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Sarkeesian Effect “ethics” expert encourages his readers to make money helping students cheat

There's money in them thar words
There’s money in them thar words

You may remember Aaron Clarey — also known as “Captain Capitalism” — as one of the random manospherians interviewed for the cinematic abomination known as The Sarkeesian Effect. I don’t quite remember if he made it into the final cut of the official, er, “film.” He definitely did appear in Davis Aurini’s bootleg version, pontificating about the alleged lack of ethics in American journalism while, for some unknown reason, wearing a cravat.

Turns out that Mr. Clarey’s definition of “ethics” is a rather unique one.

On Monday, Clarey encouraged his blog readers to take advantage of a unique opportunity to earn some sweet, sweet cash — helping students cheat their way through college by writing their essays and term papers for them.

Clarey posted a pitch from his apparent pal Aleksey Bashtavenko, the head of something called Academic Composition, who started off by thanking Clarey for sending so many aspiring , er, ghostwriters his way in the past.

I’d like to personally thank Aaron and all of you who follow his blog Captain Capitalism, you guys have been the main driving force behind the recent growth of our enterprise.

After a slow summer, “Alex” reported,

we’re definitely getting much busier and this may well be our most lucrative semester yet.

Quite a few people have inquired about job opportunities with us and we weren’t able to receive help from all of you. Yet, we could definitely use all of the support we can get. Within a month, we will be entering the busiest juncture of the academic year and it will last all the way through the end of 2016.

As you can see, he’s all about the high-quality prose.

Alex, who claims his “full-time writers earn over $3,000 per month,” also has some job openings in the Craigslist spamming “subcontracting” department as well.

We’re also looking to expand our ranks of Craigslist subcontractors. Many of you have been posting for us regularly and invariably, this helped us get to where we are today. We pay $5 for each lead our subcontractors generate and another $1 for each day your ads have been live.

Presumably Clarey is getting paid for posting this. Is there anyone in the manosphere who isn’t some kind of grifter?

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Megalibrarygirl
Megalibrarygirl
4 years ago

@Kupo

I love freethought blogs. Which blog is brony’s? I usually read pz, affinity, Shiv, and death to squirrels. 🙂

JS
JS
4 years ago

@Neremanth

Just following standard troll procedure of ignoring the questions you don’t want to answer, and concentrating on the sillier things people say.

Of course things went to insults after continuing in that vein for quite some time.

“What is the store of value if it’s not labor?” answered with a wall of text about fiat currency, which seems to boil down to “the store of value is not just based on labor given the existence of fiat currency”. Perhaps he got that from the cheating essay site?

Also, I’m getting the desire to find Fiat currency based on oddly designed compact cars.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Megalibrarygirl
It’s http://freethoughtblogs.com/primatechess/ or you can just link on his nym. 🙂

JS
JS
4 years ago

Found one, now to see if I can embed properly…

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

@Sinkable John

I’d like to personally thank Aaron and all of you who follow his blog Captain Capitalism, you guys have been the main driving force behind the recent growth of our enterprise.

The above is a comma splice.

To correct this sentence, the comma could be replaced by a period (in that case, the next word would be capitalized), a semicolon, a colon, or a long dash (an em dash).

Deimos Masque
Deimos Masque
4 years ago

@Josh

Long time lurker here who wanted to chime in with some support.

When the Great Recession hit, my job as a data analyst was basically phased out of every medium-to-large company in my area.

I spent the first year trying to find a similar job with no effect. Spent the second year applying back to the Buyer/Planner job I had before.

Third year I got discouraged and fell to alcohol until my SO threatened to leave me. Rightfully so.

Four and five year was the battle against the employment gap.

Then finally I found someone who gave me a chance… And I’ve been working for a year in a new field and excelling.

The point is that the job search can get rough, even soul crushing but never give up, some one will eventually give you a chance.

