces a good or a service is a form of work. Hugging is a service. So are smiling and cleaning a toilet.

For some reason we have huge trouble putting monetary value on many of the most essential services.

We are also having a very hard time filling the jobs with individuals who have the right skill set and temperament.

I don't know how we solve these issues.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Amidst the miserable news of 2016, this uplifting story of a woman with Down's syndrome retiring after working 32 years restored my faith in the potential of humanity. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/08/29/down-syndrome-mcdonalds-retirement-freia-david/

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Oy .. make the disabled do hard labor of agriculture? Blind? Deaf around heavy machinery? Wheelchairs on plowed land?

You are proposing this as it seems enriching, gets them out of your community, and is economically sound. This lifestyle choice should apply to everyone. Let any who want do this and you will have removed people from the labor pool (made up unemployment number magically goes down) less resource consumption.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 5:39 am

Thanks Yves for pounding this issue. As a former lazy BIG'er I am naturally wired to stare at my navel all day. I think at the heart of it we have an existential problem with toil. Tcherneva's succinct take-down of BIG vs JG also set me on the straight and narrow. Plus she spanks Yglesias which is always enjoyable.

Marco , January 5, 2017 at 8:51 am

My biggest quibble with JG is that "work" often involves needless consumption. Most people (in America) require a car and 1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work". Personally this is a very good reason NOT to work.

Leigh , January 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

1-2 dangerous hours a day getting to and from "work".

The reason I get to work 2 hours before I'm required to is because I find driving to work is the most stressful part of my day. I commute while the roads are quiet. The deterioration in driving etiquette is maddening. It is dog eat dog out there. The fact that we are all flying around at 70 MPH in 4,000 pounds of steel and glass is lost on most drivers.

dontknowitall , January 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I think there should be an indicator on the dashboard showing the probability of surviving a frontal impact at your current road speed, people might slow down as they saw the number approach zero

George Phillies , January 5, 2017 at 6:12 am

"If you are extraverted and need to be around people during the day, it's hard to create enough opportunities for interaction on your own."
People have all sorts of mental quirks, but to what extent do we rig society to handle them? As a justification for work, this one sounds expensive.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:01 am

We are social creatures. That's not a quirk, just a fact. The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal, no need for a radical redesign.

As for costs – unemployment imposes devastating costs in sickness, addiction, crime, etc. JG is a no-brainer. It's been tried with great success in Argentina. It works. There's a slogan for ya: Work Works .

roadrider , January 5, 2017 at 8:05 am

We are social creatures.

Well, OK, but we all vary in the level of our sociability. Some need people around them all the time others value their solitude and still others are in between.

That's not a quirk, just a fact.

One that you're overstating.

The average work environment already has people with various "quirks". Some are chatty, some not. Not a big deal,

Actually, it is a big deal since noise and lack of privacy are two of the biggest problems in today's workplaces, particularly those with "open work space" designs. I speak from personal experience here.

no need for a radical redesign.

Ummm, yeah, there actually is.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Whether or not JG is the answer or not, there is most definitely a need for a radical redesign of the capitalist workplace

jgordon , January 5, 2017 at 8:15 am

I'd rather be out in the woods spending my time growing fruit trees. I hate people–and reading above about all the inspirational work the government would be giving me and the people I'd have to be around while while doing it left me wondering about whether or not going postal would be a good idea.

Secondly, the wishlist I saw above for everything the government is supposed to be doing to help people was pretty scary. Ehile the intentions might be good, power like this given to government never, ever turns out well for the people. As an example, let's say Scott waved his magic wand and suddenly Trump had all the power and authority he needed to accomplish everything on Scott's list today. Alright, now try to imagine just how awful the next four years would be. Not good!

Uahsenaa , January 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

I sympathize with the desire to just be alone and do your own thing–I'm like that as well–but I think you're missing an important aspect of the argument, one which Tcherneva makes more forcefully, which is that there is a knock on benefit of people being more engaged in public life: they are harder to politically disenfranchise. I wouldn't be surprise if one of the reasons why elites are so gung ho about UBI is that it would serve to further alienate people and fragment communities, thus preventing them from organizing anything like meaningful resistance to state power.

Also, Ferguson kind of already addressed this:

What if private industry's rejection of workers freed the public to organize social labor on capacious, diverse, and openly contested premises?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:26 am

The problem with a JG and that line of argument, is that JG does not propose to engage people more in public life than an Unconditional Income, as an Unconditional Income is by definition, far more inclusive of all kinds of work that people may do for others.

You may even do things that nobody in a society approves of, with an Unconditional Income, like trying to prove that the world is round, not flat.

JG got nothing on enabling people to be active citizens. It's a policy to look backwards, or it's so inclusive that it's basically an unconditional income to everyone. You gotta be willed to take a long shot sometimes (increasingly often, looking at the world as it is today and might increasingly be tomorrow), to properly empower people so they can be active citizens.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

As best I can tell UI doesn't engage people at all: by what mechanism does UI engage people "more in public life?"

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

How about we have more public housing I would like to see boarding houses come back but another option could be monastery type living? There could even be separate ones for men, women and families that way you could select a monastery that is focused on agriculture and you could have space away from women.

Laughingsong , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I sometimes have incredibly vivid dreams. One of them I hade a couple of years ago was somewhat apocolyptic; something had happened (unknown) and I was in a dilapidated city of middlin' size. The blocks of cheek-by-jowl houses and storefronts were all boarded up. But I entered one and found that 1) they had been connected by knocking down walls between them, and 2) the Interior Of the block was completely open. All the buildings faced inward (no boarded windows) and that had been transformed into a Commons with gardens, vegetables, corrals, parklands, small outbuildings. Maybe something like that .

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

It would never happen but eminent domain should apply to abandoned buildings. If it's been unused for x amount of years, it's raffled off for public use . housing, education etc. Heck, it could apply to manufacturing. If a corp wants to leave, don't let the door hitcha, but that building is going to the employees as a coop as competition is as good for the goose as it is for the gander.

I would imagine more people will be having dreams like yours if things keep declining and people try to imagine what's next.

jjmacjohnson , January 5, 2017 at 6:54 am

Actually I know a few artist who won the Guggenheim Award and I beg to differ. Art is not something that given bunch of money produces great work. It comes with time and time spent contemplating and thinking. Most of the artists who won had to work to pay the bills before. Many were teachers and many still are. There are so few fine artists who just make art. The 1980s really pulled the wool over non-artists eyes.

Case in point since getting the grant, not right after of course, Cara Walker made one the best pieces of her career. A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

Plus she continues to teach.

timround2 , January 5, 2017 at 7:09 am

She won the MacArthur Foundation Award.

Yves Smith Post author , January 5, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Sorry, it was MacArthur Foundation grant winners who typically do not do much during the grant period. Fixing the post.

Disturbed Voter , January 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

Job guarantee maybe, but not corvee. We can have jobs for everyone, if we build pyramids. Forced labor is totalitarian. But entitlement and free lunches are destructive of society. Neo-liberalism involves entitlement and free lunch for some people, and for some countries (I see what you are doing to everyone else USA, GB, Germany, Japan). Entitlement isn't just for individuals. I love my work, as long as it is "sort of" a free choice. Economic necessity works for most of us, and while wage and debt slavery aren't fun, they are both better than chattel slavery.

I Have Strange Dreams , January 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

In a country like the USA, the only limit on socially useful, meaningful work for everyone is the will and creativity to do it. Off the top of my head I can think of more programs that could be implemented than people to fill them.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

I agree. But the problem seems to reside in the link between the services and the hard goods.

One is unlimited while the other is limited so the human tendency is to use money from the unlimited side and consume/stock up/hoard the hard goods creating a scarcity.

I don't see how we can solve that problem with property rights as they are protected now.

In my mind, land and resources would have to be a common good why should someone get the waterfront property or more arable land or pools of oil just because of a birthright or some other non sharing policy.

Going even further, why should some groups/countries benefit from resources while not sharing with others?

Lots of sharing problems to deal with nationally and globally before we get it right

For the last few decades, our system has been based on debt to income and debt to GDP. Those nations and individuals who loaded up on it did ok . so we did not think of the fair distribution of resources.

But now that debt levels are hitting what we consider ceilings we will be changing the rules of the game you know what happens when someone decides to invent their own rules in a board game midway through the game!

All this to say that even if we guarantee jobs the physical world of resources will constrain us.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm

There needs to be a shift from work and consumption to leisure. Leisure is infinite . walking trails, biking trails, parks, movies/music in the parks (our community puts up a big screen and a 150 or so show up with lawn chairs, snacks and blankets), art shows, community theatre, festivals, music, picnic areas, chess/checkers concrete tables .

I want to start a game library: sort of a pub/restaurant with games. Have a bite, beer and a game of scrabble. I like the idea of pub nites with quiz events. If there were public buildings, gathering spaces would not have to make a 'profit', public health would be the benefit.

schultz , January 5, 2017 at 7:13 am

"What if public works affirmed inclusion, collaboration, and difference? What if we acknowledged that the passions of working life are irreducible to a largely mythical Protestant work ethic? What if questioning the meaning and value of work become part of working life itself?

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?

"What if we radically affirmed our dependence on the public institutions that support us? What if we forced government to take responsibility for the system it already conditions?

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?"

First, thanks for this article – this is a good and interesting debate to have.

It makes me suspicious that the author's sort of trump-card, climactic 'takedown' of UBI is a series of questions rather than answers. Things which even the author can't figure out the answer to, apparently, so how can they expect UBI to have the answers.

Think about the answers (i.e. in terms of, policy changes to people's material lives) to the questions posed above. What would any of those policies look like? Who knows?

My point is, it's easy to make things (including UBI) look dumb by comparing them to impossibly high vague standards like "no limits to how we can care for one another."

If the author had a better more concrete, specific reason why UBI is bad, they would have used that, yeah?

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

In my view, Unconditional Incomes answer these questions without being wasteful of human life, and with being unconditionally pro-labor, as opposed to being conditionally pro labor as a JG would be. JG only empowers labor that is recognized immediately, by some body of people who do not represent the valuations of all who are part of society.

Unconditional Incomes recognize labor that only later might generate appreciable results, and it recognizes broad valuation of the fine grained process where it is societally worthwhile, as individuals perceive it. If understood as enablement and pay for all labor related time, unconditionally.

Pay beyond that would be representation of how much respect you command, how much you desire to obtain monopoly incomes, and how much you might hate a job. But not the labor value. That's what unconditional incomes can provide. To the guy writing open source for a greater benefit to many, to the hardworking construction worker whose job involves a lot of undesirable factors (for which he may demand additional comensation), to the superstar/superbrand owner who seeks to maximize customer awareness and monetization with a blend of natural and artificial marketing and monopolization strategies, and to the guy who strategically maximizes market incomes to do even greater things for society than what he could be doing with just writing open source.

On that note, thanks Amazon for pushing the envelope. At least for the time being. We can financially burden all of these market/rent incomes to provide unconditional (labor) incomes, to ensure that there's not too much emphasis on just cashing in on your good (brand) name and market position. Coca Cola is a prime example for what such a cashing in would look like. Customers are beasts of convenience, unless there's breakthroughs that radically improve on some process of delivery or production, that somehow isn't taken notice of by the big brand, before another active citizen takes the opportunity to compete by help of it.

tl;dr: No to turning society into a glorified Arnish settlement, yes to Amazon as it is today, though with a higher tax burden, yes to unconditional incomes, yes to political activism, independent research, parenting work, work for being a decent person among equal people that may look however like you chose.

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Its way back up there at the top:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/01/the-failure-of-a-past-basic-income-guarantee-the-speenhamland-system.html

BIG was tried before with disastrous results. When a BIG program can be proven to address its deep and complex past failure, it may be worth a try. I agree with Yves on when and where an IG is appropriate until someone somewhere test drives a better one.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Don't worry, most UBI experiments and proposals nowadays aren't 'Income Guarantees' but rather Unconditional payments to all, or Tapered negative income tax proposals (britain's RSA has a UBI equivalent NIT proposal like that at least), on top of which people could earn more. Only experienceing regular taxation or a modest clawback rate of the benefit.

UBI is commonly understood to not be a top-up to the same point for everyone as the speenhamland system was, which of course destroys motivation to expose oneself to a strenuous environment, when you can't actually get compensated for your troubles. Any sensible person would tell you that the speenhamland system was an insane offer to the people, it asked of people to work for free, basically.

