Obsolete A Blast From The Past From October 2016

Obsolete A Blast From The Past From October 2016

One of the strangest, and most persistent excuses for the expansion of big government in the name of compassion is what is now being called “post necessity economy.”

Apparently in the future, robots will do everything, and we need this big re-distributive economy to make sure that all those people made redundant aren’t starving the gutter.

There are so many things wrong with this meme it’s no wonder it’s a favorite of intellectuals and those suffering from a superiority complex, particular those “intellectuals’ who live in the insular enclaves of the left, like academia and bureaucracy.

In fact this meme has been repeated so often that most people just go along with it.  They nod, sagely, and look concerned and say “oh, yes, we’ll need a big government to take care of all those people that technology is rendering unemployable.”

And yet, this is so broken it’s not even wrong.  It’s a bizarre, often repeated shibboleth from a planet where the world is made of green cheese and where, whatever humans are, they’re not humans as we know them.

Let’s start at the beginning and examine the assumptions (and the smug) packed into this “Post necessity” meme:

1- We need a big state that looks after those who are rendered obsolete by technology.

Okay.  Fine.  I’ll bite.  Let’s say this day will happen, but when? surely not now.  If we were in an economy that had no room for unskilled laborers, why would we be importing gardeners and maids from countries where they don’t speak English?  By the millions?

Perhaps the problem is something else.  Perhaps the problem is not that our unemployed have been made obsolete, but that our regulations, laws, and in fact the apparatus of the big state make it almost impossible to hire people for starter jobs, in which they can get the experience for more complex jobs, and prefers instead to turn them into pensioners.

So – point one, even if that wonderful “post necessity” (they used to call it “post scarcity.”  I guess that’s hard to sell in this economy) economy comes at some point, it is not today. So why are we investing in a big state today? To give all those poor unfortunates jobs shuffling paper and arrange for other, less apt unfortunates to live their lives out while being paid to do nothing?  What? For PRACTICE?

The fact is that those people now chronically unemployed don’t need big government to help them.  They need to have big government remove high taxes, extremely complex regulations, onerous costs of doing business that steal millions from the economy.  The latest of these regulations being Obama care, which makes it almost impossible for small companies to operate within the law and pay enough that their employees can afford the “tax” levied on those who don’t buy an extremely high deductible, low-accessibility health “insurance.”

This last is by no means the only or main hobble on the economy, but it is a very significant one and possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

2- The Amazing All Automated Economy Really Will Come, this time for sure, and it will strand lots of “low IQ” people who will be left without jobs to do.

You know the really funny thing?  I think this is a meme dreamed up by people who don’t own any toilets.  As Mike Rowe has shown, there is a lot of work to do that doesn’t involve understanding the intricacies of math or the nuances of language.  (Whether that means these people are “lower IQ” or “lower ability” is something else.  We’ll get into it later.”)

And I know they’ll say those are “demeaning” jobs, and sure some are.  But they still need to be done.  Others are not.  And yet all of them need to be done.  Or can be done.  Or will enhance our lives by being done.

There are jobs, both pleasant and unpleasant that need what those ivory tower people despise.  I have done manual labor.  Some of it is pleasant, some less so.  The least pleasant of those was ironing all of a hotel’s linen because I was cheaper than the ironing machine.  (Which they did have.)  It was done in a tiny room in the basement; it was monotonous beyond belief; it was hot, sweaty (it was summer) and humid from the iron; and I got blisters on my hands that burst before I formed calluses.

But I tell you what, I’d rather do that work again than be in an echo-chamber where I have to watch every word and movement lest I betray the different thinking their “diversity” can’t tolerate.

3- “Post necessity” — do let’s unpack that.  What do humans need?  Food. A place to sleep.  (Arguably) A group to be part of.  A mate is a fourth distant need, but most people will make do without if they have the other three.

A group to be part of could be argued to be “doing meaningful work” and “being valued.”  At least this is a necessity to a lot of people.  And btw, meaningful can be “enough to support myself.”

The way society is RIGHT NOW it’s very easy to achieve those needs at a level that far exceeds the luxuries of the noblemen in the middle ages.  A part time, minimum wage job is enough to secure a room, a bed (arguably much cleaner than in the middle ages, let alone before) enough food to keep body and soul together (rice and oil is cheap, so are vegetables, actually) and most work will make you part of a group, even if it’s the group that works at the convenience store down the street.

