The Overview - September 07, 2021

The Overview is a weekly roundup of eclectic content in-between essay newsletters & 'Conversations' podcast episodes to scratch your brain's curiosity itch.

Hello Eclectic Spacewalkers,

I wish that you and your family are safe and healthy wherever you are in the world. :)

Check out the previous The Overview - August 23, 2021: HERE

Read our latest essay - Technopoly: HERE

Watch/listen to our ‘Conversation with Carey Baraka’: HERE

Get our E-Book for free by using ‘substack’: HERE

Below are some eclectic links for the week of September 06, 2021.

Enjoy, share, and subscribe!


Table of Contents

Theme & Topics: Labor Day, Labor History, Work, and Worker’s Rights

  • Articles/Essays - Nobody Wants to Be a Serf Anymore via @mcsweeneys; How ‘Automation’ Made America Work Harder via @thepublicsquare (H/T: @STS_news); Money, Guilt, Shame & What Matters via @p_millerd; What If People Don’t Want 'A Career?' via @CWarzel; Late-Stage Fairytales via @_mattking in @_reallifemag; The Motherboard Guide to the Gig Economy via @bigblackjacobin in @motherboard; Men at Work via @dbaten3 in @Athwart_Mag; Time to Death via ​​@zel_eve in @Logic_magazine; The Heat Wave Shows Climate Change Is a Workers' Rights Issue via @mindyisser in @InTheseTimesMag; Acquisition-conversion: the promising new strategy for scaling worker ownership via @shareable

  • Books - Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by @davidgraeber (RIP); 7 books that dive into the long history of America’s labor movement via @cglennvino in @NewsHour; Deep Work - Cal Newport; The Mathematical Corporation: Where Human Ingenuity and Thinking Machines Design the Future; 5 Books to Read on Labor Day via @KatishaSmith82 in @bookriot; The Pathless Path: An exploration of freedom, creativity & uncertainty in life off the default path via @p_millerd

  • Documentaries/Films - #FutureofWorkPBS | Episode 1 | The New Industrial Revolution | @PBS; 6 labor documentaries that will blow you away via @freelancersu; The Labor Film Database; 24 Labor Day Movies That Celebrate the Spirit of the Whole Thing; The 10 best Labor Day movies for folks who can't watch "9-to-5" one more time

  • Lectures - 15. Input Markets I—Labor Market via @MITOCW; 16. Input Markets II—Labor and Capital via @MITOCW; Economic Systems & the Labor Market: Crash Course Sociology #29 - @TheCrashCourse; The Real News Network - We are living in the hell Ronald Reagan made

  • Paper - Labor Unions and White Racial Politics (H/T: @notstevenwhite)

  • Podcasts - How Algorithms Are Transforming Work w/ @CallumCant1 via @parismarx for @techwontsaveus; The Work Week, Episode 1: The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor via @theindicator; Jobs Suck, But Not Because of Automation w/ @abenanav via @parismarx for @techwontsaveus; Labor History Today via @GeorgetownKILWP; Labor Vision

  • TED Talks - The way we think about work is broken | Barry Schwartz; What makes us feel good about our work? | @danariely; How Too Many Rules at Work Keep You from Getting Things Done | Yves Morieux

  • Twittersphere - an awful Labor Day. shame; What makes for a dream job? A thread based on the most popular article I've ever written; Resources on a just climate future; Thread on Union Organizing; 11 million people lost unemployment benefits on Labor Day; “Happy Labor Day to the incarcerated of California”

  • Video (Short) - What makes for a dream job? (part 1) via @80000hours

  • Websites - The Labor Day Graph That Says It All; Who is the world’s biggest employer? The answer might not be what you expect; Braintrust Launches BTRST Token to Decentralize Ownership, Control, and Governance on the Braintrust Network.

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Articles/Essays

Nobody Wants to Be a Serf Anymore via @mcsweeneys

“My good lords, I must bring to your attention a grave issue that requires our utmost concern. You see, my fellow land-owning gentry, it seems that the invention of mechanized industry, the rise of “capitalism,” and the impact of the recent plague have brought upon us a wave of moral degradation and irredeemable sloth — specifically, nobody wants to be a serf anymore.

This newfound modicum of control the peasant class has over their lives has brought us to a dark new reality in which the serfs have become so lazy that they’ll no longer toil without pay on land they do not own yet can never leave, and instead leach upon the system by searching out more equitable work.

