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Does this government know what it wants? Just last week it was "get back to work" (which in reality meant "get back to the office", probably because the real estate funds were putting pressure on them), now I read:
"Mr Hancock, who has spoken to the mayor this weekend, told Times Radio he would not rule out the possibility that Londoners could be told this week to avoid the commute and get back to working from home."

In August we were told "Eat out to help out", now there's talk of reducing pub & restaurant hours and even a "circuit breaker" (some kind of mini lockdown) or in worst case a proper lockdown as the last resort.

And now you tell people "follow the rules"? They did. They went out, just like you wanted them to.

I also keep hearing (from certain circles) what a genius Dominic Cummings is and that everything is planned and that he is hiring maverick super forecasters and more. So why did he and his maverick super forecasters not forecast what's happening now? Anyone with half a brain could see that with opening up infection rates would go up.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54221953

#Covid19 #Coronavirus #UK #politics #government #health #followtherules
 

Sadly accurate state of UK negotiations with EU


#Brexit negotiations explained in the best possible way!

BJ's UK is the cluster fuck, just like the Trumpian US!

#Politics #Europe

 

Sadly accurate state of UK negotiations with EU


#Brexit negotiations explained in the best possible way!

BJ's UK is the cluster fuck, just like the Trumpian US!

#Politics #Europe

 
#politics #science #antropology #work #rant #bullshit-jobs

In memory of David Graeber (RIP)

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant (by David Graeber)


In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.

It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the '60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done—at least, there's only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: ‘who are you to say what jobs are really “necessary”? What's necessary anyway? You're an anthropology professor, what's the “need” for that?’ (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I'd heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he'd lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, ‘taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.’ Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There's a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met a corporate lawyer who didn't think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely (one or t'other?) Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.

It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the '60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done—at least, there's only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: ‘who are you to say what jobs are really “necessary”? What's necessary anyway? You're an anthropology professor, what's the “need” for that?’ (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I'd heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he'd lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, ‘taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.’ Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There's a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met a corporate lawyer who didn't think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely (one or t'other?) Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one's job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one's work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it's obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It's not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It's even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It's as if they are being told ‘but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?’

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it's hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3–4 hour days.
 
#politics #science #antropology #work #rant #bullshit-jobs

In memory of David Graeber (RIP)

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant (by David Graeber)


In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.

It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the '60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done—at least, there's only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: ‘who are you to say what jobs are really “necessary”? What's necessary anyway? You're an anthropology professor, what's the “need” for that?’ (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I'd heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he'd lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, ‘taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.’ Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There's a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met a corporate lawyer who didn't think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely (one or t'other?) Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.

It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the '60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done—at least, there's only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: ‘who are you to say what jobs are really “necessary”? What's necessary anyway? You're an anthropology professor, what's the “need” for that?’ (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I'd heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he'd lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, ‘taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.’ Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There's a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met a corporate lawyer who didn't think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely (one or t'other?) Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one's job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one's work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it's obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It's not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It's even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It's as if they are being told ‘but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?’

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it's hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3–4 hour days.
 
A good read about why all the "get back to work" PR and propaganda by the government (and some interested companies) isn't about getting people back to work (the vast majority of those they are targeting either never stopped working or is already working again), but to get people back into the offices and cities. Because the office/business property markets/values are struggling, having a big impact on Tory donors and bankers wallets. And because it means a shift of power away from London.

The commuters are revolting

#politics #UK #London #BorisJohnson #work #office #property #realestate
The commuters are revolting
 
Some very good points in this Why the likes of Trump and Johnson are in power. And have good chances to stay in power, incl Trump despite the lead Biden currently holds.
Waiting for the mass of lies, absurdities and inconstancies to somehow self-implode, and thereby eject Trump (or Johnson), is not going to work.
“Law & Order!” and law and order

#UK #US #politics #election #lawandorder #Trump #Johnson #election #elections
“Law & Order!” and law and order
 
This is genius:

Build A Wall In The English Channel

#wall #channel #uk #politics #gofundme
 
Good old Nigel Farage will be fuming. And then blame it all on the inflexible EU, as usual.
Immigration barrister Colin Yeo, author of Welcome To Britain: Fixing Our Broken Immigration System, said: “The Royal Navy cannot simply enter French waters without an agreement to return migrants crossing the Channel.

