Skip to main content

tv   David Graeber Bullsht Jobs  CSPAN  September 22, 2018 10:15am-11:22am EDT

10:15 am
nfl, big game. that is followed by john kerry's memoir every day is extra. wrapping up our look at books from the washington post nonfiction bestseller list is the restless wave, a memoir by the late senator john mccain. some of these authors have will be appearing on booktv. you can watch them on our website, enter the author's name and the word book into the search function at the top of the page. [inaudible conversations] >> hello. good evening, everybody. thank you guys for coming. big round of applause for me.
10:16 am
[applause] >> my name is david gonzalez and i'm one of the event managers. on behalf of the store, we want to thank you guys for coming this evening and we will get the show on the road in a few minutes but first and foremost, can you check your cell phones and make sure you put it on vibrate or silence, just turn it off, we went to make sure the phones don't go off during the conversation. also, i would like to make an announcement about a group that we have at the store that some of you might not be aware of which is our current events reading group. we have three in-store book clubs in the current event reading group is one of them
10:17 am
which for some inextricable reason there has been a lot of interest in the last 18 months or so. if you are familiar with the story, you like what we do, please sign up to the email list. it is a fascinating collection of books that they read, one of which was bend back when it came out. please sign up. one of our events i would like to say going back to back literary events in your wheelhouse, tomorrow night, just in time for father's day we will host michael shaven in the store close to hear for his book, a book of essays called pops, fatherhood and pieces and would make an excellent gift if you don't know what to get your dad, your husband, your friend,
10:18 am
somebody mired in fatherhood at the moment. without further a do please let me welcome our guest this evening, cory doctorow is a science fiction author, activist and journalist, coeditor of boing boing and author of many books. and our guest of honor is david graeber, author of the book, the guardian, the baffler and others. please welcome cory doctorow and david graeber. [applause] >> hello there. i think we are live.
10:19 am
i thought maybe we could start with you giving the pitch for "bullshit jobs: a theory". >> far too well. tips. >> let me start. five years ago i wrote an essay. >> that's right. five years ago i wrote an essay and the way it came about is actually i had written the book on death, the book did fairly well and i discovered that if you write something kind of offbeat the world will conspire to make sure you never do that again. they will try to make you say the same thing, right the same book, give the same talk over and over again. i'm going to do the opposite. i'm going to get drunken party rant or crazy idea i ever had that no one would ever publish and figure out a way to get it out.
10:20 am
a lot of those things probably died a merciful death and everyone forgot them but this one kind of evolved and it was all based on, i often say an anthropologist in tucson, and and apologist by profession but also i not used to this academic know you and i don't come from that background. professional managerial class is alien creatures to me, trying to figure them out and their anthropology is based on the idea you get a certain insight based on not knowing what is going on. being a foreigner, being completely clueless, you see things people see and in this case i kept noticing people when you ask them what they do, they would say nothing really and they are being modest.
10:21 am
but over time you realize no, actually they meant that literally. they literally do nothing all day. if you say i do my job, i could basically do it in half an hour a day, two hours a week, don't tell my boss but i sit making cat names all day. how common is this? i wrote this crazy essay where i said maybe this is the reason we are not all working a 15 hour week because it was predicted that we would have mechanization, automation would be a point where we'd wouldn't do have to work we were doing a the time. we could have eliminated it except instead we seem to have made up these completely imaginary dummy jobs which i have no idea how many people are doing this but i will write a rant about it and there was a new magazine called strike and they said i will write about whatever we like, take any
10:22 am
piece of yours. i said really? anything. so i put this out and as a thought experiment, making up jobs to keep us off the streets. the thing went crazy. i had no idea this was going to happen. within two weeks which translated into 13 languages i was getting thousands of emails saying you have been distributing this, i got this across my desk 18 times today, really not doing much. they started appearing in newspapers, writing confessions, people saying things like it's true. i am a corporate lawyer and contribute nothing to society. i'm miserable all the time. and realized this was truer than i thought. one thing led to another and somebody did a survey and
10:23 am
discovered in the uk, 37% of all people who have jobs said their job basically shouldn't exist, it contributes nothing to society. it ought to disappear, it would make no difference whatsoever or the world would be a slightly better place. 40% in holland. i figured okay, this is interesting. i seem to have hit a vein, something you are not supposed to talk about but resonate with peoples experience. i thought i would do research and what i did was went out on twitter. i have a lot of followers and said ever had a job that was completely pointless? tell me all about it. i would love to know. i made up a gmail account. do i have a bs job or what? they wouldn't let me use [bloll
10:24 am
[bollshit in the title. >> it is a startling book, they have key knives, 13 or you or use all these things, they are great. one of the things your book manages to get is something of a repudiation of capitalism itself. >> you noticed that. >> i know a bunch of people who are true believers, manual first-aid crap. what would they say if i gave them a copy of this book? not all of them are dumb dumbs. one guy -- what a bunch of them say as this is a principal agent problem. you hire someone to do a job for you and instead they do a job for themselves, sam walton
10:25 am
