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KAG
4th Sep 2013, 15:32
If you work in an office and have time to post on pprune at work, then there is a good chance you have an useless job.

Read that:

Ever had the feeling that your job might be made up? That the world would keep on turning if you weren’t doing that thing you do 9-5? David Graeber explored the phenomenon of bullshit jobs for our recent summer issue – everyone who’s employed should read carefully…

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. 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. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes’ promised utopia – still being eagerly awaited in the ‘60s – never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn’t figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we’ve collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment’s reflection shows it can’t really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the ‘20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be).

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at. 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.

I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

*

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: “who are you to say what jobs are really ‘necessary’? What’s necessary anyway? You’re an anthropology professor, what’s the ‘need’ for that?” (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn’t seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I’d heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he’d lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, “taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.” Now he’s a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a corporate lawyer who didn’t think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told “but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?”

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.

Lonewolf_50
4th Sep 2013, 15:35
KAG, TLDR.

I'd say half of my job is BS. The other have is stuff that needs doing. To get paid, I have to do both.

So it goes.

er340790
4th Sep 2013, 15:39
Given that over 90% of advertised modern jobs did not exist a century ago, you could argue that most jobs have an element of BS. Let's face it, we managed to survive a few million years without them...

I shall now get my dog and go forage in the forest for breakfast... :E

KAG
4th Sep 2013, 15:42
Lonewolf_50: TLDR Please try to have a look at it, it doesn't take that long and this is worth the read...

rgbrock1
4th Sep 2013, 15:52
I'd certainly say at least half of my job is BS. Moments of serenity bracketed by hours of nerve-wracking, stressful events of information technology systems which decide to spontaneously combust. (Well, not exactly in flames. Although I have witnessed computer systems doing a self-inflicted meltdown.)

G-CPTN
4th Sep 2013, 16:09
Being a systems maintenance engineer probably involves a degree of inactivity between periods of 'work'.

Some mechanisms can benefit from 'preventative' maintenance, whilst others are just left to run until they break down.

You have to quantify the benefit of having staff 'on the premises', 'on call' (within a defined time response) or responding to call-outs from a centralised (not necessarily in-house) facility (such as Yellow Pages).

The cost (or disadvantage) of downtime would decide.

KAG
4th Sep 2013, 16:15
Based on the article above, I don't believe maintenance engineer qualifies for "bullshit job" (good for you).

Here are some examples: But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

Capetonian
4th Sep 2013, 16:18
I didn't have a bullshit job. I worked for a company that turned work into bullshit, with appraisals and evaluations and time-charts and form-flow processes. All overseen by pathetic little people who called themselves 'team leaders' and 'unit managers' when they couldn't have led a blind man out of a paper bag.

Lightning Mate
4th Sep 2013, 16:24
I don't have a bullshit job - in fact I have no job.

Isn't retirement good. :):)

rgbrock1
4th Sep 2013, 16:24
Capetonian wrote:

I worked for a company that turned work into bullshit, with appraisals and evaluations and time-charts and form-flow processes.

Was it a German company? Sounds like one!

goudie
4th Sep 2013, 16:27
Bullshit jobs
We mustn't overlook meetings...bloody meetings!

The SSK
4th Sep 2013, 16:28
I worked for several years in 'Communications'. There, you actually get paid for producing bullshit. I was excellent at it.

Before that I was an airline beancounter. A species loathed by the PPs on PPRuNe, but we were the ones that kept them in their jobs, and the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.

goudie
4th Sep 2013, 16:39
My Company (American, by the way) was fixated on various methods to 'measure personal and departmental performance'. A lot of this crap was dreamed up by 'consultants' who were paid millions to come with various ideas.

con-pilot
4th Sep 2013, 16:49
This is somewhat a two edged sword type of question, one of the best flying jobs I had, had a bullshit element to it.

When I worked for the US Government as a pilot, I loved the flying and I flew a lot, an average of a little over a thousand hours a year. Usually flying four to five days a week, sometimes for a solid two weeks of flying every day. The two weeks of flying, with no day off, happened about four times a year on average.

However, this is where the bullshit element came into play, during weekdays when not flying, we were required to be at our office from 08:00 to 16:30. About every month and a half I would end up in the office for a week.