msexceptiontotherule
msexceptiontotherule
4 years ago

Uhm, General Anxiety Disorder* has yet to be included in the government (SSA)”Categories of Impairments” listings which are used to determine whether a person qualifies for disability payments or SSI. Now, someone can have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder AND one of the conditions/diseases likely to result in death within 12 months/disorders in a relevant impairment category, and that *will* qualify them for disability payments or SSI. If all the faux-news right-wing jerks would quit claiming that people get disability for things they literally cannot get disability for because there are rules on what qualifies that must be followed, that it’s *easy* to get disability (if you consider years of waiting, tons of paperwork, having to get a lawyer oftentimes who will then get their money for ‘helping’ you via a percentage of whatever your disability benefit payment is each month, being denied a couple of times and having to start the whole process all over, needing extensively detailed documentation from drs and others who have knowledge of your condition and have treated you for it when you probably haven’t been able to afford a doctor or treatment for a long time because you’re disabled and out of work and the ACA is only just starting to help people in this predicament to not have to go to the emergency room for anything medical….easy….good lord I’d hate to know what you think ‘hard’ would be.) or that people who get disability benefits are living the good life on that sum along with all the ‘free stuff’ they’re supposedly getting (reality: they’re not). Hell, they can’t even try and save a bit for all the future expenses they’ll have to face without any of the usual means that people who are employed full-time in a job that includes benefits and a 401K once they’re eligible for social security. This is even after the recent legislation passed in 41 states (? so far?) that allows those who were disabled before age 26 to open ABLE accounts which are similar to 529s/higher ed savings accts but the money can be used for ‘any qualified disability related expense’ which is broadly defined in this case. Of course right now only 3 states have their program up and running and only 2 of those accept enrollments by residents of other states which have yet to establish a firm schedule for starting up a program of their own (each state that has passed legislation on ABLE is responsible for setting up a program). Parents with intellectually disabled children worried about what would happen to their child when they were gone and knew that the expenses would only increase over time are to thank for this small positive change. Still, disabled individuals unable to have resources easily liquidated into cash over $2000/$3000 if a couple are still facing a bleak future as they age if they weren’t disabled before 26…then maybe it would be less common for people to go around repeating these claims as though they’re factual.

*I am not saying that anxiety is not a legitimate diagnosis or that it doesn’t get in the way of having a full and productive life for some with the diagnosis, or that medication used to treat it is available on the same basis as an OTC like tylenol or ibuprofen is – to all.

Bryce
Bryce
4 years ago

@ Paradoxical Intention

It’s honestly so underrated, and I’m searching high and low for a new copy I can get in meatspace. Internet’s a bit of a last resort for it, but it’s looking like that’s the way to go.

ebay? Plenty of copies. Also available via the Playstation Store.

That, along with Chrono Cross was one of those must-play titles I never got around to. Too bad neither got a PAL region release.

Scildfreja Unnýðnes
Scildfreja Unnýðnes
4 years ago

Wwwelp. I tried to make him interesting, but leave him alone for like five minutes and he ends up smearing poo all over the walls and getting put into the time-out corner. Just like a spoiled toddler. Sorry everyone!

Sinkable John : Pansy Ass Pinko, Regicidal Beast-of-Burden
Sinkable John : Pansy Ass Pinko, Regicidal Beast-of-Burden
4 years ago

@Paradoxy

Hello, pagan here!

Yes, I remembered you’d said it before 🙂
The author in question was a witchcraft oriented one – she’s not on the list you linked but that’s probably because she’s French. What I’ve read of hers doesn’t really fall into the cranky category but I’ve heard about other things – seems most people think that “some of her work is to be avoided, the rest is great”, but I dunno about that.

Incidentally, I think she lives pretty close to here. Takes pride in being “the last witch in Allier” but I’ll happily doubt that claim. Not least because I know three others, they just don’t write books.

Re : atheism

Ya I’m of the freethought flavor as well. The “anti-SJW atheists” (What the hell does being a reactionary have to do with atheism ? Rational much ?) piss me off big time but I’m glad for PZ.

Re : troll

I have a good epitaph for him !

Fuck you. Fuck all of you. Why don’t you all just line up and fall over on top of each other like dominoes? You slip brained monocles. You rod faced mumblers. You alabaster sea triplet cumbersome zebras. You pork grinding asshats. You well-poisoning book-burning oatmeal fondling rubber necked fishmongers. You sluggish back-blood watershed pimple coating turd flingers. You rotten dog wart jock straps. Usurers. Potato skins. You listen to Nickleback unironically.

(Yeah it just doesn’t get old)

Brony, Social Justice Cenobite

@Megalibrarygirl
My blog is “Primate Chess”. I just started and want to post more often but I’ve been overwhelmed by too many things.

Edit: looks like Kupo already got it.

Megalibrarygirl
Megalibrarygirl
4 years ago

@Brony and Kupo

I’m checking it out right now. Thank you, I enjoy finding new stuff to read. 😉

Josh
Josh
4 years ago

@PI

As someone who was in the same boat for two years (until just today, actually), and as someone who had to move from the west coast of the United States to the east coast to find work (among other things), and the only way I was able to get noticed at the place I’m going to be working at was because my roommate works at the place an could bug the manager on my behalf, I’m seconding all of this.

The longest I was ever unemployed was about 8 months, which sucked but I live with family so my main problem was feeling guilty about my own inability to contribute to our finances. I’m glad you managed to find something after so long!

Also, seconding your opinion on FF7.

Josh
Josh
4 years ago

@Deimos Masque

I appreciate the support, thank you. I just did a phone interview yesterday, and they said my application was sent to the hiring manager. So, fingers crossed!

