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Thread: Bullshit Jobs

  1. #31
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Finally got around to actually reading this. Good interview.

    I'm quibbling with this:

    I think one of the things the book shows is that people are actually smarter and better than we think they are. We're taught this very cynical logic by economics that everybody wants to just maximize their utility. Which is code word for being a selfish bastard: Getting the most reward for the least output of resources. As if we all just want to be handed something for nothing. But in fact what we see are these people who really are getting something for nothing, and yet they’re miserable. They'd much rather be doing something useful. That's interesting. It shows that people are actually more perceptive and more community-spirited than we’re taught to think they are.
    You're not maximizing utility if you have to park your ass for 8 hours a day and do boring shit, over parking your ass for 8 hours and doing something interesting. If hours were cut to reflect productivity, while keeping the same take home pay, that would be an increase in utility. 8 hours is 8 hours. It's *more* utility if the work is interesting.

    If people are so community-spirited, why are those jobs not winning out? He made a distinction between meaning and satisfaction, that should apply here. We're not 100% maximalists, but have few options anyway. Get paid shit for doing something meaningful, get paid more for something not but better support your family (for some). It's conceivable to have both meaningful work and high pay but depending on your stage in life, this might require luck and compounding effort. Most people won't get that.

    It's weird that most arguments I see against economic concepts like utility from the left spectrum, to prove some point about human motivation, entail comical misconstruction. It's not an apology for sociopathic behavior even if some neo libs/cons might think so.

    We’re told that a society based on communal principles wouldn't work. We’re told that it's utopian, and that capitalism works because it recognizes the ugly reality about people. I think if we just said we’ll support everybody, now figure out the best way to contribute to society, then sure, some people would be slackers or come up with something really stupid or annoying to do with their time. But with 40 percent of people already thinking they're doing nonsense, at least this nonsense would be more fun for them. And all you need is one in a million to come up with a new scientific theory or genre of music.
    Yes, "support" everybody, as in food and a roof over their heads, not resources. A bare bones UBI would accomplish that. Imagine a scenario where for every brilliant idea someone has for a new disruptive technology, you have to beg solely the government for access to a massive amount of capital. Their innovation funding as it stand today are a pitance. Hell, imagine even just recording a studio album. There's a staggering amount of music and media produced every year right now.

    "Sorry, kid. We've allotted $100 million for studio recordings this year for the country, your wild ideas don't make the cut. The People want music that praises the Party and brings up their spirits. The regulatory body doesn't like your work, it's the stuff of hooligans. We can't just keep throwing money at music with wild abandon. And in the first place, you have to qualify for the ministerial compositions union through testing before we even speak to you..."

    Anything that gets approved will basically just be from those entrenched in this nepotistic hierarchical nightmare. There won't be competing new inventions and technologies; a shrunk number of dudes and dudettes in enviable positions get to decide the future of transportation, energy, etc. Some charming fuckface with a brilliant idea, know-how and motivation won't get anywhere if he can't get funding.

    I don't see how *more* restrictions on capital and its spending would democratize innovation, but mostly I don't see communal approaches and capitalism as mutually exclusive (e.g. social democracy). Yeah, there's constant pressure from capitalists. There will always be pressure from some body or other whether it's willfully malignant or not (or to put another way, no permanent solution/innoculation against greed and centralization of power).
    Last edited by Faust; 07-19-2019 at 06:38 PM.
    "All my heroes are dead" - John Zorn

    "It's not selfish if you hate yourself"

  2. #32
    Member zago's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=ACow;289053]Is that based on your experience or your theory?

    Both I suppose. Have had public and private jobs - more than 1 of each.

    1) You ignore the possibility of an incentive to create bullshit jobs FOR profit...which is a direct incentive towards more bullshit: see management + consulting firms, lawyers, creative accounting, lobbying, propoganda + advertising, etc.
    A lot of what I'd say in this reply is that I already accounted for all of this in the phase, "I mean I guess there is some bullshit kind of" and noting that there are limits. Yeah, a company might make up a bunch of deceptive advertising about some junk. That certainly happens and it's bad. OTOH you can't blame a company for doing something like trying to generate interest in its product.