who founded walmart wouldn't let his buying agents take so much as a glass of water from the salespeople because he said you work for me and the minute you owe the sales guy a favor, you work for yourself. and this kind of renaissance italy style print slings and dukes marshaling armies beneath them to create, propped themselves up and gain advantage and i was like is this just, leaving aside the out and out crook, is this just powerbrokers marshaling armies of useless people so they can use them in these games within the company? >> yes. that is a large part of what is going on. it is not all of it but basically a big part of it. i make a distinction -- we may talk about this later --
10:26 am
between different kinds of bullshit jobs. i say judging by the testimonies i got you have five basic types of bullshit jobs, flunkies, dove tapirs, box tickers and tax masters. we are recognized immediately what some of those might be. flunkies are obvious, they are there to make someone else look or feel good but don't actually do anything. imagine a receptionist who gets one call is a who is there to be the receptionist because the company has to be a receptionist. other people i like their to mend the staff. if you hire someone for an academic job, a dean or sabine or vice provost or something you automatically give them 5 little minions and then you decide what they are going to do. that would be a flunky. sometimes it is not clear who
10:27 am
has the bullshit job, sometimes the flunky does a job for the boston about has a bullshit job. goons is a category i had to make up because so many people said i a telemarketer or a corporate lawyer, a lot of those guys would say what they are doing is bullshit and what they meant was not so much that i don't do anything or that i don't do anything for the company but my entire industry is bullshit. it shouldn't exist. that makes sense because they are very aggressive and you only need them if your opponent has them. a corporate lawyer, you will need need one of the other guy has a corporate lawyer. if there were no corporate lawyers there would be no need for corporate lawyers. >> my wife was at university of england for when a guy walked into 150,000 pound a year job
10:28 am
doing nothing but connecting with other people in other firms and it was a telegraph, they had amazing hair. these dudes in red chad - read trousers with amazing here to talk to each other on behalf of their firms. so duct tapirs are there to fix problems that shouldn't exist and wouldn't exist if the organization was organized at all well. often they only remain on the job because they come -- they become flunkies, how many executives, how many people they have working under them so often you don't want to fix a problem so you have people fixing it, like leaving a hole in the roof so you can have a lot of people in the removing the bucket. an example of that i like to give is a university i was at, there was only one carpenter apparently.
10:29 am
at one point i have a problem when shelves collapsed, a hole in the wall and it took weeks and there was one guy's entire job consisted of apologizing for the fact that the carpenter was too busy to come. a very nice man, very good at it. you couldn't get mad, you wanted to but couldn't, so perfectly suited for the job but a voice in the back of your head saying can't you find that guy and hire a second carpenter? that would be a perfect example, the duct tape or. box pickers, allow organizations to say they are doing something they are not doing like a commission of inquiry or something like that. a lot of companies have targets, statistics, trying to gather, no one does anything with it. in universities for example, i
10:30 am
have to do allocation studies all the time. they are all supposed to be about figuring out how to do the optimal allocation of our time but you spend so much time filling out the forms that no improvement you could make could possibly be anything compared to the time you're taking measuring accounting. and a lot of jobs, another factor in addition to bullshit jobs you have the bullshiting of real job so box taking rituals take up more time instead of doing what you're doing, talking about how you would do it. >> i think that is taxonomy. >> taskmaster supervises people who don't need supervision. >> the nice thing i like about the expiration so much of this is about principal agents is it explains why you never fire people doing bullshit jobs but
10:31 am
preferentially fire people doing real jobs because if your job, the reason bullshit jobs exist is to shore up some prints laying's empire, those people are the only people that matter in the company. >> that is true. one thing you find is this rhetoric, lean and mean. ceos were often praised for how many people they could lay off, how many they could fire but those were the guys actually doing work. it wasn't the bullshit guys. if you are ups or something you fire the drivers and the people who are actually doing something and cut down their numbers, speed them up, make their life a living hell. meanwhile in the office are all these guys doing absolutely nothing and they get cultivated. they will never get fired because that is your badge of honor and people are often -- not only is there prestige measured in how many people they have working under them
10:32 am
but often their salary, how many people you have working determines how much money you get. >> one thing that emerges from this is people are miserable doing bullshit jobs. one question that spring to mind putting on my ayn rand masturbator hat, what you do if you make it in the stock together pages of ayn rand -- there's this theory that every person has their own proclivities, this is not unique to capitalism. everyone has their own proclivities, people are happy doing different things and maybe the problem isn't doing makework makes you miserable. maybe it is that the people who
10:33 am
wouldn't be miserable doing makework haven't found those jobs yet and we just misallocated the useless jobs. there is this phenomenon in british culture that jobs work, people who are puny magnets with a tiny quantum of authority, to organize the useless files and exquisite order and shout at anyone who puts them out of order, maybe those people are the people who would delight at sitting alertly at a counter all day for chance to do the one phone call that otherwise burnish the firm's view. >> it is possible i suppose. if you ever read the -- very early utopian writer, he had this idea we could solve the problem of job distribution by finding the kind of people who would be happy doing jobs no one else would once. how to do the dirty jobs, children like to play in felt, let them clean toilets.