As for UBI experiments, they're generally rather encouraging. Particularly this coincidental observation might give prove to be useful, if you're concerned about the timely restricted nature of pilot projects/experiments. http://www.demos.org/blog/1/19/14/cherokee-tribes-basic-income-success-story

jsn , January 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

By what mechanism does UI prevent employers from bidding down wages? As Yves post form last year says, "Taxes would therefore need to be increased to offset those effects. The best tax outcome you could expect would be a progressive tax on income. Thus the end result in a best-case scenario would be tantamount to a means-tested BIG, graduated so as to avoid any sudden cutoff for someone who wanted to work. Thus the result (whether achieved directly or indirectly) is likely to resemble Milton Friedman's negative income tax, with the zero tax rate set at a living wage level." Meaning the UI just pushes free money into an otherwise unchanged system incentivized from the top down to soak that money back up and out.

So pushing more money into the system just inflates the system while sustaining the ongoing upward redistribution.

Thus: "The trouble is that Livingston's "Fuck Work" falls prey to an impoverished and, in a sense, classically Liberal social ontology, which reifies the neoliberal order it aims to transform. Disavowing modern humanity's reliance on broadscale political governance and robust public infrastructures, this Liberal ontology predicates social life on immediate and seemingly "free" associations, while its critical preoccupation with tyranny and coercion eschews the charge of political interdependence and caretaking. Like so many Universal Basic Income supporters on the contemporary Left, Livingston doubles down on this contracted relationality. Far from a means to transcend neoliberal governance, Livingston's triumphant negation of work only compounds neoliberalism's two-faced retreat from collective governance and concomitant depoliticization of social production and distribution."

craazyamn , January 5, 2017 at 7:33 am

It sounds like it's is going to be a lot of work - to abolish work.

Who's gonna do all the work involved? LOL.

If you think of sub-cultures where nobody works - like ancient Roman nobles, Europes aristocrats, gang-bangers, southern antebellum planters– mostly they got into fights about nonsense and then killed each other. That is something to consider.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 9:05 am

The crap jobs will be the easiest to get rid of, but then we won't have any necessary goods and services. The Romans knew this, which is why they had a pretty good run before collapsing.

OTOH, with so much more humanity getting their creative juices going, we could end up with lots and lots of art. There would be so much art, it would probably be given away for free!

Then there is the start your own biz path. I've been keeping an eye on our local self serve dog wash. The sign outside changed to "Self Service Pet Wash". Has me wondering what's that all about. Expanding the biz into cats, hamsters, parrots and turtles maybe? Good to see success in the entrepreneurial class, but then I wonder if that's really for everyone and there may need to be some larger organizational structure geared towards producing some more complex thing or service. Dunno, but that could be food for thought as a next step for analysis in this whole job creation subject.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

If anybody actually expects to get paid for their "art", that's when all hell will break loose.

A self-service dog wash is interesting, but if you let a dog wash itself it may not do a good job. Dogs hate to get washed. I'm not sure if this is gonna work.

craazyboy , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Good point. But there is risk in business. Any businessman knows that.

cocomaan , January 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

Kwame Anthony Appiah talks about the end to duels in his book on Honor. It's interesting stuff.

One takeaway I remember is that the lower classes actually began to clamor for an end to the idea that murder was okay if you were in the upper classes, since dueling was a matter of challenging, preserving, and reifying an upper class. The other way to look at it is that the lower classes wanted in on the action.

It also ended when everyone was embarrassed and fed up that their leaders were slaying each other by night.

craazyman , January 5, 2017 at 7:36 am

Great philosophical thougths are cauught. In the Moderbator!

Even the moderbator is already working to thwart illumination and enlightenment. That should be a lesson of some sort. I'm not sure what though. That wouldd mean mental work. I'll do it but it's still kind of early. I'll do it later.

From Cold Mountain , January 5, 2017 at 7:38 am

Yup. There is a big difference between work in a Capitalist ecosystem and work in an Anarchistic ecosystem. In the first you have to ask for a Universal Basic Income and equality, etc. In the second there is no need to ask for it.

So maybe "F@ck Work" is really "F@ck Capitalism" or "F@ck Authoritarianism", but they just don't quite get it yet.

Carolinian , January 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

Agreed that what the author is really saying is f@ck capitalism. Pretending it's all about the current fad for neoliberalism ignores the reality that neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses. The problem with left utopianism is that human nature works against it. So the author's "what ifs" don't carry a lot of intellectual punch. What if we all loved each other? Well, we don't.

Personally I'd rather just have the BIG and the freedom. The Right may be just as paranoid as the Left when they claim all forms of government social engineering are totalitarian but there is a grain of truth there. Neither side seems to have a very firm grasp of the human problems that need to be solved in order for society to work.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm

"neoliberalism is simply old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism with better excuses"

I think it has worse excuses, actually. No excuses. There is no excuse for the centrally managed wealth extraction in the name of "markets" that we have been seeing since Bill Clinton made nice with Goldman Sachs in the 1990s.

Pelham , January 5, 2017 at 7:52 am

While MMT correctly conceives of money as a limitless resource, what it doesn't take into account is the fact that continuing to allow vast accumulations of the stuff at the top of the economy inevitably translates into political power.

And I suspect that those with such power, principally the financial industry, will work assiduously to reinforce conventional notions of money as finite, which in turn enhances their power and their ability to profit from widespread misery.

Higgs Boson , January 5, 2017 at 9:15 am

That is the taproot of The Big Lie – keeping the masses convinced of money scarcity, which goes hand-in-hand with scare mongering on the national "debt". The delegitimizing of the national currency as worthless IOUs, mere "scraps of paper".

The .01%, who have accumulated political power through this con, will not just give it up.

It reminds me of the (probably apocryphal) anecdote about Queen Victoria hearing about Darwin's Origin of Species and asking, "Is it true?"

"I'm afraid so, your majesty."

"Well then, let's hope the commoners don't find out!"

UserFriendly , January 5, 2017 at 7:58 am

Great piece!!! Does anyone know of any proposals or white papers for a State or City wide Job Guarantee? Laboratory for democracy or something. I know the lack of a currency printer throws a wrench into the MMT aspects and clearly there would be migration affects greater than on a national scale, but I think that a state or local program would almost necessarily have to come before a national one, or at least would make the debate about a national one less arduous. This is something I am pushing with my state house rep (Raymond Dehn, who recently threw his hat in the ring for Minneapolis's Mayoral contest)

DanB , January 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

"What if we admitted that there are no limits to how we can care for one another and that, as a political community, we can always afford it?" MMT acknowledges that the availability of natural resources is a limit to money creation and, overall, economic growth. I wish this essay had addressed this issue, as I believe we are in the post-peak oil world and still not facing how this fact -peak oil when properly understood is an empirical fact to me- is dismembering modern political economies. Simultaneously, this destruction is proceeding in accord with neoliberal domination.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

And most of the time, when I see MMT, it seems to be associated with projects and investments that are incredibly energy and resource intensive.

Many MMT supporters seem to work on the assumption that the US will always have the right to consume an inordinate share of global energy and resources.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 12:36 pm

It seems that many attempting to pigeonhole MMT, seem to not recognize the role of fiscal policy to regulate and modulate. Full employment need not correlate to consuming " an inordinate share of global energy and resources." IMHO, how the term "growth" is often used with and within "economics" seems misleading and disingenuous.

Moneta , January 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

And Trump has all the answers on how to modulate fiscal policy under MMT?

MMT will not help the people unless the right leaders are modulating.

Alejandro , January 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Its not about messianism it's more about recognizing that the constraints on the user are not constraints on the issuer of a currency.

fresno dan , January 5, 2017 at 8:04 am

It seems to me we have done that no work experiment for .OH, 70 years. Its called social security.
Maybe every single person on social security doesn't have as many friends as they should – the book "Bowling Alone" as well as many other publications about the isolation of modern society address what is a problem. But many people with jobs are isolated, as well as not getting social interaction on and off the job. I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY.

People on social security can work, volunteer, follow a hobby or take up one. In CA old folks used to be able to "audit" college classes, where you could attend for free but get no credit. Alas, no longer the case (as well as when I was young and went to college, it was dirt cheap – how did it get so frigging expensive?).
And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle. I imagine young people would do the same, especially if the stress of wondering where there income would come from was removed.

There were people at work who said they would never retire because they wouldn't be able to fill their time. I find that just sad. Somebody has to give these people something to do because in there whole lives they have never developed any interests?
I was very lucky to have a career that was interesting. It was also frustrating, difficult, and stressful, and besides the friends from work, there were also the assh*les. It was fine for 26, but it was time to move on. And though I thought about getting another job, I have found that not working is ..WONDERFUL.

B1whois , January 5, 2017 at 9:55 am

I also do not work, and I enjoy it. I need to find things to fill my days (other than NC), but this is complicated by not having competence in the local language. I could speed up my citizenship process by getting a job here in Uruguay, but I don't want to go back to a stressful life feeling like I don't have enough time to do interesting things. So learning Spanish is my job now.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

as many friends as they should

How about, as many friends as they want? There surely is no obligation to have some number defined by other people.

rusti , January 5, 2017 at 11:18 am

I think if you asked the average social security recipient, the first thing they would want is mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY .

And to the extent old people are isolated, more money would do a lot to allow old people to take cruises and other activities that cost money and give people the opportunity to mingle

I suppose it's a much larger ambition in many ways, but I've always thought that a more worthwhile aim than a basic income guarantee would be de-financialization. Private health care and car-based communities put people in the very precarious position of having to worry about their cash buffer for lots of basic survival needs. I live in a country with government-funded health care, and even though my income is a fraction of what I made when I lived in the US it would be easy for me to quit my job and live on savings for an extended period of time, since the only real expenses I have are food and housing, and the other necessities like clothes or bicycle repairs can be done on the cheap when one has lots of free time.

Public transit connecting libraries, parks, community colleges, and other public forums where people can socialize are much preferable to cruise ships!

Lee , January 5, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I too have for years now enjoyed and sometimes struggled with not having to work for money. While my ability to engage in many activities is currently limited by health issues, I have previously gone back to university and earned a degree, learned fine woodworking, volunteered as a charity fundraiser and done field work for the wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone. I have also spent a lot of time reading, gardening, fixing up my old house, watching movies, political activity, fishing, motorcycling, the list could go on. However, to be honest, I do suspect that the years I did spend working and the earnings therefrom did lay a foundation upon which I could build an edifice more of my own choosing.

Gaylord , January 5, 2017 at 8:07 am

Make work more interesting and rewarding by directing it toward esthetic goals. Promote the arts and education at all ages. Put art, design, music, theater, & crafts back into the curriculum, identify people with special skills & talent, support them and provide venues for learning, exhibits & performances with low- or no- cost access to the public. Elevate culture to the epitome of human achievement in all walks of life and expand involvement. Discourage commercial television watching, especially for children.

jabawocky , January 5, 2017 at 8:12 am

I do wonder if there's a kind of circular argument to this piece, or at least there is a continuum between this job guarentee solution and the basic income. In one sense, it is said that people cannot be left to themselves to create because they just won't. So the solution is some kind of municipal creativity, an entitity which does the creating and then forces people to work on its projects in return for income. The more top down 'new deal'-like this is, then it looks like a JG system. If it can be bottom up, it more closely resembles a basic income.

diptherio , January 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

That's why my personal proposal for a JG incorporates aspects of Participatory Budgeting to determine what jobs are getting done by JG workers:

Basic Income vs. Job Guarantee

Clark Landwehr , January 5, 2017 at 8:21 am

There is little difference, in the real world, between sitting on a park bench all day and sitting in a cubicle filling out spreadsheets, because most jobs are already busy-work. So most people are already doing corvee labor in a totalitarian civilization: digging holes and filling them up again. In a typical office building, the only people who are doing real, productive work are the janitors and maintenance engineers.

Eureka Springs , January 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

I think it would take a long time, as in many generations, to begin to know who we are, what we would do and be without a Protestant work-ethic. It's almost impossible for most to imagine life in some other form just as it's impossible for most to imagine a democratic process, even within just one party. Idle time scares the beejesus out of so many people I know. I've watched people 'retire' and move to these beautiful Ozark mountains for decades and do nothing but destroy them, over and over again, out of boredom and idle guilt. I can't remember the last time I cut down a live tree for firewood.. since there are always mountains of forrest being laid to waste.

But we must face the fact most work is useless, crap, BS, and or outright destructive. MIC and Insurance come to mind immediately. To enforce human work for the sake of it is to perhaps destroy the big blue marble host at – at best an highly accelerated rate. If we keep making ourselves act like drones our world will continue to look like it's what we are doing / who we are. Just drive down any street America built post 1960 looking for something esthetically pleasing, somewhat unique, that isn't either mass produced or designed to fall apart in a few decades or less.

Or maybe with a jobs guarantee we should just outlaw bulldozers, chainsaws, 18 wheelers, private jets, dwellings/offices with more than four units, and large farm equipment.