And I’m glad you managed to find something yourself. Your time unemployed sounds a lot tougher than mine!

Deimos Masque
Deimos Masque
4 years ago
Reply to  Josh

@Josh

That’s great news, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

And yes, my unemployment run went pretty bad but it had more to do with the time and location at first.

After that the issue was more one of the employer prejudice against the “over qualified” Even my current boss said in our first interview “You know I can’t pay you anywhere near you’re last salary.”

For some reason many employers seem baffled by the idea that you may “just want to work” and don’t care if you make the same money as the last job you had.

My father faced a similar challenge when he was let go from his Operations Manager position. Fortunately, he also found a person who understood that he was applying to the lower paying job because he wanted to work.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@JS – Oh, it’s fine. My comment was intended to be self-deprecating, along the lines of “why on earth would anybody possibly not want to engage with me when my post is a giant wall of text for them to wade through?” It was long, and I wouldn’t have really expected even a non-troll to read it all through and respond to all the points. And he had a lot of other people asking him things, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t time for him to engage with them all, even if he hadn’t been banned. (Just to be clear though, the deprecation only referred to my own post: I didn’t mean to suggest there was any good reason why he didn’t respond to the two people I quoted in particular.)

________________

On the whole labour and the value of currency topic, what I find hard to understand is why people always view it as natural, correct, and the only way that things could be that the price for a person’s labour is what it’s worth to the buyer, not the seller. (This is used to justify dramatically unequal wages: they are unequal because different people’s labour is worth different amounts to the people who pay for it, due to their differing skills. If wages were set according to how much the labourer valued the time spent working that they could have been using to do something else – not the only alternative way of doing things, or necessarily the best in any sense, but just speaking hypothetically – then I would imagine there’d be a lot more equality as people surely don’t vary so much in that.)

I mean, I understand why that currently is how it works. More unemployed people than vacancies and people needing to work more than employers need vacancies filled leads to the employers being able to dictate the terms. I am also open to the possibility that this is the only system that does work: I’m not an economist so I honestly don’t know whether or not something else would be viable (though I certainly hope so). I just don’t understand why the price employers are prepared to pay is unquestioningly taken as by definition the fair price for the time given up and the effort expended, so that people talk about the very highly waged having “earned” their salary and expect that to provide the decisive point that wins their opponents over in discussions about taxation or reducing pay inequality.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

I just don’t understand why the price employers are prepared to pay is unquestioningly taken as by definition the fair price for the time given up and the effort expended, so that people talk about the very highly waged having “earned” their salary and expect that to provide the decisive point that wins their opponents over in discussions about taxation or reducing pay inequality.

It’s more complicated than that.

In an environment of perfect competition (lots of sellers with identical or interchangeable products – some labor markets also work like this) the price is going to be close or at the economic cost of production. Economic costs include a “normal profit” which is the profit the seller requires in order to keep the means of production in production. If you don’t make at least X profit on your corn/widget/labor, you just won’t bother working your land/capital goods/precious self because you can’t meet your personal needs with that income, so there’s no point. If the price is too low and you can’t get by, you’ll look for some other way to monetize your resources and withdraw from the market. This leaves buyers with a reduced pool of goods/labor from which to draw, resulting in the price being bid up, and higher prices draw some sellers back into the market. The end result is a price that results in just enough profit for the sellers to get by, and no more.

Most markets do not operate in an environment of perfect competition. The other extreme is the monopoly, which results in profit maximization. Note that anything higher than a normal profit is “economic rent,” which is economic waste. Utilities have near-perfect monopolies, which is why they are tightly regulated to keep prices near the normal-profit level, or simply run by the state.

The control that buyers have over a market (and this goes for both goods and labor) is that they want to pay the lowest price possible, and the number of sellers in the market and their relative levels of normal profit are what determine what that price will be. It generally works well for individuals in the goods-and-services market, as competition drives down prices for consumers, but not so well for individuals in the labor market, where the same mechanisms drive down prices for employers.

Josh
Josh
4 years ago

@Deimos Masque

Yeah, the interview I got had a question like “Why did you apply with us?” And I was stumped for a moment because I thought “I need a job” was obvious. And after that they were telling me I’d make slightly less than my old job like they were afraid it would be a deal breaker. I wasn’t sure why they thought that might matter to an unemployed person, but whatever. 😀

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@Policy of Madness –
Thanks for that, that makes sense and was interesting. But that’s still an explanation of why people are paid what they are, not an explanation of why this is seen as being the fair value of their labour. It deals with economics, but my interest was in morality. Not why some people earn vast sums but whether it’s “only right and just” that they do. Like I said, I’m prepared to hear that nothing else would work, but even if that’s the case that doesn’t explain why it’s fair. It’s like the example of the water seller in the middle of the desert, who can probably get a million pounds a bottle from desperate people who happen upon the stall – but that doesn’t mean a million pounds is a fair price or the true value of the water.

