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Why you don't want a job  RSS feed

 
Erik Ven
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When I was attending a post graduate course at Acadia University in Nova Scotia in 1996, one of my professors brought to my attention Jeremy Rifkin’s book just released the same year. It was called The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.
Despite being an excellent work I wasn’t able to read it all the way until much later. The reason wasn’t  lack of time, or boring writing, neither other usual excuses. I couldn’t read it, because it was extremely depressing. In nutshell it is about how information technology and higher and higher levels of automation will replace most of the jobs that are available, and the profound effect it would have on not just the economy but society, the human race and at the end  of the effect chain, the entire planet.
I was able to finish the book only much later when the causations and results he predicted in his book began to materialize right in front of our own eyes and the reality of it became even more depressing than the prediction was.
It has been a topic that I have been researching ever since, and today a FB friend of mine posted the following message:

"If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"

I said:

"I would start to think about why I so strongly believe that I need a job..."

I was wondering what your answer would be to the same question.

Also what is your answer to the question "Why do we need a job?"
 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't have a job, but I sometimes do work for money.  But working for money is expensive, so I don't recommend it very highly.  https://permies.com/t/54918/Working-money-expensive
 
Joel Bercardin
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I once heard Rifkin interviewed on the radio, and though I believe I've read articles by him I haven't read any of his books.  However, I had a hippie uncle who used to discuss other thinkers along this line with me.  There was a movement in western Canada 60 years ago or so called Social Credit - they formed a political party around this notion that automation would put people out of work and therefore that the average family should receive compensation from the regional or national economy that was downsizing its labor force.  That political party gradually forgot its origins, and became a pretty mainstream conservative party.  Among writers my hippie uncle liked, thinking along these lines, were Gary S. Snyder and Alan W. Watts.  A guy who actually experimented with intentional community because of the prospect of an unemployment future, was Lou Gotlieb.

Although I have been influenced by this thinking, and although when I first moved onto my homestead land I aspired to living without money employment, it did not work out for me.  It takes quite a while to get your place to provide even enough food per annum - even aside from other needs (clothing, transportation, tools, building materials, water systems, information & info technology, stuff for children, etc).  Yes of course, you can reduce needs for all these things, and yes you can provide much for yourself (by learning skills and by effort).  Yes, you can work out cooperative lending/borrowing relationships with friends.  But, after say five years or so, it is surprising for many homesteaders how pressed and limited a person or family can feel with no money or little money.

Off the home place, first I worked as a carpenter and assistant mason.  Then I worked for a vanilla bottling business.  Then back in the city for a year: part-time photographer, part-time retail sales.  And during most of those years I started writing for publication, and worked hard to develop the needed skills and understanding of the marketplace, and make connections out in the world.  Later I managed a regional business association (for a bunch of good, environmentally-aware businesses).  Generally, all of these jobs worked out better for my family's life on the land than did our attempts to sell produce (eggs, garlic, etc, etc).

Job is not a bad word to me.  But...

Having told my story in the tiniest nutshell, I still applaud anybody who's gotten their homestead or small organic farm to the place where they can support their household entirely through efforts on their land.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have escaped the Golden Handcuffs of a traditional job, but unlike the book that was cited, I see no reason why in the future I could not return to the work force as a machinist/welder (my former trade). Both trades are fully capable of being automated, but it still takes skilled workers to operate them. A running joke when running the robots was, "Hey why did it do that? Oh yeah, I told it too." I say that because as humans we inputed what they did, and it was very limited.

At the shipyard a 5 million dollar robot sat idle 90% of the time because it could not get into places that a human could. At the same time, while it was automated and faster, when it screwed up, it just meant more parts had to be cut apart and remade. On a ship you just don't throw 200 tons of steel because something went awry...you fix it. After spending millions on robots, the shipyard figured tat out.

My family is in the dairy farm business and robots are starting to go to work there, but again I do not see them taking over the roles of humans, they just do a better job of reading ear tags, administering milk to the calves at proper times and the mortality rate has dwindled to almost nothing, yet just as many humans are employed. Not because the farm is bigger, just because everything that robot does takes humans to monitor.

I learned a long time ago to never live your life based on fear, instead try to simply be content in the moment. This is not psychobabble, it is easy to get discouraged, and easier to let the world get you that way. Fear of robots started well back in the 1930's and today human interface is just as important as ever. In the dairy farm a radio is always playing because its been proven that it calms the cows down. If there ever comes a time when a dairy farm is fully-automated and no humans grace the farms' floors, I am certain the milk production would be pitiful.

 
Kaye Harris
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So, if all the jobs disappeared, we would become bizarre hunter-gatherers again, only with cell phones instead of smoke signals? The mental image this produces kind of weirds me out.