Now the problem was, except for updating Jepps, we had nothing to do. Now back then I had not discovered Pprune, not that it matter, as we did not have computers in our offices anyway. There were just two computers that we pilots had access to in the flight planning room, that were to be used for official business only. So I'd sit in my office and read books.

Hell, back then I didn't have a computer at home either. Yes I know, shocking.

So, did I have a bullshit job? No, but there sure was some bullshit nonsense involved, like sitting in the office on a Friday after I had flown four straight days prior, that had a minimum ten hour plus crew duty days.

But, big but, we did get paid overtime for every hour we either flew or sat in the office after we had put in 40 hours a week. There were times I'd hit that 40 hour mark on Thursday morning.

We did get paid for it, but it was still bullshit having to sit in the office, with nothing to do, when you were flying your butt off all the time.

wings folded
4th Sep 2013, 17:17
Do you have a bullshit job?
Yes. But I feed myself and those close to me, and ask nor obtain nothing from society. Any problem?

Mac the Knife
4th Sep 2013, 17:23
No, but there is a large amount of senseless paperwork and reports and re-reports and re-re-reports (particularly for Government/"NHS" patients.

I really cannot believe that anyone actually reads most of this guff but the signed bit of paper needs to be there for me to get paid, so hey-ho... No point getting irritated by it - that's just the way the world works - I'm a small cog in a vast bureaucracy (hooray, spelled it correctly first time!) that isn't going to change.

I'm occasionally tempted to write "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet" on the forms rather than "The patient continues to improve" (or whatever) just to see if it makes any difference (doubt it would).

Some years ago you had to sign a book (if you didn't have a pass) to get into one of the hospitals I worked at. I regularly wrote "Donald Duck or "Dr Minnie Mouse" and no-one seemed to care, you just had to sign the book. So it goes...

And of course there are all the kids whose parents insist on them being sutured under anaesthetic for minor boo-boos which in my days were usually treated by a clip on the ear, iodine (ouch!) and a Band-Aid...:p

Every job has a bullshit percentage (just be glad you have one at all) and if it is less than 50% then you're doing pretty well!

http://images.cpcache.com/merchandise/514_400x400_NoPeel.jpg?region=name:FrontCenter,id:36623666,w :16

Mac

:ok:

Capetonian
4th Sep 2013, 17:34
On my appraisal BS forms, I often used to rule two diagonal lines across it and write SPALY' across them. If asked what it meant, I would say : "Same procedure as last year" (from that famous film, Dinner or One).

Or MYOFB
Or DIGAF
Or : To be answered in due course.

airship
4th Sep 2013, 17:43
KAG, it's you who has the bullshit job of explaining why France, in spite of announcing that France will do otherwise (believing that the UK and USA were firmly behind) are severely back-tracking on their "own intentions" concerning Syria.

But why do you personally feel that France has left you in some way "personally responsible"?! :rolleyes:

Dak Man
4th Sep 2013, 17:49
Yep for sure, I'm not paid a king's ransom for my industriousness, rather for the odd moments of shear genius.

wings folded
4th Sep 2013, 17:58
airship

It is no wonder that some people here put you on their ignore list.

I do not have an ignore list, so you are not therefore on it, but how do you make the connection between KAG's post about the worth of one's job, and your perception of the way governments in the occident are responding to the miserable scenario in Syria?

The relevance, the pertinence are lost on me. If you want to take on KAG as your token French target for whatever topic in international politics, economics or whatever, then that is your perogative.

There are those (no, on second thoughts, I may be alone) who think that the tenuous, nay non-existent, link you attempt to make undermines the (every now and then) utterances you have made which had some sense.

rgbrock1
4th Sep 2013, 18:00
wings folded asked:

but how do you make the connection between KAG's post about the worth of one's job, and your perception of the way governments in the occident are responding to the miserable scenario in Syria?How is that connection made, wings? Very easily actually. Via the ingestion of copious amounts of LSD. That's how.

Hey, some people see flying pink elephants. Others see connections which those who are not under the influence of LSD do not see. (Or anyone in their right mind anyway.)

con-pilot
4th Sep 2013, 18:50
There are those (no, on second thoughts, I may be alone) who think that the tenuous, nay non-existent, link you attempt to make undermines the (every now and then) utterances you have made which had some sense.

