Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Work or lack there of

I really wonder if we haven't become too efficient for our own good. I think back to a time when the average work day was from sun up to sun down or roughly 12 hours. And back then there was no such thing as a 4 or 5 day work week. It was six for everybody. Some years back I worked seven days a week but that wasn't for too long. I can't imagine doing a six day week for very long now. But back then I could recover with just a few short hours of sleep. Age catches up to you.

What has happened in the last ten or twenty years? With strides in efficiencies there is less of a need for workers. I may have said this before but in just a short period what used to take two dozen workers now takes six or eight. And time schedules have been cut in half or more. A little insight into that though. You see highway projects always seeming to be done ahead of time and under budget? A little trickery there is at work. As the estimate for bid goes through the chain of command, hours get added with each passing hand. It's all a game. Once signed the paperwork makes it back down to the supervisors and foremen but not before the hours mysteriously disappear. If a job takes two weeks to finish the bid gets pushed to three. The workers are told the job must be finished in a week. When that isn't possible they are told they'll get an extra day or two but the new artificial deadline must be met. When the job gets done ahead of schedule management is patting themselves on the back while telling the workers the company lost money on the job. This strategy backfires when workers have enough experience to know exactly how long a job will take. When pushed too far or too fast they will however slow down to make up for lost time and wages.

The though had crossed my mind sometime way back in the 1970s. What if humans or at least most of their labor became unnecessary? What would we do? Never did I think we would come so close to the current situation in my lifetime and yet there is more to come. ATMs, robot welders and auto floor vacuums are but the tip of the iceberg. There are drones and land cruisers that can act autonomously. Artificial intelligence the next frontier of computers and machines is the next blessing or worry. They already have cars that park themselves so why would I even bother going in the first place. I could just send my robot clone. In congress we have clowns, but maybe someday that is if we can pry the cash out of their bought souls, we could have clones. Low on maintenance easily controllable that is if the majority get a turn and maybe something might get done. Just keep the extremists away from the joy stick.


harry said...

And a merry fcuking xmas to you Mr De Meur.


harry said...

And a merry fcuking xmas to you Mr De Meur.


harry said...

fcuking googleblogger, I'm not responsible for the double post.

BBC said...

So, there's that little plick..

I don't recall ever having to work more than a eight hour a day job five days a week, except by choice. I might have had to, and just don't recall.

Because my wife didn't work a few times I took on some part time jobs weekends and evenings.

Oh well, now I'm a bum so don't have to work. I figure I'll keep getting my SS money until I die cuz the government will keep making magic figures to keep it coming to me.

But I don't recon I'll be living all that much longer so maybe it's just for you to worry about.

J. Marquis said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. As our society becomes more efficient we're going to have to move away from the rigid capitalist mentality and more toward something more socialist and relaxed. Either that or the government will have to create lots of "make work" occupations just so we can keep up appearances.

S.W. Anderson said...

We have become too efficient for our own good, in some ways. Bring back the guys (or gals) who'd pump your gas, clean your windshield, check your oil and radiator, and sometimes hand you a free set of decorative drinking glasses or placemats, if you got a fill-up.

We need to reindustrialize. If we do that, even with all the robotics and other automation there will be lots more jobs. Better-paying ones.

We probably should transition to a four-day work week. But (and this is what will make Getbux & Shaftemall Inc. execs crap their pants) at what's currently paid for five days. With some help from big gummint, of course.

Jim, government doesn't have to resort to make work. We've got plenty of public-sector/public-service work that needs doing. For example, how about training and deploying 30,000 food and agriculture inspectors nationwide, so we can eliminate the 1,500-plus annual deaths from food-borne illnesses. Those deaths are all preventable, as are most of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cases of nonfatal gastroenteritis that occur annually.

Toxic Drums said...

A truly provocative post.

Anthropologists recon we evolved to do about 4 hours stuff a day. Given the natural environment we evolved in we 'work' for about 4 hours then eat, socialise, fornicate, sleep, wash, rest and have fun the rest of the time.

I think we have been conned by control freaks.

Since we now live in a consumer culture if we have more 'spare' time we need more money to fill it.

It was only in the industrial revolution that the moralistic work ethic came about. Unfortunately we have it deeply embedded in out collective psyche now. Hence the idea that BBC is a 'bum'; He's not, he's just a well balanced human being.

BBC said...

We need to reindustrialize.

We have China do that for us, they do it cheaper, unions here make it too expensive to make a lot of things in this country.

Hence the idea that BBC is a 'bum'; He's not, he's just a well balanced human being.

No, I'm a bum, being a good bum is a fine art and a good way to get by these days.

Let's see, if I was 20 would I be concerned about all this? Na, I'd figure out some path to take.

Seems to me like all the young people (here anyway) have expensive cell phones so they must be getting money from somewhere.

Randal Graves said...

Very very very very very very few of us have jobs that require 40 hours of "work," whatever that entails. Just like every single facet of existence is couched in economic terms, we've made employment the pinnacle of that existence. It's just a way to pay the fucking bills.

I'd much rather be reading, re-learning to paint, play the guitar, go darkthroning, you know, that frivolous stuff that makes this planet actually enjoyable.

Demeur said...

How true you all are. I never thought about what to do once I hung up the full face.

And a happy F*ing New year to you Harry. I was beginning to think you crawled into a hole and died.