David Graeber exploded on the scene of investigating our rigged society by sharing his recurrent experience he had with people whose paycheck-earning jobs contribute nothing of value to human society. An amazing realization in a capitalist world, where we would think efficiency and the creation of wealth were the top goals:
(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “5 Types of Bullsh*t Jobs with David Graeber”)
So, if so much valuable work has been taken over by machines, and so many jobs are nothing more than make-work, why are we still desperately hunting for jobs that often aren’t there? Why are we drowing in work and poverty at the same time? We should be swimming in prosperity and reducing our weekly work hours as machines are rapidly replacing us in the labor market and so much “work” being done is quite unnecessary. Why aren’t we? Why these bullshit jobs instead?
My answer: because we are stuck in a bad habit — the bad habit of an economy geared towards generating a flood of free money for the rich in order to maintain their status; an economy which does this by stealing from the poor in order to give to the rich; the bad habit of a political system that co-opts parties, politicians, and the entire government through bribes to serve the interests of the rich, keeping the economy rigged and rigging it ever more; the bad habit of considering this sick society of a thieving economy and corrupted government as the natural order of things and any healthy alternative a pipe dream.
All we have to do to change to a world of universal prosperity, universal financial security, and growing free time – as the machines take over ever more of our work – is to simply snap out of that idiotic notion, that absurd fixation, that our reverse-Robin-Hood system which ruins so many of our lives and which arose in the depths of history when nature’s scarcity had too few human solutions is natural and unavoidable in an age when science and technology has put an end to natural scarcity.
When you consider how much food we waste today, how many perfectly good electric appliances, pieces of furniture, cars, clothes, and so forth end up in the trash, and that the machines which are replacing us could easily rev up production, it should be obvious that scarcity today is man-made, not natural. Modern scarcity, felt as poverty, arises from the habit of stealing for the rich, a habit we need to simply change into a habit of producing (and distributing) prosperity for all.
All we have to do, is to switch from our current mindset of an elbow society to an ethical, cooperative society such as we got pretty close to during America’s Golden Age (the 1950’s-1970’s) and that our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in throughout most of humanity’s existence. Let’s do this, and let’s go all the way this time.
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5 thoughts on “Why Are We Wasting our Lives in a Flood of Bullshit Jobs?”
I can so relate to how useless it is to be a “Box Ticker” for the government!! What a worthless job. One day, a person asked one of our trainers what was the purpose of doing a certain function, since the function was going to be negated by the next round of workers and it was a waste of time and resources. His answer? “Don’t worry–it’s ‘job security’ so just do it anyway.” Aaagghh!!
When I worked as a teacher in public schools, the ancillary tasks teachers were given easily took up the time of a half-time job and were completely useless. Things like filling out endless forms about special education students, knowing full well that none of the resulting support recommendations would ever materialize. All that could be done for those students was to give them extra time to finish their exams and giving them preferred seating. The daily schedule and lack of personnel allowed for nothing else. This could have been accomplished just as well without all that time consuming paperwork and likewise time consuming meetings.
Other bullsh*t was stuff related to measuring learning progress, not only of students but us teachers, as well (you’re always being evaluated as a teacher, and it has risen to such a laborious level that eventually they had us evaluate ourselves). The results of the first (student progress) could easily be predicted, and the measurement only confirmed it. What’s the benefit of that? The latter process we were well advised to game for good outcomes, so as to not additionally endanger our jobs which, for newly joined faculty, are always highly precarious anyway. The only “benefit” of the whole charade is to justify the employment of education “reformers” and other managerial types. It’s make-work imposed on a nation of hard-working teachers to create cozy, useless jobs marked by good pay and privilege for a few hacks and the occasional education-themed politician. Sick!
I mention this with an eye on David Graeber’s inclusion of teachers in the useful job category. Well, some of the job is useful; but a lot of it nowadays is just a waste of time — a lot of time that’s then missing from the things you’d like to do for the students. No wonder that in my first year I was working 120 hours a week!
Modern working life is ever more becoming a farce as well as a rip-off.
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(I wonder if I should make an article out of this lengthy comment…)