78. The Problem of Work and the Rise of the Precariat

The Prob­lem of Work and the Rise of the Pre­cariat

Work, as a life expe­ri­ence, has evolved greatly over his­tor­i­cal time. For most ordi­nary peo­ple, their job is not some­thing that they enjoy much. How­ever, with­out for­mal work many lose focus, may become depen­dent on wel­fare, and cer­tainly become socially stig­ma­tized. It seems that increas­ing num­bers of peo­ple will never be able to have secure employ­ment. What are the con­se­quences of that? How have we reached this point?  What is a prac­ti­cal, long term solu­tion to “the prob­lem of work” for ordi­nary peo­ple? 

Thor May
Bris­bane, 2014

Work1.jpgPref­ace: This is a dis­cus­sion paper, not a researched aca­d­e­mic doc­u­ment. The read­ing list at the end is mostly a col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary links from the Inter­net and pretty acci­den­tal, not edited for qual­ity. Where a topic is of broad gen­eral inter­est comes up with friends, I have adopted the prac­tice of post­ing dis­cus­sion starters like the present one on Academia.edu in the hope that oth­ers might also find them worth think­ing about. The per­spec­tive in this arti­cle is mostly Aus­tralian, but the impli­ca­tions are global.


What is “the prob­lem of work”?

a) Intro­duc­tion

1)     “Work” is a term with mean­ings and asso­ci­a­tions which dif­fer amongst indi­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, cul­tures, and over peri­ods of his­tory. There­fore any dis­cus­sion about work can eas­ily be at cross pur­poses, or fall into nar­row top­ics which miss larger con­se­quences.

2)     These notes will pay a good deal of atten­tion to the big pic­ture his­tor­i­cal changes which have occurred in employ­ment. One rea­son for this focus is that wrench­ing changes in the nature of employ­ment are occur­ring once again world-wide, though most indi­vid­u­als have only a par­tial and local under­stand­ing of this process. A sec­ond rea­son is that big changes in the nature and avail­abil­ity of work strongly affect what hap­pens with the daily expe­ri­ence of indi­vid­u­als in their work­places, although again most will only under­stand that expe­ri­ence as being par­tic­u­lar to their work­place.

3)     In urban soci­eties as we know them, the mech­a­nisms for allo­cat­ing peo­ple to Work2.jpgoccu­pa­tions, or allow­ing them to choose are very com­plex, and have evolved over the last two cen­turies.

a) The broad pat­terns are strongly influ­enced by types of eco­nomic sys­tems – var­i­ous ver­sions of cap­i­tal­ism, social­ism, com­mand economies (com­mu­nism, dic­ta­tor­ships), and so on.

b) Shift­ing pat­terns of global man­u­fac­ture, ser­vices, trade and tech­nol­ogy are other major fac­tors.

c) The pres­ence or absence of orga­nized labour unions, and asso­ci­a­tions for employer col­lu­sion, greatly affect the rela­tion­ships between employed labour and employ­ers.

d) The role and effec­tive­ness of legal frame­works within which employ­ment occurs crit­i­cally gov­erns out­comes.

e) The com­mit­ment and enthu­si­asm with which work itself is done partly depends upon all of the pre­ced­ing fac­tors, but also turns upon cul­tural habits and expec­ta­tions. The gen­eral expe­ri­ence of work­places is apt to be quite dif­fer­ent in, say, Aus­tralia, Japan, Italy, Ger­many and Nige­ria.

b) The Per­sonal Present of Work Related Issues


4)     For most peo­ple “the work prob­lem” is very per­sonal.

a) Many will be con­cerned with hav­ing “a career”, and how to plan for this.

b) They will be inter­ested in the kind of train­ing or edu­ca­tion they need for a cho­sen career.

c) They will want to know how dif­fi­cult it is to obtain work in their field, and what processes are involved in this.

d) Some will want to know how inter­na­tion­ally mobile they can be over a work­ing life with a cer­tain kind of pro­fes­sion.

e) Once they obtain a job, they will want to know the prospects for advance­ment.

f) They will need to make a judge­ment about job secu­rity, the dura­tion of their employ­ment, and maybe plan for future changes.

g) The in-com­pany cul­ture will be impor­tant to them – work­ing hours, flex­i­bil­ity, hier­ar­chy, gen­der rela­tions, hol­i­day & sick leave, dress codes etc, the rewards & dis­cour­age­ments for ini­tia­tive.

h) They will want to know if the employer has any inter­est in the work-life bal­ance of employ­ees, or approaches the rela­tion­ship in a purely preda­tory man­ner.


c) The rules of engage­ment have changed


5)     It is a cliché that gen­er­als always fight future wars by re-gam­ing the bat­tles won and lost in past wars. If work is war by another name – and it often seems to be fought like that – then most com­bat­ants need to get their heads around some new real­i­ties. Maybe the equa­tion of work with a mute col­lec­tive sta­tis­tic called “labour” in clas­si­cal mod­els of eco­nom­ics was always dubi­ous. Today such assump­tions lead to mas­sive mis­cal­cu­la­tion. Why is a sta­tis­ti­cal num­ber called ‘labour’ in the cal­cu­la­tions of eco­nomic mod­els so inco­her­ent?

a) Most of the cat­e­gory labels in eco­nomic cal­cu­la­tions no longer describe what their users assume them to describe. Peo­ple still assume that the social pat­terns and ide­olo­gies we have inherited from the past two cen­turies are set in stone. There is “no other way” they feel. Yet real human orga­ni­za­tion has con­tin­ued to change beyond recog­ni­tion. The Inter­net and elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions have altered the very way we think. The pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of goods and ser­vices flow across bor­ders at ever increas­ing speeds. The mean­ing of money itself, how it is cre­ated and dis­trib­uted, is only weakly related to the finan­cial world of a cen­tury ago, though most peo­ple do not under­stand this.

b) Above all, the mean­ing of labour now is only some­times related to the descrip­tions found in old text­books, or the notions of labour which politi­cians and jour­nal­ists make fic­tion sto­ries about on a daily basis. A man mak­ing wid­gets with a lathe can per­haps have his out­put related to some finan­cial equa­tion of “pro­duc­tiv­ity”. This is what the text books talk about. Yet how do you mea­sure the pro­duc­tiv­ity of knowl­edge work­ers? Seri­ously. Nobody knows (though some char­la­tans in suits will claim to). You have the entre­pre­neur whose ideas and drive cre­ate a vast busi­ness, or the gifted teacher who inspires stu­dents, or the musi­cian whose music mil­lions lis­ten to. These peo­ple are not replace­able cogs. They rep­re­sent the major cap­i­tal of enter­prises which wither or col­lapse when they depart. The rewards they earn vary wildly, from near star­va­tion to the stratos­phere, because there is no hon­est met­ric to mea­sure their real con­tri­bu­tion.

