Saturday, September 18, 2021

Books and Theories #1

 There are rituals or routines that shift like the seasons or maybe they shift with the seasons to be quite honest, things that i must adjust to and work with in order to get my time here at the typer... mainly because i feel like a bit more of a productive human being when i'm writing fucking non-sense... not that anyone really gets anything out of it other than myself but when faced with just how absurd existence is when one really sits and thinks on it the best thing to do is to find something that one can work at and practice and with any luck see improvement while providing some modicum of satisfaction and joy in the process. Hence why i do this... whatever this is... sometimes i'll even pull out the old paints and pretend like i know what i'm doing when i really know fuck-all about painting other than i'm really not very good at it... but i like it and i enjoy it and isn't that the fucking point? 

So as i've adjusted to the new rituals of the boyos returning to school, my new occupation as gig economy serf, some local distractions i'm not at liberty to discuss, the time at the Lounge has wavered a bit and i'm working it out, slowly, but i'm getting there. Mainly it has to do with mental discipline and being able to shut off all the shouting voices in my head competing for attention to do what the squares would call "meaningful work type things" and what i call fucking bullshit... and look at this segue... since lately i've been reading an interesting little tome by an anthropologist named David Graeber, a limey i believe, who caused a bit of a stir when he wrote an article on bullshit jobs and because of that stir followed it up with a book on the subject as well. Now i'll be honest when i say that much of what was in the book was already knocking in around my head but like any entertaining and thought-provoking book it got me to thinking about things... 

A recurring theme here at the Lounge is just how much of a loser our hero is in the eyes of what one might call Productive American Society (PAS). At a few days short of 51 i've managed to avoid a career in anything other than being a derelict and psychonaut and to be honest i'm perfectly okay with that though i understand that living in the bubble of the burbs i'm a bit of an anomaly, a man with no "real job", who is basically a houseboy and aforementioned gig serf, a man who spends most of his time thinking about the most inane of things and daydreaming while PAS would feel that my time could be better used thinking about how to make more money, consume more shit, work longer hours, all while buying into the mirage that this is really what living is... working like a fucking dog in order to buy a lot of shit i don't really need. Which brings me back to the book.

Now somehow i often find my days an endless list of chores and tasks, most of which go unpaid, which according to Graeber most likely means i actually am a productive member of this society regardless if i actually want to be... the theory being that usually the more meaningful the work, task, what not, the less one is paid for it if they are paid at all (example #1 would be teacher or stay at home parent) while the more meaningless the job (usually white collar, prime example being corporate lawyer) the more highly paid it is... think FIRE (financial, insurance, real estate) and since this isn't a book review i won't go into any great depth other than to say it's a highly entertaining and well written book that will spur thought and raise questions. 

In the last 60 or so years the concept of the UBI has cropped up and while the book touches on it just a bit the fact is it's an important concept in a world where the relative few hoard the wealth while the ones who actually do the work scrape to get by... what Graeber does point out is how there has been a whole subset of managers, the Managerial Class, who don't really do anything other than create fake problems or non-existent problems to solve while the whole point is to never really solve them and hopefully make more which will give the impression that they are terribly busy. The fact the Managerial Class is paid well is what helps insulate the money hoarding greedy pigs at the top of the food chain, meaning the 1% instill their values of self-importance into the managerial class to help keep the filthy lumpen-proles at bay. The whole crux is if you exhaust the workers with work, meaningful or not, they'll be too tired to think about how much they're getting the shaft. Which also of course raises the ugly specter of the Protestant work ethic.

To understand how ingrained into American culture this is i think back to the Tribe of Crackers who used to occupy the house next store, it was a point of pride to prattle on about how much they work and hustle into order to get those dollars! A prime example of the 1% instilling the narrative that if one is not working endless hours in order to consume more shit they are obviously worthless leeches sucking the system dry... which is funny because the system is set up as a hamster wheel to keep serfs like the Tribe of Crackers to busy or exhausted to say? pick up a book and educate themselves on the so-called Captains of Industry royally fucking them in the ass. It's a quite brilliant concept that goes back to feudalism and much of what we're experiencing today is nothing more than the modern version of it. The Kings (1%ers) use the Managerial Class (lords, landowners, knights) to extract the value of work from the serfs and funnel the money to the top (except get this... the serfs often didn't work close to a 40 plus hour week for the masters, in fact much less), a Ponzi scheme where the people doing the least get the most money and benefit while the people doing the actual work are ridiculed for not working hard enough because obviously if they worked harder they'd be rich and successful like those a the top or at least the managerial class but the fact is the game is rigged to mainly keep those people in the caste of their birth. Now and then one does break out and move to the realm of the 1% and are thus used as an example to all the rest toiling away at the lower end of the pay scale. 

