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Published 6 months ago with 1 Comments

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  • sashinator

    I do see her point on companies exploiting and abusing "gig economy" to profit at the expense of "their" employees. That shit is toxic and needs to stop.

    But worker rights are never an automatic given of any system of government. They have to be explicitly fought for, enacted and nurtured actively, again and again. It is the business of business to maximize profit, it is the business of government to preserve the status quo, it is the business of the people to protect themselves and petition the government for the right to vote, right to work in safety, right to retire with dignity etc. It is exhausting and we all need to get on with our business.

    And it doesn't help when people work against their own interests electing business representatives into government and denouncing protests thereof.

    Be all that as it may...

    At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system.

    Not so fast. At the root of this are scarce resources getting scarcer and humans consuming them getting more and more plentiful. This juggernaut is a force of nature, it is unavoidable in that circumstance that competition is ever present. No matter which ism claims it can mitigate it, people have to fight for survival.

    Is our economic system flawed? Sure.

    Is it less flawed than 200 years ago? You bettya. For one thing - slavery is abolished as a legal economic mechanism. Big check.

    Is our economic system getting better? Only to the extent we are willing to pursue its "betterness" and only if we measure the progress in centuries. Generations will live and die before it gets better.

    Globally, life expectancy is up and rising, infant mortality deaths are down and dropping, poverty is down and dropping, infectious diseases are down and dropping, etc. The objective data is telling us that human life, on average, is better on the planet than it ever was.

    Do we have problems? Yes.

    Are those problems difficult to resolve? Yes.

    How do we with fewer resources than ever before feed more people than ever before, and percentages of elderly are higher than ever before? I don't know... But somehow, productivity of able-bodied has to go up. The alternative is that the number of elderly has to go down. The math is clear :/ Nobody takes joy in reporting these facts but they are facts.

    The unprecedented post-war economic boom which paid for worker compensations and retirement packages which were offered then and there and never before is a blimp in the long history of struggle for survival against famine. My great-grandfather told my father back in the 70s that "people never lived like this before in his lifetime or his father's". His generation remembered a time before prosperity allowed middle classes to work less and retire earlier but he never had that good fortune and neither does this generation.

    In the end we will all die. Dying from work is just another way to die. We used to die a lot more from disease, famine and war. A lot of us still do. Dying from exhaustion in an ergonomic chair in an air-conditioned room is still preferential to dying of exhaustion in a poorly-ventilated mine shaft. Nobody is celebrating this macabre choice. Everyone is just trying to survive. Exploitative companies included.

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