OR, the powerful few maintain the technologies, and the poor uneducated live in subservience to the "magic" of it all, and...become food? Like in the time machine?

Okay, that was a dark rabbit hole.

If most jobs were automated out of existence, I would...live off my land as best as I can, and go on hunting party raids to obtain supplies from my enemies. 'Cause we have ourselves a feud, don'tcha know.

In reality, I don't think people can stand it. People need a sense of purpose or we lose our minds. I do, anyway. I would prefer primitive living to that. Maybe there would be another Luddite uprising? War against A.I.?

Have you all seen those robot milkers they are using on dairy herds these days? Amazing, but now I'm looking at it in a new light.
 
Kaye Harris
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Ha! You beat me to it, Travis.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Eric, I would have to answer your question this way: The nature of the human mind is such that one needs a feeling of selfworth in order to feel complete. This can be seen in the current homeless situations all across the USA, once a person has been homeless for 5 years, there is not a lot of hope for them to get back to being a productive person in the current society. They tend to remain in their homeless state, because their feelings of selfworth have, for the most part, disappeared, they become comfortable in being homeless and so remain in that state.

Humans are currently of the mind set that they are defined by the work they do, take that away and you have the beginnings of social decline (a state that is already accelerating at a troubling rate).

If you look at society as we know it today, crime is rising, as are the types of crimes and those who commit them tend to feel like there is no other way for them to get "things" they want.
This is a very sorry state of affairs when it comes to the survival of society. Rome fell more because of what happened to the roman mind set,  their no work situation was the underlying factor that allowed the invasions which rather rapidly destroyed a civilization that had lasted 1,000 years.
Today's civilization has only been around for approximately 300 years and yet it is already primed to fall within the next 50 years.

It isn't a matter of no work as much as it is a matter of lazy thoughts and actions. Today many people are looking for that easy money, even more so than ever before, this allows for selfish behavior that used to never be tolerated to be more the main stream.
When the self esteem of a nation goes down, so the nation dissolves in chaos. The anarchy of the "dark ages" came about from the fall of Rome it lasted approximately 800 years, until the renaissance began in earnest.

Those who say that in the future will be no global work force might not have thought of where the food, clothes, and other items a civilization depends on will come from.  Farmers will always be needed both to raise crops and to raise animals especially since the reign of artificial materials is coming to an end as the oil goes away so does the nylon, rayon and all other man made fabrics, this civilization has become far to dependent upon the finite availability of oil. Just as they have become far to dependent upon all the electronic devices, let a major solar flair event come along that lasts for even three months and cell phones won't be working while that event is going on or perhaps some terror group will figure out how to use a nuclear device to disrupt the flow of wireless communication, either one will devastate everyone and every business. Oh, and the robots will stop working too.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think for most of the time humans have been on the planet they have not had jobs.  The modern concept of the "job" that you go to in order to earn money on which to live is extremely recent ( a few thousand years, maybe?).  Prior to that and still today in some places people live by living and their self-worth comes from their place in their community, not from how much money they earn at a job.  I personally find the idea of jobs repulsive - that you must spend X hours of the day working to make money for someone else so that you can get paid less than the value of your work.
 
Erik Ven
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Joel, thank you for sharing your story.  I have never heard of Social Credit, but now I will definitely research it.

It would be really useful if you, as someone who has been through it could elaborate on what you feel lead to the urge to return to the job market, and work for someone else?
It sounds like you equate living without employment with living without money. I am not suggesting that. Even if you can produce your very basic needs yourself (as in food, shelter and energy) there are many things that you still have to buy, therefore you need money to live a decent life. I don't think there is a way around that at this time.

I am more inclined to understand what a job is providing to you that you can not provide to yourself. The easiest answer is  money, but I feel it's not true. You can produce money without having a job, it is just unusual and requires some faith and persistence to discover learn and pursuit way that are outside of the well known path. If you feel that this is not so I would love to hear the reasons, I may not have considered all factors when I developed my opinion.

My theory is this: If you go to work in a job, and you produce 100 units of value (whatever way it would manifest) by using 2000 calories, if you  are lucky, you will get paid 10 units. If you are still lucky when you get your pay, those 10 units will provide you with the purchasing value of buying 2000 calories, so you can go to produce the 100 units next day, by using the 2000 calories, and make your employer 90 units richer every day, while you are at the level of surviving for the sake of being not dead and to the benefit of your employer. Of course this model is largely simplified for the sake of keeping the discussion simple, but this is the basic premise of a situation where you are working a job.

