agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
So, back on 27 Feb 16, Andrew Ducker posted this:
Hidden Rules Among Classes chart from Ruby Payne  28Feb16-1 reduced 14Mar15

hmm  ...  I will try inserting it again later.  Second try equally fruitless.  Third no better.  No, cannot add the photo of the chart.  I will try again from work on Monday.  Woof - this is the "reduced" size.  Sheesh.

you can see his post here:
http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/3416650.html

and I made a comment (I've copied my comment here as the first comment below).

The general gist was that I identify myself as part of the lower class (living paycheque to paycheque as I do), and that I think a lot of people falsely place themselves in the middle class category.  I don't mean they are lying; I mean that they are self-deluded.

Anyway.  I know this chart was developed by do-gooders wanting to make themselves feel better by providing the kind of superficial help that doesn't change the charity-recipient's circumstances enough to make them eligible to be invited to dinner at the charity-giver's home.  And I find it interesting that it has raised a lot of hackles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_K._Payne ),so is it wrong or encroaching on received wisdom?  Dunno.  It seems like a useful starting place.

What I now find intriguing is that it can be a useful tool in the opposite direction.  If I am a person from the class of poverty, and I am making something I want to sell to the classes that are wealthier than me, then treating my customers the way I want to be treated will not work at all.  If I wish to make an application for a loan for a business, it is likely that the things I stress as proof of worthiness will not be of interest.  I think on paper I would be able to pay attention to the concerns of those I am petitioning, but in face to face life I would not be able to maintain that approach.  And making a joke to prove that I wasn't taking myself seriously (poor person's faux pas) would only prove to those I am petitioning that I am not taking the situation seriously (wealth faux pas).

I am thinking about this because a friend of mine has been struggling to launch their business, and I have come to the conclusion that they are providing a luxury service but approaching people who need bargains.  Given my background I have no idea how to help them be noticed by the people who will pay for the service.  Ruby Payne's chart helps me think about it.

Canada pretends it doesn't have a class system.  Canada is also self-deluded.
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
You know that I have been thinking that the current state of capitalism is like that of sheep farmers who used to shear the sheep and sell the wool and shear the sheep again, but who in a fit of greed have skinned the sheep for the luxury sheepskin rug market (because the money-in-hand was so swoon-inducingly satisfying), and are now standing around the sheepfold wondering why the sheep seem so listless.

Aftershock is a more detailed look a why gutting your consumer class is stupid ( http://www.amazon.ca/Aftershock-Next-Economy-Americas-Future/dp/0307476332 - see especially review near bottom by ronbc for the gist), but with the current crop of conservative crofters in power everywhere, we know that powerful people currently would rather drink their fill from the cistern and then use it for a latrine, than share it with the people they stole it from through freshly-minted legal "laws".  (Privatization.  ptui)  So we know the stupidity will continue.

This week I read this article: The End of Capitalism Has Begun. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun?CMP=share_btn_fb)

While I think he is mostly right, that people are starting to use new ways of living since the old ones are broken,  I don't think he is right to expect the center of the old system to help in its own demise.  Feudalism didn't gracefully get out of the way; people stepped outside of a weakened system and created new ways of living.  The people at the centre of the old system fought tooth and nail to retain their privilege, and there are old feudal laws still to be recinded (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quern-stone#Laws_against_use [1]).

What I think is going to happen is as I said before - people will start doing new things, and will simply stop even thinking about the old ways.  There is some new evidence that the Mayan centers not so much fell as simply withered from neglect as the common people moved into the forest (http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/summer-2015/article/classic-ancient-maya-collapse-not-caused-by-overpopulation-and-deforestation-say-researchers).

So, I don't expect Capitalism to fall in a big sparkly cataclysm; I expect little pieces to occasionally fall off.  Crumble crumble crumble, and people will start using the rubble for something new; and the people at the centre will believe that they always liked the new lean, streamlined operation.  Sleek, baby, oooo: so trim.

By the way. I don't expect the new ways of living to be idyllic.  People are people.


[1] - isn't that nice?  Once a landlord had a mill, he could destroy a poor person's tool for making food easier to eat.  Laws of appropriation newly minted for each occasion.

Robots

Jul. 1st, 2015 02:12 pm
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
So, most people have seen this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
and become anxious about their own job, or the jobs of their children.

And then today there is this
http://app.tmxmoney.com/news/cpnews/article?locale=EN&newsid=f41984&mobile=false
where a young man was crushed to death by a robot.  And, human error or no, it is very scary.

On one hand, I suspect that some people with means will always want a staff they can boss around, and lording[1] it over a bunch of robots will just not be the same.

On another hand, do you notice that the young man is not an employee, but a contractor - no death benefits for you, pal - so the robots have already changed the style of remunerative relationship a plain person has with a producer of consumer goods.  I mean: replacing people we have come to expect, but renaming people is not yet noticed.  Serfs to subects to citizens to consumers to contractors.

On another hand, I have only seen this news article on a site with news of interest to investors (small-time, but nontheless).  Mainstream media no longer reports most traffic deaths because they are common place.  Is this now common place?  What exact part of it is common place?

