Bullshit jobs: why we're not all working 4h days



I tend to think the article was lacking a basic causative argument. When discussing economics, it is critical to look at economic arguments, not merely that the consequences of an economic system are bad (which was amply demonstrated in the first few paragraphs). Why are people working BS jobs? I suggest that like any other sector of the economy, rent seekers accumulate in labor. Some individuals work to maintain their privileged status of profiting off the work of others.

We should not, however, fall into the trap of grouping all administrators into the “rent seekers” category. Indeed, I work at a school with some of the hardest working administrative staff I have ever met. The key is not the job title, but the behavior of profiting off the work of others by unusual circumstance. In that light, the owners of capital are often rent seekers, in the very literal definition. Others may be rent seekers, but a proper analysis would include an analysis of the means by which they maintain their position.


I used to work as a corporate lawyer. I hated the job and quit some time ago, but I certainly did not feel like the work I was doing was pointless or should not be done at all.

Law is extremely complicated. And it needs to be complicated in order to achieve many things, including consumer protection, environmental regulation and due process. You don’t really need much law or many lawyers to institute gilded-age vulture capitalism and show trials.

Making sure that societal transactions flow smoothly may not produce anything tangible in and of itself, but it’s a necessary function, in the same sense large cities can’t really have a working personal transportation system without traffic lights.


Several years ago when the grocery union in Southern CA was on strike, someone wrote a letter to the editor of the local rag (San Diego Union Trib.) about the salary/benefits the workers get.
She said that one of the clerks told her how much they made (like 20/hr or something) and for this one letter-writer it was “outrageous!”.
This is a big problem in the USA. Dummies that think that their own working friends and neighbors shouldn’t be getting a good wage. I always ask them a simple question, and they never have a good answer - “What is better for our community, well paid people with stable jobs and good benefits or the opposite?”
Everyone knows what the answer is, and they know I’m right, but they won’t admit it.
The fact of the matter is that people are being asked to do more with less now than in a LONG time.
That idiot Neil Cavuto was brilliantly called out recently by John Oliver when said Cavuto was trying to make an argument against raising the minimum wage.
He said that when he was a youngster he worked for 2 bucks an hour. Clearly this guy can’t do math or didn’t bother to even think about it given his audience, but his wage when he was a pimply-faced Cavuto translates to about 9.50/hr now. Still not a lot of money, but certainly more than the Federal minimum wage that he’s crying about being raised.
But idiots like him, his other Fox News morons and the like continue their mantra, furthering it by saying that raising the minimum will hurt jobs. Which is horseshit. But that’s what they do best. And the rubes keep buying it, unfortunately…


It never ceases to amaze me how people gripe so much about New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), but never bothered to notice how it’s really the administrative bloat that is causing most of the rise in our property taxes. When I went to high school (class of '81), we had one guidance counselor - ONE - to advise something like 700 students in grades 9-12. In the high school my son went to, there was one for each grade with about half that many students total. But it’s the teachers, not the admins, that are greedy bastards.


I think the definition of “bullshit” is at issue here, at least to me, after reading the following:
From “Pronoia Is The Antidote For Paranoia”, by Rob Brezny -

Bullshit versus Horseshit
“Bullshit is a rare and valuable commodity,” rhapsodized Art Kleps in The Boo Hoo Bible. “The great masters have all been superb bullshitters. Horseshit, on the other hand, refers to downright crap. The free, playful, entertaining flight of ideas is bullshit, and more often than not will be found afterwards to accord perfectly with universal truth. Horseshit is contrived, derivative, superstitious, ignorant.”

“Bullshit is creative, inspired myth-making intended to provoke growth,” added Alan Cabal in the Village Voice, “while horseshit is bottom-feeder derivative manipulation aimed at the endless acquisition of slaves, servants and followers.”


So, according to the above definitions, the “bullshit” jobs should be called “horseshit” jobs.

I’d love for everyone to get a decent wage. I mean, if you’re getting up in the morning, hauling yourself to a job, and doing it for 8 hours before going home, you deserve to be able to have a clean home, some good food, and some extra cash for leisure. I don’t care if you’re flipping burgers or teaching kids or fixing computers or managing workers on an assembly line.

Unfortunately I can’t afford to help out… I (and probably most middle class folks) just don’t have the income to pay more to improve everyone’s quality of life no matter how willing I might be.

Which is my real complaint with “the system.” The people who are in the best position to create positive change have the most to lose by implementing it. In no designed system would such a loophole be allowed to exist, and yet there it is.


And then our society was wiped out by a plague that originated with an unsanitized telephone.


Right said. And your point about brainwashed dummies applies as well to those who complain about state workers getting decent benefits – “I don’t get benefits and a pension like that. Why should they?”

Crabs in a Barrel Syndrome, I think that’s called.


Yeah, but are all those damn traffic lights absolutely necessary? Roundabouts make miles more sense, but are almost universally under-utilised. (Speaking both literally and figuratively.)


Something like that. I never hear them complaining about A-Rod, though. Guy gets like 200 mil for a few years throwing a ball around, but somehow a teacher that gets good benefits and “the summer off” is the greatest sin against nature.
FWIW, I am a baseball fan, but still…


Raising the minimum wage doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be spending more money, you know. That’s a false assumption.


‘It wasn’t lies, it was just bullshit.’


Right on!

I don’t remember where I’ve seen it, so I can’t quote numbers, but a shockingly large fraction of the money spent by companies like Google, Samsung, and Apple goes into pursuing and defending patent lawsuits. Instead of R&D, they’re busy trying to figure out how to play this utterly meaningless game of Battleship against other extremely large corporations.

All corporate lawyers are not useless, and indeed in the aritcle, even though he points at them as exemplary of what he’s talking about, the author does say he doesn’t necessarily want to individually identify anybody as being at fault. However, the patent example shows that, indeed, there are large numbers of high-salaried positions who really are doing nothing but complete bullshit. Worse, in fact, because it’s not just the companies playing dominance games against each other, but the fallout and side effects of that affects small developers and individuals just trying to be creative. I strongly suspect that, again even though all corporate law isn’t useless, that a substantial fraction of it is like this patent BS: make work that happens because of side effects of our economic system that allow this completely and utterly useless and unproductive effort to move large sums of money about.


…it’s like cancer. The ability of cells to divide and reproduce themselves is a feature, necessary for our growth and survival.

However, when the process gets out of control, and starts happening not to promote the organizim but just for the sake of continuing itself, it becomes deadly.


Part of the problem is the mindset that Job Creation is a solution to our problems. People don’t want jobs, though, except as a means to get the things they want and need: housing, food, healthcare, etc. If we would start talking about how we could share the work required to create the things we really want and need, then we could probably figure out a better way to get them than making up useless jobs.

It really seems to me that we could maintain and continue to improve our current standard of living by working ten to fifteen hours a week apiece, if we got rid of the unnecessary work and concentrated on what we need and want. If we could figure out how to share the load, then we could all work less. And if we found ways of doing something with less work, then we could all share those productivity gains and work even less. Instead, productivity gains are resisted in the United States because they cause layoffs. Layoffs are bad because people don’t eat without them. Because we can’t share.


That’s because the teachers are too busy teaching. The admins have time in their schedules to write press releases and appear on news shows.


Not all people want a job just as a means to consume! Some people have a CAREER which is defined as something they like doing, every day, and strive to become better at it because they feel rewarded doing it, and know that it might also be lucrative too. It’s a short-term view vs. long term.