If we are going to force labor then give every man and woman a shovel or a hoe with their HS diploma – not a gun, not an office for predatory FIRE purposes. That way we wont destroy ourselves so quickly.

Joni sang.. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone . What about the people who never knew what was there to begin with? Will some of us live long enough to morn the passing of parking lots?

JohnL , January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thank you. When a "job" means profit for someone else and more destruction, consumption, and waste, we fewer "jobs", not more.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

"A job at a decent wage, set by public policy, will eliminate at least 2/3 of poverty. we can then work on eliminating the rest thru compassion."

Doesn't strike me as morally agreeable to reduce the right to nature and ideas that anyone may reason to have, to a matter of compassion.

"This is the high road that can increase productive capacity"

Giving people an unconditional income and letting people earn money on top, could also increase productive capacity, and having a JG scheme in place might as well reduce productive capacity where it pretends to people that they're doing something important, when they're not. Overpaying work can be a disservice to the people and society alike. Let individuals themselves tell others how much they think something is worth, in respect and in monetary terms. We just need to equip people with money (that maintains relevance in relation to the aggregate of all money), for that.

The high road that can increase productivity is a commitment to enabling people as individuals, unconditionally, to make economic expressions, rooted in their rights to nature.

Octopii , January 5, 2017 at 9:34 am

WALL-E

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 9:36 am

""Modern Monetary Theory contends that money is a boundless and fundamentally inalienable public utility. That utility is grounded in political governance. And government can always afford to support meaningful social production, regardless of its ability to capture taxes from the rich. The result: employment is always and everywhere a political decision, not merely a function of private enterprise, boom and bust cycles, and automation. There is therefore nothing inevitable about underemployment and the misery it induces. In no sense are we destined for a "jobless future."""

Wouldn't it be interesting if it took someone like Trump to get the fact that money is a public utility into the public mindset.

This is a strong and powerful tool. Seems like it could be up his alley.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

But Trump WONT do that. He's very much a super 1% elitist who thinks of people as winners and losers. He thinks the government is like a business that has to balance its books and "live within its means" (means = tax receipts + fees).

Trump is NOT an MMTer. He's closer to gold standard idiots in the GOP (whether they actually want the gold standard to return or not means nothing the idea that the federal budget needs to be balanced is 100% outgrowth of the gold standard dinosaur days so they are ALL goldbugs at core).

financial matters , January 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Probably true, but he now has his hands on the biggest business around.

He has a lot of money available which could make him a popular and useful leader.

Michael , January 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

Great Article and food for thought.

I agree with many of the skeptical views above. In the endeavor to provide equitable incomes an underlying problem is who decides what industries or groups get funded from the taxes collected? Is there private capital? How do you keep certain people from manipulating the system to assure they can collect more wealth than someone else?

All of these might be questions may be resolved with strict laws, but I can recall in my childhood such laws and such cultures that assured a more equitable system, but these too were corrupted by people who wanted to "keep their wealth", because "they earned it", or inherited it ("Death to the Death Tax!").

This utopia sounds good on paper, but it appears to me that the execution is most times corrupted by the connected and powerful.

In any case the most difficult task in this process will be getting enough power to take any sizable wealth away from the "shareholders" , ie owners, to redistribute in a society controlled via media and laws by our lords and masters.

David , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time. Even with the factory system, and the beginning of paid employment, many of the workforce were skilled craftsmen with years of training and a high social status. The modern idea of a "job" as an unnecessary task carried out to gain money you don't need to buy things you don't want would have seemed incomprehensible. Indeed, there are parts of Africa today where a "job" is what you get to earn enough money to live on for a while and that's it.
The real problem then is a sense of purpose in life. There's some evidence that work can and does provide this, provided that work is minimally useful and satisfying. Certainly, the psychological damage from long-term unemployment as well as the psychological dangers of working alone are extensively documented. But the opposite is also true – work can make you ill, and the line between guaranteeing work and forcing people to work is a treacherously easy one to cross.
It would be better to move towards thinking about what kind of society and economy we want. After all, much of the contemporary economy serves no useful purpose whatever, and could be dispensed with and the assets invested elsewhere. Without getting into the magic wand thinking in the article, it must be possible to identify a host of things that people can usefully "do", whether or not these are "jobs" in the traditional sense.

Katharine , January 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

You're onto something here. Reading the post and comments, I couldn't identify what was bothering me, because when I think of work now (having been out of the paid workforce a while) I think in terms of things that make life more livable, either in very practical ways or through learning, enlarging my view of the world, and I don't in the least want to see the elimination of that kind of work. It's the other kind of work, that expects you to feign devotion to the manufacture or marketing of widgets, that probably needs to be largely eliminated (I won't say wholly, as there may be some for whom widgets are mentally rewarding). The author seems too certain of what needs to change and how. I think you're right that we need to give it more thought.

akaPaul LaFargue , January 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

The author of this review misses much of what James Livingston is all about. JL spends some time discussing how to imagine a meaningful life and he refers to Freud (!) that we need work and love. If work is no longer available then how do we imagine love as the basis for social solidarity? OR, is solidarity another way to express love? The author's concerns for wonky policy BS takes us down the wrong path into the scrubland of intellectual vapidity.

And btw Fred Block has devastated the Speenhamland analogy long ago. I think not many folks have gotten beyond Andre Gorz on these topics.

Massinissa , January 5, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Yeah, I'm sort of skeptical of BIG myself, but I really don't think Speenhamland is a good comparison at all. Speenhamland had too many particularities that separate it from most modern BIG proposals IMHO.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

It would be helpful if you'd list some of those particularities.

River , January 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I think we need to remember just how modern is the concept of "work" is that's being debated here. In nearly the whole world a century ago (and still in parts of it today) people didn't have "jobs", they raised crops, tended cattle, caught fish, practised manual crafts, played a role in the community and family etc. and were in general productively occupied most of the time

Too true. If you want to see what someone's ancestor most likely did, look at their last name. Tanner, Cooper, Fuller, etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

People used to have a right to land with which they could harvest building supplies, roofing supplies, food to feed themselves, fuel to heat and cook, raise livestock for food and fiber. The people have been stripped of the rights and ability to provide for their basic needs by force. They now have to have a job, the majority of their labor benefits someone else, to gain money in a system where nearly every transaction isn't just monetized but exploitative.

There is still the pull towards liberalism . to develop a hierarchy of needs, and a hierarchy of the usefullness/productiveness/profitability of tasks. There needs to be a ubi along with the jg. When the focus is on developing hierarchies, the end result will be a rigid bureaucratic structure and the use of force to ensure compliance.

Tivvy , January 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

"What if we predicated social critique on terms that are not defined by the neoliberal ideology that we wish to circumvent?"

To do this, I propose that we give everyone, unconditionally, an income, as expression of their potential (and natural desire) to contribute to society, and all the prerequisite time that goes into that, and for the very contributions themselves. An unconditional labor value derived income, for all. An income that both enables all kinds of work, and pays that labor value in the same stroke.

From there, additional earned income becomes a matter of how much respect you command, how well you utilize monopolies, and how much you hate your job and require compensation for how much you hate it. But the labor value would be accounted for, unconditionally.

In a world where there's superstars (and superbrands) who command respect and natural monopolies to make a lot of money, and people writing open source for the greater benefit of everyone else predominantly, it makes sense to make a statement such as that, about labor value, and to pay it to everyone. Mothers and fathers in active care of their children too, could agree, I'd imagine.

But making a list of things that you think might be cool for society, and try to have tangible compensations for only those, seems problematic, if not to say, counterproductive. Rather recognize ALL the time that people spend, to be decent people among fellow people, to educate themselves formally and informally, be it in the process of being an entrepreneur in a broader sense, at times. A sense of justice that can only be achieved by the state deciding for its people what is purposeful, will fall flat on its face when it comes to practicality, unless we have artifical super intelligence. Because you will have to literally know better than the people, what they will appreciate to what extent. And you don't know that. Neither do I.

There's great things in community/entertainment space happening today, that nobody was thinking of 5 years ago. Because people still have some power to recognize things as individuals, that others do, as purposeful (as much as aggregate demand is increasingly in a sorry state, as the result of a 3+ decade long trend that seems to still keep going. Just fixing that issue would already help a lot.). I say we should build on that, and further empower people in that direction. Which to me means to give money to all the people of the society, so they can more directly at times, express what benefits society, that is themselves. And for macro economic/long term considerations we can always have direct democracy.

Schwarmageddon , January 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

The sorts of psychopaths that tend to be in control of modern human societies clearly prefer money as a tool of social control to money as any sort of public utility that would facilitate individual productivity and/or affirm human dignity, whether in the context of neoliberal derangement or not. That's the view from the long-frozen Rust Belt and certainly nothing new in history.

It also appears that any human capacity for moral innovation is easily constrained by our basic feces-hurling primate OS, particularly if said primates consider money to be something finite and concrete.

On the real balance sheet, though, the sweet old Earth likely can't afford a JG for a population of 7 billion, at least not under any current or previously existing model of labor exploitation. As all NCpeeps know, we're resource-constrained, not dollar-constrained.

So we arrive back at the same old power relationships, the coercion, desperation and ecocide to which we have been accustomed, in the absence of any disruptive® (!) moral innovation. Can anyone suggest that modern humans have demonstrated a capacity for moral innovation outside of prison camps? Actual, non-hopey-changey varieties of moral innovation? If so, is that capacity retarded only by misperceptions regarding the nature of money? Retarded perhaps by an exceptional propaganda system? One might only answer that for themselves, and likely only until the SWAT team arrives. It seems unlikely that some rational and compassionate bureaucracies will be established to compensate in their stead: Congress is wholly unable to formulate policy in the public interest for very good reasons, none of them admirable. It seems the social economic entities they protect require human desperation just as much as they require currency liquidity or juvenile male soldiers.

In the absence of representation, rule of law or some meager rational public policy, a reproductive strike may be a better individual approach than FW, as not having children avoids the voluntary provisioning of debt slaves into a corrupt and violent system of social control. There is also the many ecologically salubrious effects of less humans and a potential opportunity to avoid being forced to constantly sell one's labor at a sharp discount. Couples I know, both having made catastrophic errors in career choice (education, research, seriously OMG!), are able to persist with some degree of dignity only and precisely because they have avoided begetting, in the very biblical sense, more debt slaves.

Shom , January 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

The author's contention that JG is better than BIG is persuasive; however I am not convinced that JG is best implemented by the govt. We have had systems like these, e.g. USSR, and it is very clear that central planning for large masses never works.

Why not implement that JG as saying that the govt guarantees X $/hr for up to T hrs per week for every one, no matter where they are hired. Advantages:
– small business owners are afforded breathing space to get their dreams off the ground,
– Walmart workers will walk off if Walmart doesn't up its game significantly beyond $(X x 4T) per month,
– Non profits will be able to afford to pay volunteers more reliably,
– People who want to be alone / not work can setup their own "self preservation" business and earn the minimum $X/hr for T hrs.

This form of decentralized planning may help implement JGs in a more sustainable manner than centralized planning. It also puts a floor on minimum income. Also, when combined with barriers on moving jobs outside the US, it helps provide a sharper threshold on how good automation needs to be in order to replace labor.

X and T can be the $15 and 40 hrs that is being implemented in big coastal cities, progressive states. Or it could be set to just above poverty level earnings, depending on how comfortable we are in letting go of our Pilgrim/Protestant shackles.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Past time to kill off the Protestant Ethic. The future has always supposed to be made up of robots doing scut work while people get to chill out and NOT do shit work.

The job race is why people STILL don't take enough vacation or full vacation. It is why they feel COMPELLED to not take days off because if they do, their boss will hold it against them come promotion time.

Not all jobs are worth doing and forcing people to take them doesn't do anyone any good, and makes people into commodities, THE biggest problem with neoliberalism. People are NOT commodities and work should NOT be a measure of one's value. CEOs outrageously overvalue themselves for doing little or nothing while engineers and workers they mistreat do EVERYTHING. That is neoliberalism and capitalism in a nutshell.

Guaranteed Basic Income ends that. Set a max income so there will be no more over-compensated CEOs AND provide a decent income for EVERYONE, gratis, so they are not forced to take a job polishing the shoes of the useless eater CEOs.

Praedor , January 5, 2017 at 12:08 pm

I prefer the Universal Basic Income guarantee to the Work guarantee. The Work guarantee guarantees MAKEWORK . "Here, have a broom and do some sweeping with it. Somewhere."

Or, "Here's a desk and a pile of papers with staples in them. Remove the staples."

"You! Toss this box of trash in the street and you, walk behind him and pick it up and put it in THIS box!"

Fuck work. In particular, fuck MAKEWORK. A job, ANY job, just to say you have a job is CRAP.