    2) You ignore the likes of prisoner's dilemma in game theory, which is a direct incentive towards a particular kind of bullshit job in a competitive environment: see grade inflation, qualification-ism, advertising, arms races, lawyers again...
    I'm well aware of prisoner's dilemmas etc in the market and elsewhere, and I'm not ignoring them. They happen, yet I still say what I said. Any useless activity is going to be limited by profit. A lot of the stuff you've mentioned so far is stuff that arose from the government and market blending together. You say later that that's just inevitable, as if there aren't even degrees.

    3) You ignore the likes of conflicts of interests and you-scratch-my-back/I'll-scratch-yours: see auditors, ratings agencies, consultants again, etc
    I dunno, again I realize these things exist and can be corrupt, but I'm coming at it from the angle of there being no real alternative that I'm aware of. So I mean, like I said, there kind of are some bullshit jobs I guess, but there's a very clear limit in the form of having to make a profit. People see obvious inefficiencies in a free market, which I totally acknowledge blatantly exist, but then they come up with some way to fix it that sounds reasonable until you realize that whatever regulators carry it out will have their own incentives and won't behave like they should in theory. Honestly I've tried to argue with that in my mind for a long time and after like 10 or 15 years I still can't really fully convince myself it isn't the case. In other words I spent some time as a libertarian/anarchist, then I went to believing that a state should exist because of game theory stuff and power vacuum theory, but now I'm kinda collapsing back into either NRx (minarchy) or straight anarchocapitalism. Shit doesn't work.

    4) You seem to be under the impression or imply that governments just print money in unlimited quantities and that government departments don't run to budgets or fixed salaries: but clearly almost all governments budget and don't print unlimited money, and almost all have some form of check and balance in practice, even in non-democracies.
    I would expect democracies to be the most abusive.. but yeah of course I don't just assume they don't budget and shit. Still, it's a thing that can and will be abused. I mean I know we've kinda talked about this before but it's kinda like I said just above. I can't really get around it. Printing money is and always will be taxation and redistribution, nothing more. I regard any further explanation as bullshit, and indeed trying to explain it away has generated many bullshit jobs. But anyway, yeah, forget the money printing part, this all can be said in terms of taxation.

    5) The modern corporation or firm is not managed and run day to day by the people who own it, meaning direct profit motive is far weaker than assumed under simple models, and raises the risk of ANOTHER kind of bullshit job: professional management + sociopathic wealth leeches.
    Just because the owner doesn't run it doesn't mean it doesn't have to turn a profit for them or die. Maybe the motive is reduced but there are still strong limits as I've said all along.

    6) Any business of any appreciable size beyond a sole-trader small business has to re-implement a form of government within their own business if they want employees: profit-shares, co-operatives and direct incentive schemes are not the rule when hiring staff, and the moment you scale beyond the trivial, congrats, you've back to governance, checks and balances, conflicts of interest, information hiding, informational asymmetries, etc. These larger businesses will outcompete smaller ones in most industries due to natural economies of scale. You might say "oh, but there's a limit, because if they get too inefficient then the smaller ones will compete with them", but this too is based on a naive theory of market competition. What if, like a pine tree drops needles on the ground around it and suppresses growth around its base, large corporate organisms can deliberately create barriers which suffocate any new growth before it can compete in the same market.
    And again they still have to turn a profit. As with everything, I am well aware anti-competitive behavior and such that you talk about exists. The fact of the matter is, we've never seen stasis where a company got so powerful that it could prevent change from happening in the long term. I doubt it's possible.

    7) Your position assumes a sharp divide and separation between government and the private sector: doesn't exist in real life.
    People often use this argument when trying to obfuscate.... it's like when someone will say there's no such thing as race because there is no absolutely discontinuous gap between 2 races...

    8) The inefficiencies and increase of bullshit jobs involved when multiple private parties attempt to compete in natural monopolies due to duplication of infrastructure and materials.
    Not sure I follow on that one... doubt it changes much but feel free to explain a bit more.

    In short, while I'm not one to say that government is magically efficient, far from it, there is nothing ceteris paribus that suggests that private sector or for profit businesses would result in less bullshit, unless you start with a fantastical strawman that governments are individual creatures that can and do print and spend unlimited monies with no restrictions, checks or balances or care as to the effect or feedback of their spending. Which is to say, none of them in real life.
    That doesn't sound like that much of a strawman to me. I mean there have been really horrible governments that bet it all on central planning and everything went to shit...