c) At an oppo­site pole to those with cer­tain unique skills are huge num­bers of per­fectly capa­ble work­ers whose trans­ac­tional value to the own­ers of cap­i­tal is van­ish­ing either through automa­tion, or through the sim­ple expe­di­ent of export­ing the jobs to low cost coun­tries. The scale and speed of this tran­si­tion is such that only some of these dis­placed indi­vid­u­als can find employ­ment alter­na­tives, even with retrain­ing. Increas­ing num­bers become unem­ployed, and are soon den­i­grated as a social “cost”.


d) Unem­ploy­ment, under­em­ploy­ment and inse­cure employ­ment – some his­tory


6)     Local unem­ploy­ment rates and gov­ern­ment sup­port pro­grams for the unem­ployed always engage pop­u­lar inter­est, and influ­ence vot­ing pat­terns. How­ever, most peo­ple react to such wor­ries with lit­tle knowl­edge of or inter­est in the his­tory of these issues. Their ideas about solu­tions there­fore often have more to do with slo­gans than effec­tive rea­son­ing. The truth is that unem­ploy­ment pat­terns can only be under­stood and man­aged through a long view of com­plex processes.

a) After the trauma of the Great Depres­sion from 1929 and through the 1930s a whole gen­er­a­tion world­wide devel­oped pow­er­ful beliefs about the impor­tance of secure employ­ment. This sen­ti­ment was reflected strongly in the eco­nomic pri­or­i­ties of most elec­table gov­ern­ments up until the mid-1970s. Aus­tralia suc­cess­fully main­tained low unem­ploy­ment for much of the post World War 2 period. Safety net social secu­rity pro­grams for those who were unem­ployed became much more robust.

b) In the 1970s a prob­lem arose in some economies where infla­tion was ris­ing at the same time as unem­ploy­ment (stagfla­tion). This made fis­cal con­trol of an econ­omy very dif­fi­cult for gov­ern­ments since at that time they wanted nei­ther infla­tion nor unem­ploy­ment, yet the con­trol of one made the other worse. A solu­tion was found using one ver­sion of an eco­nomic model called “sup­ply side eco­nom­ics” (Roberts 2014). How­ever the tech­ni­cal solu­tion later became cor­rupted for polit­i­cal pur­poses (Reago­nom­ics, Thatch­erism), with an ide­ol­ogy of cut­ting tax­a­tion to favour the rich, and using higher unem­ploy­ment as a tool to keep wage demands low and work­ers pas­sive. This polit­i­cal for­mula is still pop­u­lar with some con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ments (for exam­ple the cur­rent fed­eral gov­ern­ment in Aus­tralia, 2014).

c) The per­ma­nent loss of jobs which has been occur­ring in coun­tries like the United States and Aus­tralia stems directly from a cor­rup­tion of polit­i­cal val­ues which accel­er­ated from the 1970s. This under­stand­ing is becom­ing fairly wide­spread amongst the edu­cated pub­lic (though it is prob­a­bly not grasped widely enough to sway elec­tions). For exam­ple, I don’t hap­pen to agree with all of the views of Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury for Eco­nomic Pol­icy dur­ing the Rea­gan pres­i­dency. How­ever he describes the ongo­ing destruc­tion of employ­ment futures quite suc­cinctly:

The George W. Bush tax cuts have noth­ing to do with sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics. The Bush tax cuts were noth­ing but a greedy grab, but they are not a sig­nif­i­cant cause of today’s inequal­ity. The main causes of the unac­cept­able inequal­ity of income and wealth in the US today are finan­cial dereg­u­la­tion and the dis­man­tling of the lad­ders of upward mobil­ity by the off­shoring of man­u­fac­tur­ing and trad­able pro­fes­sional ser­vice jobs. The wages and salaries denied to Amer­i­cans are trans­formed into cor­po­rate prof­its, mega-mil­lion dol­lar exec­u­tive bonuses, and cap­i­tal gains for share­hold­ers. Finan­cial dereg­u­la­tion unleashed mas­sive debt lever­age of bank depos­i­tors’ accounts, backed up with Fed­eral Reserve bailouts of the banksters’ uncov­ered gam­bling bets. Nei­ther tax increases nor reduc­tions can com­pen­sate for these extra­or­di­nary mis­takes. (Roberts 2014).


e) The role of man­age­ri­al­ism in employ­ment destruc­tion


7)     The destruc­tion described by Roberts has actu­ally been over­seen by a new man­age­rial elite, and no major changes in the nature and secu­rity of work will be pos­si­ble until this elite is brought under con­trol.

a) After World War II, the con­trol of com­plex orga­ni­za­tions was con­sciously trans­ferred into the hands of a pro­fes­sional man­age­ment class. This process drew orig­i­nally on the­o­ries of the indus­trial psy­chol­o­gist, Elton Mayo (1880–1949), who believed that man­age­ri­al­ism – man­agers manip­u­lat­ing peo­ple to fit the norms of an orga­ni­za­tion  – was supe­rior to democ­racy (Wikipedia 2014). The idea was given polit­i­cal shape firstly in the United States through the activ­i­ties and beliefs of James Burn­ham (Sempa 2000).

b) Man­age­ri­al­ism sub­se­quently spread world­wide and is now the effec­tive daily gov­ern­ing mech­a­nism in the major­ity of coun­tries (regard­less of pub­lic ide­ol­ogy). Now that a man­age­rial class more or less rules the world, the objec­tives of upper man­agers have largely turned to per­sonal enrich­ment. That is, man­age­ri­al­ism has evolved to become a mech­a­nism for manip­u­lat­ing peo­ple for the pri­vate ben­e­fit of a man­age­rial elite rather than the ben­e­fit of the pub­lic, the ben­e­fit of employ­ees, the long term suc­cess of the orga­ni­za­tion, or even the best inter­ests of share­hold­ers. The net out­come is over­whelm­ingly that employ­ment secu­rity is lost for most employ­ees and real work­ing con­di­tions dete­ri­o­rate. The net com­mer­cial out­come is usu­ally that eco­nomic com­pe­ti­tion is dimin­ished. (Man­age­ri­al­ism in ter­tiary edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions has been espe­cially nox­ious, but that is a sub­ject too exten­sive to explore here. See my doc­toral dis­ser­ta­tion, Lan­guage Tan­gle, on knowl­edge worker pro­duc­tiv­ity: May 2010)

c) Of course, only a small minor­ity of the occu­pa­tional class called man­agers con­trol large agen­das of national sig­nif­i­cance. The flocks of mid­dle man­agers pop­u­lat­ing every kind of enter­prise are not entirely homo­ge­neous in out­look either. Yet, like the man­darins of dynas­tic China, enough of them share a suf­fi­ciently com­mon ethic and ambi­tion to shape the bound­aries of what is achiev­able in the orga­ni­za­tions which they pop­u­late. This man­age­ment class is broadly hier­ar­chi­cal, with claims to a gen­er­al­ized skill set in the orga­ni­za­tion of other peo­ple. In real­ity, and in com­mon with the upper man­age­rial elite already referred to, the agenda of these mid­dle man­agers, behind a bliz­zard of mis­sion state­ments and ‘plans’, is the per­pet­u­a­tion of their own man­age­rial exis­tence. Over­whelm­ingly any effi­cien­cies they cre­ate have been directed to self-reward.

