In 1942, Joseph Schumpeter wrote that the expansion of higher education beyond labor market demand creates for white-collar workers “employment in substandard work or at wages below those of the better paid manual workers.” What’s more, “it may create unemployability of a particularly disconcerting type. The man who has gone through college or university easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work.”
My very ability to work tirelessly hour after hour is a product of decades of better-than-average medical care, a high-protein diet, and workouts in gyms that charge $400 or $500 a year. If I am now a productive fake member of the working class, it’s because I haven’t been working, in any hard physical sense, long enough.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America
“If you want to be fit, just fire your cleaning lady and do it yourself.” “Ho ho,” is all I say, since… I can’t explain that this form of exercise is totally asymmetrical, brutally repetitive, and as likely to destroy the musculoskeletal structure as to strengthen it.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America
Wages for Facebook may seem outlandish, but companies increasingly reduce labor costs by transferring the labor costs to consumers in self-checkout grocery lines, as well as in the building of IKEA furniture, whereas the consumer does the work for free.
Nicole Shippen, Decolonizing Time
I would push back by saying that consumers want to do it themselves sometimes. The process of building your own furniture can be part of the thrill, like playing with Lego. Even for people who do not enjoy building furniture, they do so willingly – knowing that it is part of a trade-off for convenience or price.
As for self-checkout counters, we don’t really want to buy the service of a cashier anyway. We just want to buy the goods from the grocery store. It’s irrelevant to consumers whether they checked it out themselves or someone checked it out for them. The faster and more convenient one is preferred. And for those who prefer cashiers, there’s always the option of going to the cashier.
The strange thing is in Singapore where the “self-checkout” cashiers are accompanied by a store attendant to make sure you know how to use it and maybe not steal stuff. Perhaps its part of a teething process.
We have a plan to make Facebook pay up for all of the unpaid labor we do each day for it. We collectively spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook each month, generating valuable content that drives advertising revenue and helps Facebook and other companies target us better with goods and services.
“The current system is cleverer than it seems. The thinking underlying the system is: “We don’t give a lot of work permits, so foreigners work illegally, and if they get in trouble we can send them home very easily.” So foreigners come over as students — fairly smart people come in — and they work illegally. They probably get lower pay because they are illegal; and if they do anything wrong, they get sent home. It’s unfair, and it’s illegal, but it’s a better system than people will acknowledge openly because they don’t like to admit that they are doing things illegally. Some say Japan must admit many more immigrants. I’m not persuaded that’s absolutely necessary.”
Ezra Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan
The problem of illegal immigrants is like prostitution — something that is outwardly deplorable, but something that law enforcement has to turn a blind eye to because they serve a need. Sometimes, the two overlap.