10:34 am
that is kind of the spirit. i suppose, but the question is why do you need to do that at all? you could make more interesting stupid games for them to play and this is one of my arguments that the end of the book, if we allocate jobs, there is no way anybody, given the choice of doing whatever they want, would end up saying i want to highlight forms all day and put it in a box. even if they were annoying people who want to do precise things, they come up with a more interesting one. >> you talk a lot about work ethic in this book, when you punish a prisoner you take away their job and make them sit in a room and watch tv all day. >> economic theory, economics is one of the grounding philosophies of all institutional life nowadays.
10:35 am
what economics teaches you is we are all selfish pastors. we are also lazy. basically we are all trying to maximize their utility which means getting the maximum benefit for the least expenditure of effort and resources. by that logic if you have a job where you are paid a lot of money to do nothing all day you should be delighted. this is great. you win. he was sitting there doing nothing and they are giving you money on the minimum resources, maximum work but in fact people are incredibly unhappy. the theme ran through this. on the one hand people were miserable, reported depression and anxiety, psychosomatic illness, would vanish when they were given a real task to do. toxic work and violence, people talked about how if you are doing something together, you know what you're doing and why and there's a good reason to be doing it and all this teamwork
10:36 am
and, robbery and the moment people knows it is complete bullshit everybody starts screaming at each other and getting obsessed -- this bazaar say domestic ritual is invented so there is that but an additional element that they are all miserable but can't even justify it because they should be happy. i can't even complain. if i say i am unhappy i have nothing the apprentices and industrial revolution and end of the journeymen system and have to find some other way to put people to work and so on. it is something that reminded me, harkening back to these
10:37 am
earlier days, trying to trace a long course of human thought. when you say neo-feudalism i think you are talking literal neo-feudalism. >> yes. perhaps i'm being simplistic but when i was in college and took my marxism 101 courses they taught me feudalism is direct political extraction. capitalism is based on you get your profits from employing people and paying them less than they produce and then feudalism you just take the stuff. it operates through the government. government economics and politics are not separate in the feudal system which is why the idea of the economy as a separate sphere develops really late, 500 years ago they never heard of the economy. there was no such thing. so we have a situation where most profits in wall street are
10:38 am
derived from finance, financial firms and manufacturing in financial branches of manufacturing firms like general electric, ge, financing the cars, so if that is the case they are directly taking things and it is like a bunch of knights who grabbed a huge pile of blue and are distributing the goods. anybody knows if you grab a pile of blue you give some of it back to everybody but give most of it to your flunkies and you establish a minute if an retinue so people think you deserve to have lose. a very secular process. >> there's another thread running through this but we are living in a kind of parody of what the soviet union was like.
10:39 am
>> the bread -- >> utopia rules, can you talk through that? >> in utopia rules i got a sudden realization that the standard critique of state socialism or socialism in general has a utopian idea which violates these principles of human nature. if you accept human nature as it is, watch what people do and adjust to it but if you are utopian you say people should be like this, molded by their environment so you tell them how they are supposed to behave and then put them in the gulags and punish them and this becomes violent and horrible. that is the standard line. the actual economy kind of works like that. the big breakthrough, reading about jpmorgan chase, the largest bank in the world, at least it was at the time. 60%, might be more of their profits are for easing
10:40 am
penalties. think about that. what they do is set up rules they know you can't follow. anybody should be able to balance their checkbook if they pay their fees on time and any penalize you so it is exactly that. or have the ideal image of what a rational economic actor should be like, they make it up so they know perfectly well you will fail to reach the utopian ideal and they punish you, put you in the gulags for not doing it and utopianism has not only been the basis of capitalism but the basis for capitalist profits. the biggest capitalist firm, pretending human nature is different than it is, punishing you for not being able to live up to it. >> i like the way you describe
10:41 am
something that continues in "bullshit jobs: a theory," the trappings that so you wouldn't want to live in the soviet union because they have to stand in long lines, fill a lot of forms, only one store and it sells one kind of good and you hit this. the tsa benefit forms, the same 1000 skus. >> it is going to be more like that and we fill out way more forms than they did. this is another point i made in the utopia book, the average american spends 6 months of their life waiting for the lights to change. a disturbing thought. nobody figured out the statistics for how long we take filling out forms especially all those forms online. the internet has become, the fact we have gone paperless means we do paperwork all the time.