No, you are not alone on this, trust me.

airship
4th Sep 2013, 18:53
wings_folded wrote: It is no wonder that some people here put you on their ignore list.

I do not have an ignore list, so you are not therefore on it, but how do you make the connection between KAG's post about the worth of one's job, and your perception of the way governments in the occident are responding to the miserable scenario in Syria?

KAG originally wrote when he started this thread: If you work in an office and have time to post on PPRuNe at work, then there is a good chance you have an useless job.

Neither KAG or you are in a position to know what job I do, and/or whether it is useful IMHO. KAG would like to believe that (unlike his compatriots who live and work in France) perhaps his efforts alone, working so far away in China, allows him this priviledge to criticise the small tax-payers who keep France going whilst he is away...?!

Excuse me if I'm wrong, but KAG is often the first to intervene in the more "political threads" here, most often defending "l'honneur de la France", for which I commend him.

OK, I do have a bullshit job. But it doesn't mean that I'm willing to take even more bullshit from a French ex-pat without reacting (compared to a UK ex-pat in France for over 22 years and always paid all taxes and social security contributions).

Like I said (or suggested) before, France has to face its' responsibilities. In Syria, alone, elsewhere and/or otherwise. For my own part, I shall endeavour to keep France's social security sytems intact and effective, just in case KAG one day decides to return to France from China. Perhaps destitute and penniless.

Truly French contributors here in JB are quite rare. Which is why at least so far as KAG is concerned, I do my best to assure he is neither mis-understood or gets away with anything...?! :ok:

wings folded
4th Sep 2013, 18:59
No, you are not alone on this, trust me.
Can I trust a bloke with a mere 10,000 hours at the yoke (is my memory correct? can't be bothered to look it up) and able to serve a half decent eggs benedict?

Oh, bollocks, caution to the wind and so forth. I'll trust you this time.

wings folded
4th Sep 2013, 19:11
I don't like posting twice in a row, but airship quoted my earlier post (17:58) and then did not refer to it again.

So what was that about?

GLuis103
4th Sep 2013, 19:13
I would love to have more time to visit pprune more often, sometimes I just check a few interesting threads but haven´t really got the time to comment on them. Anyway, I guess whoever has the chance to do it at work, why not ? ;)

Lord Spandex Masher
4th Sep 2013, 19:24
All jobs are bullshit.

lomapaseo
4th Sep 2013, 19:50
There are those (no, on second thoughts, I may be alone) who think that the tenuous, nay non-existent, link you attempt to make undermines the (every now and then) utterances you have made which had some sense.

That also goes for most of the political in nature posts in Jet Blast, The posters attempt to mix in historically disjointed facts with their opinions to support there debating skills.

Certainly not a unique skill and also not convincing but it does make for fun reading until somebody gets personal or the thread closed.

probes
4th Sep 2013, 20:17
No. I've got an interesting job, even though I have sinned and procrastinated in PPrune. :sad: And reading something fun isn't any rest for one's eyes either if the job is on the screen, I know. :sad:

Cape - :D for the poor blind man in the paper bag. :p

KAG
5th Sep 2013, 00:29
Airship: my introduction sentence was to invite us to read the article I posted, as I believe it is a very interesting one stating many modern jobs are useless in the capitalist US/Europe a bit like in the communist USSR last century. The analysis drawn in this article is perhaps flawed, but it is still worth the read. It is a long article, I know, but I promise you won't waste your time reading it, as it is refreshing to see new ideas and new viewpoints like that one.
Bullshit (understand useless) jobs, according to David Graeber:

1- First of all, you need to feel your job is useless: 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.

2- He gives a list with some examples of jobs that might be useless: administrative sector financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations The author seems to have something against corporate lawyers too, as he qualifies them as "meaning less, pointless". An other list found later in the article: private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants


3- effective workers are getting rid of, pointless jobs increase: While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand

4- if you have a good salary, you probabely have an useless job: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.

5- David Graeber gives a few examples of usefull jobs: Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. Later in the article: "the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary", later he speaks about or "auto workers".
Creative jobs seems to be part of the usefull jobs according to David Graeber.