d) Attempts to rate the real effec­tive­ness of man­agers strike sig­nif­i­cant dif­fi­cul­ties since com­pe­tent lead­er­ship is hard to quan­tify. Nev­er­the­less recent attempts which have been made rate the num­ber of gen­uinely com­pe­tent man­agers at around 10% of the whole (Pereira 2012). The equa­tions of most stan­dard eco­nomic mod­els can­not prop­erly account for the con­tri­bu­tions, rewards and costs of a large man­age­ment class.

e) Per­haps because pol­i­tics is the art of the pos­si­ble, and the new man­age­ment class is in the busi­ness of cre­at­ing at least illu­sions of new pos­si­bil­ity, the mar­riage of pub­lic pol­i­tics and man­age­ment has been a fruit­ful wealth cre­ation vehi­cle for both politi­cians and man­age­ment elites. For exam­ple, a favourite tool for the per­sonal enrich­ment of man­agers is asset strip­ping pub­lic util­i­ties by pri­va­ti­za­tion in the name of “effi­ciency”. Since the 1990s this has accel­er­ated from Moscow to Bei­jing, from Wash­ing­ton to Syd­ney. The politi­cians who facil­i­tate such pub­lic theft typ­i­cally find lucra­tive sinecures with the com­pa­nies they have assisted. An emerg­ing Aus­tralian exam­ple of the day is the pri­va­ti­za­tion of Med­ibank Pri­vate whose CEO will get a huge income boost, and whose employ­ees will inevitably dimin­ish (Desloires 2104).


f) The role of glob­al­iza­tion in employ­ment destruc­tion


8)     Glob­al­iza­tion can be seen as a devel­op­ment in inter­na­tional trad­ing rela­tion­ships, or as a con­se­quence of the search for economies of scale and resource opti­miza­tion in man­u­fac­ture, or as a nat­u­ral out­come of accel­er­at­ing devel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy, com­put­er­i­za­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or in a vari­ety of other ways. How­ever, as with all eco­nomic processes, the agents of glob­al­iza­tion are human agents, and the human agents with the spe­cial­ized inter­ests which drove glob­al­iza­tion have been the new man­age­rial elites.

a) Some under­stand­ing of the his­tory of indus­tri­al­iza­tion is nec­es­sary at this point. It is use­ful to retrace the chang­ing ideas of what “work” itself has meant before and after the indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion begin­ning in the late 18th Only then can we see the ways in which a man­age­rial elite, post World War II drove glob­al­iza­tion and set indus­try on a path of labour and cap­i­tal arbi­trage – a path which first pop­u­lar­ized the notion of sta­ble careers for large num­bers of peo­ple, and then destroyed that prospect with a new par­a­digm of life­long inse­cure employ­ment, or even per­ma­nent unem­ploy­ment, for a vast under­class which the soci­ol­o­gist, Guy Stand­ing (2013) has ter­med the pre­cariat, the pre­car­i­ously employed.


g) Pre-Indus­trial His­tor­i­cal Back­ground


9)     Our present idea of work had lit­tle mean­ing for most peo­ple before the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion (from the late 18th Cen­tury).

10)  In ear­lier times there was a fairly small num­ber of occu­pa­tions.

a) These ear­lier occu­pa­tions were usu­ally hered­i­tary.

b) Ear­lier occu­pa­tions were tied to fixed social classes

c) Attempts by an indi­vid­ual to change occupations/classes were usu­ally pre­vented and pun­ished (even by death). Social mobil­ity was an affront to God, the king and the social order.

d) The clos­est sur­viv­ing equiv­a­lent to tra­di­tional occupations/classes might be the caste sys­tem of India.

e) Exam­ples of early occu­pa­tions were king, nobles, sol­diers, farm­ers, fish­er­men, crafts­men, ser­vants, slaves

f) Women were not usu­ally mem­bers of most early occu­pa­tional classes, except as part­ners and assis­tants to men.

g) Early occu­pa­tional cat­e­gories, being inherited, largely depended upon par­ents and elders for skilling new mem­bers.

h) Pre-indus­trial tra­di­tional occu­pa­tions were auto­mat­i­cally for life. “Unem­ploy­ment” was not a very mean­ing­ful con­cept, although under­em­ploy­ment was com­mon.
h) The First Stage of Urban Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, UED1


11)  The first waves of indus­tri­al­iza­tion both caused and was caused by mas­sive urban­iza­tion. Mil­lions moved from the coun­try to new cities (McEl­roy 2012). This first stage of urban eco­nomic devel­op­ment can be called UED1.

a) The first stage of indus­tri­al­iza­tion attempted to replace old occu­pa­tional cat­e­gories with new cat­e­gories suit­able for indus­try and com­merce.

b) The cre­ation of new occu­pa­tional cat­e­gories was not at first dupli­cated by the cre­ation of new, more fluid social cat­e­gories. This caused stress, con­flict, and even­tu­ally rev­o­lu­tions.

c) Var­i­ous ide­olo­gies emerged as attempts to jus­tify new kinds of social order­ing: raw cap­i­tal­ism, com­mu­nism, social­ism (a mix of fea­tures from the first two), polit­i­cal fas­cism, man­age­ri­al­ism (since World War II) … and so on. The clash of ide­olo­gies gave rise to over two cen­turies of vio­lent wars.

d) New indus­trial and com­mer­cial occu­pa­tions inducted mem­bers on the basis of skills, apti­tude, edu­ca­tion, per­sonal con­nec­tions and pur­chase (bribery). All of these chan­nels are still found, together with pro­fes­sion­al­ized recruit­ment chan­nels.

e) The new occu­pa­tions required non-tra­di­tional skills. They required lit­er­acy and numer­acy. They often required years of non-work­place edu­ca­tion.  Thus a huge need for mass edu­ca­tion arose.

f) Mass edu­ca­tion imi­tated most of the orga­ni­za­tional fea­tures of the fac­to­ries and com­mer­cial enter­prises it was serv­ing. The psy­cho­log­i­cal the­o­ries of learn­ing as applied sim­i­larly had a mech­a­nis­tic resem­blance to fac­tory pro­duc­tion processes. Pro­fes­sional attempts to find more sophis­ti­cated ways to teach and to learn have con­tin­ued to meet with resis­tance from the pub­lic, from indus­try and from gov­ern­ments.

