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That a smart enough bunch of people, given enough time or money, could fully automate the job that me and about 40 people do for e.on
Settlements is the short hand for the difference between what we generate, sell and buyback from the national grid, to what we recieve from a customer.
So if we sold and bought back 1billion K/WH on the 4th of April 2012, we have 14 months (or until today) to ensure that we have recouped that from customers, or else we start to see a disparity.
Specifically, I work in a department which forms one of the three parts of any electricity company, the Date Collectors. The other two are the Data Aggregators and Supplier. All three legally have to be separate and hold their own information. DC and Supplier have to be aligned or there is a chance of settlements disparity, which DA report on and feedback to us.
I make sure data on forms matches between the two, and also a fourth, nationwide third party called ECOES. It mostly involves checking dates are correct, and ensuring that we have an accurate predicted advance, as well as an accurate calculation of what has actually been used in the past 14 months.
So much of what I do can be fixed by a computer, but it isn't because we spent all our money on a stupid system that was supposed to be fit for purpose, but ended up only working on accounts where there was nothing wrong, as opposed to the 1.4 million that had errors on at the time of implementation.
That's the gist at least.
TL:DR I make sure imaginary dates match up between 3 people, other wise we lose boatloads of money.
i'm a pricing analyst for british gas so i actually did understand it all
but starting to learn elec this week
so I can defend the eon massive
it does seem like a significant number of office workers can get their jobs done in 15 hours. be interesting to imagine a world where they got paid the same because they did the same amount of work, but worked fewer hours because that's all they needed to
that 'working' doesn't mean 'doing a set of tasks that need to be done' but 'being in a certain place for a set number of hours without being allowed to leave or pursue personal activities', and it seems quite difficult to imagine a set-up like that having nothing to do with social control
Was there a time when the opposite were true? Employers would pay piecemeal wages dependent on output to exert social control, such as a Adam Smith's pin factory idea?
to productive jobs (eg cleaning, fruit picking etc).
are necessitated by other pointless jobs which themselves were made because of a pointless job. Its a self perpetuating cycle. Scary when I think that any company Ive ever worked for if it just disappeared would not cause a second of discomfort to anyone, apart from those working there.
this is one of those incredibly obvious ideas that i'm amazed doesn't have an awful lot more mainstream political currency
but I don't really understand how it happened? he talks about it like the upper echelons of society all meet in a dark room somewhere and conspire to rule over everyone and make their lives a misery
They think they're doing them a favour by giving them something to do, with the added side benefits of keeping them out of trouble, making money to spend on shite, being cogs in the production, and eating up time so people can't think about REVOLTING. This is all a bit GCSE sociology but you get my point.
that there exists someone (or some group) capable of making that decision
WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!
it's that certain social structures have emerged through whatever combination of historical processes, some consciously designed and some not (eg the standard working week is probably a hangover from a time when industrial/manual work dominated the economy and maintaining a profitable level of production did actually require that many hours of labour (as some industries still do)) and those social structures happen to disproportionately benefit a small class of people and those people hold a lot of power and influence over the future shape of our social structures (in that they are the people making decisions about the direction of industries and how technologies will be used and what worker's lives look like and what mainstream media looks like), and keeping society more or less the same as it is right now is very much in those people's interests. so it's less like a conspiracy and more like a combination of the self-interested decisions of powerful people and general social resistance to radical change
Someone explain why kids in England go to school from September to July in 2013. Go on, do it.
which coincides with what should hopefully be the nicest weather and pleasant for the children?
but I'm worried you'll call me a sex offender again. Let's call this a draw.
We stick to a school calendar devised during an entirely different era, despite an overwhelming body of evidence (essentially all of south east Asia) demonstrating it's harmful to the educational prospects of our children. And for no reason other than it's what we've always done.
maybe that holds true for massive conglomerates that have existed for generations, but what about companies that have started up fairly recently that have no outside influence and would have no reason to follow any model except the one that yields the most profit?