6- He finally divides workers in 3 parts at the end of the article: Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc)

Hydromet
5th Sep 2013, 00:30
Before I retired, I had an interesting, useful job, but there were inevitable useless meetings. During a particularly bullshit one, I walked out, and declared that henceforth, I didn't attend meetings, and pretty well managed to keep to that, only attending those that I thought were important. No one noticed.

probes
5th Sep 2013, 04:28
yeah, but as someone probably gets paid for meetings being held regularly... :(

11Fan
5th Sep 2013, 05:51
....but as someone probably gets paid for meetings being held regularly

In my line of work, meetings are a necessary evil. As a result of assuming some new responsibilities, I am now spending a quarter of my work week in one meeting or another. That said, I generally bring my laptop and multi-task so when the discussion is not aimed at me or an area of my responsibility, I can tend to other things that require my attention, all the while with an open ear to what is being said, just in case. Actually, since I started attending, I've noticed others following the lead.

I've also found that by spitting out my gum beforehand, my productivity improves.

One drawback, less time on PPRuNe, and I do miss that.

MG23
5th Sep 2013, 06:49
A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble,

Most of the human race survived most of its history without teachers. Home-schooled kids seem to regularly beat government-schooled kids by any comparative measure. The idea that they should have to spend nearly twenty years in a classroom doing whatever a teacher tells them should be considered laughable in an era when most of the knowledge of the human race is just a few keystrokes away.

That's assuming you actually want kids educated, rather than schooled. Most Western government schools are still based on the Prussian model for turning out compliant industrial robots, in an era where there are no factory jobs for them to go to.

Docks are increasingly automated and that trend will only continue. As I understand it, there could be far more automation in American docks, if the unions weren't preventing it.

Later in the article: "the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary"

Because you certainly couldn't automate underground trains that run along tracks from one station to another.

The reality is that most current jobs are 'bullshit jobs' that will be automated away over the next few decades. Anything left is likely to require significant levels of creativity and skill (and that will only last until artificial intelligence comes along).

SASless
5th Sep 2013, 07:09
Not as bad as some ..... I could have been a City Worker!

How to Deal With City Hall - YouTube

fireflybob
5th Sep 2013, 07:37
Agree there are many BS jobs and much BS in almost all jobs.

I like this Marianne Williamson quote:-

"If you feel that you're wasting your life, you are!"

For me there is a spiritual dimension to work - if I am doing something I believe in and which is necessary I feel more "connected" with my world.

The fact that millions of worker drones in the collective are living lives of quiet desperation is confirmed by their lives outside work - the intelligent ones indulge is some absorbing pastime but most of the herd sit in front of the idiot box drinking rancid fermented hops eating delivery pizza with no original thought.

fireflybob
5th Sep 2013, 07:40
KAG - is the your original post from one of David Graebers books?

If so which one?

Thanks

james ozzie
5th Sep 2013, 07:56
I met a Canadian recently who travelled extensively as a fixit man for a well known international brand. He told me that when he arrived at a branch that was not doing well, he would look for people with the word "coordinator" in their job titles - these would be the first on his hit list!

I am also reminded here of the Australian Coles Supermarket Group - they appointed a new CEO and he reduced head office from 5,000 people to 3,000 people (get that!) He said they were all busy sending emails to each other all day.

goudie
5th Sep 2013, 08:13
with the word "coordinator" in their job title
'Support Manager' is also the kiss of death!

Re. metings
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF39VQXEpjk&feature=player_detailpage

orgASMic
5th Sep 2013, 08:49
Do I have a bullshit job?

If I stay in my office feeding the troll that is my higher HQ then, yes, I have a bullshit job.

If I get out onto the shop floor and help my boys and girls out, look out for them and protect them from my higher HQ's bullshit then, no, I have a great job.

Guess which one I am allowed to do the most?

cattletruck
5th Sep 2013, 09:06
Socrates didn't have a bullshit job and look where that got him. Plato was heading for the same persecution until one of his students saved him and they both fled to Sicily. Unfortunately there wasn't much demand for Plato in Sicily, and poor old Plato who wasn't any good at manual labor just proved to be a ball and chain to his friend, so his friend sold him into slavery. I would have too.