10:42 am
we have to be travel agents and we spend more time filling out forms than any population in history so we have all become bureaucracies. >> you continue the theme with "bullsh*t jobs," you wouldn't want to live in the soviet union. their vision of full employment is people sitting around doing nothing all day so that would be a joke. they have the idea of full employment, intentional inefficiency and that is what socialism was supposed to be like. in order to buy a loaf of bread, a coupon, give it to somebody else and they make the system ridiculously elaborate to keep everybody employed. >> i found a quote from obama talking about why he didn't want socialism.
10:43 am
he said single-payer everybody says, socialized medicine would be more efficient so i suppose that is true, get rid of redundancy, wasted effort in the private system but think about this, 2 million, 3 million people working for kaiser, blue cross blue shield, what are we going to do with those guys. if you analyze that, that is a smoking gun. he is saying right here i don't want socialism because socialism is too efficient. a market system is not efficient and will create useless employment, that is good. otherwise what do we do with these guys? the difference is the soviet union is a proletariat state so they create useless blue-collar jobs. better to have useless white-collar jobs. >> you say this is a big idea, no one wants to talk about this.
10:44 am
i know something david doesn't know. i don't know if you are with lee phillips who wrote austerity, ecology and the collapse of foreign addicts. the idea that the left used to promise every peasant could someday live like a lord but somewhere we set every lord should look like a peasant and science writers, big idea, a new book called the peoples republic of walmart, he revisits this debate of an austrian economist whether you could compute an economy. on the one hand you had socialists who said we could do managerial science and figure out where to allocate goods. then know, intractable computational problem, you need a calculator the size of 10 buildings to do it which is like let me name 3 institutions each of which is larger than the soviet union, the pentagon,
10:45 am
walmart and amazon, right? he is basically saying fully automated electric communism is in our grasp. all we need is this. also what he is saying is what you have been saying which is your soaking in it. socialism and all the things you worry about and hope for is all around us. >> it is totally possible and we are kind of doing it. think about all those people who spend their time doing lightning speed derivative training. you took them and said we want star trek replicators and stuff like this, organizing economies where we are all comfortable. they can come up with an alternative economic system quite easily if they put their minds to it. we are just wasting all this imagination and sometimes i think that is the whole point. there has been a war on the imagination involving all the people who could be inventing the stuff and they make them do really stupid stuff so we don't get there because they are afraid of the future. >> that is actually literally
10:46 am
true that the people who could be inventing space stuff -- i did a talk for a city firm, high-speed trader types. they said it is quite a different office, one of us is a cambridge physicist, the wrecks are oxford physicists and they all had phds in physics or pure math and they did liquidity provision. they went out and put orders in for shares but did so in a way that was so spread out and still but others cannot think they were putting in these orders for shares. the reason they did that is there's another group of physicists somewhere in the world who are writing to check to see if someone is buying a lot of shares so they can court the market shares before they buy them. they freely admit it was the most socially useless work you can imagine. these are interesting math
10:47 am
problems and we picked intellect against other people but the most interesting thing that i think a lot of americans don't appreciate is going to oxford and cambridge was free when these people got their phds was they have tertiary education. what they are doing is writing software but, chatterbox. >> i have a good friend, a russian artist, who grew up in st. petersburg, who had a bunch of friends who were math whizes in her school and there are three of them, the most brilliant mathematicians. one of them is like doing software for walmart, to catch employees who are cheating. another is doing wall street derivative and the third went and saw fermi's problem. the other two took a crack at what they could have done, going to mars right now.
10:48 am
>> we have all debate in the open science movement about democratizing access to scholarly work, the person who can cure your cancer is one pay wall away from reading the article. >> this is the end of the book, skipped that. i come out with the argument for unconditional basic income and one of the arguments i make that is referred to as the einstein problem, it is one of the objections to giving everybody money and think it is up to you to figure out what to do with your life, one objection is people are lazy and don't want to work but we know that is not true, otherwise they would not be so miserable in their jobs. the other one is they are going to go off and do stupid zhit, go off and become bad poets or
10:49 am
try to prove the hollow earth theory or something like that. there will be some of that. >> you just described youtube. >> exactly. youtube is what they do when they are pretending to work, now they do it full time. so we have that. some people are doing that. 40% are already doing useless s shit. how is it going to be any worse than it is now? i don't think more than 40% of the population will become crank scientists. if they do, at least they will be happier than highlighting forms all day. second of all, just one of them does invent a perpetual motion device you paid back your dividend. >> a healthy return on that investment.