And then this hand, I am disturbed by this death, so I know there is more to think about it, but I don't know what.

[1] - yes, this is cliche; consider why it is cliche
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
... "Greece" may be on the precipice but the people are already in the pits.  Bank withdrawal limits of 60 Euros a day: 1800 month, then.  I doubt I'd be able to pay my rent, buy my bus pass, bag my lunch, and pay for my electricity and internet with that. There isn't even a place where I can wheelbarrow my coins to pay for electricity & internet.

Which leads me to the very scary-to-me news:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/seniors-going-bankrupt-in-soaring-numbers-1.3129176

We're not in debt and we don't have a mortgage, but the money doesn't buy what it once did, and if our Flake-a-zoid Leader continues down the road he is hoeing, we'll not continue to receive pensions.  I will get a "private" pension, but it is from a crown corporation, so they can go Ciao for Now Loser if they want.  Our FAZL recently scammed the EI money to balance his budget, so nothing is safe.

I was thinking that, if a similar crisis were to occur here, my stocks are not in a bank.  In fact, while electronic fund transfer still worked, that might be the place to move any liquid assets I might have.
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
I am sure stats are available for other provinces and countries, but in Ontario in 1997 one in 40 people was earning minimum wage.  Today it is one in eight:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/06/15/ontario-wages-earnings-ccpa_n_7587844.html

Who is going to boost the economy by buying all the things?

The Dollarama bubble won't burst yet.
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
Someone has exactly captured my opinion about stripping the wealth out of the middle class:

http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/2283983.html

in the comments from http://siderea.dreamwidth.org/ .  Here is a massive quote:

"Also, can I just say I am wicked in favor of as many people around me making as much money as possible because I sell things to my neighbors for a living. Like approximately everyone who is not a defense contractor or selling things wholesale, does. My ability to earn a living depends on the financial ability of customers to pay me. I am really, really, really in favor of people who want to buy my services being able to pay me for them. There are few things I am more a fan of, tbh.

As a convenient side-effect of people being able to afford to keep me in shelter and food in exchange for my professional services, they are also able to keep my favorite restaurants and cafés and bookstores and ice cream shops and museums and boutiques open, they are able to keep my favorite musicians, comedians, documentary film makers, authors, artists, and instrument makers from having to get boring day jobs that won't entertain me, and they keep my favorite music festivals and theater companies alive. My neighbors being well compensated means I get to have planetaria and movie theaters, libraries and tall ship parades, FirstNight and the Fourth of July, well kept parks and structurally sound bridges; it keeps grocery prices down and civic engagement up. Really, my neighbors making more money... I don't even, to be honest, think of it as their money, so much as "money that will soon benefit me." So I am entirely in favor of there being lots of it."

agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
So.  We know that income inequalities have been increasing since the late 70's (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/income-inequality.aspx), and it now appears to be part of a cycle (Capital in the 21st C, Thomas Picketty), and is likely to get much worse, and perhaps require horrible violence to arrest.

Someone has done some research (http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/william-watson-its-the-inequality-of-firms-stupid) and while income inequality is real, it is not uniform.  In firms where the highest CEO paycheques occur, the rest of the firm's staff are proportionately compensated, so a file clerk there gets more than file clerk at a lesser firm.  Which has led to predictions that some people in the future are going to receive very high paycheques at the expense of a personal life (https://u.osu.edu/zagorsky.1/2015/05/26/futurework/).

Does this mean that families will then put all their resources towards launching at least one member to such exhalted heights and then all the dependents will perform services for the person, so that they can make the most of what little personal time they have?  How many can such a person support?  In a world where many families have only one or two children, is there enough familial cohesion to get everyone pointed towards one champion?

I'd say no, especially in light of recent generational expectations.  We joke about the Millennials and their Helicopter Parents, but that group of children (young adults) is under enormous pressure to be the next Nobel Prize winner in their field; the person who changes the zeitgeist for everyone.  None of these people is prepared to step back and be an extra in someone else's movie.  And they are not going to be seduced by promises of big piles of money from firms that are unlikely to be able to deliver (the really *big*piles, that is), although no doubt the firm will still want all of the employee's time.

Such people are striking out on their own, away from corporate card houses (http://mashable.com/2015/06/09/post-hipster-yuccie/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link).  I am quite attached to this quote, "But I need to be told, repeatedly and at length, that I have valuable ideas.  That my talent is singular.  That I'm making a dent, the size and location of which is less important than the fact it is shaped like me."

Every generation feels like that, but each has it more or less suppressed or diverted, depending on the previous generation's needs.  The soldiers of World War 1 & 2 were told they were making a difference.  You can discover your own examples.  The Yuccies are propelled by their parents' needs for the one perfect offspring for whom all barriers must fall and before whom all will express their envious inferority.

It's not like there are any sure choices; one might as well enjoy what one does.  Besides, who *wants* to be the whole hope and support of a group of strangers?
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)
I had been writing the post below over a week (dang work anyway), and even though I came to the end I liked, there is a coda of discovery that I wanted to explore.