Surely you are already aghast, but I fear the problem does not stop there, my good, rich, sirs. Be sure to be seated upon your golden chairs for this next bit of news. Not only do our current serfs refuse to labor, but the serfs we ejected from our fiefdoms when we feared the plague would harm our profits now don’t want to come back and replace the workers we kept who then subsequently died of the plague. Did they not know that we banished them with the expectation they’d come crawling back at our earliest convenience? What has the world come to when the whims of noblemen no longer control the lives of the masses?

And it’s not just the serfs who have left; now that we have fewer laborers, we’ve required our remaining peasants to work longer hours without recompense. But the villains refuse! They demand something called “overtime.” Apparently, they now think their time belongs to them, and if we use too much of it, we should pay them for it! There’s no way to describe this phenomenon other than plain moral rot. How else would you? “Social progress”? Don’t make me guffaw.”

How ‘Automation’ Made America Work Harder via @thepublicsquare (H/T: @STS_news)

Computers Were Supposed to Reduce Office Labor. They Accomplished the Opposite

“There is no better example of the threat and promise of “automation” than the introduction of the beloved electronic digital computer. The first programmable electronic digital computers were invented during the Second World War to break Nazi codes and perform the enormous calculations necessary for the construction of an atomic bomb. Well into the early 1950s, computers remained for the most part associated with high-level research and cutting-edge engineering. So, at first, it was by no means obvious how a company might use an electronic digital computer to make money. There seemed little computers could offer businessmen, who were more interested in padding profits than decrypting enemy ciphers.

It was left to management theorists, hoping to build up and profit from the budding computer industry, to create a market where none yet existed. First among them was John Diebold, whose 1952 book Automation not only made “automation” a household term, but also introduced the notion that the electronic digital computer could “handle” information—a task that until then had been the province of human clerical workers. “Our clerical procedures,” wrote Diebold, “have been designed largely in terms of human limitations.” The computer, he told a new generation of office employers, would allow the office to escape those human limits by processing paperwork faster and more reliably.

Office employers of the early 1950s found this message attractive—but not because of the allure of raw calculating power, or utopian fantasies of machines that automatically wrote finished briefs. They were worried about unionization. With the end of the Second World War and the rise of U.S. global power, American companies had hired an unprecedented number of low wage clerical workers to staff offices, the vast majority of them women (who employers could pay less because of sexist norms in the workplace). Between 1947 and 1956 clerical employment grew by 50 percent, from 4.5 to 9 million people. By 1954, one out of every four wage-earning women in the United States was a clerical worker.

The boom in low-wage clerical labor in the office suite shook employers. Not only were payrolls growing, but offices increasingly appeared ever more proletarian, more factory floor than management’s redoubt. Businesses consultants wrote reports with titles such as “White-Collar Restiveness—A Growing Challenge,” and office managers started to worry. They installed computers in the hopes they might reduce the number of clerical workers necessary to run a modern office—or, as they put it, they bought computers in the hopes they could “automate” office labor.

Unfortunately for them, the electronic digital computer did not reduce the number of clerical workers it took to keep an office afloat. In fact, the number of clerical workers employed in the United States continued to swell until the 1980s, along with the amount of paperwork. In the late 1950s, one manager complained that with computers in the office, “the magnitude of paperwork now is breaking all records” and that there were “just as many clerks and just as many key-punch operators as before.” While computers could process information quickly, data entry remained the task of the human hand, with clerical workers using keypunch machines to translate information onto machine-readable cards or tape that could then be “batch” processed.

Unable to remove human labor from office work, managers pivoted back to something they had done since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution: they used machines to degrade jobs so that they could save money by squeezing workers. Taking a page from the turn-of-the-20th-century playbook around “scientific management”—where manufacturing employers prescribed and timed every movement of the worker at their machine down to the fraction of a second— employers renamed the practice “automation”; and again, instead of saving human labor, the electronic digital computer sped up and intensified it. “Everything is speed in the work now,” one clerical worker in the insurance industry complained. Mary Roberge, who worked for a large Massachusetts insurance company in the 1950s, described a typical experience. In her office, there were 20 female clerical workers for every male manager. The clerical staff “stamped, punched, and endlessly filed and refiled IBM cards.” Bathroom breaks were strictly limited, and there were no coffee breaks. American employers gradually phased out skilled, well-paid secretarial jobs. Three out of every five people who worked with computers in the 1950s and 1960s were poorly remunerated clerical workers. Roberge made $47.50 a week, which, adjusting for inflation, would be less than $22,000 a year today. “That was extremely low pay,” she later reflected, “even in 1959.”

And yet in public, employers and computer manufacturers claimed that no one was performing this work, that the computer did it all on its own—that office work was becoming ever more “automated.” As one IBM promotional film put it: “IBM machines can do the work, so that people have time to think…Machines should work, people should think.” It sounded nice, but it simply wasn’t the case. “Automation” in the American office meant that more people were being forced to work like machines. Sometimes this allowed employers to hire fewer workers, as in the automobile, coal mining, and meatpacking industries where one employee now did the work of two. And sometimes it actually required hiring more people, as in office work.