I don't understand why they would allow so many people doing nothing to work for them. There must be more to it than existing social structures. idk
I can work 15hrs a week and spend the rest of the time on my dubstep album?
My company (of about 120 people) is run on the principles in this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maverick_(book)
It has it's own problems but presenteeism is not one of them.
Or a job, either would be good.
what are some of the problems?
The problems mostly come in transition from 'the outside world' - it isn't for everyone. There's very little hierarchy or process: nobody is going to tell you what to do when you get to your desk in the morning or when to leave, but you are encouraged to make an impact right away. So the first few months can be a head fuck and really intense as you try and work out how to get things done and indeed what needs to be done. You need to be quite self-motivated. But generally I think it makes people much more productive and innovative, as you are encouraged to think and act like a business owner all the time.
they meet in a nice light room somewhere
near the end he says:
'Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error'
'huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed.'
pretty sure my job fits right into this.
There will increasingly be a moral imperative to the argument too, when does it become immoral to allow a human to complete a job, surgery, driving, whatever, that can be carried out in a less errpr-prone way by a machine?
I'll lay my dignity at the door to help bolster my point.
and the response it's going to get from pickledouef.
a bullshit job.
least of all Wza's mum (she told me later)
Administration – for instance – isn’t pointless at this present moment in time, as we haven’t yet reached a point of automation where it is no longer required. There still needs to be people filing stuff away. Things still need to be administered on a human level as many businesses have not progressed past that point. In 20 years time we may begin to feel the crunch of this matter as I think by then we will be far more advanced – but something else will take its place.
A lot of “paperwork” has to be maintained for legal reasons, or to place the company in a position whereby they are safe legally. Now, has that legislation come about to fill out the roles of these administrative staff, or have they come about for a whole host of other reasons (often a positive shift)? The latter, of course.
But essentially the point above comes down to a position of protectionism for businesses, and that’s why people are employed. It’s clear that the only reason any of us has a job is because it is financially beneficial for our company to employ us. Likewise, businesses have no responsibility to pay you the same no matter how long it takes you to do your job. You should be damn happy you’re not being paid on productivity alone, as I’m guessing you’d find it difficult to live on 15 hours work a week. We’re lucky to be in full time employment frankly, as the alternative is a bastardised zero hours world where the average worker is at even more risk.
Be careful what you wish for, eh
and I think that most people would acknowledge that a position like a medical secretary allows a doctor to actually do their job more efficiently (or it did, before this government took the knife to admin and doctors saw their patient time decrease).
... those jobs are necessary now, but only because we have built up an intricate matrix of interdependent factors that make them so.
Also, being paid on productivity, as you call it, would mean you got paid the same regardless of how long your job took, which for a lot of people might well be preferable.
because they are necessary for the company to make a financial return i.e with the labour as raw materials and an associated profit. Now whatever you think the jobs can't just "be there" because its been arbitrarily decided that x amount of full time jobs must exist to keep the population in employment. They're there because there's a benefit for the company. And of course there are thousands of bullshit companies providing bullshit services, but they are only there because they provide a service that is demanded on some level, and they only exist to increase the investment of the owner/shareholders.
and with that in mind, what world do you think we live in whereby businesses would be happy to pay the same for somebody working 20 hours on a nominally 40 hours contract? On an economic level it makes zero sense to hire 2 people working 20 hours when you can hire one working 40. I see it constantly with contractors who expand their job to fill the time - it's definitely not in their interest to let their employers know how quickly they can do their job. I suspect the same is true on the same level for a lot of permanent staff
is so often just the pointless passing of money from one pointless activity provider to another, no? ...
also, your second paragraph is not in conflict with the argument of the article, you just seem to be approaching it from a different angle?
The point is , why? to what end?
and why? Well, I guess it's keeping us all in employed. This thread has just given me a pretty dystopian vision of the future.