It hadn’t occurred to me that things are the other way round for the individual in their capacity as a consumer than in their capacity as an employee, but that makes a lot of sense and it’s an interesting point.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness –
Sorry, I’ve realised you weren’t actually trying to address the fairness question, just to provide a better explanation than what I wrote about why things are as they are. So thanks for that! It was very helpful.

sevenofmine
sevenofmine
4 years ago

I think the thing with employers worrying about prospective employees making less than their previous jobs or being overqualified is that they see you as potentially “difficult” and a high risk to quit. They expect you to be disgruntled and always watching for a better opportunity. I don’t think they’re stumped by the fact that someone is willing to take any job.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

@Neremanth

The fairness thing has two components. The first is the reality component: this is the way things are, and probably the only way they can be unless human beings fundamentally change or society transforms into something that I can’t even adequately imagine right now.

The second is the just-world component. People want to believe that the world is inherently just, that there is justice in what happens. Many religions bake this into their dogma, but even people who aren’t religious are susceptible to just-world bias. If the world is just, then people get what they deserve, and they deserve what they get. People want to believe that, and most people in my experience actually do. This is the origin of the way we excuse the misbehavior of the wealthy and powerful, but crack down hard on the misbehavior of the poor. The wealthy and powerful must just be better people, because the world is just, and justice would not allow terrible human beings to prosper.

It’s a fallacy, but it’s a very common one. I think you’ll find that most people haven’t thought their morality all the way through, and just fly by the seat of their pants when they decide what is fair and what is not fair. Therefore, it’s easy for the just-world fallacy to lead someone to believe that one person deserves a high salary (because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get one) and another person does not (because if they did deserve one, they would have one).

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness
Well, that makes a lot of sense. I was kind of expecting someone to answer “why do people think that’s fair” with some argument that it is fair (whether sincerely putting forward one they believed themself or simply outlining what people who think it’s fair would say), but an explanation that operates at a less conscious level answers my question very well too. Thanks.

(The reality component doesn’t logically preclude anyone from saying “this is the way it has to be, but we totally admit it’s not fair”, but I guess the just-world component deals with that.)

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

@Neremanth

You will definitely get arguments that it is fair. The story is that the people with the giant salaries are higher-contributing to society, that they generate more social good than the people who flip burgers. You can immediately see a problem, because “social good” is usually measured as “shareholder value,” and even that isn’t valid because companies that pay their CEOs tens or hundreds of millions of dollars often don’t get much shareholder value for the money. They argue that they need to give these people massive payouts to attract and retain the talent (implying that they deserve the massive payout) but then the company fails to prosper. Often this is due to what’s called the principal-agent problem (the agent, the CEO, has different priorities from the principal, which is the company) so that huge paycheck doesn’t even accomplish what it’s supposed to accomplish.

But if it did? Shareholder value is a very poor proxy for social benefits, yet the equation between the two goes mostly unchallenged. This is a bias inherent in economics as a field – that social good is best measured in terms of money – and economics as a field has an enormous influence on Western society.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
4 years ago

They expect you to be disgruntled and always watching for a better opportunity.

Some months after I got my current job, I was told that the fact that I had been at my previous job almost ten years and only left because the entire office was closed down was a fairly strong factor in the hiring decision: it indicated that I was unlikely to jump ship at the first interesting offer that came along.

(Where I work does a whole lot of customization work for particular customers, so having the person who did a particular customized setup five years ago still available for questions can be a very good thing…)

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness

Thanks for that explanation. Social good being equal to shareholder value is certainly an… interesting point of view, but I can well believe it’s one adhered to by many people. Sounds like we need some more research into the relationship between the two!

And I didn’t know the high salaries don’t even necessarily accomplish what they’re intended to for the employers – that was interesting.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

@Neremanth

The relationship isn’t completely nonsense. It’s true that when a group of people gets more stuff, they are more prosperous as a whole. So if you measure the amount of stuff a country has, you can estimate how well the people in that country are doing. When shareholder value goes up, the total amount of “stuff” that society as a whole possesses also goes up. Obviously, though, the problem arises because the stuff isn’t distributed equally, so “society” can be improved without all individuals in society being improved by the same measure.

It makes sense if you think of economics as a branch of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the classical “the most good for the most people” moral system, but there’s a problem with it in that one can’t calculate “the most good” without being able to compare good across different people. But that’s impossible. I can rank what I like and tell you that I like one thing more than another thing, but I can’t rank my tastes and yours and say that I like this thing more than you like it. That can’t be done.

Economics solves this problem by subbing in money as a measure of happiness. If I am willing to pay $2 for something, and you are only willing to pay $1, then I must want it twice as much as you do, and so the most good in the world is accomplished if I am the one who gets it.