“The French authorities would need to agree to accept any returns and because of the variety of hard Brexit sought by the UK government, the current returns arrangement, called the Dublin regulation, is ending on 31 December 2020, with no sign of any replacement being negotiated. It will become harder to return migrants to France in 2021, not easier.”
UK plan to use navy to stop migrant crossings is unlawful, lawyers warn

#immigration #NigelFarage #Brexit #UK #politics #EU #France
 

#Doctors to prescribe #BikeRides to tackle #UK #obesity crisis | #Politics | The Guardian


Why so late? This should have been done decades ago.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jul/26/doctors-to-prescribe-bike-rides-to-tackle-uk-obesity-crisis-amid-coronavirus-risk

#Bike #Biking #Cycle #Cycling #Bicycle
 
When the left side of the mouth says the opposite of the right side of the mouth. Or something like that. The irony of the internal single market in the UK vs the internal single market of the EU. One is good, the other is bad. Frictionless trade is good when in the UK, but not needed any more with the EU.

UK single market white paper: “irony so bitter it makes your eyes bleed”

#Brexit #UK #England #Scotland #singlemarket #frictionless #frictionlesstrade #trade #politics #irony
UK single market white paper: “irony so bitter it makes your eyes bleed”
 
Holy guacamole, this can't be true. Please someone tell me this isn't true.

'We've bought the wrong satellites': UK tech gamble baffles experts

#UK #politics #Brexit #GPS #Galileo #SatNav #wasteofmoney #stupidity
 
And what Starmer doesn't even mention is that a lot of people you'd never expect (like the Chaos Computer Club, all kind of privacy advocates, various IT experts, all the people who normally wouldn't touch a government app with a barge pole) are all pretty much praising the app, saying it does most things right (within the technical constraints) and recommend to download it

https://twitter.com/Independent/status/1275787007730409472

#Coronavirus #Covid19 #health #UK #Germany #IT #app #politics #BorisJohnson #KeirStarmer
 
I think this paragraph fits the UK just as well:
In this they exemplified perhaps the signature characteristic of American politicians: blame avoidance. When faced with a problem, most top politicians in both parties think first about how they can shift blame to others or appear the victim of circumstance. Halting the epidemic in its early stages would have required a lot of aggressive action before the need for it was clear — in a word, leadership. Politicians would have had to exercise power in a way that upset people, and carefully communicate why they were doing so. Instead they largely let events do their work for them — once outbreaks were underway and sports seasons were being canceled, they could impose lockdowns without risking a backlash. That cowardice killed tens of thousands of people.
Replace "American" with "British" and in particular "English" and you could publish it in a British paper/magazine.

The world is putting America in quarantine

#politics #leadership #UK #USA
 
Are these people for real? £1M to "rebrand" a plane? A plane that hardly anyone sees or cares about? While they need a footballer to convince them that supporting school meals for poor children might be the right thing to do during a pandemic where many of their parents are struggling financially?

PM's plane to be rebranded at cost of £900,000

#UK #politics #branding #wasteofmoney #redwhiteandblue #scandal #schoollunches
 
#politics

(https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/06/05/protests-washington-dc-federal-agents-law-enforcement-302551)
 
What are all of the relevant hashtags for the current situation? I know obviously stuff like #BLM and #Politics, but I'd like to have a semi-comprehensive list, as a reference.
 
What are all of the relevant hashtags for the current situation? I know obviously stuff like #BLM and #Politics, but I'd like to have a semi-comprehensive list, as a reference.
 
I don't know, I'm not sure it has just yet. The tabloids and the right wind press of Murdoch and Co will find ways to blame the failures on others and explain some of it away with "different circumstances" (I've already seen some excuses using population density, which they can then also nicely link to those ghastly immigrants). Then there's all the patriotic VE Day stuff coming up, where I've seen plenty support with "let's celebrate VE Day social distancing style in our front gardens" already. Unless Starmer really hits the ground running and can really do some damage to the Tories I fear there's still quite some steam left in Johnson and his crew.