The alternative is when you work for yourself and all 100 units that you produce stays yours with a purchasing power of 20,000 calories, ten times more than what you have in the other scenario, not to mention that in that one, you can always be fired, or the purchasing power of your 10 units of pay can dwindle due to the "bad economy", etc.

Am I missing something?



 
Erik Ven
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Travis, I do not fear robots. If I fear anything it's greed. Which happens to be the main trait of those who are made rich and applauded by us, and as such happen to own the robots.

And while your example on the welding job may be true this week, artificial intelligence is already here. In a few years human interface will become obsolete even in the design, manufacturing, and programming and operationg robots.

I do not advocate fear. I am trying to research and innovate alternative solutions, that makes me independent of the greed and discretion of traditional employers.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Erik Ven wrote:T I am trying to research and innovate alternative solutions, that makes me independent of the greed and discretion of traditional employers.


I advocate self-employment, or working with other people.  Daniel Quinn writes about working as a group in his book Beyond Civilization.

 
Erik Ven
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Bryant, the situation and mindset where people's self worth is coming from having a job, I feel, is unnatural, and created by the top beneficiaries of the "having a job" system, and is being heavily indoctrinated from a very young age, by the educational system.

In my own example when I had a "job" I always felt easily replaceable by someone more obedient and less thinking, (a robot is perfect for that, lol), or someone who is willing to work for less thus producing more profit,  at the convenience of my employer. It hardly ever made me feel as very worthy. In fact it made me feel disposable, and worthless unless I am producing profit for someone else.

Since I work for myself and teach people of what I have learned in this field, seeing the child like joy of discovery and understanding that they have other options than slaving away, in their eyes, makes me feel I have earned my dinner, and there is a reason for me to take up space and resources on this finite planet.

In fact even you used the word "work", when referring to a source of self worth. Both of the examples above are work, but only one of them is a "job".

I don;t think I am unique that way. I think I just have an easier time to live with that, since I don't have to imagine it, and put it in contrast with "the good old ways", since by chance (?) I have fallen into a position where I know it, because I have experienced it.
 
Erik Ven
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Tyler, thank you for the book tip! I have just finished Ishmael and I can't wait to get my hands on more from Quinn
 
Tyler Ludens
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It's interesting that the book was called "The End of Work" and not "The End of Jobs."  There's tons of work to do, even if it "doesn't pay."  There's nearly endless amounts of land restoration work that needs to be done.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Erik Ven wrote:Tyler, thank you for the book tip! I have just finished Ishmael and I can't wait to get my hands on more from Quinn


I'm glad! 
 
Joel Bercardin
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Erik Ven wrote:Joel, thank you for sharing your story.  I have never heard of Social Credit, but now I will definitely research it.

It would be really useful if you, as someone who has been through it could elaborate on what you feel lead to the urge to return to the job market, and work for someone else?
It sounds like you equate living without employment with living without money. I am not suggesting that. Even if you can produce your very basic needs yourself (as in food, shelter and energy) there are many things that you still have to buy, therefore you need money to live a decent life. I don't think there is a way around that at this time.

I am more inclined to understand what a job is providing to you that you can not provide to yourself. The easiest answer is  money, but I feel it's not true. You can produce money without having a job.

I'd have been happy if working at home had been able to provide what my homestead project and my household needed.  It wasn't a self-image or personal-identity thing for me.  I got started with a certain amount of money, and I put my energy into developing my place along the original vision my partner and I had.  And we ran too low on money within a few years.  Almost all of my neighbors were in the same boat: we had land, we had (or were developing) skills, we had basic tools, we had physical and mental energy.  We just didn't have enough cash among us to just live by circulating it - everybody was producing eggs, veggies, meat, repairing their own trucks (as much as we could).  And many things I haven't mentioned.

I found I needed to work away from the neighborhood, someplace where people had different needs, and more finances to spend on my skills & personal energy.  I earned probably three times as much per hour than anything I could figure out to do at home.

Erik Ven wrote:"My theory is this: If you go to work in a job, and you produce 100 units of value (whatever way it would manifest) by using 2000 calories, if you  are lucky, you will get paid 10 units. If you are still lucky when you get your pay, those 10 units will provide you with the purchasing value of buying 2000 calories, so you can go to produce the 100 by using the 2000 calories and make your employer 90 units richer every day. Of course this model is largely simplified for the sake of keeping the discussion simple, but this is the basic premise of a situation where you are working a job.
  There's a lot that is interesting in the theory, and I suppose it's useful to some extent.  Problem is, as my friends used to say: "It's great... in theory."  And they'd laugh.