If you take that to its logical conclusion, all goods should go to the person willing to pay the most for them, because that person is the one who wants them the most and will get the most happiness out of them. Happiness could be maximized if everything in the world accrues to the richest person in the world, so long as that person was willing to actually pay the most money for those things.

How many problems are there with that statement? But that is the moral system of economics, and economics has powerful influence over our society. This is why one sees GDP used as a measure of a country’s wellbeing. Even if GDP didn’t have a zillion holes in it, there is a problem with using the amount of money slushing around an economy as a measure of how well individual people are doing. It’s an easy number to calculate, though, and economics says, while money isn’t what matters, it’s the most accurate measure of what does matter.

Utilitarianism is pretty fucked up, and we have made an offshoot of it our unofficial state morality.

Catalpa
Catalpa
4 years ago

@Josh

Usually I look up projects and awards and things the company I’m applying to has completed/won. Then when they ask a question like “Why did you apply to work with us?” or something I pull out something like “Well in 2015 your company won the XYZ management award and it seems like a great place to work” or “I was really intrigued by your work on ABC project and would love to get involved with work like that”.

Generally it flatters the people doing the interviewing and shows you did some homework about the company. Seems to work well enough for me, even if it’s not always sincere.

Catalpa
Catalpa
4 years ago

Miggy’s little rant confused me.

If fiat money has no intrinsic value and does not reflect the amount of work put into it, then why does it matter if “wellfare leeches” get given money for free? There’s no intrinsic value to it, and it does not reflect the amount of work put into obtaining it, so it doesn’t matter how it’s distributed, right?

Bryce
Bryce
4 years ago

@Neremanth

I’ve never heard vast income disparities justified as a “social good” – which is, oddly, something that seems to imply a social conscience. It’s usually framed in terms of incentives for the individual.

Wages are driven primarily by the availability of labour, rather than a measurable value of work.

Diptych
Diptych
4 years ago

So the executive class are utility monsters? I can believe it.

Also, I’m faintly offended that, times being as hard as they are, employers are apparently either still ignorant that they’re holding all the cards, or still suspicious of employees’ loyalty despite having them over the proverbial barrel.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness
I see. I didn’t really appreciate that the shareholder value is linked to the amount of stuff in a society.

economics says, while money isn’t what matters, it’s the most accurate measure of what does matter

That’s always been one of my biggest problems with economics, when it moves away from studying the purely financial. Particularly since so many economists seem to forget the part about money being an imperfect proxy when interpreting their results. (My other big problem is the assumption that everyone acts perfectly rationally, and in such a way that things like social approbation and other non-financial things don’t feed into their rational cost-benefit analyses. I know that again this is supposed to be only a simplified model to help in understanding the world, but rarely do I see that recognised when hypotheses are being formulated or results translated into real world conclusions.)

@ Bryce
Indeed, incentives for the individual tends to pop up a lot when people are explaining why some people get paid more than others, but when ethics enter the question, as when discussing the morality of individuals or coroporations using legal loopholes to reduce the amount of tax they pay, people will definitely claim that it is right some people have more than others because they contribute more. I guess in that situation they’re justifying high earners holding onto their salary, not receiving it in the first place, so maybe that’s why the arguments are a bit different?

History Nerd
History Nerd
4 years ago

In STEM jobs, your academic record is often a crucial part of whether you get hired or not because your ability to do the job depends on your understanding of the basic concepts and your writing skills. So STEM companies want to hire people who get good grades (B to A- range for most classes) in both their STEM field and humanities and social science courses.

Most schools report cheating on people’s transcripts, so employers will find out if you cheated in college eventually. In STEM, cheating pretty much means you’re never going to get hired since your skills are strongly connected to your record.

Of course, Clarey is driven by contempt for higher education in the U.S. His goal is to get people to view higher education as a joke and he hates the people he claims to be helping.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 years ago

Neremanth and PoM, thank you for that very interesting exchange.

I know it’s been touched on in Sci-Fi before (and probably waaaay more than I’ve ever come across in my limited reading) but when I world-build in my head in idle moments one of the things I like to mull over is how to set up an economy – or a parallel economy – in which the currency is time (a bit like what you mentioned, Neremanth). Everybody only has one life, ergo everybody’s time is of equivalent value (which is deemed to increase when you have less of it left, hence an effective retirement age for the elderly).