g) In the early indus­trial age, newly urban­ized work­ers had no employ­ment secu­rity, work­ing con­di­tions were often unsafe and bru­tal, and peo­ple died young. This led to a strong reac­tion, and by the mid 20th Cen­tury, the idea of a “career” with long peri­ods of con­tin­u­ous employ­ment was the norm in advanced economies.

h) The own­ers of cap­i­tal in the orig­i­nal indus­trial nations of UED1 had even­tu­ally been forced into a sort of social con­tract with work­ers. That is, indus­try and com­merce, con­trolled by own­ers of cap­i­tal, had needed skilled work­ers. They there­fore had to invest in edu­cat­ing work­ers, and pro­vid­ing long term careers.

i) UED1 was accom­pa­nied by colo­nial­ism, a sys­tem by which indus­tri­al­ized nations occu­pied and forced third world pop­u­la­tions to sup­ply raw mate­ri­als to the home fac­to­ries of the col­o­niz­ing state (Britain was a leader in this process).


i) The Sec­ond Stage of Urban Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, UED2


12)  The sec­ond stage of urban eco­nomic devel­op­ment (UED2) became impor­tant a lit­tle before the turn of the 21st Cen­tury.

a) UED2 at first was called a “post indus­trial age”. It wasn’t really that. Indus­try “glob­al­ized”. First man­u­fac­tur­ing indus­tries were moved to the cheap­est world labour loca­tions, then more and more ser­vice indus­tries.

b) Com­pli­ant labour was also imported under the guise of tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent migra­tion to avoid train­ing costs and other social oblig­a­tions. Labour migra­tion is a huge and com­plex phe­nom­e­non involv­ing both push and pull fac­tors. For immi­grant work­ers it has offered new oppor­tu­ni­ties but led to exploita­tion on many lev­els. The Inter­na­tional Labour Orga­ni­za­tion esti­mates that there are cur­rently around 232 mil­lion migrant work­ers around the world (ILO 2014, Wikipedia 2014 “Migrant Worker”).

c) As whole indus­tries began to dis­ap­pear from the orig­i­nal indus­trial nations of UED1, careers also began to dis­ap­pear. So-called ser­vice jobs began to dom­i­nate rou­tine employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties which remained. The role of tech­nol­ogy in employ­ment has always been ambigu­ous, both cre­at­ing and destroy­ing jobs (see Wikipedia: Tech­no­log­i­cal Unem­ploy­ment). The advent of the Inter­net, for exam­ple, has led to a great pro­lif­er­a­tion of new occu­pa­tions, many involv­ing small scale entre­pre­neur­ship, while other more tra­di­tional cler­i­cal occu­pa­tions have van­ished.

d) Automa­tion and robots increas­ingly replaced sur­viv­ing low-skill jobs in the orig­i­nal indus­trial nations, and then began to replace even rel­a­tively skilled jobs (The Econ­o­mist 2014: see table left). Around 2005 in the United States a thresh­old was crossed where the num­ber of non-rou­tine jobs passed 50% of the total, with rou­tine jobs trend­ing rapidly towards zero (Boyd 2014). It has some­times been dif­fi­cult to eval­u­ate where job losses were linked to automa­tion, or sim­ply off-shored to cheaper labour loca­tions:

…it is unde­ni­able that some­thing strange is hap­pen­ing in the U.S. labor mar­ket. Since the end of the Great Reces­sion, job cre­ation has not kept up with pop­u­la­tion growth. Cor­po­rate prof­its have dou­bled since 2000, yet median house­hold income (adjusted for infla­tion) dropped from $55,986 to $51,017. At the same time, after-tax cor­po­rate prof­its as a share of gross domes­tic pro­duct increased from around 5 to 11 per­cent, while com­pen­sa­tion of employ­ees as a share of GDP dropped from around 47 to 43 per­cent. Some­how busi­nesses are mak­ing more profit with fewer work­ers”. (Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can, July 2014)
e) The own­ers of cap­i­tal in UED2 began to ques­tion the social con­tract which had led to their invest­ment in edu­ca­tion, train­ing and long term employ­ment for work­ers in UED1. That is, cap­i­tal was deployed in a world mar­ket with many com­pa­nies no longer com­mit­ted to the peo­ple of one nation.

f) Con­tri­bu­tions of com­pany tax­a­tion to national trea­suries dimin­ished dras­ti­cally and con­tin­u­ously from the 1950s (Ritholtz 2011).

g) The own­ers of cap­i­tal in UED2 invested heav­ily in the polit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of gov­ern­ments through lob­by­ing and finan­cial induce­ments.

i) It was par­tic­u­larly impor­tant to them to encour­age inter­na­tional trade agree­ments to max­i­mize the free cross-bor­der flow of cap­i­tal for max­i­mum com­pany profit (Dor­ling 2014, Gar­naut 2014). The more eas­ily such trans­fers could occur, the less they were depen­dent upon labour in any one coun­try, and the more free they were to min­i­mize tax­a­tion con­tri­bu­tions to host soci­eties.

ii) A high pro­por­tion of the prof­its siphoned from host soci­eties were ware­housed in off­shore tax havens. These ware­housed funds were esti­mated to amount to up to $32 tril­lion dol­lars (British Par­lia­men­tary Tax Jus­tice  Net­work: TJN 2013), dwarf­ing the size of most economies and ceas­ing to ben­e­fit pop­u­la­tions any­where, or even their “own­ers” in any use­ful way. Nei­ther the com­pa­nies, nor sup­port­ive politi­cians seemed ready to com­pre­hend this process as a form of trea­son.


j) The Pre­cariat and the Secu­rity State


13)  And now we have the “pre­cariat” – bil­lions of peo­ple for whom the idea of life­time employ­ment has become a mirage, if it ever existed. When they work at all, it is part-time, or on short term con­tracts, or in inter­mit­tent jobs, and so on. In polite com­pany they often describe them­selves as “self-employed”.

a) There is no sin­gle unit­ing qual­ity to these peo­ple, except their inse­cu­rity. Some have PhDs, some can­not read or write func­tion­ally. Some have great energy, some are lazy. Some are enter­pris­ing but unlucky. Many would be per­fectly good work­ers if told what to do in a secure job, as their fathers and moth­ers did.

b) These bil­lions are found in every con­ti­nent and coun­try, from rich coun­tries to poor. Yet through no fault of their own, most of these peo­ple will never secure long term employ­ment. Only a minor­ity are needed as fac­tory and office fod­der. They will never be able to obtain the mort­gage for a house, or plan for their retire­ment on a pen­sion, or save for their children’s edu­ca­tion or expect reg­u­lar paid hol­i­days. They are the mar­ginal peo­ple. The grand social con­tract has passed them by. The story of belong­ing to a shared and fair com­mu­nity has passed them by. Fine words about democ­racy and all the rest ring hol­low in their ears. They are the pre­cariat with lit­tle to lose.

