6/20/12 questions and discussion
1-what is love?4
2-has voting become useless?5/3
3-what should each of us go without in order to help the world's economy?4
4-should we sue Congress for "contempt of public"?3
what happened to all that free time? Are we creating scarcity?5/5
Art: women are working when they weren't (before 1940). That, and technology, has affected our civilization. We're talking too much about money. Recently a friend and I got something done -- and done well -- by purposely not thinking about money. Time saving devices leave ironically us still feeling scarcity. We don't feel abundance. What's more valuable: inventing something or taking care of your grandma? Values have gone down. Doubling the work force with efficient tools hasn't led to greater leisure.
Tor: it's true most of us were farmers. When it shrank to 5% it shifted to manufacturing which is now only 11% of us. Then we discovered that all manufacturing results have eventually become less valuable (originally a laptop computer cost $20,000, nowadays . . . ). No matter what we do in manufacturing this occurs. Then comes human capital/knowledge. Indian hospitals have found ways to provide quality health care much cheaper, so it's happening as well in the service industry. Time, space, and human companionship are the most important. The gods had too much free time. Look at all the trouble they got into.
Art: human beings are behaving like gods now.
Siva: time is money and all our money has been stolen by private institutions using our government and its taxation. Technology is great, cheaper stuff is good. The scarcity is artificial. There is a real scarcity but it's been exacerbated by government and industry.
Lucy: when people say "government" is there any part that does good?
Siva: governments are not autonomous, they are extensions of the private sector. When the interests of private industry align with those of the people it does good (Google for ex) but we also have situations of corporations combining forces to push government in net negative directions. Profit motive is what drives this. Google doesn't own the internet and makes money off of ads and benefits by its neutrality. This is why they oppose efforts to control it governmentally. This aligns with public sentiment. Most of us don't understand the profit motive. In order to change the system we have to get the corporations to change.
Jeremy: alot of it is fixing a problem that doesn't exist. VHS works but NO! I must have a DVD player! Grass is greener. Is there an infinite potential for improving the service relationship, in order to do it forever?
Erik: quoting Dylan: "you're gonna have to serve somebody."
Lucy: value is in the eye of the beholder. Women working outside homes = increased workforce. Where does the free time come from?
Art: with more people working why isn't there more free time?
Lucy: technology is what enabled us to move from agriculture to industry. Scarcity is self-imposed as well. I now have no TV. I have a computer. But I want a TV!
Siva: I imagine Apple lobbying heavily against letting people using their products as they wished.
Jon: Steve Jobs did say in an interview when asked why he didn't use focus groups that it is his job to know what consumers want, not the consumer's job. I suspect it's in human nature to stay busy. We have invented technology not in order to relax but instead in order to get more and more done. The author Jonathan Haidt, an evolutionary psychologist, claims we survive to this day in large part because we came to value success/survival over happiness. I agree.
Tor: we all have 24 hours a day!
Lucy: procrastinators have impulsiveness, boredom. I would love to be that efficient.
Mike: fascinating discussion. If one has wealth and means one has leisure. For most of us it's about not having the "wolf at the door." Eureka I've made it! I think technology has indeed granted leisure. It's tragic that Americans can live a life with out leisure.
eric: farmers were multi-taskers. They probably did enjoy some leisure. my job this summer gives me too much leisure!
Jon: my grandfather saw himself as forward thinking because he was eager to allow farm machinery manufacturers to test and demonstrate their latest inventions on his fields. He worked 160 acres, raising 6 kids. Now his youngest son works 6-800 acres alone! Ramond Kurzweil predicts a coming "singularity" wherein the distinction between technology and biology will be gone.
Art: grandma care is not productive! Or so we seem to think as we warehouse our elderly into nursing homes in order to be "productive" at work and in the economy.
Tor: I have a friend who enjoys high stakes gambling friend. He's a mortgage underwriter, makes a lot of money that way. He's got leisure but doesn't seem very happy. My field is productivity and productivity can't be defined without a goal. Americans have goals, sure, but Mexicans place family at the top and are happier than we are. Bhutan has the highest happiness, and puts it atop their national to do list. They have an annual governmental effort to estimate "gross national happiness."
Lucy: my dad was retired once and was bored out of his mind. So he un-retired and worked as a consultant. Now he's retired again and feels better. He always worked and didn't know what to do with his time. When I was unemployed I often felt bored. leisure time doesn't feel like leisure.
Siva: American's goals are superficial: buy a big house. Goals should be not superficial. Means for achieving real goals are the best priority. Get rich quick schemes are about not understanding calculated risk.
Tor: all Americans are driven to do a "job well done." I suspect this is true for people everywhere. Idleness is the most difficult thing.
Jon: we do seem to prefer superficial productivity over happiness.