Friday, September 4, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

I think this has a bit for everyone: history, art, and music.

Ukrainian Sand Animation.

A pleasant Labor Day weekend for all!

An UpDate for More Art and History.


  1. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but Harold Meyerson has a thoughtful column today, "Unhappy Labor Day" (excerpt):

    "Gather all these mournful numbers -- the millions of Americans unable to find work, the 70 percent of workers under 35 who are unable to set aside any money, the nearly two out of three Americans approaching retirement age who fear they won't be able to retire, and the sub-nation of low-wage Americans routinely cheated on the job -- and what emerges is a picture of a country in decline."

    "The first nation in human history to create a middle-class majority looks increasingly to be losing it. The economic security that was common, though by no means universal, in this country when the institutions created by the New Deal were strong, often provided by unionized corporations that felt compelled to offer insurance and pensions to their workers, is as dead as the dodo."

  2. The biggest reason for the decline is two simple facts:
    1. As mechanization increases the need for people decreases. Buying a machine once and plugging it in is tremendously cheaper than paying a weekly salary. This benefits the business and the consumer alike with cheaper prices but hurts the worker (who is also a consumer).

    2. The population is increasing. This means that more and more people are people are competing for fewer and fewer jobs which means that the company can offer fewer benefits and lower pay.

    In theory this should cause a certain percentage of the population to abandon their old jobs and create new technologies and businesses but process is not working well because of the natural fear of heading off into the unknown and the huge advantages that established companies enjoy these days.

    Short version: As Lisa notes, the system is broken

  3. Pluto: Or it may be that:

    1. Creating new technologies in our technic civilization requires a HUGE backload of intelligence, education and creativity. Many of the people being displaced are being displaced from jobs that require little or none of those.

    2. Our population growth and our population "needs" are way out of whack, and we are doing nothing about it. For example: why do I get a tax exemption for every kid? Why is it in the U.S. government's interest for me to be pupping out little Americans once I get past replacements for my wife and I? Whose gonna find jobs for these kids? How will our natural resource base support them?

    We're caught on the horns of a dilemma; in a technic society you don't NEED those extra kids, and every one is an additional drain on the resources needed to sustain the existing population. But...if you cut your society back to "replacement levels" you risk reducing your expendable manpower pool below the point where you can field enough troops to defend yourself. You can try and conceal this by relying on technologic warfare and disbanding the levee en masse in favor of a small volunteer force, but you remain at the mercy of anyone with, say, a technologic level 60-80% of your own whi is willing to overwhelm you with numbers.

    So you keep producing "surplus" people who have no real chance of becoming productive members of the society; pretty soon you have a dangerously idle mass of capti censi subsisting on vulgar entertainment and the corn dole.

    The system is not just broken - it is devouring itself, and will get worse if not altered.

  4. Chief,

    Your first point is true but not the entire story. Not only do start-ups face the daunting challenges you mention but the larger companies tend to legislate things to support the status quo which frequently moves the challenge from daunting to impossible.

    Your second point is not quite as valid. There are basically two types of warfare:
    1. Civilized - The goal here is to capture or protect something (this includes the hearts and minds of people). There are rational reasons for limiting the destruction and this is a very manpower intensive endeavor and you point is valid. But this type of warfare isn't practiced much lately.

    2. Tribal - The goal here is to smash your opponent. Collateral damage is mostly meaningless because your goal is simply keep your opponent's head down. So much the better if you do this by forcing your opponent to rebuild their house just before winter or they don't have quite enough food to make it through the winter. It is best practiced, if possible, upon opponents who can't reach you. Numbers aren't nearly as important, single man can do almost incalculable damage with a single suicide bomber or a missile launched by a Predator drone.