14)  The rul­ing elites of early 19th Cen­tury Europe, its colonies and Amer­ica were ter­ri­fied of the new work­ing classes, and ini­tially tried to cower them with dra­co­nian law enforce­ment. The con­vict set­tle­ment of Aus­tralia was a con­se­quence of this reac­tion. Grad­u­ally recal­ci­trant work­ers were bought off with social wel­fare pro­grams (Chan­cel­lor Otto von Bis­marck in Ger­many first hit on this). Now the rul­ing elites of the 21st Cen­tury are ter­ri­fied of the Pre­cariat.

a) The elites know inse­cure peo­ple are dan­ger­ous; they know that pre­cariat num­bers are over­whelm­ing. Yet the elites, the acad­emy, and the com­men­tariat have no the­ory, no lan­guage, no model to han­dle the Pre­cariat.

b) As a tem­po­rary dis­trac­tion while they work out what to do,  the rul­ing elites, and their town criers in the media, have called up a sto­ry­line about a per­ma­nent war on ter­ror­ism and cre­ated the Secu­rity State (Grubb 2014). This is just blow­ing smoke in our eyes, and their own. They don’t know what the next step is.

c) With their minds dead­ened by an uncrit­i­cal edu­ca­tion, few even under­stand that the old cat­e­gories of raw mate­ri­als, cap­i­tal, labour etc. play only one lim­ited part in our com­plex present world. Com­mon lan­guage dis­guises the real­i­ties in plain sight. In fact, what we have are Inse­cu­rity States and a swirling Pre­cariat. We await a prophet to make it all clear, and explain a way for­ward.


k) Future con­se­quences of UED2


15)  The employ­ment land­scape post-UED2 will be a very dif­fer­ent one from that which our par­ents knew.

a) On present indi­ca­tions (see the notes above) in the future only a minor­ity of peo­ple will have secure, long term employ­ment through­out their work­ing lives.

b) A major­ity will have rather inse­cure employ­ment for vary­ing lengths of time.

c) Large num­bers will have to retrain sev­eral times, many into totally dif­fer­ent occu­pa­tions.

d) In the least able sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, which is more or less unskilled, huge num­bers of indi­vid­u­als will spend years unem­ployed because the kind of work they can do will sim­ply not exist in suf­fi­cient quan­tity.

16)  The con­se­quences of the employ­ment sce­nario out­lined in 14) go to the core of our civ­i­liza­tion.

a) What will be the psy­cho­log­i­cal con­se­quences on peo­ple of life­long employ­ment inse­cu­rity or unem­ploy­ment?

b) How are the over­all val­ues of the soci­ety likely to change to fit this new real­ity? For exam­ple, will new forms of class dis­crim­i­na­tion emerge?

c) What will be the long-term polit­i­cal con­se­quences of major­ity long term employ­ment inse­cu­rity?

d) How will finan­cial insti­tu­tions adapt to a flaky credit sit­u­a­tion where the major­ity of the pop­u­la­tion have a prob­lem with long term debt like mort­gages?

e) Will employ­ment inse­cu­rity have major impli­ca­tions for fam­ily plan­ning and pop­u­la­tion growth?

f) When struc­tural unem­ploy­ment affects a major part of the pop­u­la­tion, and even well edu­cated peo­ple strug­gle to earn con­sis­tently over a life­time, how will gov­ern­ments fund the huge and unavoid­able social wel­fare & pen­sion bills?

g) When com­merce and indus­try con­tribute an ever-dimin­ish­ing pro­por­tion of tax­a­tion, why is the lob­by­ing influ­ence of this sec­tor on gov­ern­ment con­tin­u­ously increas­ing, and the influ­ence of the elec­torate decreas­ing? What can be done about it?


l) A Brief reflec­tion on human resilience and find­ing a mean­ing in work


17)  The uni­verse of occu­pa­tions and inter­ests we swim in now would have been beyond the con­cep­tion of any­one for most of the last 6000 years of recorded his­tory, let alone the two mil­lion odd years since the rec­og­niz­able emer­gence of our species.

a) The human genius has been con­tin­ual adap­ta­tion. Our adap­ta­tion to this point has been suc­cess­ful in the sense of species sur­vival, and stu­pen­dous in the sense of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. Socially we have been less cre­ative, though not with­out change.

b) It may be that the dis­junc­tion between an explo­sive growth in tech­ni­cal capac­ity and still prim­i­tive social ten­den­cies will cause our extinc­tion.

c) In the mean­time, like a long tail of mostly dis­banded evo­lu­tion­ary DNA, ancient per­sonal solu­tions con­tinue to sus­tain some indi­vid­u­als and groups in ways that no one has yet reduced to a the­ory of eco­nom­ics or a math­e­mat­i­cal model. Often these solu­tions have more to do with faith than rea­son.

d) For exam­ple, in mat­ters of human health, tra­di­tional solu­tions may even invoke mir­a­cles (Elliot 2014), and yet (like so much in med­ical prac­tice) they appar­ently work for some regard­less of not under­stand­ing “why”. After all, it is the body’s own immune sys­tem which pro­motes heal­ing, and acti­vat­ing that in what­ever way – by tech­nol­ogy or chem­istry or faith – is what pre­serves the organ­ism.

e) The lesson from our “irra­tional” abil­ity to sur­vive is that the puni­tive exclu­sion of unap­proved alter­na­tive solu­tions by med­ical priest­hoods, or by other pro­fes­sional monop­o­lies, even­tu­ally pre­cludes dis­cov­ery and inno­va­tion. This is com­pa­ra­ble to a reduc­tion in bio­di­ver­sity stran­gling the scope for new dis­cov­ery.

f) Our con­tin­ued exis­tence depends upon keep­ing a bal­ance that is also open to change. The reduc­tion of social exper­i­ment by the straight­jacket of a rigid ide­ol­ogy, or an uncrit­i­cal eco­nomic model, or inflex­i­ble cus­toms of work and con­sump­tion, or sheer lazi­ness per­pet­u­at­ing all of the above, would even­tu­ally stran­gle the capac­ity of humans to find new mean­ings for work and for liv­ing.


m) False Solu­tions


18)  Very often the most per­ilous solu­tion to com­plex human issues is to insist on “a solu­tion”, one solu­tion. Each new emperor (read politi­cian) claims to have the solu­tion to the prob­lems of the day, and occa­sion­ally like China’s infa­mous fas­cist emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (秦始皇 221 BC) buries the old schol­ars alive and burns the books.

a) In a sim­i­lar way, his­tor­i­cally each reli­gion has claimed a monopoly on the way, the truth and the light, and when secure in the favour of some Cae­sar, has incin­er­ated any chal­lengers on bon­fires, put them to the sword or cursed them for eter­nity in some very hot super­nat­u­ral hell.

b) The Marx­ist-Com­mu­nist ide­o­logues of the 20th Cen­tury, in com­mon with the Nazis of Germany’s 3rd Reich,  like­wise reigned by ter­ror and sent skep­ti­cal souls to rot in gulags, or worse. As alert and edu­cated peo­ple from many cul­tures are now aware, fun­da­men­tal­ist Cap­i­tal­ists are still pro­vok­ing wars in the name of free enter­prise, plun­der­ing the lives of whole gen­er­a­tions of ordi­nary peo­ple with bank­ing piracy, and deploy­ing coer­cive “diplo­macy” to sup­press any signs of chal­lenge to their “neo-lib­eral” grand solu­tion.