For every individual or household getting established on the land who can wholeheartedly buy into the theory and live by it, there are probably 19 who wouldn't be able to.  Maybe eventually the theory becomes accurate, but not for quite a few years.  Having children is one factor that changes equations.

Erik Ven wrote:The alternative is when you work for yourself and all 100 units that you produce stays yours with a purchasing power of 20,000 calories, ten times more than what you have in the other scenario, not to mention that in that one, you can always be fired, or the purchasing power of your 10 units of pay can dwindle due to the "bad economy", etc.

Am I missing something?
 
All you're missing is nuance.  It's not a black-or-white reality.

You write: "when you work for yourself and all 100 units that you produce stays yours with a purchasing power of 20,000 calories, ten times more than what you have in the other scenario."  Having run (between my partner and myself) several home-based businesses, I can tell you that there are other factors.  There's a joke:  "Be self-employed - and decide which 14 hours of the day you'll work."  But besides the time you'll put into any kind of self-employment, there are rather few kinds that don't involve costs (and those come out of your what you 'produce that stays yours'.

Eventually, I developed connections & skills to run a home-based biz that paid me more than working as a carpenter.  It took years to get to that place... but your mileage may vary, Erik.

If you've proven your theory in your own life (not just for a few months, but for say five years, eight years), then tell your story.  It might be much more interesting than my story!

Don't get me wrong - I'm not discouraged, I love my lifestyle, and in fact I would much rather encourage people.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm self-employed and I work about 2 hours a day for money.  I've had my own business for over 20 years and have gradually been able to work less and less.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm self-employed and I work about 2 hours a day for money.  I've had my own business for over 20 years and have gradually been able to work less and less.

I think that's great, Tyler.   Is there a thread here on Permies where you've told your story about your economic life?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks.  Only the one linked above about my experience with working for money being expensive.  My work for money is very un-permacultural, so I don't talk about it much.
 
John Saltveit
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I think this is a great thread.  It feels to me like that we are evolving from a place of working for money for someone else's purpose to working for our purpose to making the world a better place and having the utility come back to us. That's pretty much where I am: in the middle of the transition.  Permies is the perfect place to share strategies and ideas about how to move from having a job working for someone else to having some freedom to develop your own sense of working for the useful purpose that you see contributing to the benefit of everyone on the planet.  I switched jobs and now I''m able to grow more food, bike to work more and attend fewer boring meetings and crunch soulless numbers, but I'm not completely independent. 
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Regardless of whether the great factories and industries go the way of the robot, there will always be work to do, and there will always be things to do and make out of the waste of affluence, or gather from the wild/feral/or horticulturally produced.  Part of the great joy in living my dream is that no matter if I am working for someone else, or working for myself, on vacation, or just taking a day off, I am always in a mode of conservation, and frugality, and as such, my income becomes that much more valuable, and useful. 

I would suggest anybody with a sense of thrift, can still gain great value from Charles Long's book:  How to survive without a salary: Learning to live the conserver lifestyle.  Although I have a steady salary job at the moment, there is much from this book that is still pertinent to my lifestyle, and if you have a sense of thrift or a lack of steady money, then you will surely find many treasures in Long's insights and techniques.  I highly recommend ordering the book on interlibrary loan.  It's not only full of great ideas, but it is quite funny too.
 
r ranson
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"If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"


My primary source of income was automated back in the early 1780s.

My secondary source of income was automated back in the mid-1800s.

My tertiary source of income has been automated in the last 5 years.

I still do all of these things, by hand, without machines, and get paid for them.  I can't do them as fast as machines, and probably not as accurate. But I do make a better quality product and I get paid a lot more for it than the machine does.  There is demand for what I make and as more of the world becomes automated, this demand keeps going up. 


From my point of view, it's a funny sort of a question because I don't see how it's relevant.  Everything I do already has an automated replacement available.  A more interesting question to me is "why do people still want human-made products and services when automated alternatives are readily available?"
 
Tyler Ludens
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I was thinking about that this morning, Ranson, how "the machines will steal our jobs" has been around since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.  A book I reread periodically is Shirley by Charlotte Bronte, set in the early 1800s, which examines life in a small town where the spinners and weavers are being replaced by machines.

I make stuff by hand for a living that so far hasn't been automated, but the demand for it is going down due to other changes in the industry. 

Stuff I make for fun, my embroidery, sometimes sells even though there are excellent embroidery machines available.
 
Joel Bercardin
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R Ranson wrote:
"If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"


My primary source of income was automated back in the early 1780s.

My secondary source of income was automated back in the mid-1800s.

My tertiary source of income has been automated in the last 5 years.

I still do all of these things, by hand, without machines, and get paid for them.