Better: Income guarantee. Period. Gratis. If a company wants you to do a job for them then they will have to provide incentive enough to get you to take the job. You don't HAVE to take a shit job because you have a guaranteed income so employers better offer a sweat deal like good pay and benefits (and LESS pay and benefits for CEOs, etc the lazy do-nothing self-entitled class).

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I hear the make-work talking point over and over again. It's nonsense. It didn't happen where the job guarantee was implemented , and it doesn't have to happen if the work is under democratic control.

Adam Eran , January 5, 2017 at 12:21 pm

The basis of job guarantees would universally empower or improve the public realm–shared goods.

The "anti-collectivist" propaganda that dominates most mainstream media now forbids anything but public squalor and private opulence.

We work to construct a pyramid of Democratic skulls , January 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

The basic income and the job guarantee are natural complements. In terms of the acquis that any sovereign state must comply with (the UDHR,) you have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [your]self and of [your] family, and the right to free choice of employment. Two different rights. That means work should be an option.

The idea is, you're not on the treadmill, it's the state that's on the treadmill, working continually to fulfill your economic and social rights. It's the state that bears duties, you have rights. So if you want to do something and you need structure, knock yourself out, work for the state or some customer or boss. If you want to spend all the time you can with your kid before the mass extinction starves her, that's fine too.

When you ask people, Do you exist for the state, or does the state exist for you? People are quick to say, I don't exist for the state, that's totalitarianism! But people seem to accept that they exist for the economy. They accept that their life depends on acceptable service to the labor market. Just like I don't exist for the state, I don't exist for the economy. The economy exists for me. That is the revolutionary import of the ICESCR (and that's why the US strangled Venezuela when Chavez committed the state to it.)

Human rights is a complete, consistent and coherent alternative to neoliberal market worship. The idea sounds so strange because the neoliberal episcopate uses an old trick to get people to hold still for exploitation. In the old days, the parasitic class invented god's will to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. Everybody nodded and said, I see, it's not some greedy assholes, it's god's will. After a while everybody said, Wait a minute. The parasitic class had to think fast, so they invented the economy to reify an accidental accretion of predatory institutions and customs. So now you submit to that. Suckers!

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I would prefer not to.

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

i love you.

please marry me!

wait, i think i know what the answer will be

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Thank you, Mr. Bartleby.

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

I am in favor of the job or income guarantee program. We really should not and do not need to work nearly as much as is common in U.S. (nevermind the even more repressive slave labor in Asia). The claim that "algorithms and robotization will reduce the workforce by half within twenty years and that this is unstoppable" seems like a pretty likely scenario at this point. Why have we been working for millenia to build this advanced civilization, if not to relax and enjoy it and be DONE slaving away?!

I recently sold everything I had and travelled around the US for 6 months, and it was delightful. I was next to broke, but if I had an income guarantee I could have had way more freedom to stop here and there, get involved in who knows what, and enjoy myself with very low stress.

I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced, but that is what we need to finally work on: ourselves and our crippling egos. The world is plenty advanced technologically, we have made incredible inventions and that will continue to happen, but people need to start working on themselves inwardly as well or the outward world will be destroyed.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

What does being productive mean? Besides making a profit for an oligarch. Everything is work. Cook for yourself, not work. Cook for someone else, work. Garden for yourself, not work. Garden for someone else, work. Travel for yourself, not work. Travel for someone else, work. etc.

Has anyone run the numbers for a 4 day work week, or 3? How about if full time work were lowered to 30, 25 hours per week?

Automation was supposed to free up labors time. Workers have participated in designing automation, installing automation, testing automation and training others for automation. It's time labor takes the share of their labor and if oligarchs get the permanent financial benefit of labors efforts to automate, so does labor.

Lambert Strether , January 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

> I agree most people will not do anything productive unless forced

That sounds like the persistent notion that the pyramids were built with slave labor. Michael Hudson has debunked this :

We found [the pyramids] were not built by slaves. They were built by well-paid skilled labour. The problem in these early periods was how to get labour to work at hard tasks, if not willingly? For 10,000 years there was a labour shortage. If people didn't want to work hard, they could just move somewhere else. The labour that built temples and big ceremonial sites had to be at least quasi-voluntary even in the Bronze Age c. 2000 BC. Otherwise, people wouldn't have gone there.

We found that one reason why people were willing to do building work with hard manual labour was the beer parties. There were huge expenditures on beer. If you're going to have a lot of people come voluntarily to do something like city building or constructing their own kind of national identity of a palace and walls, you've got to have plenty of beer. You also need plenty of meat, with many animals being sacrificed. Archaeologists have found their bones and reconstructed the diets with fair accuracy.

What they found is that the people doing the manual labour on the pyramids, the Mesopotamian temples and city walls and other sites were given a good high protein diet. There were plenty of festivals. The way of integrating these people was by public feasts.

Now, you can argue that labor is no longer scarce, so the logic doesn't apply. But you can't generalize that people won't work unless forced; it's not true.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Perhaps the best solution would be a Universal Beer Income?

jerry , January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

I see what you mean, but they built the pyramids because they needed money to survive, the beer and festivals is an added bonus. Whether you call it slave labor or working for a decent wage, the premise is the same – your survival depends on doing the work so you do it.

The distinction I think relates to what waldenpond says above. People want to feel a sense of ownership, meaning and community around what they are doing, and then they do it of their own volition, so it is not seen as work. This is something quite rare in todays labor market, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Looks like people chose to work not just for pay but for pay and the addition of leisure activities (cooking, eating, partying) and a sense of community.

ekstase , January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I agree with this. I think of the people I knew who had to work at two or more jobs, full time or more, to be "allowed" to be a painter, musician, writer, or performer, etc. It is sapping us culturally, not to let the creative people have time to do what they were born to do. And I think at least a little of this lives in all of us. There are things that we are born to do. How much does our society let us be who we are?

anon y'mouse , January 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

similar arguments made regarding all of the lands in North and South America.

"they aren't using it for anything productive. best we take it from them."

who are you to say what is productive in another person's life? if we had a meaningful culture and education in this debased society, each of us would be able to make the decision about what exactly we find most productive and worthy of our efforts, and what isn't. since we have no public lands to hunt and gather and fish and farm and live upon, we are forced into this economic system. i find it odd as heck that two people who are effectively "unemployed" find it better for everyone else to be chained to a money-for-work scheme. will you both be signing up for some labor-conscription hours? will it be compulsory for all, without ability to opt-out except for complete physical/emotional disability with no gaming by the rich? (my apologies if you all do not agree, and i have misrepresented your positions)

more rationales to make people love their chains, please. because we know how this would work out: rather as it does now when you sign up for unemployment/food assistance-you MUST take the first job for the first abuser that comes along and makes an offer for you.

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

I think we should separate the wage/salary component of work from social welfare provisioning. Namely, universal health care and universal old age pensions. The more you think about it in the context of today's various pressures, the more sense it makes.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Social welfare provisioning isn't just the means of exchange, it's the ability to acquire the necessities of survival of shelter, food, heat etc. If the focus is just within the capitalist system of private ownership and rent seeking is not ended, the welfare is merely passed through and ends with the oligarchs.

cojo , January 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

I have several questions, concerns with UBI. One is if everyone is given a base salary who is to decide what that amount should be. Will it be indexed to inflation, what will it do to inflation, specifically, inflation for housing, food, healthcare.

Will a UBI be an excuse to gut all social contracts/guarantees. Who will make those decisions. What will happen to social services (public schools, hospitals), and social needs (clean water, air, sanitation/trash, police/fire protection).

Primitive human cultures traditionally "worked" to fulfill their needs only 3-4 hours a day. The rest was leisure, taking care of children/elderly, and rest. I agree, that a large percentage of time at work is wasted time due to hour artificial 9:5 business schedule. If we all perform work from home, what will the hours be like? Will we have more time to meet our neighbors and become more involved in the community or will we be shut in our houses all day not seeing anyone. Will the family unit be stronger, since people will not have to travel across the country for job opportunities and stay near each other.

Who will be provided with basic education, will that be free or for a fee, or will the idle relatives and neighbors collaborate to provide it.

Will some neighborhoods/regions be more organized and successful than others? Will all the "lazy people" filter into future slums riddled with crime and disease? Who will provide for them if there is no longer any social services.

inhibi , January 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I'm sure someone has already posted this, but my idea was to have a huge Federally funded Environmental Cleanup Dept. that essentially hires mass amounts of people to literally clean streets, parks, waterways, sort through trash, etc. It's needed, its relatively low skill labor, but at least it could provide an alternative to Welfare, which is a huge huge scam that's imprisons people in the lowest class (cant own a car or land).

Obviously this doesn't solve the entire issue, but it's become pretty clear that just having a huge Welfare state will not work longterm, as Yves mentions, the detriments are huge and real: unskilled lower class, unmoivitated lower class (more free time = more criminal activity), etc.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Again with the Americans are lazy myth. I would argue criminal activity is more related to being blocked by state violence from accessing a thoroughly monetized society (poverty) and a purposely bled social structure than from boredom.

If a person has access to a share of the resources of a society (shelter/food and enrichment) they will not likely commit crime. For those that want a rush, we can add some climbing walls etc. ha!

For those that are critical of the'welfare state'.. it isn't natural nor accidental, it's purposeful. Stop putting in so many resources (legal, political, financial) to create one.

David , January 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm

What do you actually want to work for ?
In early societies, you worked so that you and your family and community didn't die, and could produce the goods needed to make society function. But that's changed, and today we work to earn the money to pay other people to carry out these same functions. We even work to earn the money to pay the costs of working to earn the money to pay others. We buy a house (which in the past would have been constructed by the society) and have to pay to travel to work to earn the money to pay for the house, and then the insurance on the house, and the business clothes, and then buy a car and insurance on the car because the time we spend working and traveling means we have to shop at the supermarket instead of local shops, and then we pay a garage to maintain the car, and we pay someone to look after our garden because between trips to the supermarket we don't have time ourselves, and then we pay someone to look after our children because we work so hard earning money to pay for childcare that we have no time actually left for caring for our children. And the idea is that everybody should be guaranteed the right to do this?

JTFaraday , January 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

You think too much. ;)

J Gamer , January 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

In the drive towards totalitarianism, universal basic income is the carrot that enables the abolition of cash. India is the trial run. Although after seeing what's transpired in India, it's probably safe to say the ruling elite have wisely concluded that it might be better to offer the carrot before rolling out the stick.

Gil , January 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Read Edmund Phelps' Rewarding Work for good ideas about how to generate full time jobs with adequate wages.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

As I wrote at EconoSpeak back in December, "everyone is wrong."

There seems to be this false dilemma between the impending "end" of work and the unlimited potential of creative job creation. BOTH of these utopias are apocalyptically blind to history.

In 2017 what counts as "work" - a job, wage labor - is inseparably bound up with the consumption of fossil fuel. A "job" consumes "x" barrels of oil per annum. Lumps of labor are directly quantifiable in lumps of coal.

The ecological implications of this are clearly that the dilemma does not resolve itself into a choice between different schemes for redistributing some proverbial surplus. That "surplus" represents costs that have been shifted for decades and even centuries onto the capacity of the ambient environment to absorb wastes and to have resources extracted from it.

Can such an extractive economy continue indefinitely? Not according to the laws of thermodynamics.

Sandwichman , January 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

From April 2015, UBI Caritas :

A UBI might reduce the dire incentive to "work or starve" at the same time as it increases opportunities and incentives to pursue the bright elusive butterfly of "meaningful work." That would be good if it was the only consideration. But it is not. There is also an inconvenient truth about the relationship between productivity and fossil fuel consumption. In the industrial economy, larger amounts of better work mean more greenhouse gas emissions. Productivity is a double-edged sword.

We have long since passed the point where capital "diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition – question of life or death – for the necessary."

Currently, world-wide carbon emissions per year are roughly double what can be re-absorbed by oceans and plants. This is not to say that the re-absorption by oceans is harmless –it leads to acidification. But clearly more than half of the emissions are superfluous to sustainability. Lo and behold, carbon emission increase in virtual lockstep with hours of work. In the U.S., the correlation between the two has been about 95% over the last quarter century.

Don't even think of using the "correlation doesn't prove causation" gambit. We are talking about a "water is wet" relationship. Fossil fuel is burned to do work. Period. Not just correlation - identity.

So the bottom line is we either need to cut hours of work at least in half or the remaining hours need to be less productive not more.

Reducing the hours of work also implies the potential for redistributing hours of work to create more jobs from less total work time. This of course flies in the face of " laws of political economy " that were discredited more than a century ago but nonetheless get repeated as gospel ad nauseum by so-called "economists."