I don't have a bullshit job, in fact I don't have a job at all right now. I know what a bullshit jobs look like and tend to avoid them because I'm not quite desperate yet. Having worked in guvmint once I saw a lot of bullshit jobs, some inside, but quite a lot outside in the private sector from what essentially amounted to tax payer funded positions.

I held a bullshit job once and didn't last. I've reached the conclusion that a job isn't bullshit when it values your values. But the whole corporate thing is a wank because if your spotted enjoying yourself at work you eventually become a target to some miserable obscenely overpaid loser with homosexual tendencies.

It looks like I'm destined to become a farmer, now that aint such a bullshit job, until someone who makes a living skimming commissions off the top of my savings attempts to put it all in his pockets.

Cacophonix
5th Sep 2013, 09:23
Other people tend to lend a great deal of the 'bullshit factor' to jobs that might be intrinsically dull but otherwise imbued with some usefulness...

The agendas, the meaningless officiousness and the petty back biting (amongst many other negative human factors) all add to the sum of woes that can make some jobs seem absolutely abominable even when what you are doing is a life long passion and intrinsically very useful indeed.

Commuting to and from work is also 'bullshit' in that it loses one that precious irreplaceable ingredient know as lifetime... One only has to look at the abject misery on the faces of the commuters on the London Tube (for example) to know that people know that even if they aren't openly admitting it.

I have had the pleasure of being self employed for some time now and despite the lack of perks (e.g. paid holidays), the constant pressure to bring in the bacon and all the rest I can only blame myself if the job has become 'bullshit'. Personally as I slouch into the desert of middle age I wouldn't mind becoming a lighthouse keeper on a deserted island ... I might even make some space in my solitude and ennui for an occasional female companion...

(Cue the predictable video)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4TJNtleKBE


Caco

cattletruck
5th Sep 2013, 09:46
I wouldn't mind becoming a lighthouse keeper on a deserted island ...

Caco, the latest friend that I made this year was just that all his working life. He's now retired, hasn't got a penny to his name even though he once won the lottery, and sits quite contently at 'his' table at his son's restaurant with a glass of grappa in hand and a cigarette in the other. He can read everyone like a book who comes and goes from the shop, and doesn't waste time with people he doesn't like. He has met a lot of interesting people in his life including spending significant time with a US president. I consider myself to be priviliged to have become his friend.

:ok:

Cacophonix
5th Sep 2013, 09:55
Caco, the latest friend that I made this year was just that all his working life. He's now retired, hasn't got a penny to his name even though he once won the lottery, and sits quite contently at 'his' table at his son's restaurant with a glass of grappa in hand and a cigarette in the other. He can read everyone like a book who comes and goes from the shop, and doesn't waste time with people he doesn't like. He has met a lot of interesting people in his life including spending significant time with a US president. I consider myself to be priviliged to have become his friend.

He sounds like a decent discerning bloke.

If one can find enough time in one's day to think a decent thought then what one is doing is probably well worth doing even if one's not going to die with the funds of a Bill Gates in the bank... If one has enough funds to have a glass (or two) of grappa then even better... :ok:

Caco

cattletruck
5th Sep 2013, 09:58
Great sentiments there Caco, so true. :ok:

radeng
5th Sep 2013, 10:37
Institution of Meetings Engineers




The old distinction between engineering branches – mechanical, electrical, civil etc., have proven to have broken down, and in reality, there is only one branch of engineering – Meetings Engineering. It is in recognition of this fact the Institution of Meetings Engineers has been formed, with a view to encouraging and maintaining the standards of conduct of meetings, the education of meetings engineers, and the continued wider appreciation of the importance of meetings engineering.

The motto of the Institution is :”Omnia Dictio, non Labor”. (All Talk, no Work)

Candidates for membership must be able to show examiners ability in meetings conduct appropriate to the grade of membership being applied for.

Member:

Candidates must demonstrate their ability to produce a set of meeting minutes bearing no relationship to the discussion, and assigning actions to those people most disliked. Additionally, candidates must be able to cause a disruption of at least 5 minutes. This may be achieved by such methods as requesting repetition of a lengthy statement ‘for the minutes’, a delay caused by a deliberate or feigned computer crash, or by repetitively sending urgent text messages to the Chairman purporting to come from his manager.