I don't want to divert the main discussion much, but if you don't mind - what are your primary, secondary, and tertiary income sources?
 
r ranson
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Joel Bercardin wrote:
R Ranson wrote:
"If your job/skill would be automated out of existence what would you do instead?"


My primary source of income was automated back in the early 1780s.

My secondary source of income was automated back in the mid-1800s.

My tertiary source of income has been automated in the last 5 years.

I still do all of these things, by hand, without machines, and get paid for them.

I don't want to divert the main discussion much, but if you don't mind - what are your primary, secondary, and tertiary income sources?


Textile production, food production, warehouse work.  The first two, I'm self-employed, the latter is for someone else on a casual, as needed, part-time kind of thing.  The specific tasks I do can all be done by machine and in the case of spinning yarn, has been for over 200 years. 

I live a frugal lifestyle, so I don't need as much income as most people.  There is enough demand that I could work every hour of the day, if I wanted. 
The thing is, I like my wage work best.  Working for someone else gives me a huge amount of freedom.  I don't have to do tasks I don't enjoy and can walk away from it at any time.  Because I enjoy the work, I do it well which keeps the boss coming back to me when there's work to do.  Self-employed activities require me to do all sorts of things and pile me up with obligations that I cannot walk away from.  If I take money for a contract, I have to finish it in a timely manner, no matter what else comes up in my life.  If I get pneumonia, like I did last year, I could call in sick to work and other people can do the job.  But I couldn't forgo my self-employed obligations. 

 
Tyler Ludens
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I was more insecure when I was an employee, because in my industry a job could last a week, maybe.  They usually lasted a few weeks to a few months and then one was "let go."  It's difficult for me to imagine a job that lasts for years, that one would have a steady income for years.  Yet many people who have a steady income for years are in debt. 

I don't know that everyone is suited for self-employment.  I don't think I'm a very good business person, I've never been very successful at making gobs of money.  The money was never the most important part of it for me, the work was.  My husband has always been the one dealing with clients, because I'm no good at the people thing, especially the phone thing...

 
Joel Bercardin
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R Ranson wrote:Textile production, food production, warehouse work.  The first two, I'm self-employed, the latter is for someone else on a casual, as needed, part-time kind of thing.  The specific tasks I do can all be done by machine and in the case of spinning yarn, has been for over 200 years. 

I live a frugal lifestyle, so I don't need as much income as most people.  There is enough demand that I could work every hour of the day, if I wanted. 
The thing is, I like my wage work best.

Thanks.  I read your whole reply, and I understand your reasons for generally preferring your wage work.

Hope you don't mind me asking a bit more: how do your in-home money earners compare ($-wise, per hour) with the warehouse work?
 
Erik Ven
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Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this discussion.
really insightful and some thought provoking comments.

I would like to keep this going so I would like to point out something.

There is a distinct difference (at least for the purposes of this thread) between a job and work.

if you are doing something with your own hands you are a craftsman and if there is demand for the product you are making and especially the version that wears the marks of your personal touch, you will not be automated out of the market. However chances are that in this case you are working for yourself, because this type of production not profitable enough the carry large overhead costs, and therefore although you have work and money, you don't have a job. I am sure we can find exceptions from this statement but by large it would stand. So if this is true to you you have work, and work security, but you don't have a job, because you don't need one.

Discussing that situation and maybe exploring, sharing ideas how to accomplish that was my original goal with this thread.

It is surely not a good idea to just quit your job cold turkey and wait to see what comes along while your family suffers the consequences of lack of income.

However even if you have a well paying job and you feel that it can not be automated out from under you, it is a good idea to be ready for that situation and maybe explore what are the alternatives. Maybe even start doing something on the side. If you say that you don't have time for that, because your current job is so busy and secure and demanding, in my opinion that is the most certain sign that you should look into other options.

Kinda like how they say that you should meditate at least two hours a day, and if you don't have that much time than you should meditate four hours...
 
Travis Johnson
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Jacob, I can honestly say I debunked this, but I say that as encouragement...

As Thelka McDaniels says, I escaped the golden handcuffs of a well paying shipbuilding career. It was the 4th highest paying job in the state. But while we were encouraged NOT to work, I HATED IT. I am a worker by nature and am not into collecting paychecks just by showing up somewhere and spending 8 hours there. NO I am not doing that.

At age 42 I have 4 children to support (ages 3, 9,10, and 11) and a wife who is a stay at home Mom. We do it...it is not always easy, but we do it. The hardest part was giving up the security of that weekly paycheck. Once I got over that hurdle, its not been bad. In fact it has been liberating. My shipbuilding coworkers, they are convinced that they got a ticket to the easy life, but that is only as long as the government writes checks for new US Navy Destroyers and that the Union is able to obtain favorable contracts every 4 years, and that the career does not crush their bodies physically, and, and, and...so really they have no security at all, they just think they do. A litany of things could happen to me as well, so really nothing has changed but the amount of time I spend with my family instead of traveling to and from, or at a shipyard.