This remains the story of “automation” today.

Take Slack, an online “collaboration hub” where employees and their managers share a digital space. On its website, the company depicts the application as a tool that offers employees “the flexibility to work when, where and how you work best.” But the communication platform, of course, is the very tool that allows employers to compel workers to labor at home and on vacation, at the breakfast table in the morning, and riding the commuter train home at night.

Seventy years ago, bosses made employees use computing technology to get them to work more, for less. It’s a legacy that repackages harder and longer work as great leaps in convenience for the worker, and obscures the continued necessity and value of human labor. Rather than McKinsey’s “epochal transition,” the new world of automation looks all too familiar.”

Money, Guilt, Shame & What Matters via @p_millerd

Boundless by Paul Millerd
Money, Guilt, Shame & What Matters | #140
May 7th, 2021: Greetings from Taipei! Boundless hit 4,000 subscribers this week. I am humbled by how many people have decided to follow along with my writing, creating, and vagabonding journey as I navigate life off the default path. I remember sending out an early newsletter to about 100 people and being terrified. What if someone dislikes what I w……
Read more

“When I started talking to people about their relationships to work I was surprised to find many of these emotions. One person had hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings but when I suggested he consider a break to get a handle on his work-related depression it was as if I suggested he cut off both of his arms.

If you ever had doubt about human motivation, watch someone lose their job. Someone without any interest in changing their work circumstances will be be filled with the energy needed to build the pyramids. One of the saddest things for me was when I started coaching people. I saw this motivation drop from 100 to 0 as soon as the person secured employment. If we could harness this energy we could solve most of our biggest problems in a couple weeks.

Both of these people are acting reasonable given our culture. To be unemployed or without work is to be looked upon with suspicion. Something must be wrong with them, right?...

Shame is at the steering wheel of our work lives.

We stay in bullshit jobs for years because we know one person saying you are “useless” will crush you. People struggle to find work they would be good at because they are too busy punishing themselves for not being good enough. To top it off we become so resentful of feeling this way we judge others who are either struggling or taking a different way.

This is a huge tragedy of the commons.

Take back the wheel. At the individual level the most interesting things seem to happen for people when they shift away from the more = better script and lean into the values that actually care about even a little. Lean into your guilt that you aren’t doing what you care about and ride that through the inevitable shame of trying something new.”

What If People Don’t Want 'A Career?' via @CWarzel

Galaxy Brain
What If People Don’t Want 'A Career?'
Welcome to Galaxy Brain — a newsletter from Charlie Warzel about technology and culture. You can read what this is all about here. If you like what you see, consider forwarding it to a friend or two. You can also click the button below to subscribe…
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“When you talk to people who reject the modern notion of a career, many of them say the same thing: They crave more balance, less precarity, and better pay. They also, crucially, want to work. But they want to work for places that see them as three-dimensional human beings and that actually invest in them and their futures without expecting workers to sacrifice everything. They want to be a part of organizations that recognize that meaningful and collaborative work can bring dignity and create value but that work is by no means the only way to cultivate satisfaction and self-worth As one reader told me, “most of us don’t mind hard work and putting in the necessary time — when we are respected, valued, communicated with honestly, and paid right.”

When I first tweeted about this Fortune article, I received some understandable criticism. In my own work life, I tend to have a hard time drawing boundaries. I often work way more than 40 hours a week, which might render my argument a bit hypocritical. I get that. But I think that argument misses the bigger point. I do struggle all the time with work life balance. But, even though I am incredibly lucky and love my job, many of my habits are still guided by a fucked up hustle mentality that is driven by fear and anxiety (of missing opportunities, of losing my job, of being branded as lazy or ‘mediocre’). And, frankly, I want better for others.

What’s profound about the career rejectionists is that their guiding questions are simple. What if work didn’t make you feel awful? What would life be like if we didn’t live to work? What do workers and employers actually owe each other? What if we structured our work lives around a different idea of success? It’s not a full-scale rejection of capitalism (though it can be that) or a call to burn down the system altogether. Those questioning their careers are simply daring to imagine what a better, more equitable future of work might look like.

I don’t know exactly if this energy will keep up but I don’t believe it’s a fluke. The pandemic has left people sick, tired, exhausted, and rattled. It has also changed peoples’ priorities and upended their notions of what is possible. For the first time in a while, they’re starting to ask big questions about the status quo. People in charge ought to be listening.”