19)  With all these cau­tion­ary tales in mind, the last thing we should hope for is an ide­o­log­i­cal solu­tion to the vast chal­lenge posed by the Pre­cariat.

a) We can look for pat­terns, and some­times by ask­ing non-con­ven­tional ques­tions we may find hints of causes and paths to explore.

b) Many of the best answers will be local to par­tic­u­lar con­di­tions, or spe­cial to unique sub-groups of peo­ple.

c) We might cau­tiously con­ceive of a class of social, eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal prob­lems which have salience for the Pre­cariat as a whole Some thought­ful peo­ple may even make a career from ana­lyz­ing these issues on a broad scale.

d) What we must resist from the out­set though is the lat­est ambi­tious politi­cian, hav­ing dis­cov­ered this new word Pre­cariat, turn­ing up on Mon­day morn­ing with a sin­gle, deadly solu­tion and a new ide­ol­ogy.



Read­ing list & Ref­er­ences (note that the writ­ers in these links are express­ing their own views. I don’t nec­es­sar­ily share them).


Adonis, James (Sep­tem­ber 26, 2014) “Work is mak­ing you numb”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/work-in-progress/work-is-making-you-numb-20140926-3gncg.html#ixzz3EPrywaBh

Adonis, James (2013) “I’m bored wit­less – plight of the overqual­i­fied”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/blogs/work-in-progress/i-am-bored-witless-20130531-2nfbe.html#ixzz2V1GnCzqa

Alia (Sep­tem­ber 3rd, 2013) “Is a col­lege degree worth­less in today’s China?” Off­beat China blog, online @ http://offbeatchina.com/is-a-college-degree-worthless-in-todays-china

Asso­ci­ated Press (Decem­ber 1, 2013) “Lon­don mayor Boris John­son claims poor have low IQs and greed is good”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald online @ http://www.smh.com.au/world/london-mayor-boris-johnson-claims-poor-have-low-iqs-and-greed-is-good-20131130-2yio2.html#ixzz2mAfzl5jP

Bourke, Latika (Octo­ber 7, 2014) “Abbott gov­ern­ment aban­dons plan to make job seek­ers apply for 40 jobs a month”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, online @ http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-abandons-plan-to-make-job-seekers-apply-for-40-jobs-a-month-20141007-10r46j.html#ixzz3FPWJxcgn

Boyd, Stowe (09/04/2014) “When Robots Take Over Most Jobs, What Will Be the Pur­pose of Humans?”. Huff­in­g­ton Post online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stowe-boyd/robots-jobs-purpose-humans_b_5689813.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Chang, Ha-Joon (2014) “Eco­nom­ics: The User’s Guide”. Blooms­bury Press. Also avail­able in eBook for­mat at http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Users-Guide-Pelican-Introduction/dp/0718197038/ref=pd_cp_b_0

Chom­sky, Noam (5 August 2012) ” Plu­ton­omy and the Pre­cariat”. Huff­in­g­ton Post, online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/noam-chomsky/plutonomy-and-the-precari_b_1499246.html

Courte­nay, Adam (July 16, 2014a) “Get­ting a job after 50”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/growing/getting-a-job-after-50–20140411-36h6a.html#ixzz37aJcZwH0

Courte­nay, Adam (Octo­ber 1, 2014b) “Help for older women who need jobs”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/trends/help-for-older-women-who-need-jobs-20140912-10fn1f.html

Desloires, Vanessa (Octo­ber 3, 2014) “The 400 per cent pay rise: Med­ibank chief George Sav­vides to cash in on pri­va­ti­za­tion”. Bris­bane Times online @  http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-400-per-cent-pay-rise-medibank-chief-george-savvides-to-cash-in-on-privatisation-20141003-10pms4.html

Dor­ling, Philip (June 20, 2014) “Secret trade nego­ti­a­tions: is this the end of the big four?”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald online @ http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/secret-trade-negotiations-is-this-the-end-of-the-big-four-20140619-3ah39.html#ixzz357qSpRw9

Dunn, Claire (July 7, 2014) “How to spot a fake job ad”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/trends/how-to-spot-a-fake-job-ad-20140501-37jk2.html#ixzz371Tw1us2

Elliott, Tim (Octo­ber 4, 2014)  “John of God: Mir­a­cle worker or char­la­tan?”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/good-weekend/john-of-god-miracle-worker-or-charlatan-20141003-10jl7q.html

Feath­er­stone, Tony ( April 10, 2014) “How many job ads are fake?”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/the-venture/how-many-job-ads-are-fake-20140409-36crh.html#ixzz2yTO5RlhC

Gar­naut, John (Octo­ber 3, 2014) “Prime Min­is­ter Tony Abbott will drop free trade agree­ment with China unless Aus­tralia gets same con­ces­sions as New Zealand”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/prime-minister-tony-abbott-will-drop-free-trade-agreement-with-china-unless-australia-gets-same-concessions-as-new-zealand-20141002-10pbpz.html

Gigeren­zer, Gerd (2014) Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Deci­sions Hard­cover. [highly rec­om­mended] pub. Viking Adult. Avail­able online (includ­ing ebook for­mat) @ http://www.amazon.com/Risk-Savvy-Make-Good-Decisions/dp/0670025658

Govan , Fiona (2013) “Three degrees, yet I clean a lava­tory – the tale of Spain’s lost gen­er­a­tion”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, online @ http://www.smh.com.au/world/three-degrees-yet-i-clean-a-lavatory-the-tale-of-spains-lost-generation-20131002-2urqo.html#ixzz2gYTR4fb3

Guy Stand­ing ( n.d. ) The Pre­cariat Face­book page. Face­book, online @ https://www.facebook.com/ThePrecariat  [expla­na­tion: the soci­ol­o­gist, Guy Stand­ing has defined what he calls a new social class, the Pre­cariat. The rest of us call these peo­ple the inse­curely employed. They now form a large part and increas­ing of the work­force in most coun­tries, even amongst the highly edu­cated. Stand­ing has rec­og­nized that gov­ern­ments ignore this group of peo­ple, a socially per­ilous over­sight. He has been giv­ing lec­tures world­wide for sev­eral years on the sub­ject]

