Science fiction's Radium Age: prewar stories of postscarcity, peace and justice


#1

[Read the post]


#2

“Air Battles, Antigravity, Interplanetary Voyages, Lost Worlds, Mad Scientists, Time Travel, and Utopias,”

Me likey!


#3

I had a high school electronics teacher back in 1983 who was into predictions of the near future, many of them utopian.

A big one he had read about and repeated to the class was on employment: With technology and automation increasing the efficiency of the workforce, and with many more women at the time entering the workforce, the 40 hour, five-day work week would soon be outlawed. It HAD to be, or there would soon be high unemployment and a lower standard of living.

The prediction never factored in the concept that high unemployment was desirable for those in industry and power.

I always remember this when I read stories about “postscarcity.”


#4

i was shocked to find that the url radium age wasn’t taken, sweet!


#5

Expanding on what you said …

The government eases the pain of unemployment levels by intentionally underreporting them (by cutting out the under-employed and people who have been unemployed “too long”. How much of an easier time would people have organizing for real change if we weren’t hiding how bad even the “good times” are?


#6

That was a Republican talking point used whenever improvements to the economy under Obama were brought up. But it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny:

MediaMatters: Still Wrong: Right-Wing Media Continue To Dismiss Jobs Report With Discredited Attack
"Following the news that the unemployment rate fell in January from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent, right-wing media have continued to claim that a routine Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adjustment to jobs data, based on the 2010 census, means that “1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force” in January. In fact, experts say that claim is “simply wrong” and reflects a misreading of the BLS report."

MediaMatters: Conservative Media Promote Deceptive Unemployment Talking Point
"In fact, only a small fraction of those “not in the labor force” actually want to work, and economists say the long-term decline in labor force participation is due to changing demographics – a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade."

Broun: 315,000 Americans gave up looking for work
Politifact investigates.

Sorry.


#7

I’m not talking about a recent thing. It’s funny to hear the republicans of all people are running wild with fantastical versions of this, though.

The part you quoted is … hyperbole and assigning motives, yes. I’m sure the BLS has reasons for trimming their data where they do. But dropping people off who are not “seeking” jobs because their situation seems hopeless doesn’t really give us a good look at what’s going on.

Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Who is counted as unemployed?
People are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work. Actively looking for work may consist of any of the following activities:

  • Contacting:
  • An employer directly or having a job interview
  • A public or private employment agency
  • Friends or relatives
  • A school or university employment center
  • Submitting resumes or filling out applications
  • Placing or answering job advertisements
  • Checking union or professional registers
  • Some other means of active job search

(…)

Who is not in the labor force?
As mentioned previously, the labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder—those who have no job and are not looking for one—are counted as not in the labor force. Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Since the mid-1990s, typically fewer than 1 in 10 people not in the labor force reported that they want a job.


#8

Not just about demographics. People are be able to work longer because of increase in standards of living. Many people would continue working if higher paying work was available. Mainly low wage jobs that have been created since the last recession.


#9

Most of those not in the labor force are students and the retired. Your link further states that:

Since the mid-1990s, typically fewer than 1 in 10 people not in the labor force reported that they want a job.

Within those not in the labor force, there’s a subset, marginally attached to the labor force, and of THOSE, there’s a subset discouraged workers.

With unemployment reporting already accounting for all the unemployed and AT LEAST 9 out of 10 of the not in the labor force, I doubt the remainder would change the figures much.


#10

Agreed.


#11

I read it, that’s why I left that in. It gives context. Not necessarily context that adds to my argument, but I’m not trying to prove the BLS is involved in some massive conspiracy to make the democrats look better (or the republicans who were in power when I first learned where the numbers were being trimmed).

In order to know that their “fewer than 1 in 10 people” meant something, we’d also have to know that the reason it’s “fewer than 1 in 10” isn’t because 9 in 10 know that the best jobs they can get is still going to see them in the hole … or take away benefits they have without giving them enough to make up the difference.

Which has been a major factor for so many people I’ve known in my life. “I can’t take this job because it doesn’t pay enough to make up for the fact that I’ll loose SNAP or Medicare.” Or, just as galling, “My disability was finally approved so my SNAP has been reduced and have even less food.”

Is that just anecdotal evidence? I don’t know.

If the problem is more than just a disproportionate number of people I’ve met, how big is it?

Has anyone done a survey that asks unemployed people who aren’t seeking “Would you work if you were guaranteed a living wage?”? I tried googling but didn’t have much success.

To tie this back in to the thread, I don’t think we can build a utopia without taking a good hard look at the depths of what’s wrong now. And if it turns out it’s just edge cases and none of it is helpful in developing policy, fine.


#12

Fair enough.

And totally I agree with you about not being able to “build a utopia without taking a good hard look at the depths of what’s wrong now.”


#13

It’s more than just making a living wage, Who in their right mind wants an assembly line job
http://gph.is/1NZlYxC?tc=1 via @giphy


#14

I just wanted to add that I learned about HiLo Brow here on Boing Boing - but it looks like the conversaton here has taken a different turn…

http://hilobrow.com/


#15

If only we had a way…some sort of method… to progressively gain a better understanding of things while offsetting some of our brain’s weaknesses. Maybe even to overcome our emotion and train us to use reason and evidence. Then we could run a bunch of experiments and figure out which ones really work for us in practice rather than just picking one, trapping people in it, and letting things run for hundreds of years while kids die and stuff and none of us are particularly happy, right?

That’d be really helpful! You’d almost think there’d be a science behind it, right? :slight_smile:


#16

…by cutting out the under-employed and people who have been unemployed “too long”. How much of an easier time would people have organizing for real change if we weren’t hiding how bad even the “good times” are?

This is why these stats are measured. What they mean is one thing and the fact that TV news doesn’t report these stats with much (any?) meaningful analysis is another.


#17

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