Late-Stage Fairytales via @_mattking in @_reallifemag

“We can fantasize that Raz might do better, that he could capitalize on the access to Silicon Valley’s best and brightest which in reality requires his restraint. I like to envision a version of How I Built This that unravels the solitary hero’s journey, surfacing the public externalities and stakeholders swept up in any private venture. But the program is not built to be educational, or interrogative. It is quasi-sponsored entertainment, not unlike the TV franchises Shark Tank and Undercover Boss: a well-oiled PR machine that exalts successful CEOs as society’s primary success stories worthy of emulation. The show captures carefully curated moments of vulnerability, always tinged with the assurance of a happy ending (otherwise you wouldn’t be hearing about it). It portrays even the most dumb-luck, jackpot-winning founder as an oracle whose ideas deserve to be taken seriously, no matter how far outside their area of expertise they stray. Worst of all, How I Built This perpetuates the devaluation of our most essential workers and flatters our shallowest acquisitive impulses, placating an increasingly indignant yet inert public with an old tune—that as long as there are copious new goods and services to occupy our days, we must be part of a grand adventure headed somewhere exciting.”

The Motherboard Guide to the Gig Economy via @bigblackjacobin in @motherboard

“Motherboard has reported on numerous aspects of the gig economy over the years; from bathroom access, to companies’ fight to continue misclassifying workers, to driver strategies to make a living wage. And now that gig companies are looking to replicate regulatory victories such as Proposition 22 nationwide and abroad, having a grasp on the industry is more important than ever. This is Motherboard’s guide to a core group of buzzwords, phrases, talking points, and strategies deployed over the years by gig companies to advance their cause.

There are countless other buzzwords and rhetorical flourishes, and this list could stretch on for pages. For nearly a decade, “gig companies” enjoyed largely little to no critical coverage outside of labor reporting and were thus able to convince the public, regulators, politicians, investors, and commentators that their PR was in fact an objective accounting of reality. Things have begun to shift over the last few years, but only as the companies are on the precipice of permanently altering the regulations that sit between them and their first profits.”

Men at Work via @dbaten3 in @Athwart_Mag

“A peaceful neighborhood is primarily a product of morality. The only way to ensure lasting security is to organize society such that people choose to antagonize each other less. Formal social controls such as security or policing should be an institution of last resort, when every other check has broken down. When the security state increasingly becomes the primary arbiter of social control, it is only a matter of time before trust erodes and people grow weary of the constant surveillance and discipline. If young men are unable to secure stable, dignified work, they will continue to get in trouble and put people in their neighborhoods in the difficult position of enduring the dysfunction or sending more of them into the system of mass incarceration. As long as our policing decisions follow in the wake of one working-class employment crisis after another, we will continue to search in vain for an equitable balance between security and justice, and the reform-reaction cycle will continue.”

Time to Death via ​​@zel_eve in @Logic_magazine

“This rush to commercialize epigenetic clocks involves a number of potential pitfalls. Some industries are likely to use the clocks to wittingly or unwittingly entrench various forms of social inequality. Other commercial applications of the clock are based on a fundamental and possibly willful misunderstanding of the science that shifts responsibility for social and structural problems on to individuals. At the same time, this commercialization obscures something more hopeful: the democratic potential of the clocks...

The problem with this, of course, is that nurture is nothing like driving. Nurture is the air quality and poverty levels in the neighborhood you grew up in; where you went to school and what you ate for lunch; the way you were treated by your parents and society; the life stresses you have experienced. Like aging processes, all of this is gendered, classed, and racialized. Despite what the life insurance and other industries might claim about personalized behavior-modification programs based on epigenetic tests, you can’t meditate your way out of structural inequality. But this misunderstanding about the nature of nurture is useful to such industries—it generates profits by shifting risk and responsibility for wellbeing from societies, corporations, and governments onto individuals…

When I asked Dupras why he believes that we need epigenetics to promote findings we already know to be true—pollution is bad for your health, exercise can help you stay healthy—he said that epigenetics meets the needs of both the social scientist pushing for equitable policy and the biotech company looking to make advances in precision medicine. Sometimes these things seem at odds—we hunt for cellular therapies when we should be working to change the environmental conditions that cause illness in the first place—but there’s no reason epigenetic science can’t help us do both.

As the field matures and we learn more about how our environment impacts our biology, we should be skeptical of market solutions promising individualized interventions. As consumers, we should recognize epigenetic testing for what it is: exciting molecular confirmation of the fact that healthy environments promote longer lives. As a society, we should acknowledge it for what it could be: a discovery that will help us to draw roadmaps toward a better collective future.”

