Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The work ethic is unethical

Why We Quit. Civilian conscientious objectors

The human species, surely, has some inborn characteristics that endure over time frames of thousands of years. Our human nature is not so far from us -- it is accessible to anybody in touch with their own body and mind. It screams out to us through the desires and aversions we feel.

For example I'm a 55 year old guy. My nature tells me to drop everything about once a day, and walk out the door and bicycle or run across the landscape, for an hour or more. The exercise seems to balance my blood chemistry. The movement seems to satisfy some craving or curiosity to investigate the area.

During the dark, winter months my body tells me to curl up in a warm bed and sleep a lot-- sometimes 12 hours a day including naps.

The social order around us, obviously does not operate by the same instincts. I see a political economy run by a bunch of over-amped power trippers, and a vast population of employees apparently satisfied to do whatever instructions they're told, however useless or absurd, up to and including the war in Iraq.

Truly, there is a lot of useless commotion across the physical landscape. Needlessly large vehicles rush around, dominate the whole region with a continual roar of noise.

The only thing we really need is a wholesome diet-- it is a scientific fact that 90% of the GDP is not necessary for our biological needs. Our food needs are satisfied by less than 10% of the workforce. The other 36 hours of our 40 hours of work is art. Whimsy. We could be doing *anything*. Or nothing.

What's in the skyscrapers downtown, truly, is useless commotion - people struggling for control over the material outputs of a globally integrated economy. People, persuading, selling, manipulating and inducing and compelling other people to do things. Marketing, law, software and financial services, the accounting, the insurance, the brokers, holding companies, and corporate suites. Ask the people. Many of them openly admit their occupations are fundamentally obsolete, or corrupt, or at best unnecessary.

As a CPA for 20 years I came to realize the profession was essentially corrupt. It is a racket, which has captured the naming and semantics for tax and reporting, appointing themselves as the monopoly provider of the "truth".

My work was unnecessary in the real economy and involved only the allocation of economic resources among the powerful. Everybody wanted to recharacterize their business dealings as something else. A tax client wants every payment to be deductible, and every deposit to be nontaxable. Corporate executives want every payment to be an asset and every project to appear profitable.

Downtown Seattle contributes less than nothing to the production of goods and services. Organization, scheduling, and coordination of human is essential, and downtowns once were necessary. Acres of clerks and typists processed information.

Today however, all necessary mental work is done by computers -- all of the routine inventory, accounting, payrolls, scheduling, logistics, are all done effortlessly-- and could be even more effortless. Today's mental workers are exactly the same as earlier generations of laborers replaced by machinery. Machines of course have progressively taken over much physical work.

Many of the older, more experienced software professionals also recognize the obsolescence and harmfulness of most of today's management processes. When a barcode scan at the cash register can adjust every inventory, shipping and manufacturing schedule all the way back to the raw material suppliers, why do we need a concentration of skyscrapers downtown, let alone, to expand freeways and bridges?

Today's downtown, full of useless entrenched bureaucracies, in control of all of the earth's commons, permits no activity unless there's a way to collect rents or fees. Negatively, it prevents outbreaks of competing ways of doing anything that cannot be captured. Positively, it controls everything it posesses to maximize the gains and avoid all costs and responsibilities.

The real estate bubble and its related financial industry roars at full speed in this state, destroying our environment and saddling future generations with an unsustainable sprawl. Weapons of mass construction. By contrast, Asian cities permit subdividing into small lots, such as 20 by 30 feet, with 3 or 4 story buildings on it. Do the math, how much cheaper this would be!

There are excess resources in the urban economy, and ethical ways to get them. The economy is racing like a buzzsaw through all the resources of the planet - a motor racing without a governor. We have a duty at some point to be satisfied. To quit producing and consuming. Quitting is the only ethical thing to do. The work ethic is unethical.

Humanity learned the "work ethic" thing during the agrarian and industrial revolutions. But now it is as inappropriate as tribal mores were, during the industrial age. In fact, the people in those skyscrapers have long abandoned the work ethic. They have learned to avoid work and maximize takings. That is the business ethic. It is intrinsic to market economies, that you seek "the best deals."

My adaptation is: just quit, and mooch. Be a lazy, deadweight MF.

The Iraq war, and the military industrial complex, are the last straw, for me. I burned my CPA license and consider myself a conscientious objector. I've been thru this too many times already. The Vietnam war, the Reagan wars, the Gulf war. I'm tired of obeying the orders of unfit bosses and dictators. Are we such sheep? I will work no more forever. Or, at least, as long as there is a handout.

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