UBI Caritas et amor

bulfinch , January 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I like where this guy is trying to go, but I think I'd put forth more of a F-k Stupid Jobs with Bad Pay ethos, rather than F-k Work . Too oversimple too broad. Work, on some level, is really all there is. The idea of a collective life devoted to perpetual and unbridled hedonism just sounds like death by holiday to me; just as awful as working yourself into the grave.

As to Yves' notion - probably this is true. Pressure is a fine agent for production and problem solving; but I suspect that stagnant period might just be a byproduct of the initial hangover. Guilt is an engine that hums in many of us - I think most people feel guilty if they spend an entire day doing nothing, let alone a lifetime tossed away.

rd , January 5, 2017 at 4:24 pm

It is going to be interesting to see what happens as the financial sector "high value" employees continue to be replaced by passive investing and computer programs. I suspect this process will result in a rethinking of many of these people about the value of work and job security.

Waldenpond , January 5, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I have been stating this also. So many tasks are open to automation in law, healthcare (remote offices), writing (algorithms), teaching (one math teacher per language!), policing. I can even imagine automated fire trucks that can pinpoint hot spots, hook up to hydrants, open a structure and target.

Dick Burkhart , January 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm

What we need is not a guaranteed minimum income, but universal ownership of key productive assets, like Alaska does with its Permanent Fund. These assets could include partial citizenship ownership of our largest corporations. All paid work would be on top of this.

As Peter Barnes says, "With Dividends and Liberty for All". Thus everyone would have a base income, enough to prevent extreme poverty, but still with plenty of incentives for jobs. Note: You'd also need to make it illegal for these "dividends" to become security for loan sharks.

Craa+zyChris , January 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

I spent a lot of time over the holidays thinking about the future of human work and came to this conclusion: As we move forward, robots and other automation will take over a lot of human work, but in 3 areas I think humans will always have an edge. I'll summarize these 3 essentially human endeavors as: "sex, drugs and rock-and-roll", but each of those is a proxy for a wider range of human interactions.

"Sex work" (compare to "Fuck Work" from this essay) means what it says, but is also a proxy for human interactions such as massage, phys-therapy, etc. Robots will encroach on this turf somewhat (serving as tools), but for psychological reasons, humans will always prefer to be worked over by other humans.

Drugs is a proxy for human appreciation of chemical substances. Machines will of course be used to detect such substances, but no one will appreciate them like us. The machines will need us to tell them whether the beer is as good as the last batch, and we must make sure to get paid for that.

Finally, rock-and-roll is a proxy for human artistic expression as well as artistic appreciation. Robots will never experience sick beats the way we do, and while they may produce some, again for psychological reasons, I think humans will tend to value art created by other humans above that produced by machines.

The good news is that the supply and demand balance for these activities will scale in a stable way as the population grows (or shrinks). So I think the key is to make sure these types of activities are considered "work", and renumerated accordingly in our bright J.G. future.

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[Jan 23, 2017] re F@ck Work naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Demanding a no-strings-attached welfare system, the left seeks to cut government out of social provisioning while at the same time relying on government for regular financial support. ..."
"... How will we provide adequate human and material resources for our growing elderly populations? How can we meaningfully restructure social production to address climate change? ..."
"... no amount of volunteerism, goodwill, or generous welfare payments can adequately meet these demands. Indeed, only government can afford to mobilize the persons and materials needed to answer such demands. ..."
"... I really need to be kicked out of the house, to go someplace and do something I don't really want to do for 8 hours a day. ..."
"... Interesting read society has become so corrupt at every level from personal up through municipal, regional and federal governments that it cant even identify the problem, let alone a solution ..."
Jan 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Scott Ferguson, Assistant Professor, University of South Florida. He is also a Research Scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity. His current research and pedagogy focus on Modern Monetary Theory and critiques of neoliberalism, aesthetic theory; the history of digital animation and visual effects; and essayistic writing across media platforms. Originally published at Arcade

James Livingston has responded to my critique of his Aeon essay, " Fuck Work ." His response was published in the Spanish magazine Contexto y Accion . One can find an English translation here . What follows is my reply:

Livingston and I share many political aims. We each wish to reverse wealth polarization, to alleviate systemic poverty, and to enable diverse forms of human flourishing. The professor and I disagree, however, on the nature of contemporary economic reality. As a consequence, we propose very different political programs for realizing the sort of just and prosperous society we both desire.

In his rejoinder to my critique, Livingston proudly affirms his commitment to Liberalism and makes a Liberal understanding of political economy the basis of his proposed alternative to the neoliberal catastrophe. Deeming government an intrinsically authoritarian institution, he situates civil society as a realm of self-actualization and self-sufficiency. The problem, as he formulates it, is that while capitalist innovation has made it possible to increasingly automate production, the capitalist class has robbed us of our purchasing power and preserved a punishing wage relation. This prevents us from enjoying the fruits of automated labor. Livingston's solution is to reject an outmoded Protestant work ethic; tax the unproductive corporate profits that fuel financial markets; and redistribute this money in the form of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). The result: each member of civil society will be liberated to associate, labor, or play as they please.

Like Livingston, the left has long flirted with Liberal dreams that autonomous and self-regulating associations might one day replace the difficulties of political governance. After the Great Recession, these dreams have returned . They imagine algorithms and robots to be politically neutral. They seek a life of shared luxury through automatically dispensed welfare payments. This sounds nice at first blush. However, such reveries are at best naive and, at worst, politically defeatist and self-destructive. Abandoned and abused by neoliberal governance, today's pro-UBI left doubles down on neoliberalism's do-it-yourself caretaking. It envisions delimited forms of monetary redistribution as the only means to repair the social order. Above all, it allows anti-authoritarianism to overshadow the charge of social provisioning.

Livingston's articulation of this dream is especially fierce. As such, it crystallizes UBI's central contradiction: Demanding a no-strings-attached welfare system, the left seeks to cut government out of social provisioning while at the same time relying on government for regular financial support. This position, which fails to rethink the structure of social participation as a whole, leaves disquieting political questions unanswered: How will we provide adequate human and material resources for our growing elderly populations? How can we meaningfully restructure social production to address climate change? How do we preserve a place for the arts outside of competitive MFA programs and speculative art markets?

Such questions are unforgivingly realistic, not pie-in-the-sky musings. And no amount of volunteerism, goodwill, or generous welfare payments can adequately meet these demands. Indeed, only government can afford to mobilize the persons and materials needed to answer such demands. And while algorithms and robots are powerful social instruments, we cannot rely on automation to overcome extant logics of discrimination and exclusion . To do so is to forget that social injustice is politically conditioned and that government alone holds the monetary capacity to transform economic life in its entirety.

... ... ...

Carlos , January 23, 2017 at 2:31 am

I really need to be kicked out of the house, to go someplace and do something I don't really want to do for 8 hours a day.

I've already got too much time to fritter away. I'm fairly certain, giving me more time and money to make my own choices would not make the world a better place.

Dogstar , January 23, 2017 at 7:44 am

Hmm. No "sarc" tag Really?? More free time and money wouldn't be a benefit to you and your surroundings? That's hard to believe. To each their own I guess.

MtnLife , January 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

I can see it both ways. Most people see that as sarcasm but I have more than a few friends whose jobs are probably the only thing keeping them out of jail. Idle hands being the devil's plaything and all.

For instance, the last thing you want to give a recovering addict is a lot of free time and money.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , January 23, 2017 at 11:51 am

As a recovering addict, I must vehemently disagree with ur statement. I would love to have as much money and free time on my hands to work on the fun hobbies that keep me sober like Political Activism, Blogging, Film, etc.

Marco , January 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Many MANY folks take drugs and alcohol specially BECAUSE of their jobs

JohnnyGL , January 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

At no point in the "Job Guarantee" discussion did anyone advocate forcing you to go to work. However, if you decide to get ambitious and want a paid activity to do that helps make society a better place to live, wouldn't it be nice to know that there'd be work available for you to do?

Right now, that's not so easy to do without lots of effort searching for available jobs and going through a cumbersome and dispiriting application process that's designed to make you prove how much you REALLY, REALLY want the job.

For me, the real silver bullet is the moral/political argument of a Job Guarantee vs. Basic Income. Job Guarantee gives people a sense of pride and accomplishment and those employed and their loved ones will vigorously defend it against those who would attack them as 'moochers'. Also, defenders can point to the completed projects as added ammunition.

Basic income recipients have no such moral/political defense.

jrs , January 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The guaranteed jobs could be for a 20 or 30 hour week. I fear they won't be as most job guarantee advocates seem to be Calvinists who believe only work gets you into heaven though.

skippy , January 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Totally flippant and backhanded comment jrs, might help to substantiate your perspective with more than emotive slurs.

disheveled . Gezz Calvinists – ????? – how about thousands of years of Anthro or Psychology vs insinuations about AET or Neoclassical

jrs , January 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Don't forget commute another 2 hours because you can't afford anything close by!

tony , January 23, 2017 at 6:06 am

It's a common 'argument' by people defending status quo. They claim something is ridiculous and easily disproven and then leave it at that. They avoid making argument that are specific enought to be countered, because thay know they don't actually have a leg to stand on.

fresno dan , January 23, 2017 at 8:37 am

Furzy
January 23, 2017 at 4:19 am

http://www.pragcap.com/modern-monetary-theory-mmt-critique/

UserFriendly , January 23, 2017 at 6:57 am

Limitless may not have been the best word. Of course the government can print money till the cows come home; but MMT recommends stopping when you approach the real resource constraint.

skippy , January 23, 2017 at 7:39 am

Taxes to mop up . but that's theft in some ideological camps .

disheveled must have printing presses down in the basement .

Ruben , January 23, 2017 at 7:58 am

Sloppy language does not help so thank you. So the next question is how do constraints (natural or other) affect spending power under MMT, is it asymptotic, is there an optimum, discontinuities?

The other major issue is that although spending power is controlled by legislatures it must be recognized that wealth creation starts with the work of people and physical capital, not by the good graces of gov't. MMT makes it sound as if money exists just because gov't wills it to exist, which is true in the sense of printing pieces of paper but not in the sense of actual economic production and wealth creation. Taxes are not the manner in which gov't removes money but it really is the cost of gov't sitting on top of the economic production by people together with physical capital.

Jamie , January 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

Help me understand your last sentence. So, if I'm a farmer, the time I spend digging the field is economic production, but the time I spend sitting at my desk planing what to plant and deciding which stump to remove next and how best to do it, and the time I spend making deals with the bank etc, these are all unproductive hours that make no contribution to my economic production?

susan the other , January 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Yes, Jamie. And as you point out, Ferguson is giving us a better definition of "productive". He is not saying productivity produces profits – he is saying productive work fixes things and makes them better. But some people never get past that road bump called "productivity."

vlade , January 23, 2017 at 5:28 am

The author is making some assumptions, and then goes and takes them apart. It's possilble (I didn't read the article he refers to), that the assumptions he responds to directly are made by the article, but that doesn't make them universal assumptions about UBI.

UBI is not a single exact prescription – and in the same way, JG is not a single exact prescription. The devil, in both cases, is in details. In fact, there is not reason why JG and UBI should be mutually exclusive as a number of people are trying to tell us.

and if we talk about governance – well, the super-strong governance that JG requires to function properly is my reason why I'd prefer a strong UBI to most JG.

Now and then we get a failed UBI example study – I'm not going to look at that. But the socialist regimes of late 20th century are a prime example of failed JG. Unlike most visitor or writers here, I had the "privilege" to experience them first hand, and thanks but no thanks. Under the socialist regimes you had to have a job (IIRC, the consitutions stated you had "duty" to work). But that become an instrument of control. What job you could have was pretty tightly controlled. Or, even worse, you could be refused any job, which pretty much automatically sent you to prison as "not working parasite".

I don't expect that most people who support JG have anything even remotely similar in mind, but the governance problems still stay. That is, who decides what jobs should be created? Who decides who should get what job, especially if not all jobs are equal (and I don't mean just equal pay)? Can you be firedt from your JG job if you go there just to collect your salary? (The joke in the socialist block was "the government pretends to pay us, we pretend to work"). Etc. etc.

All of the above would have to be decided by people, and if we should know something, then we should know that any system run by people will be, sooner or later, corrupted. The more complex it is, the easier it is to corrupt it.

Which is why I support (meaningfull, meaning you can actually live on it, not just barely survive) Basic Income over JG. The question for me is more whether we can actually afford a meaningful one, because getting a "bare survival one" does more damage than good.

PKMKII , January 23, 2017 at 9:27 am

That's why any JG would have to be filtered through local governments or, more ideally, non-profit community organizations, and not a centralized government. New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program offers a good model for this. Block grants of money are delivered to a wide range of community organizations, thus ensuring no one group has a monopoly, and then individual businesses, other community groups, schools, non-profits, etc., apply to the community organizations for an "employee" who works for them, but the payment actually comes from the block grant. The government serves as the deliverer of funds, and provides regulatory oversight to make sure no abuses are taking place, but does not pick and choose the jobs/employers themselves.