And mind you, the way most people in the middle ages lived, even the drudge in the meanest kitchen or the beggar on the streets was already MUCH better than the live of homo sap when they took over Europe.  (Meals might not have been as plentiful, but they were more regular.  And danger was rather lower, even if epidemics were more common.)

All of which brings us to: we’ve been post necessity since pre-historic times.  Arguably, agriculture did that.  Did all those poor people who only knew how to gather berries and who were “too stupid to plant” die?

Nope.  We still have their work-shy descendants in government bureaucracy today.

The main characteristic of humans is that they ADAPT.  They create, they invent.  One of the things they continually invent is a better life for themselves.  Humans dream.  They dream they can do something different.  They dream they can create something new, something so amazing other humans will want it.  It will become a necessity for those other humans.

Even if the great age of automated everything came tomorrow (it won’t.  I’m grateful much of the difficult things are now made easy, but not everything or even most things will be automated ever, and than heavens, because if it were, you’d end up dying when the machines broke down.) we clever monkeys would find other things to do and need and crave.

4- But… but… the “post necessity economy” will put all those low IQ, low-adaptability people out of work!

Oh, holy d*mn.  You know what? Sometimes I feel like I’m a secret agent.  Or perhaps a double agent.  You see, I can bend language around.  I can even understand mathematics, if you give me a running start, because I haven’t used higher math in years and I’m digit dyslexic.  But I can also refinish furniture, plant gardens, install a wood floor and I’m soon going to learn to lay tile (as soon as currently overdue  books are in.)

Most of the stuff I know how to do comes from following manual laborers around.  Okay, not so much now. I’m not a cute pigtailed little girl, and they get antsy.  Though sometimes some are congenial and explain what they’re doing as they do it.  BUT they always did it until I was about fifteen.

And if you show the workman you know what you’re doing?  Or tell him that you know exactly what is wrong with that pipe over there?

They become buddies.  They tell you stuff.

What you quickly realize is that they are not in any way stupid.  Certainly they aren’t dumber than people I’ve worked with at universities and publishing houses.  They might be less interested in reading, less apt with language.  But they are usually spatially smarter, better at figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it with no-nonsense.

But those are skilled laborers, you’ll say.  What about the other people?  The unskilled ones?

Well, when I was a clothes presser in Germany one of my workmates was a semi-literate Turkish maid.  Common language was a bit of an issue, but once we figured out how to talk I found out she wasn’t significantly dumber than I.  Not where it mattered to do her job, get on with life, dream of a better life.

She might not have aspired to writing novels, but the difference between human IQs is not that large.  It’s more the specialties humans choose.

The assumption that these poor people won’t be able to shift unless the enlightened build a bigger state to look after them makes me wish to wretch.

These idiots view themselves as feudal lords, who should have power over “lesser beings” for the lesser beings good.

The smugness, elitism and in some cases racism (I’ve read more than one article saying this is why the government needs to hire black people disproportionately) implied in this decision that the “post necessity” economy needs “Smart people” to look after the less able ones is staggering.

Particularly when you consider many of the same people who proclaim this are having a lot of trouble adapting to the new world of publishing, or the press, or–

Humans were made to strive.  Anyone who tells you anything else thinks you have a saddle, and they’re outfitted with the spurs to ride you.

The big society they’re so intent on building is supposed, most of all, to look after them and reassure them they’re the important ones.

 

 

114 responses to “Obsolete A Blast From The Past From October 2016

  1. … particular those “intellectuals’ who live in the insular enclaves of the left, like academia and bureaucracy.

    In fairness, those are the folk who’ve already attained the useless parasitic life.

    • Not all of them are useless or parasitic. Alas, far too high a percentage are, perhaps even a majority. But not all. I’ve met some very senior retired academics and bureaucrats who were dedicated to the avowed purpose of their institutions and effective at it. What they complain about most is the obstacles presented by an excess of regulation and bureaucracy, and of incompetent people they can nothing about.

      • Yeah, there are a lot of folks who actually do the work they’re hired for, rather than wanting to position.

        They tend to go the well-oiled-machine route– who notices when NOTHING goes wrong, besides someone who is a Stuff Went WRong preper?

        • Oh, that usually happens when the IT guy whose salary they decided to cut in favor of politically correct hiring leaves for greener pastures (IT guy has to eat, and bills to pay after all) and… everything goes wrong.

          Bonus points: blaming the IT guy for leaving.

          • “He must have sabotaged stuff! Everything worked fine before he left!”

