Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's weird when Mr. A is... reasonable.

Take this in part of the whole "don't totally demonize your rivals" theme.

So Mr. A was passing around this piece about "Hipsters on Foodstamps"

And he complained about the sense of entitlement of people that could work but chose not to and decide to take money from the "working man".  Then he went on about the higher education bubble specifically citing this part:

Imagine a large corporate machine mobilized to get you to buy something you don't need at a tremendously inflated cost, complete with advertising, marketing, and branding that says you're not hip if you don't have one, but when you get one you discover it's of poor quality and obsolete in ten months. That's a BA.

What's fascinating is that he's very much of a "leash the corporations"  mindset.  And yet...  by casting  education as -well- Big!Education Mr. A  is now free to complain about it.  Further he cites this part of the article.

When we see a welfare mom we assume she can't find work, but when we see a hipster we become infuriated because we assume he doesn't want to work but could easily do so-- on account of the fact that he can speak well-- that he went to college.  But now suddenly we're all shocked: to the economy, the English grad is just as superfluous as the disenfranchised welfare mom in the hood-- the college education is just as irrelevant as the skin color.  Not irrelevant for now, not irrelevant "until the economy improves"-- irrelevant forever. The economy doesn't care about intelligence, at all, it doesn't care what you know, merely what you can produce for it.  The only thing the English grad is "qualified" for in this economy is the very things s/he is already doing: coffeehouse agitator, Trader Joe's associate, Apple customer.................................................. and spouse of a capitalist. 

Fascinating stuff.   Both the reaction and the article itself.  Mind the article runs a bit long.

Heck part 2 gets into some very interesting stuff about the Welfare state.

So start with an interesting hypothetical: does everybody need to work anymore?  I understand work from an ethical/character perspective, this is not here my point.  Since we no longer need e.g. manufacturing jobs-- cheaper elsewhere or with robots-- since those labor costs have evaporated, could that surplus go towards paying people simply to stay out of trouble?  Is there a natural economic equilibrium price where, say, a U Chicago grad can do no economically productive work at all but still be paid to use Instagram?  Let me be explicit: my question is not should we do this, my question is that since this is precisely what's happening already, is it sustainable?  What is the cost?  I don't have to run the numbers, someone already has: it's $150/mo for a college grads, i.e. the price of food stamps.  Other correct responses would be $700/mo for "some high school" (SSI) or $1500/mo for "previous work experience" (unemployment).  I would have accepted $2000/mo for "minorities" (jail) for partial credit.
While all those monies have different names and different "requirements" they are all exactly the same thing: paying people who are off the grid, whether by choice or circumstance, indefinitely.  i.e. Living Wages. However, they can never be called that.  They have to pretend to be something else: this is for food, this is because of a medical problem we just made up, this is because you were caught with weed so we'll leave you in here for 6 months until we sentence you to probation.  And they have to have these fake reasons to give taxpayers a little emotional distance, deniability, otherwise they'd go John Galt, after all, they have all the guns.  If they can invade Iraq, how hard is it going to be to take the Whole Foods on 3rd? 

Again, interesting stuff.

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