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Do You Have a BS Job?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Snerk, Sep 7, 2018.

?

Do you have a BS job?

  1. Kind of

    10 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Not really

    15 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Don't know

    2 vote(s)
    6.7%
  4. Other

    3 vote(s)
    10.0%
  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I mean, I actually just think this applies to anyone in the "precariat", which certainly includes huge numbers of Boomers. edit: and members of other generations for that matter
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
  2. Bootstoots

    Bootstoots Warlord Super Moderator

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    I have an industrial job, starting three weeks ago. That means I'm one of the few, the proud, the people who actually have an active role in producing something in the physical world!

    I'm really happy about this because I have serious psychological trouble working on something that is BS, especially computer-driven BS. My master's project had a heavy serving of computational BS, and I almost didn't get through it - I wouldn't have, if it hadn't been for having the best advisor ever. If you ever want a good helping of computational BS, I highly recommend anything to do with machine learning.

    Now I'm a lab tech for a company that produces ethanol. I'm responsible for running a bunch of routine chemical tests to ensure that the booze we make isn't (very) toxic for vehicles/humans/industrial uses. The majority of the ethanol is fuel, but most of the current revenue comes from ethanol produced as an industrial solvent; from co-products like yeast extract, distiller's grains (leftover stuff from corn and other grains after yeast ferment it, used as cattle feed), starch left over from fermentation, proteins such as gluten, various things useful as food additives, and so on; and of course from drinking alcohol. Apparently Everclear is basically just our grain alcohol bottled with an Everclear label, possibly with one or two extra distillations just to say they did something. Vodka is similar, just with more suppliers and cut with water to 40% abv. Whiskey is the same except it's put in a wooden barrel for a time and what is leached out flavors it - whiskey is just an ethanol tincture of wood.

    There is one significant BS aspect: corn ethanol fuel makes no economic or environmental sense, and it is produced only because of federal subsidies which are politically impossible to repeal, given the electoral importance of the Midwest.

    But that's the only real BS thing, and it's on the surface so it's easy to get used to. Ethanol is still a valuable product, and much of the profit comes from everything but fuel; for fuel, the margins are now zero to slightly negative despite the subsidies, and we're trying to get away from fuel as much as possible. I take comfort in the fact that my job isn't just BS all the way down, unlike a lot of other jobs I could have ended up with.

    edit: Oh, I should also mention that while the lab is not unionized, most of the employees in the plant are in a union. Thanks in no small part to the union, the benefits are pretty good even for us non-union grunts.
     
  3. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Of course not. Listeners hold valuable and important positions in human experience.

    Many jobs, that folks like the author under discussion would call BS, could be made more important and interesting if the holder of the job showed initiative and was motivated to make their job better and more interesting. Better bosses would help too.
     
    bernie14 likes this.
  4. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    All of these jobs are measurably valuable and what Graeber is calling BS is the lack of perfect all-seeing professionalism by a population of pure homo economicus.
     
  5. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Nope. The only thing "we" are better at, according to that, is working faster.

    I'll happily admit that millennials take social media breaks instead, and that the boomers were more willing to work boring jobs at lower pay, which is probably what gives the impression that they worked harder. The "WE are better" narrative is mostly coming from the boomers.
     
  6. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    As I said before, it comes from everywhere. There has never been a generation or group that wasn't the hardest (or fastest) working bunch ever...if you ask them. Most eventually realize that it isn't really true.
     
  7. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Not where I am. Boomers will happily school anyone on the virtues of their work ethic, and people generally accept it. Millennials are harder to control, so to people it seems to bear out.

    And the introduction of IT does mean people are working quantifiably faster now (the contrast is easily seen when one looks at how the older workers work here).
     
  8. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Yeah, the "introduction of IT" doesn't seem to have changed how fast people swing a hammer, so I perhaps don't see the quantifiable results you are seeing.

    And "eventually hasn't happened yet. Be patient. :)
     
    Robo-Star likes this.
  9. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Chieftain

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    What types of job are in large parts - but not entirely - pointless? Is not a job manufacturing socially harmful products entirely pointless?
     
