The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Should you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle or from the end?
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bryan
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by bryan » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:51 am

https://elaineou.com/2018/07/09/univers ... shit-jobs/
I wasn’t a huge fan of David Graeber’s Debt, but just had to pick up Bullshit Jobs because it’s always refreshing to read an author writing from firsthand experience.
A great blog I would recommend following, by the way (heavy on the bitcoin, but plenty of other stuff).

shade-tree
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by shade-tree » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:29 pm

@clarice yes, very good choice of topic, this does touch a nerve!

The industry I work in is highly regulated and has a lot of safety and education requirements (safety is a good thing!). But sadly, I see that the education is mainly box-checking and not really meaningful, so it doesn't have the impact it could. Also, we are dealing with a lot of duct-taping in my division because leadership opted out of purchasing a useful feature (to save money) that would save work, so now you have well-compensated people with Masters' degrees wasting a lot of time creating parallel tracking systems and doing data entry to compensate for not having it in our training system. So where's the savings now, eh?

But of course, my example is more peering too deep into the weeds. The rise of bullshit jobs is a symptom of our collective mindset toward mindless productivity. Graeber has a great couple of sentences later in his book that asks something like, "What if we all were to just stop doing Capitalism?" In other words, what if most of us just stopped participating in these systems? Clearly a lot of you ERE people who have dropped out of "cubicle work" have already done that, so it's hopeful to me that change could happen.

@Augustus you mention small companies being more efficient. That's true, but I would also propose that there are small companies that are 100% bullshit from top to bottom. I realize that bullshit is a judgement call, so for example, I don't smoke, but some people find value in the roll-your own tobacco shop next door, and they seems to be having fun, so maybe they're fulfilling an important need? But in the realm of 100% bullshit I'm thinking of companies that add a profit-making middle layer between the consumer and product, MLMs or for example these curation companies that will assemble clothing in your size, send 10 things to your house in a fancy box to try on and then you keep what you want and send what you don't want back. This makes you buy more of the product and takes a fee off the top too!
Graber says the financial industry has a lot of not-strictly necessary extra layers too. When I compare fees ranging from .08% to 2% on the fund options of my 401K, I can see that this is too true.

prognastat
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by prognastat » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:35 pm

shade-tree wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:29 pm
But of course, my example is more peering too deep into the weeds. The rise of bullshit jobs is a symptom of our collective mindset toward mindless productivity. Graeber has a great couple of sentences later in his book that asks something like, "What if we all were to just stop doing Capitalism?" In other words, what if most of us just stopped participating in these systems? Clearly a lot of you ERE people who have dropped out of "cubicle work" have already done that, so it's hopeful to me that change could happen.
I don't quite think we have stopped participating. We are just participating in a way that advantages us. If you have any money invested either in real estate or the stock market you are still participating in Capatalism. You are literally providing the capital.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:09 pm

prognastat wrote:I don't quite think we have stopped participating. We are just participating in a way that advantages us. If you have any money invested either in real estate or the stock market you are still participating in Capatalism. You are literally providing the capital.
True, but if you are also exhibiting a high degree of frugality, you are likely engaged in a high degree of home production and conservation of resources, both of which act somewhat in opposition to large scale capitalist production.

Augustus
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Augustus » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:27 pm

shade-tree wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:29 pm
@Augustus you mention small companies being more efficient. That's true, but I would also propose that there are small companies that are 100% bullshit from top to bottom. I realize that bullshit is a judgement call, so for example, I don't smoke, but some people find value in the roll-your own tobacco shop next door, and they seems to be having fun, so maybe they're fulfilling an important need? But in the realm of 100% bullshit I'm thinking of companies that add a profit-making middle layer between the consumer and product, MLMs or for example these curation companies that will assemble clothing in your size, send 10 things to your house in a fancy box to try on and then you keep what you want and send what you don't want back. This makes you buy more of the product and takes a fee off the top too!
If someone is willing to pay for it, it means it's not bull shit to the consumer otherwise they would not pay... If you're going to classify things people spend money on as bull shit, then it's not just bull shit jobs, we have an entire bull shit economy! Because I wont pay for most of that bull shit.

Clarice
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Clarice » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:32 pm

Augustus wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:27 pm
If someone is willing to pay for it, it means it's not bull shit to the consumer otherwise they would not pay... If you're going to classify things people spend money on as bull shit, then it's not just bull shit jobs, we have an entire bull shit economy! Because I wont pay for most of that bull shit.
@Augustus:

Actually, this train of thought is offensive to the bulls. :lol: Consider the chain: Jerome Powell pulls money out of his rear end. This money is sent to China. In return China sends back ceramic Halloween pumpkins, artificial flowers, and plastic American flags. In short order, these things become garbage and go back to China. Jerome Powell produces some more money to pay for the "recycling" of the garbage. Unlike bull's stuff these items can not be used as manure. :roll:

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Hobbes
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Hobbes » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:00 am

I gotta agree with Augustus here; if the consumers weren't getting some sort of reward\value (likely a short term emotional one in this case), they wouldn't pay for the stuff.
How are you defining bullshit here? I'm reading it as 'something which shouldn't happen at all,' or perhaps something that has no reason for existing. While I'd agree that endless buying consumer products isn't a rewarding long term strategy, it does at least have some short term value to the individual (I know I feel way too excited when I get a new computer toy, despite having no objectively good reason for getting a new toy most of the time)

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:55 am

+1 Clarice

Is it fair to say that if society wastes enough of its energy on bullshit work, buying bullshit things, that its long-term affects on society/civilization are deleterious?

If we burn an irrevocable hole in the ozone layer with excessive use of fossil fuels, is it right to say that the purchase of gas-guzzling SUVs is justified because that is what individual participants in the market wanted? Most of the individual participants are not taking the 50,000 foot view.

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Hobbes
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Hobbes » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:56 pm

Where bullshit = actions which provide some value in the short run, but discount the long term (along with long-term damages caused by such activities)?

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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by jacob » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:15 pm

@MI - Kinda depends on what your standard is.
Peter Thiel wrote: You have as much computing power in your iPhone as was available at the time of the Apollo missions. But what is it being used for? It’s being used to throw angry birds at pigs; it’s being used to send pictures of your cat to people halfway around the world; it’s being used to check in as the virtual mayor of a virtual nowhere while you’re riding a subway from the nineteenth century.
Is it deleterious to civilization that it focuses a lot (a lot!) of resources on developing the computing power that makes movies about spaceflight look real as opposed to dedicating those resources to making actual spaceflight real?

Civilization is a complex system and unfortunately complex systems are path dependent. Since we're where we are now ... we might be stuck in wasting resources on maximizing entertainment (I include bullshit jobs in this category) value for a good while.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: The Rise of Bullshit Jobs

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:54 pm

@JLF

Paraphrasing Saint Augustine: We Romans are getting ourselves a good laugh. We are laughing ourselves to death.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amusing ... s_to_Death

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