10:50 am
i want to talk about this idea of universal basic instinct and the left-wing critique which goes something like this. every benefit that we have we fought very hard for, maternity benefits, disability benefits and so on. if you roll them all up, too extent of to administer, too expensive to means test, there are lots of ways to make it smaller than the benefits people are entitled to and moreover, where has the center of power been? workers. if you take people out of work you further diminish the power >> this, there are different versions of this. this is true of elon musk,
10:51 am
there's left-wing and right-wing. the criticism, the first part -- >> they won't inflation match it. you are not substituting very much. the benefits they are substituting are the ones that have already been. we are not saying we will get rid of free healthcare. it will be on top of the nhs. the left-wing version of the ubi is a way of expanding the zone to contract that. what you are doing is getting rid of gigantic bureaucracy of conditionality. if you have any conditionality on who it benefits, 20% of the people who could have gotten it won't bother, who are entitled to it.
10:52 am
in the uk they got to the over 60% of the people, they make your life a living hell. those who make your life a living hell, there are little formulas that describe the whole bullshit job phenomena. bullshit jobs in the private sector are largely there to make rich people feel good about themselves. bullshit jobs in the public-sector are there to make poor people feel bad about themselves. there are armies of people who say are you looking hard enough for work, are you really using that word, are you really married to that guy, all that kind of stuff. we get rid of that. it is a left-wing anti-bureaucratic program but one that gets rid of the really annoying bureaucrats who do intervene in your life. those guys, people judging with you are good enough to get something because you're good enough.
10:53 am
>> no funeral benefits. >> you don't have to break it up. all those guys, the everything i learned from this book is those guys whose job it is to see if you have enough forms of id, when you say how can those people live with themselves? often they can't. they are really unhappy. universal basic income they get it too and they can form a junk band or try to make a perpetual motion device, much happier with what they are doing so there's that. the argument about inflation, all these benefits are being he faced. if you have people in universal basic income, there are lots of activists to fight them because you can take as much time as you want off your job to do battle with the system. i think marks when they were
10:54 am
talking about reform, came up with this formula, what we need our reforms that make things better but don't make things all better, make things better in a way that create new problems that can only be resolved by more radical reforms and then another one like that and you get full communism. this is a little like that. a transitional demand. it was a government smaller but also empowers people, see you go with trade unions. the problem workers have is it doesn't matter if they have a union or not, they are dependent on their boss for livelihood, they are getting much worse bargaining situation than they would if they could say i quit at any time and nothing would happen to them. >> we are coming up to q and a here. to close this out i want to note a lot of books are adapted from a essay that feel very padded and thin. this feel like a very meaty book you have given a lot of
10:55 am
thought to and you have been on the road for a while, it has been out for a while. you wrote this as a and it blow up your inbox. now you have written a book, a good, successful work. >> seems to be coming along. >> what is the next incarnation? >> in this particular project? i think i mentioned i gave a talk to the bank of england a couple weeks ago called macroeconomic consequences of useless employment. >> bank of england speech for "bullsh*t jobs". >> i mentioned that whenever possible, first anthropologist ever to get a macroeconomic seminar in the bank of england. i have been talking, when i go home i have to meet with people to discuss the idea they want to sell me the idea of a four day week instead of ubi. it is worth talking. i part of the extra parliamentary left.
10:56 am
i won't join a political party or anything like that. we will talk to those guys, they should be push and pull between them. particularly for the bullshit jobs project. i'm interested in the idea of the revolt -- the concept i throughout in the book that comes from my experience with occupy. when you look at the 99%, people too busied working to take part in the occupations that want to show their support at one point i spent two days going through every testimony in the we are the 99%, almost all was a caring effect for what feminists described as health or education, social services, taking care of people in one way or another and is incredible outrage at the fact
10:57 am
of your family. there is this outrage and in fact this is what we are seeing. manufacturing productivity goes up, less people employed and profits go up, but health and education, the opposite. productivity keeps going down and at the same time you have to bring more people into that sector because productivity is down. prices go up for the rate of healthcare inflation. the only way to get profitability is to squeeze wages. all over the world we see rebellion of people doing care work. in the uk we have professor strikes, junior doctor strikes,
10:58 am
teacher strikes all over the place and in france we are talking nursing home workers going on strike, never happened before in history. people who are the core of the proletariat, the working class has become the caring class and to some degree always was, the patriarchal idea productivity, the gaia before gender factory worker, most workers were never that. most were taking care of things, taking care of people, animals, plants. if we reimagine, this is a project i would like to do. how do we reimagine value around care? when people think of their work as having no social value, there's an it in the back of their minds the real work takes care of others. when you build a bridge you are building a bridge because you care people can cross the river. a couple into caring is freedom.
10:59 am
in so far, production and consumption, we should talk instead about care and freedom. care is work which maintains another person's freedom. even -- freedom is doing things for its own sake. the exercise -- it is like play and freedom are closely related concepts. you think of a mother and a child, mother takes care of a child, but in a more immediate sense takes care of children so they can go out and play and be free. why not take that as our basic paradigm for value, care and play, care and freedom? if we do so we have completely different conception of what is important about society and we can build a society who wants drug-free product production, largely automated. what will be do that is valuable and how do we conceive the economy? i will work on it. >> fabulous.