  10. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    I would like to know Graeber's defense against the obvious criticisms of his work, like how if a firm lacks people handling assistants, than the industrious real-job persons vanguarding their firms are being interrupted and distracted from their endeavors.

    I have this terrible suspicion that Graeber categorically decided certain things "don't count" just because he's constructed a model in his head... a model leading him back to 19th century realizations of "productivity", pre price theory.
     
    SS-18 ICBM likes this.
  11. cardgame

    cardgame Sensual Kitten

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    I make wooden shipping pallets, which are used by almost every single business in the world, directly or indirectly (and some do go out internationally). By the "contribution" measurement, what I have is incredibly useful and the polar opposite of a BS job. However, by my standards, it is kind of a BS job, because a lot of it could be automated by a smart designer. I think that's a far more useful focus than us vs. them labor elitism. Is your job necessary? You can make loads of money, or very little; work hard or coast, work with your hands or exclusively with your brain; at the end of the day all of that is irrelevant social divide and conquer BS.

    I want robots to do our work for us and give ourselves to more leisure and human creativity. There's no reason we should work and waste our lives if it can be avoided and done by robotics.

    As a separate train of thought, to hone in on the OP a bit, administrative assistants are almost always useful because the workload cannot be handled without them. I mean, if it could, they'd be a lot less common.
     
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  12. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Blackpilled Idealist

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    You need some administrators, but there are often so many that they stand in each other's way, give out contradicting instructions and the more you have the more likely it becomes that at least one of them doesn't really know what he's doing because he's not familiar with conditions on the ground level and will make attempts to optimise workflow that can only work under controlled conditions.
    A few years ago I worked in a stadium during events. Games, concerts, etc. My job was to keep everything well supplied.
    They brough in a new guy to make things more efficient. We used to improvise a lot because we had to navigate around (often drunk) guests and customers and they didn't stick to any timetables, but efficiency dude just assumed they would.
    I saw him stand in front of a huge dishwasher with a stopwatch. He knew that the dishwasher wasn't properly maintained and frequently failed, but I guess he needed to measure something in order to justify his presence at the company. He also calculated how much beer or wine we need and gave us lists. We had our own lists, but they were "too chaotic". Now every VIP-box had to be stocked the same way. I knew that the regular guests in box 3 hardly drank any beer and went through mutiple bottles of white wine, but I followed his instructions and kept a hidden stash of white wine for quick resupply.

    His constant micromanaging eventually drove away everybody who had worked there for more than a year. I was the last one of the old guard to leave because I loathe myself and seek out suffering. During that time they lost out on a couple of six digit contracts because the new guys didn't kow their guests and just followed orders and the quality of the service quickly deteriorated.

    Why did this just become a rant about a job I quit three years ago ?
     
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  13. uppi

    uppi Warlord

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    Anybody who had the pleasure to work with good people handling assistants know how valuable these can be. Anybody who has worked with people handling assistants who failed at their job (possibly not because of their own fault, but because the job was structured in a way that nobody would be able to handle), knows that their work can also have a negative impact on the company. The positions always add a layer of indirection to the process. This is by all means necessary in many cases to maintain some efficiency, but always carries the danger that information is delayed, corrupted, lost, or misprioritized. Too much of that and the position backfires, decreases overall efficiency and is essentially a BS job.

    If someone is bad at a production job, he can also make a mess up to the point where the company would be better off without him. But I think it is much harder to do that without making it immediately obvious, so BS jobs are eliminated much quicker (or filled with someone who adds value to this position).

    So, I don't agree that the listed jobs are BS jobs per se, but I think they have a much higher likelihood of ending up as a BS job.
     