Like R. Ranson says, being self-employed as a full time farmer has its faults, but it has its great points too. On average I probably work two days a week actually making income, and while hardly lazy the rest of the week, it is hard to directly quantify that with income. For instance yesterday I had a hearing I went to regarding an appeal I lodged against the USDA. It was an all day event, did not directly net me money, but was farm based and important to the overall interest of the farm. And today, my wife wanted to buy a new calf, so most of the morning was tied up in accomplishing that. No direct income today granted, but as with most things in farming, what you do today, pays off 7 fold tomorrow. The lamb born today equates to 12 lambs produced in that one lambs lifetime. Lime applied to the farm today sweetens the soil for up to 7 years, and that 50 pounds of corn seed equates to 48 tons of feed at the end of the growing season.

R Ranson has made an excellent point on whether workers can be automated out of existence, the real question is where is ones faith placed? In their traditional job and all that sustains it? Or the ability of ones farming practices to sustain a certain lifestyle?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Erik Ven wrote:Maybe even start doing something on the side.


From my own point of view and experience I would say this is absolutely necessary unless you've managed to save a tremendous amount of money.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Erik Ven wrote:I would like to keep this going so I would like to point out something.

if you are doing something with your own hands you are a craftsman and if there is demand for the product you are making and especially the version that wears the marks of your personal touch, you will not be automated out of the market. However chances are that in this case you are working for yourself.

Discussing that situation and maybe exploring, sharing ideas how to accomplish that was my original goal with this thread.

Okay, though I definitely understand that many Permies.com members are involved with urban or suburban permaculture in their yards, my situation is rural.  So what I’ll say relates to this circumstance.  My idea of a strategy is to pay for the land, pay your household’s unavoidable expenses, try to avoid abject poverty, and work toward comfort - but I don’t mean comfort of sitting around all the time ‘doing as little as possible’.  That’s already been hashed-over pretty well by earlier posts in this thread.

I’d say do your damnedest to secure the land, and I think usually (maybe not always) it’s best to buy rather than rent or lease land.  This may unfortunately involve borrowing $ and a mortgage.

Acquire the basic household stuff, a reliable & suitable vehicle, basic gardening & DIY tools needed, and supply your kids (if any) with learning materials or necessary school stuff.  Figure out your best options for acquiring second-hand clothing & other goods, free or near-free building materials, etc.  Identify the skills you need to acquire, and never stop learning.  (For me, besides food production, these have included carpentry, water-system building & maintenance, plumbing, small-engine work, woodworking, welding & basic metal work, basic cooking.)

If you can find a way through your early efforts on the land to earn sufficient income, that’s very cool.  But when, at points, you can’t see your way around it, take wage or off-home contract work.  I believe it’s good if you have some sort of résumé.

In our case, my partner and I both had skills but there seemingly wasn’t a sufficient opportunity on our homestead or in our neighborhood to earn enough money per hour doing what we could do, to keep up well with our $$ needs.  First I started getting sporadic construction jobs, and other short-term jobs.  Then my wife took a part-time administrative job.  We were still barely keeping heads above water financially.  Finally we lucked into a couple of very well paying salaried positions and stayed with them for about eight years.

This enabled us to invest in equipment we needed to better utilize our skills for a return to home-based money-earning.  It also enabled us to put away fairly substantial savings, since our ‘scraping’ years had taught us how to be resourceful & frugal.

I think it’s advantageous not to fear change, and not to define oneself much in terms of a job role.  But, on the basis of your previous work life (résumé) you’ll be ‘defined’ (classified & ranked) by people to whom you may apply for a job.  It’s just the way it is.

What’s needed, I suppose, is optimism, confidence & flexibility.
 
E Hambleton
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Hello,

Cool thread!

My answer to the first question is similar to what most peoples answer probably would be. Q. "What would you do if your job became automated?" A. Simply find a new one.

To answer the op's question "why do we need a job?" My feeling on this is that we need jobs because we start the race of life behind the eight ball so to speak. You want an education? You'll need a student loan. Want a car to get to that job? You'll need a loan for that car. Want somewhere to live? You'll need a mortgage etc. etc. Debt is the reason you need a job IMO. Plain and simple!

