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    nmw 14:10:51 on 2014/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Categorical Imperative, , collabortive, , , cooperation, cooperative, , dystopia, dystopian, economic development, , employment, , , , , Immanuel Kant, , , , Kant, , , , , , , , , , , utopia, utopian,   

    Kant’s Big Mistake? 

    In my previous post I referred to Kant’s “Categorical Imperative”. Here, let me entertain the following suggestion: That Kant made a big mistake.

    Kant wrote a lot. If he was consistent in his thinking, that would mean that he wanted everyone to write a lot. Now since he lived several hundred years ago, Kant never had to face the prospect of having to read dozens, hundreds, thousands or even millions of volumes of text, with rarely one of them rising above the level of completely ephemeral blather (in my opinion, this is primarily due to how the coincidence of copyright law and mass production of printed paper had not yet taken its course into its swirling destiny of mind-numbing confusion). Had Kant ever envisioned the world we live in today, he would have probably immediately had a heart attack and died on the spot right then and there.

    There is some irony to how my main goal in life is something quite similar to making this frightening, horrific vision actually come true — but to do so in a way that might satisfy the hopes and dreams of literate people everywhere. One of the main reasons why I am so focused on literacy is that I do not feel that publishing hogwash improves anything anywhere (except, perhaps, for people who “make money” that way — and in particular only insofar as it fulfills their financial obsession and their fetish for cash).

    Yet I feel optimistic enough to believe that everyone is particularly literate at something… — what’s your thing?

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 16:48:55 on 2014/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: , employment, , minimum wage, oil, public transportation, transportation, , , , , , ,   

    Public Transportation in the United States of America 

    I was traveling in the USA this summer, and after I had a very negative experience due to an incompetent worker in the public transportation industry I vowed I would write a blog post about it. Actually, I sort of threatened it, saying if that Greyhound did not apologize for the poor service (which lead to a delay of several hours, such that we were no longer able to arrive during daylight hours :| ) then I would call them out on it.

    Well, if I hadn’t written the previous bit, then I would have lied before — and I didn’t want to do that, either.

    With that out of the way, I would like to add something more useful to this topic. Put simply, public transportation fails in the United States of America for no other reason than this: Many / Most Americans don’t want public transportation. If the public doesn’t want public transportation, then public transportation doesn’t need to work. If public transportation doesn’t need to work, then why invest any money in trying to make it work? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to simply employ incompetent people at minimum wage and not to worry about what they do at all? Granted, not all people who work in public transportation are incompetent, but apparently no one to cares whether they are or not.

    It seems that in the USA, the way the so-called “free market” incentivizes someone to be more than incompetent is to pay more than the minimum wage. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it seems to me that the main difference between someone receiving unemployment and the minimum wage is that people who receive the minimum wage are will to get up and do something (whether they do it well or not doesn’t seem to matter all that much).

    Until Americans realize that their level of consumption of fossil fuels is preposterously high, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to want public transportation to work. Although the next oil shock — if it is significant enough — might make that happen, Americans are still completely unprepared for it. It will probably be messy, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will have to happen sometime… and probably sometime relatively soon.

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    feedwordpress 18:01:44 on 2014/04/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , employee, employer, employment, , , , , , , labor market, narcissism, narcissistic, , , product, , , , self promotion, , , , , , , west, western   

    What is right / wrong, good / bad about self-promotion 

    In the 20th century, self-promotion acquired a bad name. I think I can explain why, but explanation is rather complicated.

    After the modern capitalism was invented in the 18th century and became widely established throughout the western hemisphere in the 19th century, the 20th century further developed capitalistic enterprise on a strong foundation, as social organization and supportive legal frameworks spread across the globe, especially in the “free market” economies of the so-called “developed” nations and the countries that comprised what simply became known as “The West”.

    In particular, employment became the economic cornerstone of many such western economies. People no longer worked for themselves, increasingly people worked for companies… and companies sold products and services. The “labor pool” was conceived of as an ever-present and adaptable supply which a company might hire at will (or not). By and large, the supply of labor became a clandestine market in which employers could choose to invite candidates behind closed doors and offer those deemed willing and able to do as ordered to become employees.

    More and more humans became beings with the qualification and the ability to follow orders. As time went on, those characteristics which qualified and enabled humans to follow orders became the quintessential characteristic of the free market human being. For the vast majority of people, entrepreneurial spirit became completely eradicated — and by the end of the 20th century it was all but completely destroyed in the social fabric. The most marked sign of this thwarting of the human spirit is the notion of “unemployment” — the state of not having a job in which the employee follows the orders of his or her master or boss.

    Today we live in a world in which we have inherited a social order that frowns upon insubordination — because subordination has become the defining characteristic of a well-adapted individual. A person who freely declares to be willing and able to do something by themselves is treated with utmost skepticism. We do not expect our products and services to be offered by people. We expect such things to be companies with brand names. We value the brand, not the person.

    It is in this vein, that the person who engages in self-promotion is today seen as narcissistic and perhaps even anti-social. The main thing that is bad or wrong about self-promotion is that society tends to condemn it (and this is especially true of free market western societies based on “labor market” / “employment” capitalism). The main thing that is right or good about self-promotion is that it establishes a healthy and self-confident self-image… — it is the socialization of self esteem. A society that supports self-promotion enables its members to identify themselves as willing and able to function in a socially productive manner.

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    feedwordpress 17:28:43 on 2014/03/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , employment, , Karl Marx, , , , , Marxist, ,   

    Information / Technology vs. People 

    One aspect of economics that — in my opinion — people often misunderstand is one of Karl Marx’s central theses: Capital / investment in technology actually competes with labor. I find it odd that so many people say Marx was wrong about this, when it is plainly and obviously clear that huge machines and vast energy resources are used in many developed countries in order to reduce the amount of labor input required. Maybe the only thing even more comical than that is when politicians say capitalism is the answer to any / all evils, and then in the same breath promise to create more jobs. That is so ridiculous that it’s almost like you couldn’t make it up.

    Just now I saw someone write a reply to some so-called “newsworthy” story that the person should share it with reporters. Why? I see no reason to share anything with “reporters”. I can speak, write, etc. myself — I am quite literate (and so was the person being addressed); there is no need for a reporter.

    We live in an age in which special classes of people who are supposed to report news are no longer necessary (at least not for people who have acquired a certain level of literacy). Anyone who thinks a person is needed for this function is living in the past.

    And yet I do admit that many people still appear to believe that “expert information” is something experts (i.e., people) should be consulted for. Well: Good luck finding a cheap book if you expect to buy it from such an expert. On the other hand, if you have an ISBN, then perhaps a robot will deliver the paper with ink stains in a paperback or hardcover casing to your front door sometime soon.

    You might not even need an ISBN. Maybe you can type in the word “book”, “novel” or maybe “stories”, “poems” … and maybe a topic like “love” or “career advice” (especially in case up to this point in time you were hoping to work as a “reporter”).

    As long as machines do not blow toxic chemicals into our faces, as long as they do not harm our environment, we should welcome the work they do. Indeed: We need to acknowledge both the positive and negative impact of machinery (and this was precisely Karl Marx’s point). Instead, many people today often stick their head in the sand and simply say something like “capitalism will solve everything”. If they added “when hell freezes over” then I might be willing to admit that there is at least some sort of logic to that statement. ;)

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