11:00 am
as we open up the questions, thank you. [applause] >> as we open up for questions i would like to remind you a question is a brief sentence that goes up at the end and long rambling statements followed by what do you think about that, and don't stand on a chair. .. >> there we go. >> there we go. >> okay. >> the concept of ubi is kind of new to me, forgive me, but i heard a debate -- and i can't remember who the woman was that was talking about guaranteed federal jobs. she said it's better to have a guaranteed job that people could go to if they needed to work and
11:01 am
get the money rather than the ubi because she said the income would be given to everyone like the koch brothers. everyone gets it, and those at the top just put the money away. it doesn't go into the economy, it doesn't do anybody any good, and it's not needed. and then the people at the bottom spend it, and her big objection was inflation. i think you touched on that. so can you help me understand that debate between -- >> yeah. >> okay. >> there's a lot of different points you're making there, but let's see if i can -- the basic argument is do we just give people a automatic universal income, or do we have a program where anyone who wants one is guaranteed a job. and they'll both have similar effects in raising wages for everybody else, right? because you don't have a desperate group of people who you can exploit. but for me the difference is, ultimately, of sensibility.
11:02 am
i mean, the people who go for the guaranteed job are not trying to get rid of the idea that you need to work for, you know, work is a value in itself. because there's still going to be somebody administering, making sure everybody works and you don't get paid unless you work. so it's generally -- the i'm sorry to say this -- people who come from a professional, managerial class background who assume they're going to be maintaining the bureaucracy who don't want to get rid of it. for me. i think we should create actual human freedom where it's up to you to decide what you want to do. i have nothing against a guaranteed job program on top of a basic income. that would be great. but instead of a basic income, you're still saying, you know, you're not going the full length of saying, no, you're alive, you should be guaranteed means to live and then you decide how you want to contribute. and especially, this is especially true of caring labor because, you know, a lot of the
11:03 am
idea of universal-based income comes out of feminism. a lot of people are involves in wages because of house work. it was a provocation. if you were serious about your system, half the work being done is unpaid being done by women, give us your money. but they didn't really want somebody measuring how many hours you do and commoditizing even taking care of a baby. so they said we'll just give everybody a flat rate, and you decide the what you want to do. and that would be gone in a guaranteed jobs. so the question is would it be inflation their. and that depends on your theory of money. i mean, i think not because it's not just -- if you have a pure theory of fun, you're printing money and give it to people, yeah, there's the same amount of services, more money, you have inpoliceflation.
11:04 am
it mean, it really only kicks in once you have full employment. but, basically, there's a lot of debate about this. and you would definitely need to have certain controls, like on rent. you know, that you'd have to have, because they would inflate rent prices if you just gave people money. but otherwise i think that the problem of a goon field jobs -- guaranteed jobs is it doesn't create that moral transformation. it's still saying, you know, everybody has to working, something they didn't the themselves necessarily choose and we're trying to say, no, you are. >> if you want to dive down a very deep rabbit hole, google modern monetary theory. >> mmt. [laughter] >> and then you can spend the next ten years reading about monetary policy. >> hi. i have a question about -- you
11:05 am
talk a lot about what you've done in the for-profit sector, in the corporate world and in state jobs and government jobs. >> yes. >> what about the nonprofit sector? and i don't mean necessarily the nonprofit sector that's trying to make up for all the bullshit jobs to help oat people, for example, welfare benefits, but, you know, more generally how the structures of the nonprofit sector, whether you see bullshit jobs. and also maybe another category would be like organizations like worker-corporatists or maybe activist movements. >> yeah. my feeling is there is a great deal of bullshit in the ngo sector the. anybody i know works in charity or ngos talks about that, and
11:06 am
it exists pretty much equally across the boards. i think actually ironically the government sector's probably less bullshit-ized than the private one because it's under so much pressure. nobody's really checking in the corporate sector. ngo to, i've heard a lot of -- the yeah. but especially in that, like, nexus where it's not clear whether it's public or private, that that's where we get the worst accumulation, that kind of middle zone. and a lot of ngos are in there. but the question you were giving about an a around keys collectives -- anarchist collectives, well, there's a degree of bullshitization that will happen in any organization unless you're several consciously trying -- self-consciously trying to make sure it doesn't. but it's not usually going to lead to full-time bullshit jobs. and traditionally, it's been famous for -- in a way, like, to be honest, if you go back to the very deep the inspiration for why i wrote this book, my father fought in the spanish civil war.