  14. bernie14

    bernie14 Filter Manipulator

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    generally speaking, it seems everyone would benefit from a little boost to their self esteem

    :lol::lol: how I love sociobabble :lol::lol:
     
  15. Snerk

    Snerk Smeghead

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    That is probably a valid point but taken to a rather extreme conclusion, no? Isn't there plenty of room for questioning and theorising over the net contribution of various jobs or job types in today's world without having to compare it to an imagined population of pure homo economicus as you say?
    Yeah If you want to get philosophical about it it's definitely possible to stumble down the what's-the-point-of-it-all rabbit hole and thus eliminate the BS job question. I don't think that's fundamentally necessary and that there's still a conversation to be had.
     
  16. Synsensa

    Synsensa Sweet Pea Retired Moderator

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    As we get closer to post scarcity, the question of value becomes less and less important.

    It largely seems useless as a consideration even today. He even highlights this in his book by arguing for Universal Basic Income, but seems to come to that conclusion in a warped way (that UBI counters valueless occupation).

    But these arguments also seem to be working off of a flawed premise. You can't debate the value of a job in a system by rejecting why that system functions. The "BS" jobs are an innate component of the system. Get rid of them and the system changes. Now, that's a worthy argument to make by itself, but that doesn't seem to be the argument. The argument seems to be that these jobs are a burden on the system; they take away from true productivity. But this productivity and prosperity is only possible because of the aforementioned fluff/BS.
     
  17. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    This is an example of a BS performance, not necessarily a BS job. A different person given that job might have worked with the people who were already there, applied some fresh eyes, found some things that the "old guard" would actually have appreciated, and made genuine improvements that would make a good thing better for everybody. I think that a lot of the "that's a BS job" complaint is rooted in exactly this: people in these job categories whose performance is not just poor, but downright abysmal. And I think that is a result of a complete failure on all sides to understand the job. Upper management expects some nebulous "result" from their 'efficiency guy.' The people doing the work figure that the 'efficiency guy' could improve efficiency if he just 'lends a hand,' making the hiring of the efficiency guy no more effective than hiring a minimum wage gofer to help them out would have been. And in this vague nebula of expectations generally no one, including the efficiency guy, has any clue how they would go about measuring his performance, so if he is absolutely awful no one is likely to ever know it, including him.
     
  18. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Chieftain

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    Not particularly what I want; I want to get examples of the "some jobs" referred to in "Graeber contends that more than half of societal work is pointless, both large parts of some jobs and, as he describes, five types of entirely pointless jobs".
     
  19. uppi

    uppi Warlord

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    That might be the case, but it could also be the case that the job was a bad idea in the first place. Let's assume for a moment that the guy was actually competent but after three months he had to conclude that there are some small improvements to be made that will save maybe 1000 Euro a year, but apart from that there is not much to be done. In the meantime he cost his employer 15000 Euro and the boss wants to see results. What is he supposed to do? The honest thing would be to tell the boss that his job is useless and that it was a mistake to hire him and that the whoever thought of the idea (who might that be?) is an idiot who doesn't know what is going on. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that this will not end well for the guy doing this. What will most likely happen instead is that he will try to do something that seems like a good idea, make up a calculation how much money this will save the boss and hope that this doesn't mess up operations to much. If he is lucky he can keep this up for a while, declare the project as a success and quit before anybody catches on. If he is not, he will run down the business, because he needs to come up with new ideas how to improve efficiency but none of them actually do.

    This is very much the definition of a BS job: One where you cannot actually do anything beneficial because of external reasons but you need to go through the motions anyway. If there is no way to really measure performance (and especially in big companies it gets extremely hard to do so), this can go on for a long time.
     
  20. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    The assumption you are basing this result on is dubious at best. There are few, if any, businesses that can't be improved. So the two pronged assumption that one; the guy is competent and two; he can't find anything to improve, is contradictory. If he is really competent he finds things to improve.

    The root problem is that if he is incompetent he makes up things to improve, and there is nothing in place to determine whether he is finding things or making things up, but he was hired anyway. In the real world, unfortunately, that happens all the time. Enamored with the idea of improvement, and unwilling to take any particular responsibility in the matter, some level of management takes a random dive into the barrel hoping to come up with a hire that will do it for them.
     
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