The Heat Wave Shows Climate Change Is a Workers' Rights Issue via @mindyisser in @InTheseTimesMag

“While this legislation is important and timely, most workers in this country lack the true ability to safely advocate for themselves in the workplace. Thanks to our backwards labor laws, union density hovers around 11% nationwide, even though unions’ approval ratings are in the clear majority. If workers want to be in charge of their own health and safety, it’s imperative that we pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which will allow workers the ability to unionize without fear of retaliation. (Disclosure: This author has been involved in organizing to pass the PRO Act.) Unionized workplaces are safer than non-union workplaces: They are 30% more likely to face an inspection for a health and safety violation, because union members are more likely to know their rights and have the ability to fight for them. (Unionized workplaces are also much more likely to have health and safety committees, which exist for the sole purpose of ensuring the workplace is safe.) And of course, unions are why we even have OSHA, thanks to the leadership of beloved and dearly remembered labor leader Tony Mazzocchi.

Environmentalists, long seen as either opposed to workers or just apathetic to their plight, have begun to realize that without a strong working-class movement, there’s no real hope of fighting climate change. And with Biden’s deeply disappointing infrastructure legislation, we’re going to need a base of millions to push for a much more aggressive plan to fight climate change. That’s why the Green New Deal Campaign Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America went all in on pushing for the passage of the PRO Act. Unions don’t just protect members’ health and safety in the workplace, they have the ability to turn regular people into political actors with the skills and tools to fight for a dignified life both on and off the job. As workers feel the growing effects of climate change at work and at home, they’ll need to fight their employers for health and safety protections, and they’ll also need to go to battle with the politicians and fossil fuel executives who have allowed temperatures to rise so drastically.”

Acquisition-conversion: the promising new strategy for scaling worker ownership via @shareable

“After spending more than a decade building new ventures, the Evergreen Cooperatives have started pursuing a new answer to the long-running question of how to expand the co-op sector — co-op conversions.

Instead of cooking up co-ops from scratch, they’re buying existing firms and converting them to co-ops.

In the past three years, Evergreen’s Fund for Employee Ownership has invested $13 million in acquiring and converting companies with more traditional structures to employee-owned businesses, allowing the Cleveland, Ohio-based firm to accelerate its growth and increase its impact.

In the process, it joined a growing number of organizations within the co-op ecosystem that are moving away from cultivating startups and toward tapping new sources of capital to more effectively expand the co-op sector via conversions. A research group specializing in this sector projects that up to $650 million could be deployed for co-op conversion annually, with over a dozen distinct funds currently investing in employee ownership.”


Books

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by @davidgraeber (RIP)

“From bestselling writer David Graeber, a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences.

Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It went viral. After a million online views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer.

There are millions of people—HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers—whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs.

Graeber explores one of society’s most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.”

7 books that dive into the long history of America’s labor movement via @cglennvino in @NewsHour

“When he started writing “Beaten Down, Worked Up,” Steven Greenhouse had covered labor and workplace matters for two decades as a reporter with The New York Times. But even though he was already deeply immersed in the subject, Greenhouse also drew upon the work of a number of other labor historians, reporters and writers when doing research for his second book about American unions and workers.

“Beaten Down, Worked Up” provides an in-depth look at the rise and fall of worker power over the last century, but Greenhouse writes in the first pages of the book that it is “not a detailed, comprehensive history” of the American Labor movement. For that he recommends a number of other books — some that provide a sweeping history of labor in the U.S. and others that look at specific campaigns detailed in certain chapters of “Beaten Down, Worked Up.”

On Labor Day, Greenhouse shared some of these recommendations with the PBS NewsHour, including biographies of key figures such as Walter Reuther and Cesar Chavez, as well as comprehensive histories of the American movement.”

Deep Work - Cal Newport

“Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories—from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air—and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored.

Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.”

The Mathematical Corporation: Where Human Ingenuity and Thinking Machines Design the Future

“The Mathematical Corporation breaks new and important ground by restoring the importance of people, especially those in leadership roles, in harnessing the synergistic combination of fast computing, algorithms, and big data to attain organizational and competitive advantage. The technology is powerful but it is still a tool—one used by people to apply human ingenuity, imagination, and problem-solving skills to see trends, patterns, anomalies, and relationships in what were once inscrutable or unmanageable issues.

In their years spent working with hundreds of companies, governments, and non-profit organizations, Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern have consulted with a wide range of leaders developing new capabilities that lead to new business models, the creation of breakthrough products and services, and potential solutions to vexing global problems. Their stories include Ford developing not just smarter cars but also smarter roads and cities; an oceanographer obtaining a holistic map of the oceans, with ramifications for both the fishing industry but for humanity at large; and health care entrepreneurs developing new products that significantly reduce heart attack fatalities.