And over the last two years the penny appears to have dropped for a lot of people that this is one thing where he was pretty much bang on (there was a whole issue of Wired devoted to it, economists like Krugman have started writing about it, etc.).
and more on my level
I think we have a problem in that, in most developed nations (especially the US and UK) the politicians you have in power all grew up and were educated in a world where neoliberalism won and authoritarian communism lost, and for almost 20 years there hasn't needed to be any kind of economic debate. All they've been doing is arguing matters of basic administration, really, when it comes to the economy.
These aren't politicians who are going to suddenly start debating seriously recomposing the nature of the economy with radical ideas like taxes on fixed capital or whatever because a) they have no idea how to do so, you might as well ask a bunch of mechanics to discuss astrophysics, and b) they're not going to want to suddenly argue that they've been wrong on some fundamental economic issues for their entire lives and careers.
We're going to have to wait another ten years at least I think before new generations of politicians start appearing who have come without that baggage *and* the willingness to do some radical rethinking, just as it took ages for the neoliberals to appear in the late 70s and 80s after the post-war Keynesian consensus.
I'm not saying it's not a good idea, just that if you look at it from their point of view it would be utter madness to seriously suggest that we should restructure the economy of the entire capitalist world, as if that's a thing that it was even possible to do. And what makes you think that the next generation of politicians will grow up without the baggage of having grown up and educated in a world of neoliberalism? They will be taught that authoritarian communism is A Bad Thing and neoliberalism is The Way Things Are
why? because it is working so well as it stands.
Massive failure of imagination and intelligence on their part if they can't even countenance the idea that is fucking up a huge proportion of people on the planet.
Just imagine it
then it gets a load of replies and draws you in for a read and turns out to be good?
This isn't one of those times.
But after that University Challenge thread I'm putting it up to about 200.
Where he points out that our current system of labour is predicated on the protestant belief that work is morally good and we should do it, regardless of its actual utility. He also posits that medieval people spent nearly all of their time arsing around with the odd hour here and there tending the fields, which doesn't ring entirely true, but it's hard see how any of this is general isn't entirely self evident. How society can successfully change to reflect that though - I don't know.
this is a very interesting point; esp. in the midst of all this 'benefit scroungers are society's greatest evil' nonsense
hold back technological, cultural, intellectual etc. etc. development. Trade is the lifeblood of progression and advancement (fuck off), self-sufficiency is at the core of non-bullshit jobs, but trade and self-sufficiency are, in the broadest terms, mutually exclusive. If everyone has a truly meaningful job, they don't really need to bother innovating to make themselves useful.
I don't really know where I'm going from, but yeah, the article is interesting.
which offer fewer hours than most people need to work, no security and no prospect for advancement. At least these bullshit jobs are part of the larger network of bullshit (capitalism fyi) so you can reap some rewards like not having to live with your parents (bitter).
just ones with terrible working conditions
but i dunno if they're 'bullshit' jobs in the sense we're talking about. The difference being that people might consider a career in a 'bullshit' job but nobody will consider a career in a callcentre. the whole industry is premised on the fact that each employee is only going to be there for a year maximum before they quit or are sacked for the sake of bringing new people in. That person is then just going to get another callcentre job for 6 months until the same happens again.
The callcentres are never actually run by the companies they/re calling on behalf of so you can't transfer to non-tele sales or something with slightly more security.
Basically theres not much 'bullshitting' going on because nobody even pretends they're worth anything. The main bullshit is on the part of the government who can claim that these places give people worthwhile employment and that they're doing THEIR job properly.
and that loads of jobs add nothing to humanity and involve a lot of time wasting. But I kinda agree with douchebag too that he's overplayed the extent of absolute waste of time jobs. corporate law is a pretty bad example imo because it's based on maximising billable hours. in terms of the 'hours worked: net value to employer' ratio, its probably the least bullshit job. In terms of how it actually helps the world obviously that's questionable. Pretty impossible to imagine a corporate world without lawyers though since, yknow, they make that happen. Probably massively overcharging business clients but that's not the issue here.