Senior Member

In addition to the qualification for Member, candidates must demonstrate the ability to disrupt a meeting by an inconsequential anecdote lasting at least 20 minutes, and also lead the meeting into discussion of the contents of the anecdote for a minimum of 20 minutes. The misuse of procedural motions will be considered as a disqualification.

Fellow

Fellowship is offered to Senior Members of more than 5 years standing, who must be able to introduce an hour long diversion of the meeting from the published agenda, a delay in going to lunch of at least one hour, and the withdrawal in the last 30 minutes of the meeting of any agreed actions. Additionally, candidates for Fellow must, after the conclusion of the meeting, be able to persuade other meeting members to buy drinks for him/her at an expensive bar.


Continued membership of all grades requires the member to demonstrate their attendance at a minimum of three meetings per annum external to their organisation, at which one or more of the above qualifications is to be demonstrated.

MagnusP
5th Sep 2013, 10:50
Damn good question!

I retired as a senior engineer and project manager as it had become a bit BS, especially with spaceborne stuff where the documentation and bureaucracy are horrendous. I wasn't designing things any more, I was dealing with all the managerial crap so that others could have fun designing stuff. Took my pension and a job elsewhere at a low level, and there's still organisational BS around, but the actual job is great. So the answer is that i DID, but did something about it.

Mechta
5th Sep 2013, 12:03
An idea for meetings: Have a clearly visible counter into which each individual privately enters their hourly rate (or better still, their hourly cost to the company). Then whilst the meeting is in progress, the counter displays the cumulative cost of the meeting.

As for your own job, think of a few other jobs titles your day to day tasks encompass, and apportion your day to each. These could be; typist, filing clerk, cleaner, progress chaser, meeter & greeter, tea maker. Now imagine if your company was paying staff with these titles the rate you receive. What would the shareholders/owner have to say about that?

The biggest problem is that companies take on highly qualified staff and then require them to spend most of their day doing menial tasks way below their skill set. No wonder they are all bored and surfing Pprune! It also explains why there are so many unemployed. The unskilled and semi-skilled jobs are being done by over-qualified people who should be freed up to get on with what their job title says they are being paid to do.

In the old days the P-51 Mustang was allegedly designed and built in 102 days, and the AH-1 Huey Cobra in eight months. What hope is there of meeting such targets these days if we are trying to make documents format properly instead of getting on and designing the actual aeroplane?

radeng
5th Sep 2013, 12:40
If we get computers, the engineers can type their own documents. So we can get rid of secretaries. They can also look up airline flights so plan their own trips instead of having it done for them - although we make sure they have to go to a travel agent for the best price, even though that best price involves a 6 hour overnight wait in an airport in which they weren't going to arrive until midnight. Then we'll make them use some bought in expense control system for their expenses, and quite likely not pay them before they have to pay their own credit card bill......

And so on. Then wonder why the engineers aren't very productive......

Mrs radeng is currently teaching a CAD course abroad. Supposedly 4 days - but the customer is having a group meeting tomorrow afternoon and thus it will end up as basically a three and half day course which won't cover everything it was supposed to. Rather foolish management......

I'm glad I'm retired.

wings folded
5th Sep 2013, 14:16
Lone ranger


Yes, but you miss the point, you DO obtain money from the very same society, for performing (by your own admission) a pointless/worthless task
It is not an admission. It was a statement.

The current capitalist model is doomed,Write to the capitalist stalwarts on these threads. They are the ones who need a bit of advice.

Fox3WheresMyBanana
5th Sep 2013, 15:04
through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried
paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand

Thoughtful stuff, KAG.
I'll have a go at an explanation, but first I should point out that I don't think the ruling classes/politicians have anything like the control (or abilities) to direct these changes - there's no conspiracy here - but they do realise their usefulness.

BS jobs start with someone who has more power-hunger than brains. There are an awful lot of people like this. The root cause is insecurity, and they hope that 'power' will protect them. Insecurity is driven by advertising and info-tainment (as almost all news has become), since scared people buy more. These people build empires to make themselves less sack-able, and will generate any number of BS jobs to look important. Couple this with insecure bosses and politicians and you get vast numbers of unnecessary jobs* in quality-assurance, H&S, general admin, etc. as well.