          • Yep, back when I “did IT”, one company I worked for there were two of us. Me part time, and the IT manager full time. When I moved on to something different, HR said “we aren’t replacing that viking guy, he never did anything around here”. So, IT manager also moved on to greener pastures. A few months later I found out through a friend that worked there that they ended up having to replace the two of us with six guys… and there was at least one server in the server room with a sign that said “do not touch” because they didn’t know what it did, but every time they turned it off “NOTHING would work anymore”. I suspect it was the firewall I built when I was there (practically what I was hired for), but I’m a little confused as to why it would have THAT much impact. Should have just made the internet unreachable. Also note, I did NOT do anything to cause this, and while that WAS a relatively long time ago, so firewalls etc. weren’t as common, among SIX IT guys, at least ONE of them should have known what a firewall was/was for.

            Yea, I heard they were cussing me and that IT manager. Oh well. I TRIED to leave on good terms…

  2. I have never understood why grown adults refuse to value competencies that they do not possess themselves, and, not only that, but fail to perceive that other people might value those competencies. I can understand such an attitude on the part of children, and adolescents, but grown men and women ought to know better.

    • There’s the rub: they ain’t “grown” they’ve merely gotten bigger. I am sure that only the loosest definition of “adults” applies to them.

      • Exactly. They generally lack both qualities that define adults: ability to acknowledge responsibility for their actions, and ability to delay gratification (i.e., to do what’s necessary now rather than what’s most enjoyable).

  3. I think this is a meme dreamed up by people who don’t own any toilets.

    That would explain they’re being full of crap.

  4. What do humans need? Food. A place to sleep.

    You left out a “high-speed internet connection.”

  5. These idiots view themselves as feudal lords, who should have power over ‘lesser beings’ for the lesser beings good.

    It has been many a year since I read any Cyril Kornbluth, but I recall his stories often featured the lowly janitor or technician as the real brains in the room, while the scientists, doctors and intellectuals were kept mollified and relatively harmless by being given lofty titles and faux important things to do.

  6. Well, when I was a clothes presser in Germany one of my workmates was a semi-literate Turkish maid. Common language was a bit of an issue, but once we figured out how to talk I found out she wasn’t significantly dumber than I. Not where it mattered to do her job, get on with life, dream of a better life.

    One of the refugees that my dad worked with for awhile was a very, very competent carpenter back in the old country. There wasn’t a big demand for carpenters in the area so he became a custodian for awhile and he learned English better. But they only stayed in the area long enough for his wife to get her nursing degree (was nurse in the old country but certifications weren’t transferred over) and then moved to another area. Another of the immigrants here was an econ teacher over there, but owned a car wash when he moved here.

    Immigrants tend to end up in low skilled jobs when first arriving. Once they get settled, the ones that want to get ahead do get ahead. There is opportunity here and people are adaptable. They will change with the opportunities if they want to. And if there isn’t an opportunity in the immediate area, they can always move to an area that has opportunities.

  7. Ayn Rand once asked what wants were fundamental, beyond a cave, a bearskin, and a hunk of raw meat.

    As I understand it, a quarter of a millennium ago, over 50% of the work force had farm jobs, everywhere civilized; and it could be over 90%. I’ve often thought that if you told someone in 1768 that there would come a day when less than 5% of the workers produced food and fiber for everyone, they would likely have said, “But the rest won’t have any work, and they’ll starve to death!” And yet here we are, with most people having jobs that hadn’t even been imagined back then.

    • Oh heck, the longest-held full-time job I’ve ever had didn’t exist when I graduated from college, and that only missed being this millennium by a year or two depending on how you count it. I basically got in on the second year of the company using the new technology, and helped develop certain basic strategies. (Like naming files. OMG. I got in there and they’d name them any which way, including COMMAS. Standardizing the filenames probably saved us months of work in the long run, though it took a long time to change them over individually.)

  8. When your toilet is stopped up, and the plunger and the snake don’t do the job, you NEED a plumber. He KNOWS how to fix it, and you don’t.

  9. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business…The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice the utmost humility, is boundless. — Eric Hoffer

    The typical welfare statist is simultaneously striving to assert his superiority over you and straining to reassure himself that he matters to someone. the contradiction is more apparent than real.

  10. “The big society they’re so intent on building is supposed, most of all, to look after them and reassure them they’re the important ones.“

    And there you have it in a nutshell. It’s the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ all over again. There’s no evidence for it, plenty against it, but if they can just browbeat enough people into believeing it…..

  11. You want an eye-opener sometime, go to the race track. You will see the beer-swilling redneck grease monkeys showing up with cars that can spank a Ferrari, that they built out of junkyard parts and aftermarket catalogues. They don’t have money, so they have to be smarter.

    My favorite history lesson from among these guys in Barney Navarro. He started as a punk racing crappy old Model T four-bangers on the dry lakes of California after WWII. He went on to design the dynomometer test stands that much of the turbocharger research in the USA was done on, had a hugely successful racing parts company, and built some of the first heart/lung bypass machines in the USA. One was in use at Kaiser Hospital in Hollywood for many years.

  12. If nothing else, there’s likely to be openings for personal assistants. Voice mail and other electronic gimcracks don’t match the utility of a good executive secretary.

    • “Voice mail and other electronic gimcracks don’t match the utility of a good executive secretary.”

      Absolutely true, and I believe that the decline in use of secretaries…even at pretty high management levels…has driven increased organizational chaos and seriously harmed productivity.

    • Well, either that or AI will get better at this sort of thing.

      I for one welcome our sexy AI Secretary overlords!!!

    • Who else is going to print out your voicemails, after all?

  13. Robots do everything? Harde har har har. Robots, like computers, are no smarter than the people who program then and usually less so.
    .

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Of course, if the robots/computers are smarter than their owners, they might start thinking “why should we work for those idiots?”. 😈

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      “But a bunch of smart people make an AI that writes all the programs.”

      esr is reasonably intelligent and skilled. Last I heard, he was expecting future programing to be done by human beings, and wasn’t talking about starting such an AI project.

      More intelligent men than esr will be born and grow to productivity. Some of them may eventually exceed his skill. I would not count on any of them to deliver an AI that can decently engineer for safety and reliability when writing any sort of code.

      • I started following the eng-tips forum after the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse. A common thread amongst the experienced engineers is that there is too strong a dependence on the automatic tools, to the point where if it gives a garbage result, that’s what’s accepted “because that’s what the models said”.

        They were pushing the state of the art because reasons, and somebody had way too much confidence in the design, even when red flags were popping up. NTSB report will probably take a year, but it promises to look ugly.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Was talking to someone who had taken a class in an automated tool. I haven’t taken the course and am working with it so am studying both the automated tool, and the tools I need to make certain I’m not screwing up with the automated tool. Humans and automated tools can both make mistakes. If you are careful, know what you are doing, don’t overly trust yourself, and talk with other clued in perspectives, you can catch a lot of your own mistakes. How do you catch the machine’s mistakes?

          I can believe we need to be doing a better job of training folks.

          I’d like to blame the STEM fad, but I think these challenges well predate the humanities majors finding out that engineering was a thing that existed.

          • The same issue arises with copy editing. I always run spell and grammar check on a paper I’m editing, once at the start to catch the dumb stuff, and once at the end to catch my own typos. But I always work through item by item; I never trust Word to get things right. And there are a lot of things that Word has no idea how to catch, sometimes because it was programmed by people who were ignorant of grammar.

            I still treasure the time I spell checked one of my books for Steve Jackson Games, and Word proposed to change “superhero” to “superego.”

            • I used to have a sign I printed out with my original (admittedly not as good as it could have been) sentence, and the absolute word-salad gibberish Word insisted I change it to because… grammar! I really wish I had saved that digitally somewhere.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Also, I misworded my statement. I should have said ‘any arbitrary code’.

          I think narrowing the problem to a specific type of code used for a specific purpose decreases the complexity enough to make such things practical.

          “Alexa, design the next generation processor and operating system architecture” is almost certainly nonsense. On the other hand, we’ve had compilers for a very long time.

          Any tool is dangerous if used by someone who doesn’t know its proper use and limits.

          When society doesn’t understand that such limits can exist, we have a harder time teaching that to the tool handlers. We have a harder time convincing those that employ tool handlers that it will save them money if those tool handlers know the limits.

          • tool handlers know the limits

            Yeah, one of the things that’s been noticed (infuriated some folks, especially the structural engineers) is that the builders had a) a unique design–pushing the state of the art, b) were assembling the bridge alongside the road, and c) did not take advantage of the opportunity to test the thing when it was sitting right there.