also when you consider how many people are actually paid for their hourly rate and who do 'actual work' for the entire duration of their working day (like moving stuff, according to this guy, but also retail, care and and customer service sectors which each employ millions of people in the uk mostly on low wages) a still very considerable part of the economy is based on employers being able to commodify labour in this way (at an hourly rate). If we were to operate instead by, for example, setting certain office workers specific tasks to complete whilst paying them the same regardless of how long they take to complete those tasks, firstly not actually that many people would benefit. secondly you'd have a huge disparity between the sectors who employ unskilled and semiskilled workers:(some) office based workers would effectively earn more than, for example, a care assistant by whatever multiple you've just reduced their hours by. Third I doubt many employers would do this, rather than just cutting hours (because capitalism and also because you're actually worth more to them being in the office getting paid £9/hour over a whole day than £18/hour doing all your work in the morning because, e.g you're easier to supervise and control).
Obvs reducing the working week has been an aim of the labour movement since forever. But I can't really see any real world policy implications in this article; what hes describing is so intimately intertwined within current capitalism and corporate imperatives.
also we should probably consider 99% of retail jobs bullshit because they're selling things people don't really need for too much money.
if the hypothetical care assistant I mentioned - who by no means is doing a 'bullshit' job - cant be in a position to work ~20 hours* and still have a good living standard, then the system doesn't work.
* or whatever we're saying a regular working week ought to be, which I'm pretty sure we'd have to do or else the same problems of inequality emerge)
different skill set
But yeah the more I think about it, the only option for getting rid of this 'bullshit' sit on your arse jobs problem is a planned economy based on sound socialist principles.
mandatory living wage for a 15-hour week in all sectors, double the number of positions in industries that actually require more labour hours (solving unemployment) which will be paid for by all the money saved in the vast-scale streamlining and/or abolition of the office-based bullshit sectors. many pointless office workers will have to move into service/manual/care work but they'll be doing 15-hour weeks so can't fucking complain. sorted.
(seems unimaginable I know) and self employed people etc who are happy to work more hours.
I think I'd be a nurse
but a logical result of still having a sizeable section of the workforce on wages that are as low as employers can get away with. Their working week has to be 40 hours, or whatever multiple of hourly minimum wage enables them to stay above the breadline/ expected standard of living/pay back wonga.
If we were to have a different norm for more skilled workers, I think that would be too egregious. It's easy enough to convince ourselves that if you work hard you get financial rewards. Harder to cope with the proposition that if you work hard, you don't have to work as much. The workers would just revolt.
Hhehee where's creaky these days?
Summary: the 'phenomenon' is caused by low wages
so I'll just say that Strike! Magazine looks a very interesting publication, thank you marckee for linking me to it.
but the gap in this otherwise great piece (ignoring the tone of superiority that massively overpowers his pretty weak attempts at self-deprecation and self-effacement) is that a huge chunk of the bullshit jobs he identifies have their basis less in economic/industrial hangovers nor even in some kind of vague capitalist-ideological hegemony, than in certain political/governmental (i.e. "democratic") ideals and processes — to the extent that these structures can be clearly separated.
How much pointless and redundant form-filling, record-keeping, operations reporting, for instance, is carried out — not just by people employed specifically to carry out those tasks, but by just about anyone who works in an organisation larger than a family-owned small business — in the name of such putatively democratic ideals of transparency, accountability and compliance?
Certainly, the bullshit that I'm certain motivated this particular author to write this piece — i.e. the bullshit work that goes on in the (post)modern university — has little to do with some kind of capitalist plot to keep people too busy to revolt, but a lot to do with ensuring that public money is put to good and efficient use (the irony being that instead it's being wasted on bullshit work aimed at preventing waste).