Young people renting things just-in-time and as-needed are practicng a type of socialism.  Currently much of it relies on a primary buyer who becomes seller, but not all do.  The Vancouver-local Car To Go started with brand new cars purchased for the purpose:
https://www.car2go.com/en/vancouver/

But that means a monied buyer to house and manage the materials.  And neither are thift stores collective action buyers, but still.
agoodwinsmith: (Little Seagull)

I don’t believe that people in power are any smarter than people not in power. Therefore I expect them to be greedy and short-sighted, happy to yank the beams out of the structure we all live in as long as there is a profit.


Sometimes this fear gets pretty intense, and I start wondering whether I should be stock piling chickpeas. I’ve even considered it long enough to come to the conclusion that having gold in a post-financial world is no good – you can’t eat it or use it, so nobody will want it when you need something. I think the thing to stockpile is small bottles of grand marnier. Most people like it, and it won’t spoil. Breakage is a problem, yes, as is a safe place to keep it until someone is willing to trade you a sandwich for it, but in a post-mass-production world it would only become more valuable.


Of course, the same people who would rather sell the medical system at a massive loss for the chance to have one more penny in their own jeans would also be the people who would hire starving thugs to beat seven kinds of snot out of you and take your stock pile, so really it’s just a lot of effort to make yourself a target.


But you can feel the world changing and you don’t want to end up like the old couples in Germany, in the horrendous inflation between the World Wars, romantically committing suicide together because their pensions had become worth less than the paper the cheque was printed on [Currency Wars, James Rickard, Capital in the 21st C, Thomas Piketty]. Destitution in old age is an old problem, and can come back and get you at any moment. Ask the people who have weathered these recent storms http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32482432 . Ask the people in the USA who not only lost their homes and jobs, but ended up in debt for vanished resources in the too-big-to-fail financial crisis of 2009.

So you nod when Facebook brings up a scary article [http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/karl_marx_was_right_20150531] that says, “The final stage of Capitalism would be marked by developments that are intimately familiar to most of us. Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it …. and trigger … an economic assault on not only the working class but the middle class.” because you can see that most of the offspring of the middle class are not getting long-term jobs and opportunities [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/jobs/precarious-employment-still-rising-in-toronto-and-hamilton/article24531959/ ] and they are forced into legitimizing thrift and make do [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/day-to-day/for-millennials-the-allure-of-no-ownership-is-moving-beyond-housing-and-cars/article24659487/] [1] because, while disgust at over consumption and wasteful non-green behaviour is real, what is realer is no money [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes]


And this is spreading and creating a whole new underclass: the Precariat [http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/rise-of-the-precariat-the-global-scourge-of-precarious-jobs-1.3093319] worldwide with refugees and horrible violence. I’m not happy that this is enough of a thing to get its own name.


[1] – which, by the way, I think is a fluff piece for Cross Roads Trading Company in San Francisco, rather than any actual news investigation but the idea of renting one’s electronics is something I hadn’t considered.

I have always thought that Communism was jumping the gun and trying to get to the good bits without the trauma. Marx is very clear that Capitalism must fail, fail horribly, before we can move past it, sort of like moving past Feudalism. I mean: we can describe feudalism and we can describe capitalism, so they must be different yes/ no? Natural bullshit detector to the rescue: No; of course things are never as tidy as that. I looked up The End of Feudalism – which every hit changed to the Decline of Feudalism, meaning that it ain’t entirely dead yet [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feudalism http://www.lordsandladies.org/decline-of-feudalism.htm http://history.howstuffworks.com/european-history/feudalism3.htm https://marxists.anu.edu.au/archive/marx/works/1884/decline/index.htm ]. There isn’t an actual moment where you say: and now we’re not feudal anymore. The individual events which shifted feudalism to capitalism endured by the people living them were pretty damned horrific (black death), but people thought in terms of judgment day final solution not in terms of changing economic systems and how to protect themselves from a destitute old age. I think the final death knell of feudalism was WW1, where so many young men from all strata of society died – there was no way to stitch that system back together – but we still endenture some apprentices.


So, I suspect that the death of capitalism will be similar: horrible events suffered by individuals, and new ways of earning a living and keeping some for a comfortable old age will just start appearing and more people will do them than will continue to try to do the old ways (knowing your place in the 1920’s, for instance).


I mean: young people can smell the coffee and are not even interested in “secure” jobs because they know they don’t exist [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/career-advice/life-at-work/challenge-trumps-security-for-young-job-seekers/article24617943/]


So, what does the world look like when people select remuneration based on how interesting and satisfying it is, and support that
through thrifting and renting (logical extension of just-in-time supply management) everything that isn’t serving an immediate purpose?
It feels very precarious to me and it frightens me – but I bet it opens up all kinds of opportunities.



Of course, with this, I am trying to see over the horizon; I’m trying to notice the boulder bouncing down the hill so that I can step to the left, or stop to window shop, and not get flattened in a video on youtube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5ogSmH8M84].


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