The whole idle hands, Devil's work bullshit comes into play when the prevailing attitudes of a culture place this stigma on those who don't want to buy into the game. One must be some sort of lazy grifter if they don't want to hustle and work 60 hour weeks so they can maybe spend all the money they saved that year for a week at the shore, hell usually they don't even save enough for that but then they go anyway there by accumulating more debt which is always good for those in the FIRE industries. It's the bullshit theory of work giving one a meaningful life but what happens when that work doesn't mean anything? and what happens when the meaningful work barely provides enough compensation to live on? I've never looked at the work-a-day world as anything other than work, a scam by the masters, yes i need a certain amount of money to survive but the fact is if i work my whole life away one day i wake up (if i'm lucky) old having worked my whole life away to enrich someone other than myself. Fuck that i say! When guys like Watts and Sagan and Wilson began talking about the UBI it was because as technology advanced it would create the ability to give people more time to live and, if you're not some backwards religious fanatic who believes we all must slave away or be tempted by that pesky Devil dude, ultimately if people had more time to do what they wanted more good would actually come from it, not only because we'd have a happier society in general but because people could take up the interests and causes that they enjoy the most... instead it's become almost a right of passage for all those but the 1% to hate their job... but they must be careful because if this info gets to the wrong person they may lose that job and then join the ranks of those leeches sucking off the system... get on the wheel and run rodent. 

The crux of the whole argument basically boils down to this... that those who provide the most value and do the most good for the society as a whole are usually paid the least (not always mind you but usually) while those that provide the least amount of value and do little good for society (think the bullshit term of "job creators" we hear so much about) earn the most, all while pushing certain values and viewpoints that benefit them the most while funneling the majority of the money/income generated up to themselves. It's why the nightly news is constantly prattling on about the stock market... i'd ask you to go into any bar in the city and start talking to the patrons about the market and you'd most likely get a bland stare or who gives a fuck? because those people are just trying to survive. Yes out here in the burbs you can talk about the market and golf because a vast majority of these people are careerists in the area of Bullshit Jobs and believe they are doing important things though if you ask what those important things are you'd get a lot of stammering and vague explanations. So where does it lead? 

Not surprisingly Graeber throws it out there at the end of the book, the UBI, universal basic income... for everyone, even Bezos and Gates because the argument is if you exclude anyone than they feel they have a right or the power to influence the policies and laws being pushed because they are above the rest of us. The UBI would basically give people to freedom do what they wanted to do as a job instead of doing things they hate because they pay more. There would be more highly qualified educators and quite possibly less corporate lawyers, and how could that be a bad thing? When it comes down to it when one dwells on the massive amounts of wealth hoarded by the few it's criminal that we don't have a UBI, that here in the so-called land of milk and honey there are kids starving, families just scraping by, one illness or lay-off away from homelessness, not to mention the homelessness that exists but of course the population would have to get the masters to pretend they are human and actually give a shit about humanity and history has proven that those in power are loathe to do that and always have been. 

If there is one positive that has come out of the pandemic it's that people had more time at home and to think about how fucked they've been and are now waking up to the fact the corporate oligarchs have kept them on that hamster wheel, the working class have woken up to the fact they were risking their lives in a pandemic for peanuts and now want a living wage. Will we get there? i don't know. I'm sure in the masters are sitting around in a secret room brainstorming the next distraction to keep us occupied from realizing the game is rigged and needs to change. Fact is the only people who can change it are the workers of the world if we have the balls enough to demand we take back our lives... and that is a tall order for a population starved of education and critical thinking skills, purposely starved by those at the top. Who will buy the ad time if they try and televise the revolution? no one because the masters know, the revolution will not be televised.... now Billy will sing one of my favorite songs...

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