Everybody regardless of circumstances gets food-clothing-shelter, healthcare and unlimited access to information-education; all adults have to chip in some time to do tasks that are needed for the benefit of society. There’s a sort of computerised bidding system so that if an essential task happens to be liked or at least not-disliked by many (say, maintaining the public gardens or cleaning the streets – in summer) you might need to put in 10 hours a week, but if a task is disliked by most (say, those same things but in winter) its tariff would go up and you’d only need to put in 2 hours a week; you get the idea. Me, I’d run a mile from childminding but I’d happily do some hours of sorting in a recycling centre – that kind of thing. The computer shows what tasks are currently needed in your neighbourhood, what skills and experience each one requires, and what its current “tariff” is, constantly updated.

Of course there would be infinite argument around which tasks should be included! And about how to account for the ones that demand a significant learning curve to be able to do them at all. But in my current imaginary world they include: education, research, healthcare, producing food, and building and cleaning/maintaining infrastructure (including social housing) – the things everybody needs and gets for “free” in this set-up.

The rest of the time people do what they like, which could include both the non-moneymaking and the moneymaking things we do now. It’s just that you don’t get to contribute nothing to social well-being (or even actively detract from it) (by being a hedge fund manager, say, or running AVfM) without incurring widespread public disapproval; your refusal to contribute is in the public domain, so it could impact on your hedgefunding or your shitstirring activities. Obviously children and adults unable to chip in hours (for disability/health reasons etc.) are exempt.

In practice I’m probably never going to write the short story – and I haven’t seen the doubtless infinite holes in the idea – so I just thought I’d chuck it out here for fun. If anyone puts it in a story, let me know! 🙂

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ opposable thumbs

all adults have to chip in some time to do tasks that are needed for the benefit of society.

There’s a great story (I think by Asimov) called “No Connection”. It’s set in the far future where bears have evolved to take over from humans.

In their economy there are individual jobs and community jobs. You have to do a combination of both. So if you’re interested in books your individual job might be librarian but you’ll also have to put in a few hours each week on garbage collection (assuming there aren’t any people who want that as their main job)

There’s a nice bit where the protagonist’s kid tries to argue that ‘sleeping’ is an essential community function.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 years ago

B-b-but sleeping! It are v Important!!!! For maintenance of healthy citizens! :-))))

Sounds like one I’d like to read 🙂 (not huge fan of Asimov lately, but I’ll look out for this one, ta!)

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@opposablethumbs –
That sounds like a pretty good system to me, provided you could iron out the kinks!

(Besides the ones you mentioned, a few that occur to me are:

*how do you make sure there are always exactly enough tasks, so that everyone can earn enough credits to meet their social expectations and no tasks go undone because everyone is already earning enough?

*relatedly to this and to your point about the learning curve, what if a point is reached where there are a number of tasks still unclaimed for this week, and a number of people who still need to sign up for tasks, but none of the people can do any of those tasks, whether because they don’t have the skills needed, because they don’t have the physical strength or stamina, because the time clashes with one of their other tasks or other responsibilities, or for some other reason?

*presumably you can also get an exemption for short term illness, e.g. if you have really bad flu one week. What happens if a greater than average number of people are ill in the local area one week: how do you make sure all the tasks get done? What if everyone is unusually healthy one week: how do you make sure everyone can get enough credits?

*how do you make sure adults who are exempt for health reasons aren’t stigmatised?

*while it’s good that there would be exemptions on health grounds, presumably it wouldn’t be a blanket case of “if you have a health condition that means not every task is possible for you, you are exempted from all of them even if there are some you could do”? And for those for whom their health condition doesn’t mean they have issues with specific tasks but with the amount of time they work per week or knowing for sure in advance whether they’ll be up to a particular task on the day, presumably they could have a blanket exemption (or reduction) but still be allowed to take on any tasks they volunteered for as and when they felt up to it?
)

Anyway, I’m sure none of those are insurmountable! I’d love to see that become a reality, or to read something set in a world that uses that system. I’ll have to see if I can track down a copy of the story you mentioned, Alan!

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 years ago

@Neremanth, I think in this version of the Land of Cockaigne if by some chance no tasks at all need done within feasible travelling distance everybody gets a holiday – there isn’t a set minimum number of credits people have to meet per given period of time, it just depends on what’s actually needed. In practice that seems pretty unlikely, though, as there’s always something worth mending or enhancing for the neighbourhood and people who need caring for. Checking in on the lonely among one’s neighbours is part of healthcare (social-healthcare 🙂 )
Maybe at least some of these things might be things people want to do anyway, even though some tasks would be disliked.

There would be a maximum time, though, so that nobody spends more than part of their day/week/month doing things they don’t really want to (maybe with exceptions in case of dire emergency, like a flood or something, when the max could temporarily go up a bit?). Maybe if a task is really hated with a passion (unblocking a sewer?), its tariff goes so high that someone only has to do it for two hours in a month … I wonder if that mechanism would be enough to ensure essential tasks don’t get left undone? Eeehhh, it’s just a utopia-thing I wonder about sometimes late at night … 🙂

But I do think a system where people’s time is what’s valuable is potentially interesting, as it recognises that everybody’s life, and the chance to do as much as possible of what you’d rather do, is equally precious-to-them.