Praedor , January 23, 2017 at 5:42 am

I don't see it as either/or. Provide a UBI and a job guarantee. The job would pay over and above the UBI bit, if for some reason, you don't want to work or cannot, you still have your Universal BASIC Income as the floor through which you cannot fall.

Private employers will have to offer better conditions and pay to convince people getting UBI to work for them. They wouldn't be able to mistreat workers because they could simply bolt because they will not fall into poverty if they quit. The dirtbags needing workers won't be able to overpay themselves at the expense of workers because they feel completely free to leave if you are a self worshipping douche.

Dblwmy , January 23, 2017 at 11:03 am

It seems that over time the "floor through which you cannot fall" becomes just that, the floor, as the effect of a UBI becomes the universal value, well floor.

jerry , January 23, 2017 at 11:12 am

Was going to be my response as well, why such absolute yes or no thinking? The benefit of the UBI is that is recognizes that we have been increasing productivity for oh the last couple millenia for a REASON! To have more leisure time! Giving everyone the opportunity to work more and slave away isn't much of a consolation. We basically have a jobs guarantee/floor right now, its called McDonalds, and no one wants it.

Labor needs a TON of leverage, to get us back to a reasonable Scandinavian/Aussie standard of living. Much more time off, much better benefits, higher wages in general. UBI provides this, it says screw you employers unless you are willing to offer reasonable conditions we are going to stay home.

Anti-Schmoo , January 23, 2017 at 6:02 am

Why the Job Guarantee versus Universal Basic Income is not about work, BUT ABOUT GOVERNANCE!

Yep, agree 100%. We live in a capitalist society which is dependent on a (wage) slave population.

UBI? Are you mad?

I for one am mad, give me UBI! Time to end the insanity of U.S. capitalism

Mrs Smith , January 23, 2017 at 6:08 am

I'm curious to know if either of these systems work if there is no guarantee of "free" access to healthcare through single-payer or a national insurance? I'm only marginally informed about UBI or MMT, and haven't found adequate information regarding either as to how healthcare is addressed. It seems clear that neither could work in the US, specifically for the reason that any UBI would have to be high enough to pay insane insurance premiums, and cover catastrophic illnesses without pushing someone into bankruptcy.

Can anyone clarify, or point me in the direction of useful information on this?

UserFriendly , January 23, 2017 at 7:02 am

There are different flavors of UBI, most don't mention healthcare at all. Milton Friedman's UBI flavor prefers that it replace all government spending on social welfare to reduce the government's overall burden. MMT says there is no sense in not having single payer.

Stephanie , January 23, 2017 at 7:06 am

My thought on the last thread of this nature is that if UBI were ever enacted in the U.S., healthcare access would become restricted to those with jobs (and the self-employeed with enough spare income to pay for it). You don't have to be healthy to collect a subsistence payment from to the government.

HotFlash , January 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

Here in Canada we have universal healthcare, as well as a basic income guarantee for low income families with children and seniors. There is a movement to extend that as well, details of one plan here .

In theory, I think it could be possible for the JG to build and staff hospitals and clinics on a non-profit basis or at least price-controlled basis, if so directed (*huge* question, of course - by what agency? govt? local councils?). Ditto housing, schools, infrastructure, all kinds of socially useful and pleasant stuff. However, the way the US tends to do things, I would expect instead that a BIG or a JG would, as others have pointed out, simply enable employers to pay less, and furthermore, subsidize the consumption of overpriced goods and services. IOW, a repeat of the ACA, just a pump to get more $$ to the top.

The problem is not the money, but that the Americans govern themselves so poorly. No idea what the cure could be for that.

Praedor , January 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Fixing worker pay is actually VERY easy. It's purely a political issue. You tie corporate taxes to worker compensation. More specifically, you set the maximum compensation for CEOs at NO MORE than (say) 50x average worker pay in their corporation (INCLUDING temps AND off-shored workers IN US DOLLARS no passing the buck to Temp Agencies or claiming that $10/day in hellhole country x is equivalent to $50k in the US. NO, it is $10/day or $3650/yr, period). At 50x, corporate taxation is at the minimum (say something like 17%). The corporation is free to pay their top exec more than 50x but doing so will increase the corporate tax to 25%. You could make it step-wise: 51-60x average worker pay = 25% corporate tax, 61-80x = 33% corporate tax, etc.

It is time to recognize that CEO pay is NOT natural or earned at stratospheric levels. THE best economic times in the US were between the 50s to early 70s when top tax rates were much higher AND the average CEO took home maybe 30x their average worker pay. We CAN go back to something like that with policy. Also, REQUIRE that labor have reps on the Board of Directors, change the rules of incorporation so it is NOT mainly focused on "maximizing profit or shareholder value". It must include returning a social good to the local communities within which corporations reside. Profits and maximizing shareholder value must be last (after also minimizing social/environmental harm). Violate the rules and you lose your corporate charter.

There is no right to be a corporation. Incorporation is a privilege that is extended by government. The Founders barred any corporate interference in politics, and if a corporation broke the law, it lost its charter and the corporate officers were directly held responsible for THEIR actions. Corporations don't do anything, people in charge of corporations make the decisions and carry out the actions so NO MORE LLCs. If you kill people due to lax environmental protections or worker safety, etc, then the corporate officers are DIRECTLY and personally responsible for it. THEY made it happen, not some ethereal "corporation".

BeliTsari , January 23, 2017 at 6:32 am

Durned hippys imagine an IRON boot stamping on a once human face – forever. OK, now everybody back to the BIG house. Massa wanna reed yew sum Bible verses. We're going to be slaves to the machines, ya big silly!

PlutoniumKun , January 23, 2017 at 7:09 am

I'm sceptical whether a guaranteed job policy would actually work in reality. There are plenty of historical precedents – for example, during the Irish potato famine because of an ideological resistence to providing direct aid, there were many 'make work' schemes. You can still see the results all along the west coast of Ireland – little harbours that nobody has ever used, massive drainage schemes for tiny amounts of land, roads to nowhere. It certainly helped many families survive, but it also meant that those incapacitated by starvation died as they couldn't work. It was no panacea.

There are numerous practical issues with make work schemes. Do you create a sort of 2-layer public service – with one level permanent jobs, the other a variety of 'temporary' jobs according to need? And if so, how do you deal with issues like:

1. The person on a make work scheme who doesn't bother turning up till 11 am and goes home at 2.

2. Regional imbalances where propering region 1 is desperately short of workers while neighbouring region 2 has thousands of surplus people sweeping streets and planting trees.

3. What effect will this have on business and artistic innovation? Countries with strong welfare systems such as Sweden also tend to have a very high number of start ups because people can quit their jobs and devote themselves to a couple of years to develop that business idea they always had, or to start a band, or try to make a name as a painter.

4. How do you manage the transition from 'make-work' to permanent jobs when the economy is on the up, but people decide they prefer working in their local area sweeping the street?

I can see just as many practical problems with a job guarantee as with universal income. Neither solution is perfect – in reality, some sort of mix would be the only way I think it could be done effectively.

Torsten , January 23, 2017 at 7:33 am

Yes. Not either/or but both/and.

To provide some context for passers-by, this seemingly too-heated debate is occurring in the context of the upcoming Podemos policy meeting in Spain, Feb 10-12.. Podemos seems to have been unaware of MMT, and has subscribed to sovereign-economy-as-household policies. Ferguson, along with elements of the modern left, has been trying to win Podemos over to MMT-based policies like a Jobs Guarantee rather than the Basic Income scheme they have heretofore adopted rather uncritically.

(Of course Spain is far from "sovereign", but that's another matter :-(

aj , January 23, 2017 at 7:48 am

1) Fire them
2) Prospering region 1 isn't "short on workers" they just all have private jobs.
3) What a good argument to also have single payer healthcare and some sort of BIG as well as the JG
4) private companies must offer a better compensation package. One of the benefits of the JG is that it essentially sets the minimum wage.

Murph , January 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

Yeah, those are pretty good answers right off the bat. (Obviously I guess for #1 they can reapply in six months or something.)

Plutonium- I feel like true progress is trading shitty problems for less shitty ones. I can't see any of the major proponents like Kelton, Wray or Mitchell ever suggesting that the JG won't come with it's own new sets of challenges. On the overly optimistic side though: you could look at that as just necessitating more meaningful JG jobs addressing those issues.

aj , January 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

I was writing that on my phone this morning. Didn't have time to go into great detail. Still, I wanted to point out that just because there will be additional complexities with a JG, doesn't mean there aren't reasonable answers.

PlutoniumKun , January 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

1. If you fire them its not a jobs guarantee. Many people have psychological/social issues which make them unsuitable for regular hours jobs. If you don't have a universal basic income, and you don't have an absolute jobs guarantee, then you condemn them and their families to poverty.

2. The area is 'short on workers' if it is relying on a surplus public employee base for doing things like keeping the streets clean and helping out in old folks homes. It is implicit in the use of government as a source of jobs of last resort that if there is no spare labour, then you will have nobody to do all the non-basic works and you will have no justification for additional infrastructure spend.

3. You miss the point. A basic income allows people time and freedom to be creative if they choose. When the Conservatives in the early 1990's in the UK restricted social welfare to under 25's, Noel Gallagher of Oasis predicted that it would destroy working class rock n roll, and leave the future only to music made by rich kids. He was proven right, which is why we have to listen to Coldplay every time we switch on the radio.

4. This ignores the reality that jobs are never spread evenly across regions. One of the biggest problems in the US labour market is that the unemployed often just can't afford to move to where the jobs are available. A guaranteed job scheme organised on local govenment basis doesn't address this, if anything it can exacerbate the problem. And the simplest and easiest way to have a minimum wage is to have a minimum wage.

aj , January 23, 2017 at 11:39 am

1) Kelton always talks about a JG being for people "willing and able to work." If you are not willing I don't really have much sympathy for you. If you are not able due to psychological factors or disability, then we can talk about how you get on welfare or the BIG/UBI. The JG can't work in a vacuum. It can't be the only social program.

2) Seems unrealistic. You are just searching to find something wrong. If there is zero public employment, that means private employment is meeting all labor demands.

3) I have no idea what you are going on about. I'm in a band. I also have a full-time job. I go see local music acts all the time. There are a few that play music and don't work because they have rich parents, but that's the minority. Most artists I know manage to make art despite working full time. I give zero shits what corporate rock is these days. If you don't like what's on the radio turn it off. There are thousands of bands you've never heard of. Go find them.

4) Again, you are just searching for What-If reasons to crap on the JG. You try to keep the jobs local. Or you figure out free transportation. There are these large vehicles called busses which can transport many people at once.

Yes these are all valid logistical problems to solve, but you present them like there are no possible solutions. I can come up with several in less than 5 minutes.

oho , January 23, 2017 at 8:04 am

For a more practical first step--how about getting rid of/slashing regressive and non-federal income tax deductible sales taxes? shifting that tax burden to where income growth has been.

Democratic Party-run states/cities are the biggest offenders when it comes to high sales taxes.

universal basic income in the West + de facto open borders won't work. just making a reasonable hypothesis.

Dita , January 23, 2017 at 8:06 am

Make-work will set you free?

voteforno6 , January 23, 2017 at 8:32 am

There might be a psychological benefit to a jobs guarantee vs. UBI. There are a lot of people that would much rather "earn" their income rather than directly receiving it.

BeliTsari , January 23, 2017 at 8:46 am

MS DLI Sharing-Economy contractor's app:

Which of these tools do you posess:
( ) Machete, pick-axe, big old hemp bag
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( ) ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, fast car

Norb , January 23, 2017 at 9:15 am

A JG would begin to rebuild the trust and cooperation needed to have a society based on justice instead of might makes right. Human life is based on obligations- we are all responsible to one another for the social system to work. The problem is always about how to deal with cheaters and shirkers. This problem is best solved by peer pressure and shaming- along with a properly functioning legal system.

I get a kick out of the "make work" argument against a JG. With planned obsolescence as the foundation of our economic system, it's just a more sophisticated way of digging holes and filling them in again. Bring on robotic automation, and the capitalist utopia is reached. Soul crushing, pointless labor can be sidelined and replaced with an unthinking and unfeeling machine in order to generate profits. The one problem is people have no money to buy the cheep products. To solve that dilemma, use the sovereign governments power to provide spending credits in the form of a UBI. Capitalism is saved from is own contradictions- the can is kicked farther down the road.

The obligations we have to one another must be defined before any system organization can take place. Right now, the elite are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

jerry , January 23, 2017 at 11:23 am

Well said!