The British charlatan style has been sent packing by too much reality

#Brexit #Coronavirus #Covid19 #virus #BorisJohnson #populist #politics #health #Conservatives
 

A virus removes the veil of bourgeois democracy


Here you will find the English version




Anm.: Während sich hier sowohl in diesem #Forum wie auch außerhalb die #Wohlstandslinke in ihren Home-Office zurückzieht und die "#Volksgemeinschaft" beschwört in dem sie Masken näht und zu deren Tragen auffordert oder aber Sprüche ihrer Stars nachäfft, "stay home", geht der #Kampf in anderen sozialen #Klassen unvermittelt weiter.

Pandemie Kriegstagebücher – Der vorweggenommene Aufstand


Quelle: https://non.copyriot.com/pandemie-kriegstagebuecher-der-vorweggenommene-aufstand/
von Sebastian Lotzer
Seit fünf Abenden knallt es in den Vororten Frankreichs. Trotz oder gerade wegen Ausnahmezustand und Ausgangssperre. Bullen werden in Hinterhalte gelockt, Autos und Rathäuser werden in Brand gesteckt. Fünf tote Menschen seit der Ausrufung des Ausnahmezustandes im Zusammenhang mit Polizeiaktionen zur Durchsetzung der Ausgangssperre. Etliche Verletzte, viele davon schwer

Von Sibirien über den afrikanischen Kontinent bis nach Nord- und Lateinamerika brennen die Knäste. Tag für Tag. Auch hier in Europa, in Italien, Frankreich,… Nacht für Nacht. Hungerrevolten in Afrika, dem indischen Subkontinent, in Kolumbien, Argentinien, Venezuela,…

Diejenigen, die die #Transformation in einen weltweiten #Pandemie #Faschismus unmittelbar und nicht in der Abstraktion einer gelehrten Wohlstandslinken erfahren, haben den Kampf schon lange aufgenommen.

Seit Jahrzehnten sind hier Texte und Analysen über die “ #Faschisierung ” erschienen. Und nun, wo alle Theorie grau wird angesichts der realen Entwicklung, kein Wort, keine realen Widerstandshandlungen, von einigen wenigen nächtlichen Exkursionen abgesehen. Sowie hilflosen symbolischen Handlungen, die zwar moralisch aller Ehren wert seien, aber eben auch nicht mehr. Nur Unterordnung und #Angst. Nein, Angst mag hier die falsche Begrifflichkeit sein. Denn gegen Angst an und für sich ist nichts einzuwenden. Sie gehört zu uns, wie die Liebe und der Hass. Man müsste lieber von feiger #Bequemlichkeit sprechen und einer neurotisch narzisstischen Verortung in der Welt, die sich als #Altruismus tarnt.So der so. Der Bruch mit einem Großteil “der Linken” war schon lange überfällig, nach der derzeitigen Unterwerfung, die nicht von ungefähr an jene von 77 erinnert, steht sie endlich ganz oben auf der Tagesordnung Derjenigen, die noch ein ernstes Interesse an einer aufständischen Umwälzung haben. Denn auch Jene gibt es, auch wenn sie minoritär innerhalb der Mahlbewegung der diversen pseudorevolutionären Grüppchen und Klüngel sind, die nur darauf warten, ihr Tagesgeschäft wieder aufnehmen zu können, als sei nicht geschehen.

Es folgt eine Übersetzung eines Textes von Gianfranco Sanguinetti


Quell: https://non.copyriot.com/pandemie-kriegstagebuecher-der-vorweggenommene-aufstand/
Die Konversion der westlichen repräsentativen Demokratien zu einer völlig neuen Form des Despotismus hat durch den Virus die juristischen Züge der höheren Gewalt angenommen

Und so ist der neue Virus gleichzeitig der Katalysator des Ereignisses und die Ablenkung der Massen durch Angst

Später, von Giuseppe Conte bis Orban, von Johnson bis Trump (11) usw., begriffen all diese Politiker – so rüpelhaft sie auch sein mochten – schnell, dass der Virus ihnen erlaubte, mit den alten Verfassungen, Regeln und Gesetzen zu tun, was ihnen gefiel. Der Zustand der Notwendigkeit würde alle Rechtswidrigkeiten verzeihen.