    Democracies spend way more than the monarchies of the past and it seems to exhibit a ratchet effect over the long term, where increases in taxation and spending can accumulate but any cutback is short lived. Which is why we will definitely not simply do something like cut spending on education (or get rid of it altogether) even though increases in spending don't actually improve outcomes. And if we go to public healthcare, we'll never get rid of that either. This is where these sorts of questions really matter. I don't want the healthcare system to become like the education system. I think there is a very meaningful difference between a free market system and a centrally planned one, and I'd much rather have the former despite obvious inefficiencies anyone can think of. Because overall, it's going to be pretty efficient.

  3. #33
    Member interprétation ironique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limes View Post
    I get asked about breaking into the field a lot, especially security. It's simply a market and people are lately bringing to the market, a veritable cornucopia of talents.
    For my job, the bar used to be set at a Bachelor's degree, preferably in Computer Science, plus a personal interest and minimum five years of security field experience, but now, people competing for jobs can program in multiple languages including scripting by age 21, know all of the tools and have been avidly following developments in niche areas.

    You need a quirk that will put your resume on the top of the pile. Right now, you're missing experience, all the people applying with experience are jumping in front of you in line. You need something beyond shiny shoes [go get your shoe shine box!] -or a suit because you might not even get the interview. You need to have your resume shortlisted in the first place to get the "meet the team" interview. The first part, the resume, there's a ton of online resources, but basically, HR are going to be keyword matching your resume for the job. They will only read it and consider you if they find terms like "helpdesk, support, Linux, Windows, Word, Excel" under experience. You should have hardware and software experience bullets, though maybe not bullets, indents your resume has to be formatted well and laid out in an informative way, this is crucial, or you won't even make the 2-7 or so in the shortlist

    You need to demonstrate a personal interest [a passion, if you will] for the field (not just the job, which will often just look like you're pandering anyway) This field isn't just a job, or you heard there's good money, it's who you are, it's in your MBTI DNA (feel free to reference MBTI if you like - many HR people or interviewers are bored) - one of the biggest issues I have with people entering the field is that it's sometimes their late twenties or older and they don't really know some of the basic stuff yet, ["No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead"] I've seen it happen where people can hop in and catch up, but it's very rare. You just need to have been born "nerdy" if you will and people will know you're going to be able to adapt to learn any new technology and be able to speak about it while it's still new.

    In IT, most of the people don't care what school you went to, where you're from and a lot of potentially boring things about your resume. You need to have a clear, well written, properly formatted, indented and [maybe] bulleted resume which is concise and to the point. I want to start reading about the tools you know and stuff you've worked on and where, any administration you might be capable of, different operating systems you've worked with (you'd better know a few *nix flavours and not just list a pile of Microsoft shit)

    For people I've interviewed [~100] I'm actually more interested in anecdotal information about the candidates, if you're attending a local B-sides chapter (consider it) or a "hack" workshop gathering [meet people, make your own crew]
    You need to know about TCP/IP, I'm going to ask you about the stack, you need to know about traffic, unicast, multicast, etc.
    You can't even get away with not knowing this shit in podunksville anymore. I've met young people who really had their shit together in places like Meadowbrook, AL Houma and Lafayette, LA, not just where you would expect it, like San Jose, CA or Portland, OR
    There are places that are running dry of talent, one that I knew of about ten years ago that could not find enough people was the Brandywine valley area of Delaware. I spent two years on the ground there, having to do staff augmentation for banks paying through the nose for IT staff and competing with multiple other HQs.

    So, if you're talking about not getting an entry level IT job in California? yeah, it's a competitive market, you'll need some other talent, like scripting or maybe be bilingual to win those ahead of the pack. If you're in Alabama, a good impression still goes a long way, but they're increasingly demanding too (When I say "they" I mean large local industry, medical, finance etc. State level at the least, no ma and pa)

    Finally, CompTIA security+ isn't really worth anything, that's mostly for someone who is already in a job that required say, an A+ or CCNA and they want to prove they can be invested in to go to SANS training, or be put in charge of implementing firewall rules (ACL monkey)

    I would recommend you try your local hospital, they're often a good first foot into IT. Banks are probably *only* going for graduates these days, city or county council is another good one. Failing those, you might have to relocate.

    You're welcome.
    You're a good man.

    Thanks.

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