It’s no secret that I’m a strong opponent of socialism. Socialism is a social and economic system that can only be achieved through the use of coercion. Yet I read a lot of socialist writings as I’m not one to relegate myself solely to material that support my viewpoint. Usually such material is at least well written and can be said to make an argument. Yet there is material I run across that’s so absurdly dumb that I can’t help but tear it apart. This post is about on of those absurdly dumb writings that I saw and knew right away would be excellent blog fodder.
This essay attempts to argue that jobs are obsolete. Even the most devout socialists I know acknowledge that work needs to get done and thus jobs are necessary; they just believe people will eventually perform jobs because they are socially necessary, not because they are profitable. The essay opens with the following:
I hate jobs. Not just my job – its actually pretty sweet.
This is the authors way of saying, “Hey if my boss is reading this please don’t fire me! My job and you are the only exceptions in the entire universe for my hatred of jobs and bosses!” If your essay states, “Why am I upset at jobs? Because we don’t need them anymore.” then you damn well better not ruin your argument by claiming your jobs is somehow the exception.
This author does something very special, something even anti-gunners seldom accomplish so well, he invalidates his entire argument within the opening statements or the essay:
But now less than 1% of the US population grows food for the other 99% PLUS many other countries. I”d say the days of horse and plow are over.
Although the author claims that jobs are unnecessary he also states that somebody produces food. Food production is indeed a job, and a very necessary one at that. The very fact that there are farmers producing enough food for all is what allows the rest of society to work on other tasks. Famers producing food for the nation is a perfect example of distribution of labor.
I wouldn’t ridicule this part so much if the author gave some kind of alternative to jobs. Had the essay at least mentioned that farming could be completely replaced with automation (which it currently can’t) I would just roll my eyes and move along. Instead the author says jobs are unnecessary while acknowledging that somebody has to produce food. The author’s argument gets more absurd from there:
All recently created jobs are fulfilling artificial needs. The fastest growing industry in the past decade was the financial industry. Completely false and outside our realm of human needs. All jobs created since the 80s are like smoke. They’re here for a little while, hanging in the air, but soon they dissipate. They’re not sustainable because they’re based on artificial, socially created “needs” like an HDTV, 401K, computers or fashionable clothing.
All recently created jobs are fulfilling artificial needs… except farmers, employees of water treatment facilities, construction workers who build our shelters, employees in the medical field, people who invent mechanisms for preserving food so that we have something to eat when crops are not ready to harvest, etc. It’s absolutely ridiculous to claim that all jobs created since the 1980s are simply fulfilling artificial social needs.
What the author doesn’t see is the fact that our society has done such a good job of providing for the needs of the majority of people that we have been able to redirect an immense amount of resources towards wants. Although HDTVs, computers, and fashionable clothing are not needs they are wants and those wants are being fulfilled because other people are working jobs that provider for our needs. So, who wants to see the author invalidate his own argument in one line? I do:
And the world only needs so many doctors, police and firefighters. So what are the rest of us to do in our useless, pointless jobs that merely exist to make some rich guy more money? How do we free ourselves?
Jobs are unnecessary because we only need so many doctors, police officers, and firefighters. Wait a minute, those are all jobs. How can jobs be unnecessary and necessary at the same time? That’s like saying a fish isn’t a fish but is a fish. What can I expect from an author who doesn’t understand basic biology though:
Well we could start by realizing that jobs turn our bodies into a debt that we must work to repay. Our hunger, our biological need for a warm place to sleep is used against us.. Our own bodies, our very own biological processes, are used as leverage to FORCE us to work.
Damn ourselves for being biologically dependent on outside sources of energy and a relatively stable environment! The fact that these biological needs are being used to force us into needing food and shelter is a travesty! No other lifeforms on the planet have this problem… oh, wait.
Nobody is forcing you to work (at least in the United States, some countries such as the former Soviet Union actually had laws against showing up late for work or being absent entirely). If you wish to go homestead a piece of land and survive by subsistence farming then you may be able to find a plot of land to do so (if the state allows you to of course). The only person forcing you to work is you, if you committed suicide you’d no longer have to provide for your biological needs and thus would be free from having to work. Still I think the most idiotic statement in the entire essay is the following line:
Now what has happened since the abolition of slavery? We’ve inserted a middle man (money) between us and our access to basic life necessities like food and shelter.
Apparently the author has never cracked open a history book because if he had he’d know that money was in use well before slavery was abolished. Also the following is absolutely false:
By eradicating slavery we’ve actually made ourselves EASIER to control through work and jobs because if one controls the money one controls the labor power of the entire society.
I think it’s quite a bit easier to control somebody using force than by offering them money in exchange for their labor. If I put a gun to your head and told you to either till my garden or die I’d have far fewer complications than if I offered you $10.00 an hour and had to worry about your quitting and perusing a better offer elsewhere. Controlling people through their voluntary action isn’t control at all.
We also have the illusion of choice at our jobs. We think we’re free because we get to pick our favorite flavor of slavery. But that doesnt change the fact that we all NEED jobs to live, to access basic life necessities.
Unless you subsistence farm, then you don’t need a job to live (well I guess subsistence farming is a job technically). The bottom line is somebody has to produce your biological needs or you will die. You can either choose to provide for your own biological needs or exchange your labor with another who will produce your needs while you do something else.
One last point and then I”m out. Prisoners. These people BREAK the law, are a danger to society, yet they get free food and shelter day in day out and dont work a single day.
They aren’t getting free anything, we as taxpayers are footing the bill. I’m not a fan of the “justice” system here in the United States were we incarcerate anybody and everybody who’s done something naughty (as defined by the state). While it’s completely incorrect to say prisoners get all of those amenities for free I will agree that it’s wrong that they get those amenities at no charge to them. Anyways let’s close this up:
If AFL-CIO is gonna fight a fight why not fight to reduce people’s dependence on jobs instead of INCREASING people’s dependence on jobs.
How? Seriously this entire article talks about jobs being unnecessary (except when they’re necessary) but offers absolutely no alternatives. If you’re going to make an argument it’s generally considered poor form to invalidate that argument right away. It’s considered even worse form if you offer no alternatives to what you’re claiming is wrong.
Finally to answer any questions about why I spent so much time writing a rebuttal to an obscure and poorly thought out argument I will say this, it amused me. That’s what this site is about, amusing me. I am glad others find my act of self amusement interesting enough to read everyday though.