Übrigens bestätigt der konterrevolutionäre Ansatz, den der fälschlicherweise als “Krieg gegen das Virus” bezeichnete Krieg sofort und überall aufgegriffen hat, die Absicht, die den “humanitären” Operationen dieses Krieges zugrunde liegt, der nicht gegen das Virus, sondern gegen alle Regeln, Rechte, Garantien, Institutionen und Menschen der alten Welt geführt wird: Ich spreche hier von der Welt und den Institutionen, die seit der Französischen Revolution bestehen und die jetzt im Laufe einiger Monate vor unseren Augen verschwinden in einer Geschwindigkeit in der einst die SU verschwand.

Die Epidemie wird enden, aber nicht die #Maßnahmen, Möglichkeiten und #Folgen, die sie ausgelöst hat und die wir jetzt erleben. Wir gebären eine neue Welt im Schmerz.

Der #Neoliberalismus hat nichts mit den Klassenkämpfen von einst zu tun; er hat nicht einmal eine Erinnerung an sie; er glaubt, sie aus dem Wörterbuch gelöscht zu haben. Er hält sich für allmächtig, was nicht heißt, dass er den #Klassenkampf nicht fürchtet, denn er weiß genau, was er dem Volk zuzufügen gedenkt

Es ist offensichtlich, dass das Volk bald #Hunger leiden wird; es ist offensichtlich, dass die #Arbeitslosen zahlreich sein werden; es ist offensichtlich, dass die Menschen, die nach Vorschrift arbeiten (vier Millionen in Italien), keine #Unterstützung haben werden. Und diejenigen, die in prekären Arbeitsverhältnissen leben und nichts zu verlieren haben, werden anfangen zu kämpfen und Sabotage zu betreiben. Das erklärt, warum die Strategie der Reaktion auf die Pandemie vor allem eine Strategie der Aufstandsbekämpfung ist. Wir werden dies in Amerika mit aller Macht sehen.

**Dank des Virus erscheint die Zerbrechlichkeit unserer Welt jetzt am helllichten Tag. Das Spiel, das derzeit gespielt wird, ist unendlich viel gefährlicher als das Virus und wird noch viel mehr Tote fordern. Und doch fürchten unsere Zeitgenossen nur das Virus. **

Wenn eine einfache #Mikrobe genügt hat, um unsere Welt in den Gehorsam gegenüber dem widerlichsten Despotismus zu stürzen, bedeutet dies, dass unsere Welt bereits so reif für den #Despotismus war, dass eine einfache Mikrobe genügen würde.
#Frankreich #Italien #Deutschland #Linke #Repression #4IR #politics #Politik #violence #covis19 #corona #capitalism
Gianfranco Sanguinetti: A virus removes the veil of bourgeois democracy

Autonomies: Gianfranco Sanguinetti: A virus removes the veil of bourgeois democracy (Julius Gavroche)

 
I thought the Times/Sunday Times was a Johnson supporting paper and would be singing his praises and how he was a leader and took one for the team?

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster
Boris Johnson skipped five Cobra meetings on the virus, calls to order protective gear were ignored and scientists’ warnings fell on deaf ears. Failings in February may have cost thousands of lives


#Coronavirus #Covid19 #virus #UK #pandemic #failure #politics #BorisJohnson
 
This is a fascinating, excellent and scary thread about the "how hard can it be?" (hint: bloody hard, but you either don't understand or don't want to admit that it's hard) attitude in our political leadership.This isn't only about Coronavirus, it's about everything. It's about Brexit, Climate Change, Poverty and much much more. When Michael Gove famously said "people have had enough of experts" I feel he didn't really mean people, he meant politicians. And it worries me greatly about our future.

https://twitter.com/pmdfoster/status/1251434219139665920

#UK #politics #experts #Coronavirus #Covid19 #politics #Brexit #politicians #ventilators
 
Yes, it's not only the young breaking the rules/guidance, the older generation is just as bad.

Provost urges elderly to abide by the lockdown rules

I wouldn't be surprised if some when challenged bring up some war stories/arguments ("We survived the Blitz and won't let this virus get us down") as if you can just overcome a virus with some grit and determination. Also ignoring that plenty of people didn't survive the Blitz.