These are but a few examples of leaders tapping the power of the digital world and creatively collaborating with computers. New capabilities are developed that then give birth to new business models as leaders envision and shape the future. Businesses are reaching goals that until recently seemed difficult, if not impossible, to attain. The winnings will go to organizations that take steps to deliver "impossible strategies," and The Mathematical Corporation provides leaders with the new way to think and work in this era of data science and drive the revolution.”

5 Books to Read on Labor Day via @KatishaSmith82 in @bookriot

“America celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September, and the day is considered the unofficial end of summer. We get to enjoy picnics, cookouts, and a 3-day weekend. However, we should also take some time to reflect on the reason behind the holiday, which is to recognize the effort and sacrifices made by the labor movement to bring better pay and working conditions, reasonable work hours, paid leave, and healthcare to the American workforce. Take some time to educate yourself on the past, so you can appreciate the present and protect the future for yourself and your fellow working man and woman. Here are 5 books you can read to learn more about working in America:”

The Pathless Path: An exploration of freedom, creativity & uncertainty in life off the default path via @p_millerd

“Almost four years ago I left a high-paying job in New York to become a freelance consultant. I thought this would be a simple case of swapping one type of work identity for another.

I was wrong

Instead, I went down a rabbit hole of asking the questions that lurked below the surface.  The ones we know are there but might be scary to consider.  And even scarier to take the answers seriously....

  • How much money did I really need?

  • Who was I if I didn't have a clearly legible title or path in life?

  • How do you handle not knowing what the future looks like?

  • What did I really want to work on?

  • How do you design a life worth living?

  • What happens when you don't orient your life around work?

This e-book will be a collection of essays from Paul, perspectives on the modern state of work, and some potential ways to think about navigating the new world of work, designing your life, and managing uncertainty while on a "pathless path."

I promise it will be unlike anything you've read.  This will be a self-published book chock full of nerdy wisdom, questions, and contemplations that might change how you see your relationship with work.  It will not be a 300-page book filled with the same examples in every other pop non-fiction book.  It is a book that matters to me and I'm excited to share it with others.

DRAFT OUTLINE & SAMPLE TITLES (UPDATED AUGUST 2021)

1. Introduction: Reflections from 

2. The Default Path: How I became a world-class hoop-jumped and got what I thought I wanted

3. Work, Work, Work: How work became so central in our lives

4. Awakening: Opening up to the deeper mysteries via the way of loss and way of wonder.

5. Walking Away: The reality of leaving a path that makes sense and the myth of the "leap"

6. First Steps: The weirdness of taking the first steps in a new direction

7. Making A Change: Dreaming bigger, dancing with fears & stepping into the unknown

8. The Pathless Path: Embracing the unknown and seeing where it takes me

9. The Secret: Discovering the secret of work

10. The Real Future of Work: New stories for a new world”


Documentaries/Films

#FutureofWorkPBS | Episode 1 | The New Industrial Revolution | @PBS

“Official site: https://to.pbs.org/3mUJyTR | #FutureOfWorkPBS Since early 2020, the world has been rocked by triple crises: the global pandemic, the ensuing economic disruptions, and the acknowledgment of long-existing racial inequities. With U.S. unemployment sky-high, a majority of Americans are concerned about the future. The usual ladders to security–education, hard work, life-long employment–appear to have broken down.”

6 labor documentaries that will blow you away via @freelancersu

“_American Dream _(1990) – In 1985, workers at a Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota, go on strike to protest cuts in wages and benefits. The national United Food and Commercial Workers Union does not support the strike. The workers hire an outside labor consultant who persuades them to stand their ground and do a national media campaign. The plan backfires. There's a lockout. Hormel hires replacements. Desperate for income, some workers cross picket lines, pitting family members against each other. Won the Oscar for best documentary in 1991.

The Fight in the Fields (1997, PBS) -- The film covers the life of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers Union, tracing his long grassroots campaign for federal minimum wages for agricultural workers. There are dramatic events, including the unprecedented 1965 Delano Grape strike and boycott against California grape growers, which lasted five years and involved 2,000 workers; Senate hearings with Robert F. Kennedy; and a bitter dispute with the Teamsters.

Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976) – In 1973 in Kentucky coal country, miners at the Eastover Coal Company voted to join the United Mineworkers Union for better safety and higher wages. (The company housed the families in shacks without indoor plumbing.) The union effort was crushed. Miners and their wives went on strike. Eastover brought in replacement workers and armed enforcers. By the time the strike hit the one-year mark, both sides were openly carrying weapons. Things turned violent. Won the Oscar for best documentary in 1977.