            The thing that got me, is they saw a problem, and opted for an off-design “fix”, while they had traffic flowing underneath. As someone put it, it’s an extinction-level event for the “responsible” parties. And yes, it appears (to the crowdsourced engineering community who are trying failure analysis based on public information), that the attempted fix actually led straight to the failure.

            I hope the lessons are learned. It could have been a lot worse.

          • Any tool is dangerous if used by someone who doesn’t know its proper use and limits.
            Egad, yes – ^THIS^

        • Here is hoping. Reason our jobs stretch out over multiple years on what should be simple repairs. Gotta build a fem model, figure out why its broken and design the jury rig fix instead of replacing a broken part.

      • Joe in PNG

        How many years have we had GPS navigation programs, and yet they still pick the worst routes to send you on.

        • I still believe some of those routes are chosen to run you by “sponsor” businesses… even incompetence can’t account for some of the stuff Mapquest used to come up with.

          • Mapquest used to not know that CA state rte 2 became a surface street, it thought it stayed a freeway and merged with CA 110. I swear in some places it used ‘planned routes’ that didnt exist yet.

            • Absolutely. Once in Virginia it directed me to an off-ramp that didn’t actually exist yet… it had been roughed out with a grader and some Jersey barriers dropped along the shoulder to keep people from having a sudden “off-road experience.”

              • well, when the state says ‘complete by X date’ they assume it will be, even if the project is totally cancelled

            • I had an interesting experience one of the first times I used MapQuest, about 16 years ago. The “highlight” for its selected route was drawn over a part of the map devoid of roads. When it came time to make the right onto US 522 as the directions said, I followed the road labelled as US 522 on the map.

              Alas, the town I found myself in had no signs for US 522. I pulled into a parking lot for a moment to try to sort things out. I drove back to where I’d made the turn and continued on the way I’d been going. About a thousand feet further down the road, around a couple curves and not visible at the point I’d turned, was an intersection, and to the right was the brand new bypass that had just opened.

              It had existed long enough for its existence to be in the database, but not long enough for the base map to be updated. According to their base map, US 522 still ran through the town of Mount Union, not on the bypass to the east, which as far as the map image was concerned did not exist.

              • Chattanooga TN, driving back from dinner. It SAID it was a through road, but there was a pine forest in the middle of it.

                • Those were Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and they’ve been moving about since they wandered over to Dunsinane and couldn’t find their way back.

                • I’ve had that happen once. Google maps said follow this street for a few miles, destination is on the right. But the road dead-ended in an overgrown forested area (basically, a swamp since I’m in Florida). I circumnavigated the swamp and found where the road continued on after the break and thankfully still made it to the concert I was going to. Good thing too. I always wanted to see Arlo Guthrie in concert. Yes, it was as awesome as I thought it would be. 🙂

                  • My sister at one point lived in a house that all the map services said was in the middle of a road.

                    25-30 years prior, there’d been a plan filed that would have involved imminent domain to put a road through where it looked good on paper…then someone went through and remembered that BEND IS BUILT ON LAVA AND SPIKEY BITS. And there was a nasty combination of BOTH of those, in the form of a six-eight foot rise, cutting the entire dang road off. Which is why the original, ugly lay out was made.

                    So they never built the road…but never fixed the paperwork, either. Some of the folks who basically knocked on her door demanding to know where she’d hidden the road was amusing.

                • A few years back, my parents had stand-alone Garmin GPS units. While I was visiting, one of their units tried to take us down a road that had been permanently closed a year earlier, and for which the pavement had in fact been removed and the entire blocks on either side of the road fenced off. Thankfully, my parents have good sense. And these days they use the Waze app and are quite happy with it, since stuff like that now almost never happens, and it reroutes around traffic problems.

          • When we first moved to south central Oregon, we knew we needed to go over the Cascades for some shopping. Costco never made it here. (The local businessman/real estate mogul blocked it; he was afraid his serfs employees would leave his factory for employment. When he died, most of his business empire got broken up. Fitting. Alas, a lot of his employees got screwed.)

            Back to the subject, I studied the AAA map and figured out the best approach. About 50 miles of county roads, and 55 on state roads. (I have to swing around the lake/marsh complex south of Crater lake–65 miles as the dragon flies.)

            On a whim, I tried one of the map sites. First, they had me going East to the state highway, then West to Klamath Falls, then South(ish) to Weed. That’s 115 miles right there. After that, maybe 60 miles North to Medford.
            So, instead of 105 miles, 175. I don’t recall using automagic directions for about 10 years after that. (They actually got pretty good by 2014; I had to find a hotel in Salt Lake City, and the route was quirky at best. The directions worked.)