Jamie , January 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

I agree with those who see a need for both programs. I think the critique of UBI here is a good one, that raises many valid points. But I have trouble with a portion of it. For instance:

by eliminating forced unemployment, it would eradicate systemic poverty

treats 'poverty' as an absolute when it is a relative. No matter what programs are in place, there will always be a bottom tier in our hierarchical society and those who constitute it will always be 'impoverished' compared to those in higher tiers. This is the nature of the beast. Which is why I prefer to talk about subsistence level income and degrees above subsistence. The cost of living may not be absolutely fixed over time, but it seems to me to be more meaningful and stable than the term 'poverty'. On the other hand, in a rent seeking economy, giving people an income will not lift them out of poverty because rents will simply be adjusted to meet the rise in resources. So UBI without rent control is meaningless.

Another point is that swapping forced unemployment for forced employment seems to me to avoid some core issues surrounding how society provides for all its members. Proponents of the JG are always careful to stress that no one is forced to work under the JG. They say things like, "jobs for everyone who wants one". But this fails to address the element of coercion that underlies the system. If one has no means to provide for oneself (i.e. we are no longer a frontier with boundless land that anyone can have for cheap upon which they may strike out and choose the amount of labor they contribute to procure the quality of life they prefer-if ever was such the case), then jobs for "everyone who wants one" is simply disingenuous. There is a critical "needs" versus "wants" discussion that doesn't generally come up when discussing JG. It's in there, of course, but it is postponed until the idea is accepted to the point where setting an actual wage becomes an issue. But even then, the wage set will bear on the needs versus wants of the employed, but leaves out those foolish enough to not "want" a job. Whereas, in discussing UBI, that discussion is front and center (since even before accepting the proposal people will ask, how much?, and proper reasons must be given to support a particular amount-which again brings us to discussing subsistence and degrees above it-the discussion of subsistence or better is "baked in" to the discussion about UBI in a way that it is not when discussing the JG).

PKMKII , January 23, 2017 at 9:44 am

While UBI interests me as a possible route to a non-"means of production"-based economy, the problem I see with it is that it could easily reduce the populace to living to consume. Given enough funds to provide for the basics of living, but not enough to make any gains within society, or affect change. It's growth for growth's sake, not as to serve society. Something is needed to make sure people aren't just provided for, but have the ability to shape the direction of their society and communities.

Teacup , January 23, 2017 at 9:48 am

Where I work @3/4 of the staff already receives social security and yet it is not enough seems to me human satisfaction is boundless and providing a relative minimum paper floor for everyone is just. Yet the way our market is set up, this paper floor would be gobbled back up by the rentier class anyway. So unless there is a miraculous change in our economic rent capture policies, we are screwed

So yes, just describe to people precisely what it is – a 'paper' floor not something that has firm footing yet acknowledges inequities inherent in our current currency distribution methods. And of course couple this with a jobs guarantee. I have met way too many people in my life that 'fall through the cracks' .

Portia , January 23, 2017 at 10:24 am

why is no one bemoaning the rabid over-consumption of the complainers who suck up much more than they will ever need, hoarding and complaining about people who do not have enough? the real problem is rampant out of control parasites

Teacup , January 23, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Must be a capital gains 'earner' . and a professional projectionist

Portia , January 23, 2017 at 12:19 pm

both ends see the other as a parasite

Ignacio , January 23, 2017 at 11:21 am

But Ferguson should also adknowledge that Livingston has some points.

Why on earth we politically put limits to, for instance, public earning-spending while do not put any limit to the net amount that one person can earn, spend and own?

Upward redistribution is what occurs in the neoliberal framework. UBI is distribution. Bear in mind that even in the best employment conditions, not everybody can earn a salary. 100% employment is unrealistic.

LT , January 23, 2017 at 11:58 am

The people marketing UBI and MMT have hundreds of years of attempted social engineereing to overcome. I referring to the " why people want what they want and why do they believe what they believe." Why?

The only suggestion I have is that, since everybody has a different relationship to the concept of work, the populations involved need to be smaller. Not necessarily fewer people, but more regions or nation states that are actually allowed to try their ideas without being attacked by any existing "empire" or "wanna be empire" via sanctions or militarily.

It is going to take many different regions, operating a variety of economic systems (not the globalized private banking extraction method pushed down every one's throat whether they like it or not) that people can gravitate in and out of freely.

People would have the choice to settle in the region that has rules and regulations that work most for their lives and belief systems (which can change over time).

Looking at it from the perspective that there can be only one system that 300 million plus people (like the USA) or the world must be under is the MAIN problem of social engineering. There needs to be space carved out for these many experiments.

schultzzz , January 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

First, congratulations to everyone who managed to read this all the way through. IMO both this (and the guy he's responding to), seem like someone making fun of academic writing. Perhaps with the aid of a program that spits out random long words.

FWIW, when I lived in Japan, they had a HUGE, construction-based make-work program there, and it was the worst of both worlds: hard physical labor which even the laborers knew served no purpose, PLUS constant street obstruction/noise for the people in the neighborhoods of these make-work projects. Not to mention entire beautiful mountains literally concreted over in the name of 'jawbs'.

Different thought: I'm not sold on UBI either, but wouldn't it mess up the prostitution/sex trafficking game, almost as a side effect? Has anyone heard UBI fans promote it on that basis?

Ben , January 23, 2017 at 12:31 pm

The sound and fury of disagreement is drowning out what both authors agree on: guaranteed material standards of living and reduced working time. If that's the true goal, we should say so explicitly and hammer out the details of the best way to attain it.

MIB , January 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Interesting read society has become so corrupt at every level from personal up through municipal, regional and federal governments that it cant even identify the problem, let alone a solution

all forms of government and their corresponding programs will fail until that government is free from the monetary influences of individuals / corporations and military establishments, whether it be from donations to a political establishment or kick backs to politicians and legislators or government spending directed to buddies and cohorts

I don't pretend to understand the arguments at the level to which they are written, but at the basic level of true governance it must but open and honest, this would allow the economy to function and be evaluated, and then at that point we could offer up some ideas on how to enhance areas as needed or scale back areas that were out of control or not adding value to society as a whole

We stand at a place that has hundreds of years of built in corruption into the model, capable so far of funneling money to the top regardless of the program implemented by the left or the right sides of society

first step is to remove all corruption and influence from governance at every level until then all the toils toward improvement are pointless as no person has witnessed a "free market " in a couple hundred years, all economic policy has been slanted by influence and corruption

we can not fix it until we actually observe it working, and it will never work until it is free of bias / influence

no idea how we get there . our justice system is the first step in repairing any society

[Nov 24, 2016] Warning social media could harm your career (but not in the way you think) by Cal Newport

Notable quotes:
"... My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. ..."
"... Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won't tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate - the skill on which I make my living. ..."
"... The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you're serious about creating things that matter. ..."
"... A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and towards convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive. ..."
Nov 24, 2016 | www.afr.com

I'm a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I've never had a social media account.

At the moment, this makes me an outlier, but I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services. There are many issues with social media, from its corrosion of civic life to its cultural shallowness, but the argument I want to make here is more pragmatic: you should quit social media because it can hurt your career.

This claim, of course, runs counter to our current understanding of social media's role in the professional sphere. We've been told that it's important to tend to your so-called social media brand, as this provides you access to opportunities you might otherwise miss and supports the diverse contact network you need to get ahead. Many people in my generation fear that without a social media presence, they would be invisible to the job market.

In a recent New York magazine essay , Andrew Sullivan recalled when he started to feel obligated to update his blog every half-hour or so. It seemed as if everyone with a Facebook account and a smartphone now felt pressured to run their own high-stress, one-person media operation, and "the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone", he wrote.

I think this behaviour is misguided. In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business. Professional success is hard, but it's not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. This is a philosophy perhaps best summarised by the advice Steve Martin used to give aspiring entertainers: "Be so good they can't ignore you." If you do that, the rest will work itself out, regardless of the size of your Instagram following. Concentrate without distraction

A common response to my social media scepticism is the idea that using these services "can't hurt". In addition to honing skills and producing things that are valuable, my critics note, why not also expose yourself to the opportunities and connections that social media can generate? I have two objections to this line of thinking.

First, interesting opportunities and useful connections are not as scarce as social media proponents claim. In my own professional life, for example, as I improved my standing as an academic and a writer, I began receiving more interesting opportunities than I could handle. I now have filters on my website aimed at reducing, not increasing, the number of offers and introductions I receive.

My research on successful professionals underscores that this experience is common: As you become more valuable to the marketplace, good things will find you. To be clear, I'm not arguing that new opportunities and connections are unimportant. I'm instead arguing that you don't need social media's help to attract them.

My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy.

Social media weakens this skill because it's engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it's designed to be used - persistently throughout your waking hours - the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.

Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won't tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate - the skill on which I make my living.

The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you're serious about creating things that matter.

Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters.

A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and towards convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.

Most social media is best described as a collection of somewhat trivial entertainment services that are now having a good run. These networks are fun, but you're deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time.

If you're serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of Deep Work : Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Grand Central).

The New York Times

[Nov 23, 2016] Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It

Nov 23, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(nytimes.com) 184 Posted by msmash on Monday November 21, 2016 @12:20PM from the dilemma dept.

The New York Times ran a strong opinion piece that talks about one critical reason why everyone should quit social media: your career is dependent on it. The other argues that by spending time on social media and sharing our thoughts, we are demeaning the value of our work, our ideas . (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source .)

Select excerpts from the story follows:

In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.

Professional success is hard, but it's not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. [...] Interesting opportunities and useful connections are not as scarce as social media proponents claim. In my own professional life, for example, as I improved my standing as an academic and a writer, I began receiving more interesting opportunities than I could handle. As you become more valuable to the marketplace, good things will find you.

To be clear, I'm not arguing that new opportunities and connections are unimportant. I'm instead arguing that you don't need social media's help to attract them. My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it's engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it's designed to be used -- persistently throughout your waking hours -- the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.

Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won't tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate -- the skill on which I make my living.

A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Books Erving Goffman

Life as Stage, December 8, 2001
Reviewer: Tanja Laden (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Dr. Erving Goffman, after receiving his Ph.D. in 1953 at the University of Chicago, first published The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life as a monograph at the Social Sciences Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh in 1956. Published by Anchor Books in 1959, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life effectively elaborates on Thorstein Veblen's observations about the character of the Leisure Class. However, Goffman is particularly attentive to the performative and characteristic structure of society. With the idea that "the general notion that we make a presentation of ourselves to others," (252), Goffman's critical analysis of the individual and society illuminates Veblen's theory that the individual, aspiring to a higher social status, eventually becomes an emblem for that status.

Goffman delves into the interaction within tightly-knit social fabrics, revealing that the substantive transition of the individual into society is not nearly as important as his/her "performance."

Entry into a tight social circle, according to Goffman, requires "wearing a look" to avoid betraying his true stance. Goffman notes social principles are guided by moral characteristics, which eventually support that individual in society.

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is not merely a refutation of the adage, "you can't judge a book by its cover" - Photographer Arthur Felig's (also known as WeeGee) 1943 photograph of two impeccably bedecked tiara-sporting society dames, glared at meanly by a crotchety woman, is apt to prompt anyone to pick up the text for a browse.

Indeed, in Presenation's case, the photograph has a number of meanings in regard to the substance of the text. Those who "present" themselves in certain respects are often ignorant of the disparaging view they may elicit from others, but if these "others" remotely resemble the growling woman in the photograph, the performers most likely will not care. In addition to the splendid photo, Goffman offers a few little-known meanings of words often arising from society.

Whether the etymology of the word "tact" comes from society, Goffman effectively makes a case that it is a crucial maneuver in the swirling vortex of social circles. Throughout Presentation Goffman offers the point of view of "impression management" as a tool in studying social establishments, explicating them as actor on the proverbial stage. Impression Management serves to "prevent outsiders from coming into a performance that is not addressed to them."