Roger & Me (1989) – Director Michael Moore explores the impact of General Motors closing several auto plants in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. More than 30,000 people were laid off at the time (the number has since swelled to more than 80,000), devastating the region's economy. The film follows his quest to confront GM CEO Roger Smith for an interview.

_The Take _(2004) – In Spanish with subtitles. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2001. The country is in a state of economic crisis. Workers from a shuttered Forja auto plant break into the factory, power up the machines and form a worker's cooperative. Police barricades, tear gas and violence follow. The automaker is in bankruptcy and is trying to sell of assets. The workers take their case through the Argentine court system...and win.

WorkingMan’s Death (2005) – Austrian-German production in several languages with subtitles. The film shows the extremes that present-day workers are willing to go to in order to make a living: coal miners in a snowy, desolate region of Ukraine; sulfur carriers on an active volcano in Indonesia; butchers at a crowded, bloody, open-air meat market in Nigeria; welders breaking apart giant ships without safety gear in Pakistan; and steel workers in blazing forges in China. Won outstanding documentary at the German film awards in 2007.”

The Labor Film Database

“The Labor Film Database lists thousands of films and videos, searchable by title, director, actors, keywords (see search window at right) or category (at right, below “Categories”) to make it easier to find films and videos about the topics you’re interested in. Many of the entries also include trailers, film stills and distributor contact info.”

24 Labor Day Movies That Celebrate the Spirit of the Whole Thing

“Labor Day: It's more than just an extra Monday off in September to break up the long gap between Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. According to the official Department of Labor website, the meaning of Labor Day is to celebrate the "creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

So, yeah, Labor Day means a three-day weekend. But, unlike most national holidays that shut down offices and banks, the three-day weekend is kind of the point, in a way. Labor Day is a day to celebrate ourselves, the people who work hard every day to earn a living and make sure the wheels of society keep turning. And you know what? We totally deserve the day of honor. Way to go, all of us. But how should we celebrate this glorious day honoring the hard, hard work we do all year long? As with just about every holiday in existence, there are worse ways to celebrate than with a movie marathon from the comfort of your own sofa.

If you're looking to take a load off and relax with a Labor Day media binge session, but aren't sure where to start, have no fear because we have you covered. From movies explicitly about the labor movement, like Norma Rae, to movies that capture the daily drudgery of work life in America, like Office Space, here are 15 movies you can watch to celebrate the Labor Day spirit.”

The 10 best Labor Day movies for folks who can't watch "9-to-5" one more time

“For most folks, Labor Day is a day off of work. And while most folks who go to the movies often don’t want to be reminded of their jobs, there are some great features and documentaries that depict working environments.

Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” may be the most classic film about work, but in contemporary times, “Office Space” rivals “Clerks” for the best comedy about the daily grind. In the category of “bad boss” movies, “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Swimming with Sharks,” “Working Girl” and “9 to 5” all feature employees getting the best of their superiors.

So here are ten lesser-known films about work and workplace environments that deserve the extra effort to be seen. From quirky comedies to fascinating documentaries, these films are entertaining and informative.”


Lectures

15. Input Markets I—Labor Market via @MITOCW

“This lecture covers factor markets, the markets that set the price for labor and capital. Prof. Gruber begins by talking about factor demand, then continues with factor supply.”

16. Input Markets II—Labor and Capital via @MITOCW

“This lecture continues to explore factor markets, using minimum wage and the labor market as an example.”

Economic Systems & the Labor Market: Crash Course Sociology #29 - @TheCrashCourse

“This week we’ll see how economies can be broken down into the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. We’ll look at the three stages of economic revolution that brought us to the modern post-industrial era. We’ll also explore two types of economic models: capitalism and socialism.”

The Real News Network - We are living in the hell Ronald Reagan made

“Last month marked the grim anniversary of one of the darkest days in American labor history. Forty years ago, President Ronald Regan crushed a strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), fired over 11,000 federal workers, and declared “open season” on the labor movement. In the years that followed, replacing striking workers became a commonplace practice in the private sector, union membership declined to historic lows, the wealth and power of the 1% exploded while real wages for most workers have remained stagnant, despite workers in the US being more productive than ever. The breaking of the PATCO strike was an event that played an outsized role in shaping the world we are living in today—a world in which a once-strong labor movement had its back broken, leaving working people to be systematically stripped of their individual will to exercise their rights in the workplace and their collective ability to protect themselves from being crushed into subservience by the profit-seeking prerogatives of the business class. As part of a special collaboration with Jacobin magazine, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez joined hosts of The Jacobin Show Jen Pan and Paul Prescod for an extended episode examining the past, present, and future of the American labor movement. In this segment from the show, Alvarez breaks down the historical significance and political legacy of Reagan breaking the PATCO strike. We are sharing this segment with our TRNN audience with permission from Jacobin.”