            About once a year, we’ll get stories of people who got into serious trouble by relying on GPS navigation. About a third of those stories are post-mortum You don’t want to screw around in the boondocks around here if you really don’t know the area.

            • We’ve driven across Oregon several times (roughly Eugene to points east.) Google will *always* tell you to go over the top, and it is (marginally) faster. And about 200 miles further.

              As for GPS, I had a friend have an issue with one a few months back. Sent her on a narrow unimproved road on a steep hillside without room to turn around when she tried to get to a particular Gold Rush site. Funny thing is that I think my family made the same mistake back more than 30 years ago, since I distinctly remember my mom having to get out of the van to supervise the turning around so we didn’t go off the cliff.

    • And that’s what scares me about this self-driving car idiocy. To err is human. To replicate the error ten thousand times a nanosecond requires a computer.

      Now, apply that to rush hour.

      *cringe*

  14. I haven’t read it yet, but this critique of Artificial Intelligence hype looks interesting:

    https://blog.piekniewski.info/2018/05/28/ai-winter-is-well-on-its-way/

  15. A big (Benevolent) redistributive economy. … Screech. Halt. Stop right there. Ain’t no such animal. Anything big enough to take from a BMOC won’t hesitate to step on a pissant.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Thanks to the Austrian economists, the information scientists, and the theorists of engineering, we can be pretty confident that as the scope of a system of centralized control increases, its level of benevolence approaches that of something from Lovecraft’s Mythos. A supreme indifference whose fundamental wrongness kills with mere presence.

      “If only Cthulhu knew!” If Cthulhu were here, Cthulhu would devour 1d4 of us per turn.

    • The problem ain’t that any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got. The problem is that such a government is big enough to squash you like a bug without meaning to, or even noticing.

  16. Christopher M. Chupik

    Clearly, it’s not just robots, but technology itself. Look at how many jobs technology has destroyed! Clearly, we must stop any further advances, to ensure no one else loses their job. In fact, we need to go one step further, and eliminate technology we already have. Then we can bring back jobs that were lost, and nobody will ever be unemployed ever again!

    (Do I really need to add a sarcasm tag?)

  17. As far as their ‘brilliant’ technology jobs and government administrative jobs etc go… I would like to remind them that the hopped -up decision-making Expert systems we currently call ‘A.I.’ can replace a lot of those, too.

  18. I read Nickeled and Dimed. I also read parts of Scratch Beginnings, an experiment to refute it. The thing I noticed was that the author of the later took advice from poor people about how to live poor.

    • Joe in PNG

      Let me guess.
      1) Smoke cigs/ do drugs
      2) Get knocked up while single
      3) Drop out of HS
      4) Don’t work
      Which are a few of the simple ways to become poor.
      The big problem is a lack of self discipline- the inability to delay gratification, or to endure something unpleasant for a later reward.

      • Nah. Things like ooze confidence when applying for a job. It’s not like most unskilled workers have other recommendations.

  19. Well, there’s corruption in the word “smart”. For example, one can find reviews which claim that that such and such a writer is smart. But it’s clear it didn’t mean that the text is particularly challenging, or that the writer appears to be particularly learned; but she is funny, and creative and has a dab hand at turning a phrase. “Smart” a lot of the time, when progressives use the term, is a catchall for “virtuous”. (Which may be why the IQ research gets contentious so fast?)

    And there are a lot people at the bottom of the economic and social food chain, who aren’t competent at making a living at anything. Foolish people call them stupid, but since I know capable Down’s syndrome young adults, brain power and learning aren’t the issue.

    So… maybe it’s that the progressives look around at this high tech future they think they’re building (Google, Facebook, anyone?) and the society their Rules For Living create. They’re like the Anti-“12 Rules”. They generate chaos and dysfunction in people’s lives.

    And it’s made them wealthy and powerful, but it seems to also be creating more and more of what they call “stupid” people. So they think they need a massive State system to keep that sort of person safely contained and away from them. “A Law in every heart or a policeman on every corner.”

    And since, as Mrs. Hoyt points out, socialism is a positional good, they get moral purity points for advocating for it.

    • Joe in PNG

      Intelligence is nice, but other virtues like self discipline or diligence will take one farther in life.

    • Back in the ’60s there was a study that found that lower-IQ drivers tended to have better safety records than normal drivers, and higher-IQ drivers tended to have slightly poorer records.