 
William Bronson
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I have been a union electrician,Fed Ex fork lift driver,Roto-Rooter plumber,and a Cincinnati Bell technician. Competition is what drove me from each of these fields. Competition from other humans.
Other humans doing those jobs for less,or doing them faster ,or both.
The jobs I have had that could be done by a machine are many , all of them were low wage,and most of them were explicitly temporary.
I was cheaper than a purchasing a purpose built  machine.
Cheap,adaptable,and disposable. A spork if you will.

Nowadays I am a "contractor". A construction worker who pays his own taxes.
I am well treated and my skills are respected,but I can be dispensed with at anytime. More expensive,more adaptable, still a consumable commodity. A Swiss army knife if you will.

I pursue permaculture ideals in order to become self sufficient. I hope to pass these ideals onto my children,so they can be self sufficient.
Without these ideals ,whatever I can leave behind will be squandered and they will remain as indentured as I have been.

Work or job,whatever. Without something creating a surplus one will be hard pressed to gain ownership of  a means of production. Work depends on a means of production. This is why skilled people often depend on others for jobs.
Makes me wonder, perhaps that $40,000 tuition would be better spent on buying surplus producing property,rather than an education
Owning a means of producing a surplus is a means  to maximum self sufficiency.
Minimizing ones needs and wants is another.

I work on my food forest. Building a custom condo is my job. One builds soil, the other pays money.
Right now I need both.





 
Tyler Ludens
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E Hambleton wrote:

Want somewhere to live? You'll need a mortgage etc. etc. Debt is the reason you need a job IMO. Plain and simple!



I think some of these things might occur without debt.  People often post offering somewhere to live.  There are multiple threads about people offering land and even housing to people for free.

 
Travis Johnson
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Very well said Joel.

An interesting thing to expand on is the land aspect of things, and I agree with you on staying within your own boundaries.

As many of you know, for whatever reason, I somehow seem to be drifting towards land clearing for other people in a contracting way. A neighbor right now wants me to bulldoze a clearcut he has. It is only 18 acres, but says if I do that, I can have the field for winter fodder. That is all well and good, but land owners are fickle, with open land being grabbed by area farmers, the Amish population moving in, and dairy farmers growing, as soon as I open it up and turn it into a field, everyone will want to farm it.

But the other aspect of this is, I already have land of my own that is not fully functional, that is it does not make great forest and is not in open land, so to me it would be best to ensure my land is fully up to speed before investing in a neighbors who might decide one day someone else should farm it. There are laws against that, but lets be honest, they are never enforced.

It is kind of sad, but unless I take the initiative and open it up, it will stay a nasty old clearcut and be of little use to anyone. I like being neighborly, but jeesh, even at 18 acres, that is a poke of fuel and labors hours to complete, not to mention potential breakdowns.
 
E Hambleton
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I think some of these things might occur without debt.  People often post offering somewhere to live.  There are multiple threads about people offering land and even housing to people for free.



Thanks for the quick reply! Funny enough, I know and agree to a certain extent. I even deleted a paragraph where I outed myself as a student loan paid-off cash car driving guy. I totally get it and my old truck would prove it to ya

I guess I was speaking to the closest form of ownership that we'd have on a home. I know the old adage about "stop paying your taxes and you'll see who really owns your home". I guess now that I say it out loud it could maybe just be a personal belief of mine that (eventual) debt free land or home ownership is important. Just for the same reason that Travis Johnson mentioned above about being hesitant to invest time and labour into a neighbouring property. What happens when those guys don't wanna let me live there anymore?

So, I guess my answer to the op's question is: So I can one day own land.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yep, the trust thing is a huge deal.  I haven't solved that issue myself.
 
John Saltveit
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Building skills is part of the equation.

When I was young, I had very cheap cars because that was all I could afford.  I learned to work on them because I didn't have enough money to pay to get them fixed.  Now that I have worked on them some, I know how to do some work on cars, so I get a better deal when they work on my car, and I can still afford to buy old cheap cars because I know how to do stuff.

Owning land is great, but what really saves you money is doing something with it.  I have saved thousands of dollars with my food forest, but I had to build those skills over time.  It should continue to save me thousands for the rest of my life.

Having owned houses, I learned gradually how to work on them and save money that way.

Riding bikes for 45 years has helped me learn to fix them and what routes work best for safety and fun. No insurance, repairs, gas, etc. and cheaper health care from being healthy.