Good point about how would one design the system to take account of the specific nature of somebody’s disabilities. In practice the whole thing would probably be fiendishly complicated (apart from anything else, person A might want to do some hours of childcare but the kids concerned just might not like them. Somehow the system has to take account not only of the amount of time put in but also of the tasks getting done in a way that is satisfactory to everyone else involved …).

Why yes, I probably do witter on in my head far too much, why do you ask 😉

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

This utopia actually sounds quite a bit like Oz. Everyone works part time doing tasks that are suited to them and there’s not really a money based economy. Sometimes there’s money but it’s not important. Sometimes there is no money at all. Continuity isn’t really the series’ strong suit.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@opposablethumbs –
Those sound like some good ways of dealing with potential problems. Sign me up!

But I do think a system where people’s time is what’s valuable is potentially interesting, as it recognises that everybody’s life, and the chance to do as much as possible of what you’d rather do, is equally precious-to-them.

Absolutely! I’m glad it’s not just me.

@weirwoodtreehugger-
Huh. I read all the Oz books a couple of years ago (well, all the ones by Baum anyway) and I either didn’t notice that or don’t remember it for some reason. Looks like it’s time for another read through! (Dorothy/Ozma forever!)

Dalillama
4 years ago

@PoM

The first is the reality component: this is the way things are, and probably the only way they can be unless human beings fundamentally change or society transforms into something that I can’t even adequately imagine right now.

I mentioned a major component of how things would have to change recently in another thread, to wit economic democracy. Also a universal basic income. Combine with some changes to eliminate the ‘housing as investment’ issue and you’re well on the right track.

Utilitarianism is the classical “the most good for the most people” moral system, but there’s a problem with it in that one can’t calculate “the most good” without being able to compare good across different people. But that’s impossible.

I argue that it’s both possible and useful, if to a limited degree. For instance, people who have a roof over their head and know where their next meal is coming from can safely be assumed happier than people who are sleeping rough and eating what they can beg or scavenge, and furthermore that the increase in happiness going from one state to the other is greater than the increase in happiness of buying a second yacht; thus, a utilitarian argument says we should structure our economy so that everyone has food and shelter, and if rich people are less rich because of that, so be it. You can also look at things like life expectancy, morbidity rates, and other lifestyle indicators as useful proxies, on the grounds once again that a long, healthy life is generally preferred over one cut short by sickness. Can’t be applied to absolutely every aspect of an economy of course, but still useful.

@Neremanth

I see. I didn’t really appreciate that the shareholder value is linked to the amount of stuff in a society.

It really isn’t, despite what the shareholder class and their supporters claim. Or rather, it is, but not in the way they claim.

PoM notes that the standard argument is thus:

When shareholder value goes up, the total amount of “stuff” that society as a whole possesses also goes up.

This presumes that shareholder value is meaningfully linked to the actual production of goods and services (and furthermore that the goods and services produced are ones that someone needs/wants and can get and use), while this is in fact very often not the case.
Shareholder value is linked to stock price, and stock prices fluctutate for reasons completely unrelated to a company’s actual productivity, based mostly on the seat-of-the-pants opinions of stockbrokers and hedge fund operators, all of whom get a paycheck regardless.
For instance, in the recent housing bubble, a lot of housing got built as an investment, but most of the ‘value’ increase came from trading loan instruments back and forth at ever increasing prices, a side effect of which was dramatically increasing homelessness and the cost burden of housing on the homed, both of which are considerable drags on the economy. This is exacerbated by the fact that most of the money that’s paid in rent and mortgages functionally vanished from the economy to be passed around hedge funds and commercial banks, withough douing any economic work whatsoever along the way.
The bubble before that was the tech bubble; shareholder value exploded for practically any company with ‘Web’ in their name or mission statement, despite the fact that most of them never produced anything whatsoever.
In both of these cases ‘the economy’ was supposedly doing great, but huge swathes of the population benefitted not at all from the supposed economic booms, despite shareholder value rocketing up right and left.

but rarely do I see that recognised when hypotheses are being formulated or results translated into real world conclusions.)

That’s because classical economics falls right the hell apart as soon as actual human motivations and behaviour patterns are factored in.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 years ago

Ah, I have never read any Oz (the first thing I think of when I see that word is Australia 🙂 )
Mind you, the film is so famous it’s bound to have got into my mind by osmosis!

(I have nobly and resolutely refrained from saying Ozmosis, of course.)

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

@opposablethumbs

You may want to look into Looking Backward: 2000–1887. It’s an early science fiction novel positing a world in the distant, far-away year 2000 when the world has gone uber-socialist and has become a utopia. There are some loltastic things in there, like the idea that music is provided by a live orchestra playing 24/7 and this music is piped into houses, because the author didn’t envision radio or music recordings, but just laugh yourself out over those and move on.

