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Thought Experiment on Social Cohesion and Envy: Jan 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 6 comments

There are many challenges to maintaining social cohesion at the best of times, never mind the worst. Here is a question-

Is there any reason to feel good about someone else getting more compensation than you for their job, even if you do not want to do that job.

I would say that you have no reason to feel good about someone else making more money than you UNLESS you are the indirect beneficiary of their increased compensation.

Some of you might see this as envy, but note that I have specifically mentioned indirect benefits. So if their increased compensation made them use your services or patronize your business more.. that is desirable. If not, they deserve every misfortune that could befall them.

This worldview is linked to the concept of reciprocity, and it has a very important effect on the social contract. Envy is not a big issue during times of economic growth, optimism and increased monetary flow. Nor is envy an existential problem in societies that have effective redistribution mechanisms.

However, envy can become a very big problem in societies with stagnant economic growth, low optimism and decreased monetary flow. It can become large enough to cause systemic social stagnation or collapse. While envy is a manifestation of zero-sum thinking, it is rational under circumstances where you are not benefiting from the situation.

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Why the West is Fucked: Exhibit A

January 15, 2011 5 comments

There are many reasons the current incarnation of the west is fucked and in irreversible decline. I am not going to spend time theorizing and bemoaning the loss of a system which has little utility for someone like me.

Instead, I will use contemporary examples to explain a point. You, the reader, will have to read between the lines.

I saw this at Huffingtonpost- MySpace Layoff Letter Adds Insult To Injury

MySpace capped off their recent 500-person layoffs with a goodbye letter thanking fired employees for their help during a “unique moment” in history. An angry ex-staffer sent TechCrunch a copy of what is reportedly the “pink slip” note from MySpace CEO Mike Jones.

Although we can’t continue on this journey together–I hope you will all stay connected with MySpace and know that your contribution to the business was a unique moment in time and that you participated in something that few have been part of in our industry.

You see, the CEO used these people to work extra hard to redesign the site, so that he could sell it and fire them. That is what he means by “a unique moment in time and that you participated in something that few have been part of in our industry”.

Another person claiming to be a former MySpace employee penned a page-long grievance that had a different take:

Mr. Jones and his lieutenants knowingly *used* their employees, working them hard, making them give up time with their friends and families, knowing all along that no matter how hard they worked, and how successful their efforts, many of them would be rewarded with layoffs.

MySpace’s continued losses have troubled parent company NewsCorp, who purchased the site in 2005 for $580 million dollars. MySpace accounted for $156 million in losses in the last quarter, a trend that COO Chase Carey called “not acceptable or sustainable.”

The problem with MySpace , just like almost every other failed or struggling company, was bad management decisions. But are those assholes going to suffer? Heck, NO!

It is the average worker who suffers the effects of bad management decisions. Unlike previous eras, the management does not suffer ANY negative consequence for their stupidity, incompetence or greed. They win either way.

How many of you want to volunteer for this shit? Even if you are naive, you will quickly figure out that the system today is set up so that you lose, whether you are a conscientious drone or slacker.

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NSFW Links: Jan 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 Leave a comment
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