That's the essence, I think. I've only ever done 'non-BS' jobs - pilot, teacher, etc, but for the first time I am working with any number of agencies/Govt departments that are full of BS types. A colleague estimates we got 2% of 'non-BS' work done last month, the rest being spent feeding the paperwork machine to allow us to do that 2%. Personally I dealt with 15 large corporations and Government departments last month. Everyone required at least 3 further contacts to try to get a simple task done, and every one still failed to do what they said they would. Every bloody one failed.
I suspect I will be quitting soon.


*some are vital, but most are pointless these days.

the counter displays the cumulative cost of the meeting.

Mechta:D:D I've advocated this for a long time. And the meeting should start with the total cost of return travel, meeting arrangement admin etc. already displayed on the counter.

Capetonian
5th Sep 2013, 16:04
The current capitalist model is doomed,
Socialism/communism is a proven failure, so we're left with what?

Cacophonix
5th Sep 2013, 16:06
Socialism/communism is a proven failure, so we're left with what?

Let's try a bit of disciplined anarchy...!

Caco

probes
5th Sep 2013, 16:20
11Fan:
I generally bring my laptop and multi-task so when the discussion is not aimed at me or an area of my responsibility, I can tend to other things that require my attention, all the while with an open ear to what is being said, just in case.
one big mistake most managers make is not allowing knitting at meetings (or lectures). At least I know just one who doesn't mind handicraft. That's much better, as one is much more focused (than when 'multitasking' - if that's what you call it :) ).

pigboat
5th Sep 2013, 16:23
disciplined anarchy...!
That is an oxymoron. ;)

Not quite bullshit, but you get the idea.

http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=43574

Cacophonix
5th Sep 2013, 16:25
I generally bring my laptop and multi-task so when the discussion is not aimed at me or an area of my responsibility, I can tend to other things that require my attention, all the while with an open ear to what is being said, just in case.

Whereas if I have to chair any meeting with managers or what not I immediately politely tell them to close their laptops and to switch their phones off as well and promise that I will expedite the meeting. Most managers have the attention span of a gnat and the distraction of laptops (PPRuNe etc) is often far too much for these good souls... ;)

Caco

Cacophonix
5th Sep 2013, 16:27
Not quite bullshit, but you get the idea.


I was hinting at an oxymoron, a bit like that excellent image you have posted that truly explains a bullshit job... ;)

Edited to say... looking again I realise I can't tell my arse from somebody else's elephant...

Caco

wings folded
5th Sep 2013, 16:37
Socialism/communism is a proven failure, so we're left with what?
Well, clearly from other contributor's thoughts, not mine, "doomed capitalism"

con-pilot
5th Sep 2013, 18:05
Can I trust a bloke with a mere 10,000 hours at the yoke (is my memory correct? can't be bothered to look it up) and able to serve a half decent eggs benedict?

Oh, bollocks, caution to the wind and so forth. I'll trust you this time.

That would be a little over 21,000 hours, not that it really matters all that much when compared to this;

can't be bothered to look it up) and able to serve a half decent eggs benedict?


I make an excellent eggs Benedict I'll have you know, my Hollandaise sauce is superb. Not to mention that my eggs are perfectly poached.

So there. :p

Ozzy
5th Sep 2013, 18:12
Wish I had a bullshit job :(

Ozzy

wings folded
5th Sep 2013, 18:16
I make an excellent eggs Benedict I'll have you know, my Hollandaise sauce is superb. Not to mention that my eggs are perfectly poached.

So there. http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/tongue.gif
I have never had the chance to taste your eggs in whatever form, nor I suspect will I in the future, but I can detect from your posts from way back and since then that you know a thing or two about how to plonk an egg on a plate in a pleasing fashion. Remember the egg thread?

It was good humoured as I recall.

con-pilot
5th Sep 2013, 20:00
It was good humoured as I recall.

As I recall as well, my response was tongue in cheek. Hence the :p.