Social Dominance : An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression ~ Usually ships in 24 hours
Jim Sidanius, Felicia Pratto / Hardcover / Published 1999
Our Price: $49.95
Table of Contents

"The authors lead us to question the assumption that discrimination and oppression have been overcome in our own recent history, or that they are manifested only by unenlightened individuals or countries. They provide a lucid, provocative account of the extent to which social dominance and discrimination transcend time and place. A compelling, well-documented account of group dominance processes--how they work, how they are manifested, and why they are so resistant to change. The authors provide evidence to show that group discrimination continues to be omni-present in all aspects of social life, e.g., the workplace, educational institutions, the judicial system, and health care systems. Social Dominance should be 'must' reading for social psychology courses. It takes our thinking of group processes in important, new directions." Daphne Bugental, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This volume by Sidanius and Pratto is a major scholarly accomplishment. Both conceptually and empirically, the book is a synthesis of cross-national, institutional, and individual levels of analysis. Although some of the premises of their social dominance theory will be controversial, the empirical data the authors have compiled are impressive and compelling. This work places the study of intergroup discrimination in a broader context than anything before has done." Marilynn Brewer, The Ohio State University

"Social Dominance is a work of potentially foundational importance for the study of intergroup attitudes, prejudice, racism, and discrimination. Sidanius and Pratto shed new light on the ubiquitous phenomena of group-based social hierarchy and the social psychological and institutional mechanisms that maintain it....There is a great deal of value here for any serious student of social inequality." Lawrence Bobo, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

"Social Dominance represents the most demanding kind of scholarship, and Sidanius and Pratto engage in it with more skill and produce more impressive results than almost anybody. I think that it is an exceptional bit of scholarship." John Petrocik, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, Columbia

"An original and provocative study of the nature and causes of human oppression. Sidanius and Pratto have refined and pursued the concept of Social Dominance Orientation with analyses that are broad-reaching and carefully crafted. Essential reading for students of racial, ethnic, and gender inequality." Mary R. Jackman, Department of Sociology, University of California, Davis

"Sidanius and Pratto shed new light on the ubiquitous phenomena of group-based social hierarchy and social psychological and institutional mechanisms that maintain it." Lawrence D. Bobo, American Journal Of Sociology

Book Description
This book suggests that the major forms in intergroup conflict, such as racism, classism and patriarchy, are essentially derived from the human predisposition to form and maintain hierarchical and group-based systems of social organization. Using social dominance theory, it is presumed that it is also a basic grammar of social power shared by all societies in common. We use social dominance theory in an attempt to identify the elements of this grammar and to understand how these elements interact and reinforce each other to produce and maintain group-based social hierarchy.

Social Psychology : Unraveling the Mystery

Douglas T. Kenrick, et al / Hardcover / Published 1999
Our Price: $82.00
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Political Exclusion and Domination (Nomos)

Meeting Staff American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, Eastern Division Staff American Philosophical Association,Melissa S. Williams,Stephen Macedo

Political exclusion and domination are common forms of injustice in democratic societies. What is at stake in choosing one or the other as a way of conceptualizing injustice? Can either concept serve as a master concept for all injustice, or do the phenomena of injustice require a more complex array of analytic categories?

The contributors to this volume explore the concepts of exclusion and domination from a wide array of theoretical approaches-liberal and republican, feminist and pluralist. They address topics ranging from racial segregation to criminal sanctions, from the role of the political philosopher to the instruments of genocide. They disagree-sometimes mildly and sometimes profoundly-over how we should construe the forms of exclusion and domination that most command our attention. Ultimately, these authors shed important light on the meaning of justice and injustice in contemporary society.

Contributors: Danielle Allen, Michael Blake, Sanford Levinson, Catharine MacKinnon, Martha Nussbaum, Philip Pettit, James Tully, and Miguel Vatter.

About the Author
Melissa S. Williams is professor of political theory at the University of Toronto. Stephen Macedo is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the Director of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

Reviews

Social Psychology (5th Edition) Books Elliot Aronson,Timothy D. Wilson,Robin M. Akert

This is 5th edition of the book written in early 90th (first edition was in 1994). The book did not change much since. This is fuzzy, politically correct and watered down presentation of the subject. For example when you learn about cognitive dissonance you are not told that the original Festinger experiment was connected with the behavior of a flood doomsday cult after the target date of the flood passed.

This might be an OK book as a second of third book for self-education (you can save money buying any previous edition, but in no way this should be your first or only book on the subject), but this can be a horror show if this is your standard textbook at the university 101 Social physiology course and you need to pass an exam. Here the inability of the authors to distinguish between important and unimportant will hunt you down.

The authors are too fond of abusing "social-psychology-speak" and introduce too many pseudo-scientific terms without real necessity: it looks like they try artificially inflate both themselves and the subject by immersing trivial notions in obscure jargon. This infatuation with jargon, on the level completely unacceptable for the introductory course is one of the worst features of the book. It especially evident are summaries which are the Achilles spot of the book: badly written, badly thought-out, somewhat detached from the chapters content, horribly structured and weakly typeset.

The other problem with this book as an introductory (101 type) book is that it is just too big. Story-telling approach that authors use is not bad per se, but inability of authors to distinguish between really important and entertaining psycho-trivia distracts the reader. Their recently introduced multi-cultural approach adds to political correctness, but also adds to the volume.

If you are a student it is very difficult textbook to learn from. It provides an ample opportunity for a professor to create a test consisting of dozens of hair-splitting terminology abusing questions. You can never be sure that the detail you missed is really unimportant. You need to memorize all definitions and most of the experiments mentioned it the chapter (you might benefit from creating a Rolodeck of experiments mentioned in the book) and using the website tests to prepare. Please note that sample tests provided on website can be perfect for killing any further interest in social psychology in probably 80% of students :-)

I would like to reiterate it again that the main weakness of the book is the author inability to distinguish between really important material and trivial or supplementary material as well as almost complete absence of connections between chapters. Actually chapters can be read in a random order. There are many descriptions of both good and petty/questionable experiments without authors distinguishing between a few critical, ground-braking experiments and regular mass of pseudo-psychological junk experiments.

Absence of CD with summaries and self-tests in inexcusable for a book with such a price, but the website is not bad (if you can find it ;-)

Typesetting of the book is weak and reflects authors complete absence of attention to structuring the material in a way that helps learners. The good thing is that definitions are put on the margins; the bad thing is that is some chapters (for example Ch 5) there just too many definitions. Typesetting of summaries is just horrible: huge solid blocks of text with few bold typeface word/sentences.

Although I am not a professional in the field, my impression is that for self-study there are better books, both more interesting and better organized. From a few that I browsed John Sabini's textbook looks like a better deal: more interesting contents with higher dose of relevant to student's life staff. Douglas T. Kenrick textbook contains CD and looks better structured.

Recommended Books

Society and Personality- The Interactionist Approach to Social Psychology (Social Science Classics Series)

by Tamotsu Shibutani

This is a classic book that introduced social psychology to Russian readers many years ago. I think that it is still very useful for understanding basic concepts of social psychology.

Improvised News A Sociological Study of Rumor Books Tamotsu Shibutani

by Tamotsu Shibutani (Author)

The Social Psychology of Organizations

Daniel Katz, Robert L. Kahn / Paperback / Published 1978
Our Price: $109.35
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Tamotsu Shibutani Obit
(1920-2004)

Tamotsu Shibutani Obit

On August 8, 2004, Tamotsu (Tom) Shibutani died quietly in his sleep from heart failure at age 83. Tom wrote several very influential books and his contributions to sociology are immeasurable. Although his intellect was impressive, he was a humble man, giving unstintingly to others while assiduously avoiding the limelight. We have lost one of sociology's stellar contributors.

Tom was born in Stockton, California, in 1920, as the only child of two first-generation Japanese immigrants. For many, the American Dream is for children of immigrants to take advantage of a free public education and reach positions of respectability, and Tom did. He entered Stockton Junior College at age 18, where he was deeply impressed with John Dewey's work, and he became a pragmatist for the rest of his life. At the age of 20, Tom transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, where he further broadened his intellectual horizons. As Tom finished his undergraduate degree, W.I. Thomas and Dorothy Thomas (his mentors) encouraged him to enter graduate school at the University of Chicago, where he found Louis Wirth's courses to be especially impressive, along with courses from Everett Hughes, Herbert Blumer, and others.

During World War II, Tom spent two years in the Army, and then continued his education at Chicago on the GI Bill. (Later we wrote The Derelicts of Company K [1978] to reveal the absurdities he experienced during the war.) He earned his Ph.D. in 1948 and was given an instructorship at the University of Chicago. In 1951, Tom moved to the University of California at Berkeley and began to synthesize many of the ideas he had been developing for years. His famous first book, Society and Personality (1961) became a major success and was translated into Russian and Spanish. The book presents a conceptual scheme developed from the work of Dewey, Mead, and the Chicago School.

In 1961, Tom came to the University of California at Santa Barbara and began working with Kian M. Kwan on ethnic relationships. Together they published Ethnic Stratification in 1965, presenting a theory based on data drawn from around the world, covering 5000 years of history. Extensive data support their conclusion that most ethnic groups that initially experience hostility eventually learn to live with each other over time.

Tom's next book, Improvised News: A Sociological Study of Rumor (1966), demonstrated that rumors are not merely the result of faulty communication. In ambiguous situations, people often respond like pragmatic problem-solvers, pooling their intellectual resources-which include accurate data, guesses, beliefs, speculation-constructing consensus from whatever sources that are available. Since much of life is filled with ambiguity, this book is of much greater importance than is suggested by describing it as a study of rumor. Many of the most crucial personal, group, governmental and international decisions have to be made with inexact information. The increasingly rapid pace of social and environmental change necessitates increasingly rapid decision making amidst a flood of information, making the study of collective information processing in ambiguous situations critical.

Social Processes (1986) reflects the sophistication of a maturing scholar in synthesizing macro and micro theoretical perspectives. This book blends Tom's expertise in social psychology with observations about whole social systems to generate empirically testable propositions for solving many problems of current social interest.

In 1984 Tom was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 1986 he was honored with the George Herbert Mead Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

Tom loved grappling with ideas and writing, saying of his own work: "The pragmatic search for answers to questions is not always an orderly process. Side projects have frequently intruded that disrupted current projects. Some of these looked like they could be handled in several months or a year; but took five or ten or fifteen years to complete." This is why Tom has a succession of different books on disparate subjects and different areas of specialization. When asked why he has written few articles, he replied: "The books say it all."

Tom is survived by his wife, Sandra, along with countless friends, colleagues and former students. He is greatly missed for his wise and caring ways, which leave wonderful memories for all of us who knew him.

Random Findings

Organizational Behavior (10th Edition) Books Stephen P. Robbins

Organizational Behaviour Books David A. Kolb,Joyce Sautters Osland,Irwin M. Rubin

Well-grounded OB course basics, April 2, 2003
Reviewer: Peter Lorenzi (Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
"The organizational behavior reader" contains twenty chapters, each with two or three readings by recognized academic experts, usually adapted from the original source, e.g., Harvard Business Review. Chapters begin with the psychological contract (1), theories of managing people (2), individual and organizational learning (3), individual and organizational motivation (4), ethics and values (5), personal growth and work stress (6), and later topics include managing diversity (12), leadership (13), decision making (15), performance appraisal (18), and managing change (20). The pantheon of authors features experts such as Henry Mintzberg, Jay Conger, Denise Rousseau, Ed Lawler, Peter Senge, Cary Cooper, Deborah Tannen, Geert Hofstede, Hank Sims, Victor Vroom, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Ray Miles, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter. There are numerous charts, diagrams, graphs and models. Anecdotes and examples are plentiful. Self-assessments are rare. Few of the readings offer empirical data; the emphasis is on mental models, images, and concepts.

Professors of organizational behavior, looking for readings rather than integrated text, exercises, and cases, as well as a less expensive alternative to traditional college textbooks, will find this book appealing. These authors are, in general, engaging and highly readable. Chapters can be assigned in an order or avoided altogether to please the teacher's preferences. The breadth of topics, the currency of the treatments, and the expertise of the authors provide a solid foundation for the primary college OB course. Graduate students in need of less text structure and faculty in need of less ancillary materials will find the most benefit.

The book is rooted in social psychology and emphasizes perception, learning, thinking, images and personality, e.g., interpersonal communication, attribution, creativity. There is less on the `behavior' side of organizational behavior. Several authors use the device of posing `myths' to contrast with the author's learned, alternative state (`fact'), and sometimes the myths read more like `conventional wisdom' or the author's own attempt to make his or her point more vivid by presenting a myth that exists only in the minds of a few people. For business school students, this reader is more about organizations and people than about business. Business faculty and courses adopting this book will likely want and need to provide a management context.

Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow by Craig E. Johnson
  • The Quest For Justice on The Job: Essays and Experiments by Jerald Greenberg
  • Work And Organizational Psychology by J. Maria Peiro on page 207
  • Organizational Politics, Justice, and Support: Managing the Social Climate of the Workplace by Russell S. Cropanzano

    Organizational Behaviour (Dryden Press series in management) Books Robert P. Vecchio

    Management of Organizational Behaviour Books Paul Hersey,Kenneth H. Blanchard



  • Etc

    Society

    Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

    Quotes

    War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

    Bulletin:

    Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

    History:

    Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

    Classic books:

    The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

    Most popular humor pages:

    Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

    The Last but not Least


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    Last modified: March 03, 2018