11:07 am
he was an ambulance driver based in barcelona. so he got to live under forms of organization. and what he had told me was that they had a very simple solution to when they collectivized and syndicates took over factories or enterprises. they simply got rid of at white collar workers and saw if anything changed. [laughter] usually it didn't. they discovered which of these guys actually do something. most of them are just here to make you feel bad about yourself or give you a hard time. a few of them they would say, okay, that function's useful. generally speaking, you know, they didn't find any need for full-time positions like that. and i think that, you know, parking lot of the whole idea of -- part of the whole idea of these constructives is you've
11:08 am
had balanced jobs, you divide up the different types of work so nobody would be doing exclusively paper work anyway, so the problem wouldn't really come up. and since everybody is, like, you know, has to do it, you'd probably all be trying to keep it to a minimum. >> the minimum viable middle management. >> yeah, exactly. >> the terms of the private sector, i knew when canada needed to run the red cross, and the boards of these charities are filled with people from finance, and they brought in a guy who used to run the record industry lobby, and he decided the major priority should be to make sure nobody used the symbol -- [laughter] they spent a lot of time shaking down video game makers to -- >> that's the thing. [laughter] nowadays, economics is the badge of any sort of competence. so anybody who runs anything has to be trained in economics.
11:09 am
so, you know, if you don't believe that people are basically greedy, you can't run a charity. [laughter] >> thank you. yes, could you tell me what happened to the experiments in ubi in different parts of places where they've been tried, and did they all pretty much die? >> how did ubi work out. >> actually, no. i mean, the major, long-term terms one have been in india have been successful. the one in finland that they gave up on wasn't really ubi. they're basically forms of long-term unemployment. but they don't go to everybody. they're not unconditional, uniform to everyone at all. the ones that have been real ubi have largely been in the relatively poor countries. and often they find that the social improvements are things that they didn't even really
11:10 am
expect like rates of domestic violation go way down, for example. because it turns out most family quarrels are about money, and you have less of them if you have more money. but the, you know, it has a really strong gender effect on freeing women in a lot of ways. women get it equally. but another thing they find is that that often people will pool a certain percentage of it. so in ma anybody ya where -- namibia with where they did it, each family put the other half, maybe like 30, 40%, in a pool, and they all decided -- because, you know, in these places they always have, like, endless development projects. they try to be democratic and participatory. really they're just imposing stuff on them. and, you know, they were kind of curious what would happen if they just let people decide for themselves. and they always come up with something the bottom guys -- development guys would never have thought of.
11:11 am
in this case, they thought what the community really needed was a post office. which they didn't have. so they pooled their hundred and created one. their money and created one. >> male or nonbinary down this aisle. >> i think my mic is off. >> we can repeat the question. it's god going this way. >> hi. wondering what your thoughts are on leaving bullshit when it comes to -- [inaudible] decentralized, automated corporations or organizations. so using something like a cryptocurrency to decentralize everything to kind of, like, do away with all the bullshit that we have to deal with and taking and using, and using something like that, a decentralized system to alleviate, like, highlighting and all that sort of thing. >> so the question is about, it's about cryptocurrency and using things like -- name to
11:12 am
eliminate bullshit. 60% of all questions about cryptocurrency are nonconsensual. [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> that's a really useful quote. >> yeah. >> i feel like 90% of the ones i get -- [inaudible conversations] >> i don't have a strong opinion on it. i mean, actually, i will -- i will refer you to i think i read this morning on the blog of the person i vociferously disagree with who featured virginia silly -- the guy who started e here to yum, talking about was it a good idea to build into block chain. and his answer was no, and he had a gloss on how you would do it now. i don't remember what it was the. i looked at it and thought it was interesting but inside baseball, and i'm not a cryptocurrency person. but if you were thinking about the dao, that would be the thing i would look at, and it was on the blog of tyler cohen because i read vigorously because i
11:13 am
disagree with everything he says and admire how he makes it sound. [laughter] >> the person who always makes the best case for whatever position i wouldn't have. >> the banality of evil. >> well, yeah. actually, h.l. mencken always make the most ridiculous, stupid case possible to a position that i would, in fact, take essentially. >> sit down, you're drunker, -- you're drunk. >> any people who identify as nonbinary like to ask the next question. all right, no? [inaudible conversations] >> it's just a talking stick now. >> oh, thank you. it would seem that if we can believe what we've been reading recently, a brave new world is almost upon us with intelligence and robots doing massive numbers of jobs currently that people
11:14 am
are being employed upon. what -- for example, if four million truck drivers are replaced with self-driving trucks within the next ten years, how to you see those people being ine corporated into the -- incorporated into the, into the economy? would they be given bullshit jobs or -- >> whether people who face technological employment, ground up for dog food. >> right, okay. i find it really fascinating that everybody or feels that the prospect of the elimination of drudgery is now a problem. [laughter] and and so my standard answer to this question is, okay. for the last 30, 40 years, they've been telling us that market capitalism might suck in a million ways but, hey, it's efficient. it's like the most efficient system possible. efficiency is the ultimate value we should have because whatever you want, you want it