      Their conclusion was that the first group of drivers were more challenged by the task, therefore put more of their attention on what they were doing.

      The FAA was pushing “cockpit automation” for large aircraft very hard, then found that as more and more tasks were automated, the ohshit rate went up. Their conclusion was that the flight crews, without enough to do, were either zoned our from boredom or doing something else instead of taking care of business.

  20. Joe in PNG

    There’s also the fact that humans don’t do well with nothing but leisure. Doing nothing wrecks us, physically and mentally.
    Yet, the “intellectual” classes still have a fear and loathing of physical labor, as if soiling your hands with base trade will somehow destroy one’s intellectual prowess permanently.

    • It isn’t just a fear of ohysical labor (though they have that, too), it’s the old horror of ‘trade’. These would-be aristocrats are scared to death of anyone who actually knows how to create wealth (as opposed to steal it).

      • Beloved Spouse & I were discussing, just the other day, the Europeons’ sneer at America as “A nation of shopkeepers.”

        Admittedly, it was originally directed towards Britain but that is the best part of our inheritance from our parent country.

        Somebody (not I, but somebody) could easily build a blog post out of the implications of that slur. To shopkeeper you are only as good as your credit and are expected to pay in full for what you take. Pride of birth buys no groceries nor ammunition for your guns.

        • Really?

          In elementary school our “Social Studies” textbooks in the second grade had sound-bite descriptions of various countries. We were expected to memorize “England is a nation of shopkeepers.”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Of what value is raw intellectual prowess without experience of base trade? Of what value is an archeologist so blinkered that they assume that there were substantial numbers of graduate students in 5000 BC? Of what value is an engineer that does not grasp that there is such a thing as real world consequences? Of what value is a literature expert that does not realize the relevance of whether something can actually be read?

    • Come on. We all “know” that a life of leisure will result in a world of plenty and a renaissance in arts for everyone will write or draw their masterpiece and be solely focused on expanding the human condition.

      Does someone have a crowbar I can borrow to get my tongue back?

    • Doing nothing wrecks us, physically and mentally.
      Only you non-rednecks.

  21. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Reminder: monthly Hoyt donation, may be unnecessary, as I may have overlooked the announcement that recurring donations have been fixed.

  22. Conversations like this remind me of a woman I used to work with at the call center.

    She was *profoundly* stupid. During training, she tried to settle an argument of who went first with a game of rock-paper-scissors–by declaring the game and jutting her hand out in scissors shape. (Her opponent, befuddled, made a rock. Suffice it to say, she lost three games before conceding her loss.) She only made it through training by begging answers from everyone, a behaviour which continued onto the floor (WHILE the others were on calls). She was toxic, knowing her main path to survival was informing on everyone else. As a side note, she also had horrible taste in men, going headfirst into one destructive relationship after another.

    You’d think this person would have no chance. She certainly wasn’t call center material. But she was aa great cook who made involved Italian dishes for neighborhood functions and friends, frequently for money. She was gregarious and open, agood ticket seller for a sports center on weekends. Though she was in her fifties, her parents (a retired cop and a housewife) were fiercely devoted to her.

    Even a toxic moron with nad judgement had assets to sell.

    It does give me perspective.

  23. I think this is a meme dreamed up by people who don’t own any toilets.
    It’s the robots. See, the robots want us enslaved, and are pushing this propaganda so we will enslave ourselves. All they have to do then is take over the gov’t, and….. wait……

  24. Teresa L Williams

    I greatly respect anyone who can do what I can’t – or won’t. I’ve never understood the concept of “unskilled” labor. Even digging a hole, or scrubbing a toilet, is easier with training. We used to learn basic things by watching our parents, now we have to seek it out.
    I took basic automotive repair, so I wouldn’t be stupid when something went wrong, and could do the “easier” stuff myself. Ironically, I rolled my car on the way to my final exam.
    I can’t dance, or play an instrument. I’m no longer physically capable of digging a hole, or scrubbing a floor. I was never able to carry trays of food, or multiple plates. I’m deeply grateful to the housekeeping people in hospitals: one time, my son cut the bottom of his foot so badly he was bleeding chunks all over the ER, and they cleaned it up.
    We still had Home Ec and Wood, Metal, and Auto Shop when I was in high school. They need to bring those back! My high school – in a suburban area – had 4H, and FFA, and farm animals and crops.
    I read a proposal that would require high school seniors to spend at least two weeks picking crops before they could graduate, and I think it’s a good idea.
    New technologies bring new jobs. Retrain displaced workers. Carriage makers went into automobiles; coal miners can learn solar or wind. Or soil reclamation. Or…