Remember hearing an interview with a few pensioners just before the full lockdown was announced and not going to the pub was just a recommendation. They just said, oh no, we'll still go to the pub/cafe, can't stop us in our way of life. Freedom!

#Coronavirus #Covid19 #virus #lockdown #UK #politics #pensioners #elderly
Provost urges elderly to abide by the lockdown rules
 
Kind of a bookmark for the next time I see some privileged middle class person from the comfort of their spacious home with a nice garden complaining about the people who dare to leave their homes to go to a park, saying, "just stay home, it's that simple".

Cramped living conditions may be accelerating UK spread of coronavirus

#Coronavirus #Covid19 #virus #stayathome #health #UK #politics
 

U.S. airlines asking for a massive bailout spent billions on buybacks - The Washington Post


#politics #US

U.S. airlines want a $50 billion bailout. They spent $45 billion buying back their stock.

What about communism now?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/06/bailout-coronavirus-airlines/
 

U.S. airlines asking for a massive bailout spent billions on buybacks - The Washington Post


#politics #US

U.S. airlines want a $50 billion bailout. They spent $45 billion buying back their stock.

What about communism now?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/06/bailout-coronavirus-airlines/
 
A more balanced view to the "stay at home" slogan brigade virtue signaling from their comfortable middle class homes with a garden:

Coronavirus: Closing parks and open spaces in lockdown should be 'last resort'

Plenty of people live in flats, often in cramped places, without access to a garden. They need to get out for some exercise and daylight. Closing public space forces them into even narrower spaces, making distancing even more difficult, making it counterproductive.

#Coronavirus #Covid19 #lockdown #parks #closure #politics
 
Indeed. It's getting ridiculous. Also, why do we need a one size fits all approach for the whole country? Give local councils and police the responsibility for this to make local decision and enforcement. My once daily exercise is a 4.5 mile fast walk along the canal, which takes me about an hour. On average I meet about 4-6 people during that walk. Or in other words, less than 1.5 per mile. And virtually all of them are making an effort to keep as much distance as possible, if necessary stepping off the path. The odd exception gets an angry stare which usually makes them move. So why shouldn't I be allowed to do that because a handful of people in a park in London go sunbathing?

https://twitter.com/crimlawuk/status/1246741990106161157

#UK #Coronavirus #Covid19 #exercise #politics
 
Oh dear, that article didn't age well, not at all. Similar to quite a few of his Brexit articles (eg claiming that the UK wouldn't leave the single market).

Daniel Hannan: Alarmism, doom-mongering, panic – and the coronavirus. We are nowhere near a 1919-style catastrophe.

As of writing this we are at over 4,000 deaths. Considering the current growth rate of deaths I expect we're going to hit the 10,000 mark in about a week (ie around 12/Apr) and there's a good chance we're going to hit 15,000 around Easter.

And that's despite the (belated) measures the government has taken (which are still being ignored by a sizeable minority). If they hadn't taken those measures I expect the numbers would have been a multiple of the current numbers. In just a few weeks. Not the whole winter season the deniers so often like to use to compare the Coronavirus to the Flu deaths we have every winter.

PS: in one of his later articles, as you would expect, he's arguing we need to lift the restrictions by Easter.

#UK #Coronavirus #Covid19 #Corona #virus #politics #Brexit
Daniel Hannan: Alarmism, doom-mongering, panic – and the coronavirus. We are nowhere near a 1919-style catastrophe.
 
This seems to be a quite good calm and rational explanation of where we are at the moment:



#coronavirus #covid19 #health #politics #testing
 
I think this is an excellent description of the situation we're in right now (you might have to expand, click on the tweet or something to get the original and the reply):

https://twitter.com/MollyMully/status/1238270925235261442

#coronavirus #covid19 #pandemic #politics #health #reaction #overreaction
 
Well, well, seems the Brexit dividend didn't last very long (and I wonder what good old Nigel says now, as this tweet hasn't aged well)

Coronavirus: US to extend travel ban to UK and Ireland

#coronavirus #covid19 #Brexit #UK #EU #USA #politics #travelban
 
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