11:15 am
efficiently as possible. and it's the only system that will provide efficiency. everything else was going to be totally a disaster and won't work. okay. so this is the line. and now all of a sudden we're being told, oh, my god, what are we going to do? the robots are going to replace our jobs. i mean, this is what people have been dreaming for centuries. it's finally happening, and everybody's like -- [laughter] our economic system cannot possible redistribute jobs in such a way that only the necessary things are done for a few hours a day and we all get something of the easy robot bounty the. [laughter] i mean, like, it sounds like, you know, we have got the most inefficient economic system that ever existed. this is a real simple problem. it shouldn't be that hard to solve. so if we can't solve our economic system, i think we another one. >> and, you know, speaking in my capacity as a professional dystopian science fiction writer -- [laughter] i find that story of technological unemployment from self-driving cars to be grossly
11:16 am
overstated. on the one hand, we just don't have self-driving cars that are very good. and on the other hand, if we did have self-driving cars that were very good, we'd have so much else that the problem of millions of truckers out of work would be, like, a minor irrelevance. i once heard a record industry executive in 2002 give a talk about how the record industry may seem screwed up to all of you other people because we just sued 19,000 music fans, but you wait til 3-d printers come along, and you're all going to be doing the same thing. a friend of mine was like, well, it's scare mongering, but kind of cool to hear a record industry executive talk about 3-d printers. [laughter] this is like encountering the railroad for the first time and thinking where will the people who sew the oat bags for the houses go? [laughter] -- the horses go? it's a little bit shortsighted. >> yeah. >> are there any people that identify as female that would like to take us out with a final, awesome, barn-burning
11:17 am
question or even just an okay question? >> or an offbeat question. >> or an offbeat question. okay, over there. >> [inaudible] >> ark h. ah. >> what's the difference between trickle down and the middleman. >> well, because it's not really trickling down, it's trickling up if you give it to everybody. i mean, i actually think bullshit jobs a are -- are a result of trickle down theory. unfortunately, the one thing everybody seems to agree on left of and right is that more jobs are always good. the difference is the left wants to give money to consumers who will then buy stuff and so rich people will employ, you know, workers to make the stuff to sell them. and trickle down says, no, no, rich people are job creators, so give them money, and they'll figure out a way to create jobs.
11:18 am
but then they can't actually hire people to make stuff because there's nobody to buy it, so they hire lots of flunk keys. so that's real trickle down the. i mean, obviously, if you're giving money to everybody, that's what they used to call trickle up or the opposite of it. that's called keynesian still the plus gone crazy or aggregate demand increase. but the it's not aimed at necessarily creating jobs because we want people to be working, but e don't want jobs. i don't want jobs. jobs mean working harder at something you don't want to be doing for a person who's kind of annoying. whereas work is like doing something that needs doing. i think it has nothing to do with trickle down, trickle up. what you're saying is this is money that appears, so it's about reallocating money. that's what politics is, about allocating resources and money. trickle down says give it to a
11:19 am
serb branch of -- certain branch of the population. >> it feels like the collapse of the soviet union was a trauma for the people pitted most strongly against it, and they're going against the stages of grieving. bargaining. well, maybe if trickle down isn't working, maybe we could just layer on a.i. or something, you know, or like ubi. captain the of industry who are advocating for ubi, maybe we can just keep intact gross wealth inequality but continue to have demand stimulus by having ubi. >> right. ubi, as i keep saying, it reduces the power of buick record city and -- bureaucracy and increases the power of the people who are getting it. psychology has a lot tad with it -- to do with it. it sounds like a handout, but it's not because you're actually acknowledging the role that people have in creating the things that make wealth possible. because there are things that are equally created by all of us every day which are the real
11:20 am
basis of all this wealth. i i mean, insofar as there's high-tech which makes bounty possible, it's created or, first of all, you know, basic forms of knowledge that make that probable includes things like english, you know? common wisdom, language. that's created by everybody. all of this stuff that combines in the forms of knowledge which make possible all this wealth, you can't say i created it more than that guy. we all did. so we're giving people a social dividend for the the they create, and they're getting ripped off. >> i think this is the moment at which we ritually deface your books. >> oh, right. inscribing names on them. >> rendering them upon the-returnable. >> nope. is it working? okay. give us a second. we are going to, we're going to clear the stage off, we're going to put a table up. if you have a book and you want to get it signed, we're going to ask that you line up in this
11:21 am
aisle, you'll come on stage, maybe ask your question that you didn't get to and carry on out of the theater and out into the world. >> into the woodchipper. >> yes, exactly. [laughter] >> so hang tight and we'll get it going. thanks, guys. [cheers and applause] >> booktv is on twitter, facebook and instagram. follow us @booktv for behinds the scenes -- behind the scenes videos from festivals and events all over the country as we celebrate 20 years of nonfiction authors and books. post your favorite booktv moments from the last 20 years using the hashtag booktv 20. >> host: so, mark mills, what do


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on