    • I don’t think that proposal is a good idea, for the same reason I don’t think “mandatory voluntarianism” is a good idea.
      It teaches kids nothing except that they can be enslaved. It gives farmers ill-trained really reluctant labor, and plus it makes them responsible for accidents, etc. It also takes the bottom off crop-picking market.
      Having the kids have to learn at least ONE manual skill (woodshop, metal shop or house cleaning or cooking, something done with the hands and marketable) Great. Forced slave labor, no. Not worth it, and bad for the republic.
      (As with volunteer opportunities, have them available, particularly for parents who want kids exposed to it, but don’t force the kids. The distortions are horrible, and it makes the kids HATE volunteering.)

  25. Teresa L Williams

    I see your point about agriculture. I do, however, think that it’s a good idea for kids to have some kind of community service before graduating. Who knows, they may find their passion. And it will be a way to introduce them to the wider world. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all,” there’s a volunteer opportunity for everyone.

    • I’m divided on this because I understand economics and the mechanics of conscription. Encourage them? SURE. Force them, no.
      Also most volunteer associations might be ANTI-effective, as I found digging into it. Not sure what to do with that. It’s like finding out what your gifts to charity can do that’s harmful and trying to weigh “First do no evil.”
      I try very hard to help those I know, in things I know. Not saying I haven’t done harm there a few times, but a try to help only in constructive ways.

    • And I think ALL OF THEM should have to acquire a manual skill well, as graduation requirement. Manual trade? Even if it’s just “house cleaning”

      • A manual skill tends to emphasize the distance between Theory and Practice. Current pedagogy places too much emphasis on abstract thinking and too little on practical realities. As we have observed in our Dreckonomics discussion it is much easier to build your ideal societies when you’ve little direct experience with the way people actually behave.


        There are good reasons why most people just out of school require extensive training in how the world really works.

      • Teresa L Williams

        Oh, yes! Definitely need to learn to do things! I’m helping my daughter train my grandsons to cook, clean, not make a bigger mess than they can clean up, etc.
        I’m training my 4 year old granddaughter that puppies aren’t just; there are responsibilities. Her dogs, she can pick up the poop. And she does it! She is expected to pick up after herself, and she’s learning to clean the bathroom. She has her own real carpet sweeper from Fuller Brush, and her dad uses it too.
        As they get big enough, they will learn basic car maintenance.
        I don’t understand what you mean by anti-effective.

    • My high school had required volinteering.

      Amazingly, the “wide range” of options consisted of 1) liberal politics, and 2) people who made a living off of gov’t grants.

      Same way that the “fund raising volunteer days” were always giving really cheap labor to some of the local parents who were good at throwing their weight around. Same ones who didn’t show up with a bucket and soap for the fund-raising carwashes.

      I got away with basically informing them that they would count my shelving books at the local library, which I was doing anyways; nobody wanted to push it because they were pretty sure my mom would get the bit between her teeth, and it was corrupt as heck– most likely illegal, too.

      • Teresa L Williams

        I was thinking in terms of animal shelters, Red Cross, canine companions for independence, retirement homes, special olympics, Park docent, beach cleanup, anything helping their local communities. Community service. Not just a (short) list of “approved” activities. I would think that any service through an organization, such as Scouting, or church based, or 4-H, or… should also count. As long as it’s voluntary, and helps the community.

        • *feral grin* Oh, they were very good about making sure it “helped the community.”

          Their preferred community, of course. And they get to define “helped.”

          It really isn’t a schools place to be forming the morals of kids; they can barely manage simple, objective education goals.

          Some sort of basic “life skills” course would probably work– “how to sort laundry and do a load,” “how to change a tire,” “how to change a fuse,” “how to identify what lightbulb you need.”

          Maybe even very basic cooking skills, like “turning on a stove to the correct temperature.”

          Probably. Minimum of damage done if it doesn’t, anyways.

          • Teresa L Williams

            We had a class to learn checkbooks, credit, and such. I graduated high school in 1979. Still had shop classes, home ec, the school farm.

            • We had a teacher hijack one of the yearly sex ed classes- the same year that it was spliced with driver’s ed– and do a “life skills” class that did basically “how to live on your own and not totally destroy everything.”