Cheers. :ok:

jumpseater
5th Sep 2013, 22:45
radeng
If we get computers, the engineers can type their own documents. So we can get rid of secretaries. They can also look up airline flights so plan their own trips instead of having it done for them - although we make sure they have to go to a travel agent for the best price, even though that best price involves a 6 hour overnight wait in an airport in which they weren't going to arrive until midnight. Then we'll make them use some bought in expense control system for their expenses, and quite likely not pay them before they have to pay their own credit card bill......

Ah, but you've forgotten the companies that use HR to make the travel arrangements. They make sure the attendees (who know they are going three months in advance), are only booked in the week running up to the meeting, thus ensuring easyJet et al's survival, under the yield management business model. It is also accepted practice to book the least convenient route by ensuring attendees drive into to work to pick up the hire car, (no fleet cars left these days), rather than pay them mileage on an appropriately insured personal vehicle.
Mind bending bit of insurance that I had. Swapped personal car for much higher performance model. At yearly insurance renewal it would have cost more to take the occasional business use off, with subsequent increased premium, than doing what I did and left the business use on. So to reduce the risk, would have cost me more ...:ugh:

Clearly the BS jobs breed BS procedures, and BS business costs.

radeng
5th Sep 2013, 23:06
jumpseater,

I hadn't met that........

Back in 2000, I managed to pull the one that being diabetic, I needed a meal. As there wasn't a meal in economy in Europe, I needed Business Class.

As my time was charged at $120 an hour, the alternative meaning that I left just after lunch so I had a meal as opposed to leaving at 1800 made business class cheaper overall.......

HR locally didn't like it, but the big boss in Canada agreed it.....

However, with the shut down and redundancies, I outlasted all the HR people and all my local managers...so I guess I had the last laugh. Although my manager convicted of gross indecency with two other men in a public lavatory in Wootton Bassett lasted an awful long time afterwards. He was popularly known as the "Wootton Bassett wan**r".

It's good being retired...

Hydromet
5th Sep 2013, 23:27
And what's wrong with a bullshit job, or at least a horseshit job? My first job, while at school, was mucking out stables for a race trainer, for which I received a small wage. My wage increased slightly when I offered to remove the manure, and I then packaged the manure and sold it to local gardeners. My entreé to the world of commerce.

Cacophonix
6th Sep 2013, 00:08
Con

You know, not apropos of anything, as pilots go you are clearly not a bad bloke...

Caco

Dushan
6th Sep 2013, 00:43
Bullshit jobs
We mustn't overlook meetings...bloody meetings!

Ant the daily meetings will continue until we determine why the productivity is down. We will have meetings until the productivity improves.

Dushan
6th Sep 2013, 02:08
An idea for meetings: Have a clearly visible counter into which each individual privately enters their hourly rate (or better still, their hourly cost to the company). Then whilst the meeting is in progress, the counter displays the cumulative cost of the meeting.


I was recently in a meeting where 25 senior directors and VPs of a large, multiBillion Dollar corporation spent 20 minutes discussing whether to approve a $16,000 expenditure. Thir combined hourly rate exceeded that amount in the first 5 minutes.

Meetings will continue until productivity improves!

mikedreamer787
6th Sep 2013, 03:42
I think any secretary for a minister of ministerial affairs
would have to be the second most bullshittiest of bullshit
jobs on the planet.

The first most bullshittiest is the minister for ministerial
affairs.

With apologies to Sir Humphrey of course!

BenThere
6th Sep 2013, 03:55
I enjoy reading the job ads in the Economist where they want someone to run the irrigation administration of Ghana and such. The qualifications sought eliminate anyone who could actually do the job.

A Squared
6th Sep 2013, 06:08
Not sure I buy how the distinction of "bullshit job" is being made here. As just one example consider telemarketers. As much as I despise telemarketers (and I do) a telemarketer can generate revenue for their employer which can be pretty directly attributed to that telemarketer. And presumably, the revenue generated by the telemarketing sales is greater than the cost of the telemarketing, otherwise companies wouldn't be engaging in telemarketing. Is a telemarketer as beneficial to society in general as an Emergency room nurse? clearly not, but apparently the telemarketer had a measurable benefit to his employer. Not to defend telemarketers in any way, but it seems it relatively easy to quantify the benefit of a telemarketer to the employer.