The basic way this world functions is that labor is considered a public service that everyone has to perform when they are young, so that older people are not working but instead pursuing hobbies and knowledge. It’s an interesting read.

Now, my personal preference for how to solve poverty etc. would not be to eliminate money, but to eliminate the worst consequences of not having any money by having government-run public housing that literally anyone could use at any time for any reason. No means testing, and food would be provided as well as small necessities, so it would be possible to live there indefinitely with no income whatsoever. But if you get an income … you can still stay, until you decide you’re good to leave, because no means testing would be done. It’s an imperfect solution, but I think it would solve a lot of social ills if anyone could leave a bad housing/domestic situation at any time and find a safe and humane place to sleep that very night, no questions asked.

History Nerd
History Nerd
4 years ago

Most people in academia on the far left don’t agree with “socialism” anymore as it was traditionally understood. They support some form of a regulated market economy with alternative business models (like cooperatives) and a sort of no means testing welfare system. That’s either universal basic income or guaranteed food, basic needs supplies like soap, housing, and medical care. Of course, all that would fundamentally change how the economy works.

The non-Marxist people calling themselves “socialist” or “democratic socialist” don’t really know what they’re talking about. It only makes sense now if you mean the transitional period in the class struggle in a Marxist or Neo-Marxist framework.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@Dalillama – thanks for that interesting further explanation. I’ve certainly learned a lot in this thread!

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness –
That also sounds like a nice system! (It might put hoteliers out of business, depending how nice the accommodation was, but I’m sure they could find something else to do.)

And that sounds like a very interesting book – I’ll have to track that one down too!

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

@Neremanth

It my idea-world, public housing would be like a large bed-and-breakfast or a cohousing arrangement, with individual rooms for people but dinner is taken in a communal setting. You’d have to register when you “checked in” so to speak, and there would be tight security to keep non-registered people out, and some measures would have to be taken to make sure that the people inside remained safe. But of course it isn’t a prison and you can come and go as you like.

I don’t really see it as being more than comfortably utilitarian, and there would be, without a doubt, some social stigma attached to it. That’s unfortunate but it would be unavoidable. I realize that this would make some people reject the idea, because people shouldn’t be stigmatized for needing assistance? And I agree with that? But the usual method for avoiding this stigma is housing vouchers, which doesn’t actually work (everyone in the neighborhood knows who the Section 8 folks are regardless of what the house looks like) and which turns government benefits into a wealth transfer between the government and landlords. Housing vouchers make my eye twitch, if you can’t tell. So it would be a humane place to live, clean and safe, but not a replacement for a hotel for people who can afford hotels.

But yes, the instant availability of free housing would be disruptive. Poor people could move more easily from city to city, needing only bus fare really. Nobody would need to be homeless. Nobody would have to stay in a bad domestic situation. There would be a floor on housing quality, because housing that didn’t measure up to public housing just wouldn’t be used. Of course, I’m assuming that money would go into this, and the buildings would be maintained and secured so that they remained clean and safe at all times. That’s a huge, huge assumption, and I realize that. There is a lot in this that would run into a wall in the real world, but I sometimes daydream about it anyway.

Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
Neremanth, 329 year old Contributor to Society
4 years ago

@ Policy of Madness – ah, ok, I guess the hotel business needn’t start getting too worried then! Still, it sounds like a good replacement when travelling for those whose budget or preferences mean they’d currently stay in hostels (unless the registering is too much of a hassle or the stigma too great). Which isn’t a bad thing! For one, having a mix of people might help with the stigmatisation; and it could be a good opportunity for people who are living there long-term to network and find out about opportunities elsewhere.

I do like the sound of this a lot. It’d be amazing to think that no matter what happened you’d always have somewhere warm and safe and dry to sleep, something to eat, and an address (so you could get employment). And the fact that you don’t need any resources to move to a new location is just fantastic: that is a very nice feature!

It seems Looking Backward: 2000 – 1887 is out of copyright in the US and anywhere where copyright lasts till 70 years after the author’s death (he died in 1897), and it’s on Project Gutenberg (confusingly at 2 separate locations: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/25439 and http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/624; I haven’t yet figured out what the difference between them is). So I’m about to download it and have a read! (Well, the second part depends on whether my Kindle’s playing nice, as sometimes it connects when I plug it in and sometimes it doesn’t, but if it doesn’t work this evening it will happen sooner or later.)

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 years ago

Thank you for the rec, PoM, and for the link, Neremanth! I’d never heard of that one; will have to try and check it out. Motivation to get my latest chunk of (non-utopian) work done and sent off … :-s

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