Guy Stand­ing (19 April 2013) “Defin­ing the pre­cariat”. Eurozine, online @ http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013–04-19-standing-en.html

Guy Stand­ing (2011) “The Pre­cariat and Basic Income”. online @ http://www.guystanding.com/files/documents/forum_poverta_napoli_-_guy_standing.pdf  || also The Pre­cariat – the new dan­ger­ous class. (book) Blooms­bury Aca­d­e­mic, online @ http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/The-Precariat/book-ba-9781849664554.xml

Guy Stand­ing (2012) “The pre­cariat is you and me”. The Drum, Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Com­mis­sion, online @ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3820486.html

Guy Stand­ing (24 May 2011) “The Pre­cariat – The new dan­ger­ous class”. Pol­icy Net­work web­site, online @ http://www.policy-network.net/pno_detail.aspx?ID=4004&title=+The+Precariat+%E2%80%93+The+new+dangerous+class

Guy Stand­ing (9 July, 2013) “Pre­cariat And Peas­ant: Refram­ing Social Pro­tec­tion For The 21st Cen­tury”. SOAS Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don, inau­gu­ral address, online video @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTudjB4T7Xw

Grubb, Ben (Sep­tem­ber 26, 2014). “Ter­ror laws clear Sen­ate, enabling entire Aus­tralian web to be mon­i­tored and whistle­blow­ers to be jailed”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/uq-warns-international-students-may-get-priority-20140925-10ljn4.html

He, Amy (2014–10-03) “US visas hin­der tal­ent search: expert”. China Daily online @ http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2014–10/03/content_18693869.htm

ILO (2014) “Labour Migra­tion”. Inter­na­tional Labour Orga­ni­za­tion, online @ http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/labour-migration/lang–en/index.htm

Ingra­ham, Christo­pher (Octo­ber 2, 2014) “Want to do what you love and get paid for it? Choose one of these majors”. Wash­ing­ton Post online @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/10/02/want-do-do-what-you-love-and-get-paid-for-it-choose-one-of-these-majors/

Karol (9 Octo­ber 2013) “Inse­cure work in NZ’s pre­cariat”. The Stan­dard, online @ http://thestandard.org.nz/insecure-work-in-nzs-precariat/

Lee Chang-gon (March 27, 2013) “Kore­ans’ unhap­pi­ness is related to insta­bil­ity”. The Han­ky­orehnews­pa­per, online @ http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/579979.html

Lee, Jane (Sep­tem­ber 30, 2014) “Christo­pher Pyne denies 12 per cent youth unem­ploy­ment is a ‘cri­sis’”. Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald online @ http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/christopher-pyne-denies-12-per-cent-youth-unemployment-is-a-crisis-20140930-10nsm2.html#ixzz3F8fPRhGN

McDon­ald, Char­lotte (26 Feb­ru­ary 2012) “Are Greeks the hard­est work­ers in Europe?”. BBC online @ http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17155304

Maugham, Som­er­set (1924) The Ant and the Grasshop­per”. Things blog, online @ http://things-ap.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/ant-and-grasshopper-william-somerset.html

May, Thor (2003) “The Case for Favoritism”. The Pas­sion­ate Skep­tic web­site, online @ http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/favoritism.html 

May, Thor (2008b) “The End of Cap­i­tal­ism is Announced”. Thor’s New China Diary, online @ http://thormay.net/ChinaDiary2/the-end-of-capitalism-is-announced 

May, Thor (2010)  Lan­guage Tan­gle – Pre­dict­ing and facil­i­tat­ing out­comes in lan­guage edu­ca­tion – PhD dis­ser­ta­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of New­castle, NSW. Academia.edu online @ http://www.academia.edu/1542880/Language_Tangle_-_Predicting_and_Facilitating_Outcomes_in_Language_Education_-_PhD_Thesis_-_ThorMay

May, Thor (2012) “ Hid­den Bound­aries: – A Joint-Ven­ture Edu­ca­tion Pro­gram in China ” . Academia.edu web­site, online @ https://www.academia.edu/2291935/Hidden_Boundaries_-_A_Joint-Venture_Education_Program_in_China

May, Thor (2013) “The Con­test for Com­pe­tence”. Academia.edu online @ https://www.academia.edu/1958933/The_Contest_for_Competence

May, Thor (2014) “Crime with­out Pun­ish­ment – the jour­ney from means to ends”. Academia.edu online @ http://www.academia.edu/6807011/Crime_without_Punishment_-_the_journey_from_means_to_ends

McEl­roy, Wendy (March 8, 2012) “The Enclo­sure Acts and the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion”. Explore Free­dom web­site, online @ http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/enclosure-acts-industrial-revolution/

Mil­man, Oliver (18 Sep­tem­ber 2014) “‘Bud­get emer­gency’ denied by 63 lead­ing Aus­tralian econ­o­mists”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/budget-emergency-denied-by-63-leading-australian-economists

Pereira, Cyril (21 Feb­ru­ary 2012) “Only 10% of man­agers effec­tive? What a shock!” Asia Sen­tinel, online @ http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4255&Itemid=629

Piketty, Thomas (2014) “Cap­i­tal in the Twenty-First Cen­tury”. eBook edi­tion avail­able online @ http://www.amazon.com/Capital-Twenty-First-Century-Thomas-Piketty-ebook/dp/B00I2WNYJW/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412235443&sr=1–1&keywords=picketty%27s+capital+in+the+21st+century

Ritholtz, Barry (April 14th, 2011) “Cor­po­rate Tax Rates, Then and Now”. The Big Pic­ture blog, online @ http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/04/corporate-tax-rates-then-and-now/

Roberts, Paul Craig (Feb­ru­ary 3, 2014) “What Is Sup­ply-Side Eco­nom­ics?”. Paul Craid Roberts Insti­tute for Polit­i­cal Econ­omy, online @ http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/02/03/supply-side-economics-paul-craig-roberts/

Ron­son, Jon (6/14/2011) “Why (Some) Psy­chopaths Make Great CEOs”. Forbes Mag­a­zine online @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2011/06/14/why-some-psychopaths-make-great-ceos/2/

Rozen, Jonathan (24 Sep­tem­ber 2014) “Mon­go­lian poor turn garbage into gold”. Asia Times online @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/CBIZ-01–240914.html

Schnurer, Eric (Aug 15 2013) “Every­thing You Think You Know About Gov­ern­ment Fraud Is Wrong. Gov­ern­ment pro­grams, from food stamps to Medicare, don’t have unusu­ally high fraud rates — and the cul­prits are usu­ally man­agers and exec­u­tives, not ‘wel­fare queens’”. Dis­qus Web­site, online @ http://disqus.com/embed/comments/?f=theatlantic&t_i=mt278690&t_u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com

Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can (Jul 15, 2014) “Will Automa­tion Take Our Jobs? Are com­put­ers tak­ing our jobs? It is sur­pris­ingly hard to say, largely because of a lack of good data”.  Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can online @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-automation-take-our-jobs/

Sempa, Fran­cis P. (2000, Fall) “The First Cold War­rior: James Burn­ham (1905–1987)”. Amer­i­can Diplo­macy, 5:4. online @ http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/AD_Issues/amdipl_17/articles/sempa_burnham1.html

Shee­han, Matt (09/26/2014) “China’s Funem­ployed Grads ‘Gnaw On the Old’”. Huff­in­g­ton Post online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/26/china-funemployment-youth_n_5886800.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Smith, War­wick (11 Sep­tembe 2014) “Part 2: Part 2: Polit­i­cal dona­tions cor­rupt democ­racy in ways you might not realise”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/11/political-donations-corrupt-democracy-in-ways-you-might-not-realise

Smith, War­wick (18 Sep­tem­ber 2014) “Part 3: If democ­racy is bro­ken, why should we vote?”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/if-democracy-is-broken-why-should-we-vote

Smith, War­wick (27 August 2014) “Part 1: Why politi­cians must lie – and how sell­ing ice-creams is like an elec­tion cam­paign”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/27/why-politicians-must-lie-and-how-selling-ice-creams-is-like-an-election-campaign

Stra­chan, Maxwell (22 Octo­ber 2013) “Here Are 5 Mil­lion Peo­ple That The U.S. Econ­omy Has Aban­doned”. Huff­in­g­ton Post, online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/22/missing-workers-unemployment-rate_n_4142536.html?utm_hp_ref=business

The Econ­o­mist (Jan 18th 2014) “The future of jobs – The onrush­ing wave – Pre­vi­ous tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion has always deliv­ered more long-run employ­ment, not less. But things can change”. The Econ­o­mist online @ http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less

TJN (2013) “Esti­mat­ing the Price of Off­shore – Head­line report” [TM com­ment: Ide­ol­ogy may often be a pan­tomime for the masses. The real deal: the amount of US$ in cir­cu­la­tion is rouglhy US$1.2 tril­lion. The off­shore wealth (mostly secretly) held by indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies is esti­mated at US$21–32 tril­lion. For every $1 of aid sent to Africa, 80 cents recir­cu­lates back off­shore. From the $1 bil­lion or so that Google sucked out of Aus­tralia last year, $74,000 tax was paid .. and so on. Most world lead­ers are in on this scam]. Tax Jus­tice Net­work, online @ http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/front_content.php?idcat=148

Weale, Sally (27 Sep­tem­ber 2014) “The school with no rules that teaches the unteach­able – Doc­u­men­tary goes beyond the school gates at Ian Mikardo high school, where boys deemed unteach­able are mak­ing a fresh start”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/sep/26/school-no-rules-teaches-unteachable-ian-mikardo

Weiss­mann , Jor­dan (Feb­ru­ary 20, 2013) “The Ph.D Bust: America’s Awful Mar­ket for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts”. The Atlantic, online @ http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/

Weiss­mann , Jor­dan (Oct (9 2013) “1 in 5 U.S. Work­ers: I’m Too Edu­cated for My Job – Actu­ally, that’s not so bad, by inter­na­tional stan­dards”. The Atlantic, online @ http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/10/1-in-5-us-workers-im-too-educated-for-my-job/280441/

West, Michael (Sep­tem­ber 29, 2014) “ATO needs to ‘man up’ on tax dodges”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/ato-needs-to-man-up-on-tax-dodges-20140928-10n7f7.html

West, Michael (Sep­tem­ber 21, 2013) “Cor­po­rates can’t lose in the wel­fare state”. Bris­bane Times online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/corporates-cant-lose-in-the-welfare-state-20130920-2u56q.html#ixzz2fZOZ4qJp

Wikipedia (2013) “ Brazil’s Bolsa Familia” [an income trans­fer pro­gram to the poor]. online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolsa_Fam%C3%ADlia Wikipedia (2014) “Man­age­ri­al­ism”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism

Wikipedia (2014) “Migrant Worker”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migrant_worker

Wikipedia (2014) “Tech­no­log­i­cal unem­ploy­ment”. Wikipedia online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_unemployment

Williams, Zoe (29 May 2014) “Eco­nom­ics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – review – Are you per­fectly self­ish? This page-turn­ing explo­ration of why eco­nom­ics is always pol­i­tics is a rad­i­cal expla­na­tion of … every­thing”. The Guardian Online @ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/29/economics-the-users-guide-ha-joon-chang-review


Source of this essay

mee­tup group: Bris­bane Active Think­ing Mee­tup http://www.meetup.com/Brisbane-Active-Thinking-Meetup/

top­ics already dis­cussed: http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/DiscussionTopics/DiscussionIndex.htm

com­ments: Thor May – thormay@yahoo.com


Pro­fes­sional bio: Thor May has a core pro­fes­sional inter­est in cog­ni­tive lin­guis­tics, at which he has rarely suc­ceeded in mak­ing a liv­ing. He has also, per­haps fatally in a career sense, cul­ti­vated an inter­est in how things work – peo­ple, brains, sys­tems, coun­tries, machi­nes, what­ever… In the world of daily employ­ment he has mostly taught Eng­lish as a for­eign lan­guage, a stim­u­lat­ing activ­ity though rarely regarded as a pro­fes­sion by the world at large. His PhD dis­ser­ta­tion, Lan­guage Tan­gle, dealt with lan­guage teach­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity. Thor has been teach­ing Eng­lish to non-native speak­ers, train­ing teach­ers and lec­tur­ing lin­guis­tics, since 1976. This work has taken him to seven coun­tries in Ocea­nia and East Asia, mostly with ter­tiary stu­dents, but with a cou­ple of detours to teach sec­ondary stu­dents and young chil­dren. He has trained teach­ers in Aus­tralia, Fiji and South Korea. In an ear­lier life, prior to becom­ing a teacher, he had a decade of find­ing his way out of work­ing class ori­gins, through unskilled jobs in Aus­tralia, New Zealand and finally Eng­land (after back­pack­ing across Asia in 1972).

con­tact: http://thormay.net thormay@yahoo.com

aca­d­e­mic repos­i­tory: Academia.edu at http://independent.academia.edu/ThorMay

dis­cus­sion: Thor’s Unwise Ideas at http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/unwisendx.html

per­sonal site: http://thormay.net


The Prob­lem of Work and the Rise of the Pre­cariat © Thor May 2014


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