Learning to canoe, kayak, hang glide, skateboard, play baseball, gather mushrooms, crab, clam, skimboard etc. let's you do fun, exciting, interesting forms of entertainment for your exercise for free instead of paying a lot.  Again, building skills helps save you lots of money.
JohN S
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Roberto pokachinni
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There is so much in this thread that I can relate to, and so I find it somewhat ironic that I also work for a 4 billion dollar a year corporation.  During my hiring orientation 2.5 years ago, they raved about themselves and how secure our jobs were, and how great their retirement situation was, and they encouraged workers to purchase company shares.  Thing is, I think their idea of job security is very different then mine... I don't think they really know what security is at all... and besides that, I'm in this for the short term.  I don't give a sh#t about their retirement plans.  I didn't feel loyal enough to the company to want to be a part of it's ownership for the first two years; I'd rather slam all that extra money in my mortgage; now I have purchased some shares, but they will be cashed out for a tractor

The very fact that I am a part of this company is contradictory to so many of my ethics and my way of looking at the world, and yet it fell in my lap right when I needed it to, shortly after I lost my job and still needed to pay my mortgage and get my infrastructure on the land.  Life is full of contradictions and compromise; I have had a very interesting and free young adulthood, and so I'm sucking it up in my mid life for a short time to "get 'er dun", so to speak; perhaps it is wrong (God shall judge, I can merely discern a bit here and there)... or perhaps not.  That might not seem very idealistic to some, and to many of my friends it is downright shocking and counter to who they thought I was, but... I have never been attached to being anybody in particular, particularly if that was someone else's idea of who I should be.  I do have ideals and ethics, and it has been difficult on my spirit to do this, but I didn't feel other options opening the way this was for me at the time that it came up.  besides all that, whatever I do, I take pride in my work, and in being a good employee and coworker.  I challenge my coworkers and even my supervisors by calling them on their bullshit, and speaking my truth.  I still have my ethics and occasionally speak freely about my view of the world... not all the time, but in measured doses.  I know that I make a difference in people's lives as they ask me questions about my life outside of work.  I create meaning where I am, and by who I am. 

There are many things in relation to Travis' Shipbuilding post above that I can relate to... where workers have convinced themselves that they are living the good life, and yet they put themselves at great risk.  For me, most of what they consider the good life, is... rather shallow, and from what I see of their lives... they are mostly not happy.  And like I alluded to earlier in this post, the security... it is a real as money created in debt and for debt.  It has it's uses for the time being, but it is a fiction.  Like a good novel, it will have it's time, and then be put on the shelf, or left at the free shed for someone else to choose.

For me, this job is a means to and end.  My property, and the time I spend on it, my community (forest, garden, wild mountain creeks, my hamlet, the local villages, my farmers market, my friends and parents... and even my interactions with my coworkers etc) are the really worth in my life.  I find an odd nugget here and there at my job at work, but it is my time connecting with the world in synergy and reciprocity that real value and true wealth is earned. 

Money?...  Money is a fabrication, meant for exchange.  Work? Work is the act of expending energy.  Wage Slavery?  That is something for anybody to discern from any of the work they do; Are you a slave to your work? -This can happen if you are self employed, getting paid or not,  working like a dog in a factory for pennies, or the head of several transnational corporations.  Do you want to be where you are?  Has it brought you, or will it bring you happiness, contentment and security... ....really?  Think about it deeply.   Is your job serving the higher purpose in your life?  This last question can be taken as a spiritual question, or it can be pragmatic and practical.  These are challenging questions, and I can't say that I have found the balance... but I can say that I am heading more and more towards finding that balance.

People want jobs because doing things... getting work done, has value, and people enjoy being rewarded in any way for the work that they do; sometimes this happens because others recognize this value and are willing to reward it with praise or with items in trade, or with money. 

The taste, and nourishment of the carrot (that you've grown in soil you built), the carrot on the stick (that is your goal in front of you, which drives you to do the job), the carrot in the cellar (security) are some of the rewards. 

Some people do not want 'jobs' that are demeaning, that serve no purpose for their lives, that give them no sense of worth.  This would be sensible, some would say common sense.   Other's would not agree.  Some people accept these jobs, and some of these people feel that these jobs are all there is in the world, and some of these people have no real sense of self worth, let alone an idea that they have choices.

Automation is something that happens because some people want products cheaper than common labor can produce.  I have friend's who hand craft gold and silver rings. Gold and Silver rings can be popped off identically in factories by the hundreds for the cost of making one by hand, but no factory can hand make a ring, can make something that is asymmetrical and imperfect and still beautiful.  Robots can't do that.  We might be able to get robots to build a hugulkultur, or work in a food forest, but the value that we place on interacting with the landscape and plants, or in the case of my friends: building a one of a kind wedding ring, is what makes it worth so much more.  Some people will place value on this.  These are the ones who we market our talents, skills, work, jobs, to.

Sorry this post is sort of all over the place and rather long.  Complicated, just like life.  I hope it has value for someone.     
 
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