Memos for book: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

4.5 2
Authors:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
ISBN-10: 150114331X
ISBN-13: 978-1501143311
Pages: 368
Book club: Thiel's list Book club: The art of work & career Book club: Future & trends Book club: The future of work
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
Your typical job interview at Gluttco company, the world's leading glutt producer (from movie Postal):
Mindstrim.com
at 8am on 8/26/2018

Your typical job interview at Gluttco company, the world's leading glutt producer smiley (from movie Postal):

 

Billionaire Richard Branson thinks America should give out free money
Mindstrim.com
at 4pm on 7/3/2018

It's easy to talk about public money collected via taxes, however speaking of private wealth on the other side - is Richard Branson ready to establish 2-day work week for his employees, with the pay unchanged? It's about time to show the example to other businesses, of how to adjust the economy to the realities of automation and less work time required. I'm not holding my breath though ... frown

 

Graeber suggests in the book that the industrial assets such as factories are the results of contribution…
Mindstrim.com
at 10pm on 6/24/2018

Graeber suggests in the book that the industrial assets such as factories are the results of contribution of all people and their ownership must be shared now by the entire population ... I guess he is seeing Universal Basic Income as the primary instrument of such shared ownership (and wealth re-distribution). However with such notion of common ownership behind UBI it’s even less possible in my view.

The author mentions one of his respondents who wrote that he got most of the meaning in his life from his…
Mindstrim.com
at 8pm on 6/28/2018

The author mentions one of his respondents who wrote that he got most of the meaning in his life from his job ... This led me to think about where I derive the meaning from ... Definitely not only from job. Job is a process after all, I think the meaning could be rather attributed to the results of it.

But the issue is that many people may not see direct results of what they do at work, so they attribute the meaning to the job itself. And if they are offered 2-3-day work week, they might feel like they would be losing the meaning in their life.

I heard this argument from other sources too that people would get depressed when not busy with work most of their life. I doubt that, at least less people would get depressed from getting more personal time than are depressed now from the necessity to spend most of their lives at work which is also rarely truly enjoyable.

Can Universal Basic Income (UBI) work? The author proposes UBI as a flagship of the transformation to a…
Mindstrim.com
at 9pm on 6/14/2018

Can Universal Basic Income (UBI) work? The author proposes UBI as a flagship of the transformation to a better society and life. He thinks UBI has more potential for work-related activism than, for example a shorter work week.

From my perspective, UBI's net value is not that certain. Here is what I think of UBI's pros & cons:

Pros:

  • It can reduce stress at work and make managerial power less abusive at work places (UBI can become an analog of the safe word "orange" in BDSM - as per the author's comparison smiley)
  • It can reduce tensions in society among various groups of population

Cons:

  • It will plant a potentially huge conflict around free-rider problem. The author says that workaholics will compensate for slackers. I doubt that those who would choose to work would be comfortable about this notion. And what would be the ratio of working people : slackers? 8:2 or 2:8 would make a big difference in the perception of UBI.
  • It will fuel all sorts of parasitism across the society and can make the existing problem of unproductive migration even worse:

Once it’s known that a place—whether city, region or nation—guarantees everyone an income, it will become a magnet for immigration. While residency restrictions can and will be imposed, those are only temporary—and may be subject to manipulation.

  • A lot of people would risk losing any skills for obtaining livelihood (beyond just receiving and spending UBI) as they would become one or another sort of potentially multi-generational "couch potatoes".

The successful realization of UBI would also depend on the factors such as:

  • The amount of UBI. The author suggests the same amount to be paid to everyone residing in a country. However, it can be difficult to find consensus about what this amount needs to be. 
  • Tax implications. How would the tax system need to be modified for the change? If UBI would entail higher taxation of people who choose to work, it won't be considered as fair. The author implies that by their current nature, the money for UBI can be just printed by a government or central bank, if so this mechanism has to be carefully elaborated. It's not that simple just to "print money" except if a nation is fully self-sufficient with most of required resources.

I believe everyone understands by now that the current system has exhausted itself and has to change, and the author provided a great analysis of the current wasteful economic, social and political mechanics in his book.

However, the author models the vision of the new system after himself with his solid intellectual capability and enough self-discipline to do meaningful things such as writing his books, unfortunately human nature may be not that encouraging at a wider scale.

This whole thing can actually be simulated with a computer system or in real life for a sample of population. The initial experiments of this sort don't seem to be successful, for example: Finland’s universal basic income experiment didn’t work out well.

Overproduction of pretty much everything is a big matter as the author noticed. I wouldn't immediately call…
Mindstrim.com
at 6pm on 6/4/2018

Overproduction of pretty much everything is a big matter as the author noticed. I wouldn't immediately call this an issue as abundance is generally not a bad thing but probably in different circumstances. The overproduction how it's currently being run is causing creation of more bullshit jobs (such as in sales & marketing) to push excess and often useless goods and services to consumers.

It's also causing inflation of financial debt industry and propelling creation of bullshit jobs there as well, to "empower" consumers with unnecessary debt to buy the oversupply.

It's obvious that the economy of perpetual growth is no longer working and causing destructive overproduction.

This guy rocks! He's gone to the bottom of bullshitization of the economy and showed that the finance…
Mindstrim.com
at 11pm on 6/1/2018

This guy rocks! He's gone to the bottom of bullshitization of the economy and showed that the finance industry has primarily "sourced" the proliferation of bullshit jobs at such an insane scale. 

As he describes, the finance industry creates debt and then moves it around in elaborate schemes extracting money with each transaction. A part of this extracted value is then distributed through a feudal type of corporate hierarchy, based on political rather than economical considerations. He is saying that corporations now earn more money on this than on real production as most of them have a finance arm.

So now, based on his research, a big part (at least about 50%) of corporate job places are a part of the classic medieval feudalism, in corporate clothes. The author concludes that this is no longer a capitalism, and that this model is a dead end for humanity and needs to change. He suggests that everyone can work for fewer hours now while doing more meaningful job and have more of free time as a result of the change that is long overdue.

Is management a bullshit job?
Mindstrim.com
at 9pm on 6/3/2018

I think the author of this book might be oversimplifying few things here and there. The topic is great and interesting and may seem complex, so oversimplification might serve the purpose of making the point.

On one occasion the author cites couple emails sent to him by some employees who claim that they can do their job without supervision, implying that their management is useless. I can tell you from my managerial experience ... if something (especial if it's a more complex thing) is not managed, it will most likely fail.

Unfortunately, things can rarely work on "auto-pilot" in teams. Even in Agile or Scrum methodology (praised for high effectiveness) that prescribes all team members to operate at essentially the same level, there is still solid oversight from Scrum Master and Product Owner over the team's activities and outcomes.

Even Google once tried (at its dawn) to eliminate managerial levels and this approach failed pretty fast and they had to restore management roles back.

I can agree though that a big part of management work is often uselessly filled with bureaucracy and political shenanigans, with not just zero but negative value. And some management jobs can be redundant or unnecessary.

The book is pretty good as it opens up (or rather continues) the conversation on the important topic of the effectiveness of our society in its current form, and the author provides quite comprehensive analysis of the issue and its historical roots.

Towards 2-day work week and better fulfillment
Mindstrim.com
at 11pm on 5/23/2018

Being under impression from reading this book about bullshit jobs ... maybe it's a long shot ... nevertheless, I would propose to transform the economic model to reduce the volume of bullshit jobs and get more time released for creativity and progress. There are many books that are condemning the current situation, like Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, but no wholesome solution and no transition path to a better model are proposed. Should such solution necessarily come out of some "deep learning" think tank?