Advertisements

Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

From Welfare to Welfare

In this country, welfare often takes the form of preserving middle classes by creating imaginary middle-class jobs and paying for them with government funds to avoid calling them welfare. That word would destroy the dignity of middle-class folks and lead them to lumpenize, so the strategy is not incomprehensible.

Whether the recipients of this form of welfare work at diversity and inclusion offices, ethics offices, offices of institutional compliance with block grant requirements or at a defense facility seems like a very minor point. 

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

13 thoughts on “From Welfare to Welfare

  1. Shakti on said:

    Whether the recipients of this form of welfare work at diversity and inclusion offices, ethics offices, offices of institutional compliance with block grant requirements or at a defense facility seems like a very minor point

    Not really.
    The term “welfare” is emptied of all meaning in common political discourse except for “government spending benefiting people I don’t like?” That meaning is interchangeable with how “entitlements” is currently used.

    Jobs are also described as “imaginary” when people want to say, “government spending is benefiting people I don’t like” or “I look down on this job” regardless of their actual utility. So a public school teacher’s job is considered “fake” while a TSA inspector’s is considered “real.”A mall cop’s job is “real” but an nurse’s aide’s job is “fake.”

    It’s hard to discuss potemkin jobs in that kind of context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have nothing against the individuals working at the Ethics office or the Diversity and Inclusion office. But it’s very tiresome to have to take time away from the actual work of teaching students or doing research and dedicate it to making them feel useful. And they are very touchy because they can’t but sense that it’s all a sham.

      I’m not saying it would be better to put them all out in the street. But maybe each department should have its own fake job to interact with people in other fake jobs. Like a shadow university of sorts.

      Until such time, of course, as the few who are actually working become the shadow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shakti on said:

        And they are very touchy because they can’t but sense that it’s all a sham.

        I wasn’t commenting specifically on your examples.

        Which is actually worse for eudaemonia, “fake” jobs or people who have no job? What actually interferes more with your “real” job, people with “fake jobs” or people with no job? Which situations actually interfere with the recognition of your job as a “real job” more? People with no job, people who have “fake jobs” interacting with people who have “real jobs” or people with “fake jobs” who interact through their jobs with people who have other “fake jobs?”

        How do you decouple dignity from having a “real job”?

        It’s fascinating what people think of as a “real job” because it’s so endlessly fungible.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We shouldn’t limit ourselves to these two options. It shouldn’t be about bad or worse. I’m sure there is a sea of other options but to notice them we need to accept that they are possible. Zygmunt Bauman would say, let’s stop seeing people as waste to be disposed of. Both of these options are about people as waste.

          Like

          • Shakti on said:

            Optimally, the solution, if we’re thinking in terms of jobs, is “create at least as many equally good ‘real’ jobs to replace the jobs, ‘fake’ or otherwise, that are being lost to obsolescence, machines or other forces.” Otherwise that dilemma faces at least some portion of people, even if you assume current population trends. That seems stupidly quantitative, I know.

            Like

  2. This is not just found in the government sector, though. These sorts of jobs are ubiquitous. David Graeber terms them “bullshit jobs.”

    In a more perfect world — not based on capitalism trending towards a new feudalism — these jobs would not need to exist as they decrease rather than increase productivity and happiness. The eudaemonia of a society is substantially reduced by their existence.

    The alternative, though, is welfare, UBI, or something politically unpalatable at the moment, so these worthless jobs persist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, at this time the only alternative is a disability insurance with an attendant Oxy addiction. But that’s only because we have collectively quit even looking for another way. The electoral battles are waged over how more cheaply and effectively avoid seeing the surplus people. No effort to make them not surplus is being made.

      Like

  3. Alex on said:

    Thing is, bullshit jobs are only half about making work for people. If that’s all that they were about then we’d have a Department of Digging Giant Holes and a Department of Filling Giant Holes, and both of them would have the most amazing social media strategy, the most diverse and inclusive hiring practices ever, the most elaborate security any human organization has ever devised, and compliance and documentation practices that would make a university technocrat orgasm so hard that they’d flash-dessicate. All to dig and fill giant holes in the ground.

    Instead, these jobs are used to satisfy the needs of various segments of society. American society is paranoid about the rest of the world, so we have a military budget that’s already larger than the rest of the world combined, and it’s still not enough. Hence more and more jobs at defense contractors. Likewise, universities are intensely risk averse, a fact that’s exacerbated by the outside world’s mistrust of us, hence umpteen million people involved in compliance and reporting. And diversity and inclusion are our new religion for nominally secular liberals, hence the diversity bureaucracy.

    Honestly, I wish they’d just dig and fill holes in the ground.

    Like

    • Shakti on said:

      Honestly, I wish they’d just dig and fill holes in the ground., said Alex, right before he stepped into a random gopher hole. :-p

      Old Public Works Project: Actually digging and filling physical holes in the ground.
      New Public Works Project: Digging and filling holes while wearing an Oculus.
      Old School Public Works Project: Playing Digger

      Like

    • They are middle class, so they won’t dig holes because it’s declasse for them. Instead, they’ll drill holes in my head with their endless demands.

      Like

  4. Budget compliance has been hounding me for weeks to tell me they are not reimbursing me for costs they never said they would. Why I am expected to tell them again and again exactly how I used my own funds for work related expenses (meals at the Houston conference) when they were my own funds and I had already been told I would not be reimbursed, I do not understand. But it is very exhausting.

    At the same time, though, you go into a Home Depot and there are no clerks.

    Like

    • Shakti on said:

      Z:
      Maybe they’re modeling for a future scenario in which you’d actually ask to be reimbursed and they would reimburse you and they’d need to come up with a more generous expense budget?

      At the same time, though, you go into a Home Depot and there are no clerks.
      I went to the ethnic grocery store 45 minutes away for some staples. The place was so full that people were jammed up in the aisles. There were employees rearranging the produce and the snack bins as people were going through it. At the checkout, all the lanes were open, and there were extra clerks to guide people to the lanes and put stuff on the conveyer belt. None of this was extraneous or annoying. At Sam’s Club/Walmart, they never have all the checkouts open either with cashiers or self checkout, preferring to have giant lines.

      Like

      • Ha! I wish!

        Maybe the ethnic grocery store could afford all these people because they were family members, volunteers, or persons indentured by human trafficking? Somehow, I doubt it — I think they know they can make more money if they can get people in and out in a reasonable way.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: