“Work smarter, not harder”
This is a fairly uncontroversial mantra, yet society has decided to collectively ignore it. 80% percent of us our wasting our lives in meaningless jobs, and nobody has stopped to question
“Hold on, do we really need to be working on yet another dog food dropshipping subscription service?”
“Should we really be plastering every inch of the earth with real estate agent advertisements?”
“Should we really be injecting every website with “tracking cookies” to stalk users’ every move online and feed them penis-enlargement ads?”
“Do we really all need to be commuting every day on these jam-packed highways/subways to our cubicles every day, wasting disturbing amounts of time and burning fossil fuels only to spend the entire day staring at a computer when this brand new thing called the internet now exists and enables us to do the same thing from home in our boxers?”
Is anybody stopping to think about the actual value of anything we’re doing?
There are two ways to look at the meaning of one’s work:
- Macro – What is the value of your job?
- Micro – How effectively do you spend your time at your job?
I’d estimate that on a macro level, only 5% of jobs are actually fundamentally useful to humanity. These jobs include growing food, building shelter, maintaining our electric grid, ensuring clean water is coming through our pipes, taking out the garbage, curing sick people, fighting forest fires, and working on the fundamentally important problems facing humanity – things like cancer research, renewable energy, and ending poverty.
The other 95% are literally wasting their lives. The world doesn’t need another advertising marketing consultancy, hedge fund manager, corporate lawyer, plastic surgeon, “digital nomad” dropshipping Chinese tupperware, or digital advertising exchange.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people choosing to spend their time making terrible art and selling them for $20,000/piece to bored rich people. People can spend their time however they want, as long as it doesn’t infringe on my life I couldn’t care less.
But that’s not how our labor market works. Only the 1% who are born into wealth get to work on what they want. The rest of us have to sell ourselves into part-time slavery to this 1% and work on whatever they deem important to us. If we don’t follow their rules or are simply no longer needed, we’re disposed of like garbage, and now have to desperately beg another rich person to be our patron.
So essentially, 95% of us are not only working meaningless bullshit jobs, but we’re working against our will. We are like the African American slaves, except instead of picking cotton, we’re dropshipping penis-enlargement pills (and have better work/life balance).
Why is nobody with any power to change things talking about this? I have never heard a single politician talk about this. I commend the former Yale anthropology professor David Graeber for coining the term bullshit jobs and writing a book of the same name. But we’re going to need more than that if we want to see some meaningful change.
This can not be fixed by tinkering with regulations and hoping that the private sector will become more altruistic. The private sector exists to serve rich people and nothing else.
The government could create better jobs, but this is contingent on the government 1. being competent 2. knowing what’s best for every single citizen. I’m in favor of the government doing more to invest in better jobs, especially when it comes to science R&D, but the government will never be able to provide a meaningful job for every single individual.
Thus we will need to implement something like a Universal Basic Income in order to provide a basic safety net for every individual, giving everyone the freedom to pursue the work that they desire. Sounds obvious, but only one presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, is talking about it.
I haven’t even gotten to the inefficiency of jobs themselves, especially the “9-5 jobs” where employers mandate their employees be there every day from certain times even when it’s completely unnecessary (basically anything that isn’t live customer support). Anybody who’s had a 9-5 job knows that very little time spent in the office is spent doing actual work.
We can improve things via regulation, but ultimately so long as everyone is dependent on their wages to make a living, employers will always have the upper hand. Employers make the rules, and it’s not easy to just “walk away” when you’re dependent on your paycheck and employers look down on candidates who’re unemployed and/or “job-hop”.
Thus the only way to truly improve employee autonomy and level the playing field is via removing their dependence on their paycheck, such as via a Universal Basic Income .
It blows my mind that most of us literally waste our lives working on meaningless bullsh!t, but nobody aside from Andrew Yang with any clout is doing anything to fix things. People are just accepting this bullsh!t as though it’s not a human-made problem, as if we’re not destroying our environment, as if people aren’t depressed over this meaningless indentured servitude and literally killing themselves over it, as if we can’t fix it.
People need to wake up to this madness and start voting in politicians who are fighting for solutions to fixing this. The longer we wait, the more lives that are unnecessarily lost and wasted. This is a human-made problem, let’s fix it.