The again, maybe he hasn't failed to recognise this: I've just noticed that his book is called The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, which suggests that *maybe* he sees a certain ideal of democracy as inscribed within the problem.
and this is discussed more in things he's written with comparison to the former communist states, he does talk about the bureaucracy necessary to ensure transparency, probity and accountability, and also that necessary to ensure health and safety and the enforcement of regulations that protect people, but he sees these as distinct to the industries and jobs that he's mainly talking about in this essay.
there's a good David Graeber piece from The Baffler a few months ago where he talks about how, in the late capitalist times we are living, the logic of corporations and governments isn't to improve the economy but to make the general public feel that the only thing possible is a neoliberal system
i haven't read the book he put out (yet), though.
i feel like what he is talking about in the piece link to in the original post is kind of linked to that logic. individual employers won't pay people based on how much work they've done because it just doesn't exist within what they understand as the world. it's not how things are done
He writes about recent econonic history and how neoliberalism has become a Thoery of Everything . And also some of his other works is about the interaction between physics and economics.
hehe i've been thinking about getting that book for a while
most of the stuff i've read tends to be like recent-ish Grundrisse influenced stuff like Lefebvre and Negri and Tiqqun and that. would actually like to read more Political Economy as i basically know nothing about it (and, being a maths/science guy, i guess it would be kinda intuitive for me?)
will try and remember this for my semi-annual Student Loan Book Binge
for me bureaucratic bullshit is a far more signficant than "dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen". And I don't see the other sectors he's talking about (corporate law, lobbyists, etc.) as separate from the political-governmental ideals and processes that "necessitate" public service bureaucracy.
This passage in particular is very clearly about academia:
"Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done – at least, there’s only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there’s endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it’s all that anyone really does."
Amazingly accurate description of university life - less so the other jobs he's talking about I suspect.
but wouldn't that mean that someone who chooses not to work earns the same as someone who is incapable of working? not sure that's fair
I don't see how that's true
but as it's paid by taxes, it's fair to look at it versus taxes... if i'm paying more taxes than i'm getting from the benefits, im not going to feel like i'm getting anything
personally, i'd probably quit my (bullshit) job if this was implemented
- imagine you might one day be without work
- imagine the benefits you are bringing to your neighbours
- imagine the greater flexibility and security it could bring to society in general and all the knock-on effects of that, from which you yourself could benefit
Give every man, woman or child of any age £4k each, let's say, with no additional benefits?
Beautifully simplistic but can't help feel that you'd get people banging out kids for more dollar.
How would you distribute it?
versus "You’d still need a few means-tested benefits for certain cases, such as disability".
How is this contradiction reconciled — esp. when you start to question what counts as disability (is it limited to significant physical impairment, or does it include "soft" forms of disability?) and why it might need "special treatment" (because disability entails disadvantage; but then is disability the only or even the main manifestation of disadvantage?), and all the debates that would (rightly) ensue from trying to answer those questions.
"it would give everybody an equal platform to build from" — I don't remember reading anything in the discussion about abolishing inheritance. And the kind of pre-existing, varied dis/advantage that would ensure that this citizen's income could never provide such an equal platform goes well beyond simply financial advantage gained from inheriting land and money, to include the differential inheritance of a social and academic capital that comes with being raised in a family that possesses more or less of that kind of "wealth".
Generally speaking (without wanting to make an absolute principle out of it), equal treatment solves nothing.
I just finished working as a project co-ordinator for a social care company. The amount of form filling, auditing of documentation to do with care packages, the slightest worry or concern raised and suddenly there has to be a whole investigation devoted to it taking up a relatively large number of man hours.
Surely in part it's government and government agency regulation that is driving the creation of all these "bullshit" jobs?
If taxation systems were flatter and more simple than we might have less "bullshit" jobs within huge organisations like HMRC for example.
Although I agree that part of the problem here, and maybe I'm not really articulate enough to get my opinion across in the way I want here, but it's the "expertisation" of the world innit? Take the financial advice sector. A lot of it's bullshit, more and more complicated schemes made up by people seeking to convince people that what they do is incredibly complicated and they should be incredibly well compensated for it. The principles of investing, asset allocation and that aren't that difficult. Yet people with a decent amount of money are scared to sort it out for themselves because it's overcomplicated; if they spent a few hours a week working on their own finances, they wouldn't need a whole sub-sector of the whole financial services industry.
i've got a job that i really like now but it's unpaid and i finish on friday
has to play some part in the amount of bullshit jobs around. From the archive: Parkinson's Law | The Economist
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