Paper

Labor Unions and White Racial Politics (H/T: @notstevenwhite)

“Abstract: Scholars and political observers point to declining labor unions, on the one hand, and rising white identity politics, on the other, as profound changes in American politics. However, there has been little attention given to the potential feedback between these forces. In this article, we investigate the role of union membership in shaping white racial attitudes. We draw upon research in history and American political development to generate a theory of interracial labor politics, in which union membership reduces racial resentment. Cross-sectional analyses consistently show that white union members have lower racial resentment and greater support for policies that benefit African Americans. More importantly, our panel analysis suggests that gaining union membership between 2010 and 2016 reduced racial resentment among white workers. The findings highlight the important role of labor unions in mass politics and, more broadly, the importance of organizational membership for political attitudes and behavior.”


Podcasts

How Algorithms Are Transforming Work w/ @CallumCant1 via @parismarx for @techwontsaveus

“Paris Marx is joined by Callum Cant to discuss the UK Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are workers, his experience organizing as a Deliveroo worker, and how algorithmic management is transforming work.

Callum Cant is the author of “Riding for Deliveroo: Resistance in the New Economy.” He’s also the head of communications at Momentum and an editor at Notes from Below.”

The Work Week, Episode 1: The Strike That Changed U.S. Labor via @theindicator

This episode is a part of our week-long series, The Work Week, where we're rerunning some of our favorite stories about the labor market. This story originally ran in February of 2019.

On February 11, 1937, General Motors and the United Auto Workers union signed a landmark agreement. A union contract. The relationship with U.S. automakers and the labor movement ushered in a period of tremendous worker prosperity and union strength that lasted decades. Today, though, unions are a shadow of their former selves and are sometimes even vilified for dragging down companies and hamstringing workers. What happened? How did unions lose their mojo?”

Jobs Suck, But Not Because of Automation w/ @abenanav via @parismarx for @techwontsaveus

“Paris Marx is joined by Aaron Benanav to discuss why jobs are getting worse because the economy’s slowing down, not because technology is speeding up, and why that requires a vision of post-scarcity centered around human relationships instead of technological change.

Aaron Benanav is an economic historian and social theorist. He is a post-doctoral researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin and author of “Automation and the Future of Work.” 

Labor History Today via @GeorgetownKILWP

“The Labor History Today podcast connects the past struggles of workers with the ongoing fight for economic justice. It provides space for the voices of those who lived through these battles, as well as the historians who provide context.

Labor History Today is produced by Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Engineered by Chris Garlock.

Labor history sources include Today in Labor History, from Union Communication Services unionist.com/

Labor Vision

“Laborvision podcast is a place to discuss the labor movement and how everyone is affected by it. You will hear from organized labor, unorganized labor, Community Activists, elected officials, faith-based organizations, Folks in leadership and you the people. Folks will be able to tell us what they believe and why they believe. We don’t have to agree but listen to their point of view.”


TED Talks

The way we think about work is broken | Barry Schwartz

“What makes work satisfying? Apart from a paycheck, there are intangible values that, Barry Schwartz suggests, our current way of thinking about work simply ignores. It's time to stop thinking of workers as cogs on a wheel.”

What makes us feel good about our work? | @danariely

“What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn't just money. But it's not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. (Filmed at TEDxRiodelaPlata.)”

How Too Many Rules at Work Keep You from Getting Things Done | Yves Morieux

“Modern work — from waiting tables to crunching numbers to dreaming up new products — is about solving brand-new problems every day, flexibly, in brand-new ways. But as Yves Morieux shows in this insightful talk, too often, an overload of processes and sign-offs and internal metrics keeps us from doing our best. He offers a new way to think of work — as a collaboration, not a competition.”


Twittersphere

“an awful Labor Day. shame.  https://stayathomemacro.substack.com/p/joe-abandoned-labor-on-labor-day #macromom is angry. @claudia_sahm”

“1) What makes for a dream job? A thread based on the most popular article I've ever written.

https://80000hours.org/career-guide/job-satisfaction/

Thread follows”

“Happy Labor Day to everyone out there working to build a just climate future. This work is worthy of the sum total of all human energy and then some.

Here are some resources to help more people find their inroad”

“Some personal news: today is my first day working at @labornotes! It's a dream job. I’ll be helping organize union members and workplace activists across the country and across every industry build a better labor movement. A thread for the occasion, & how you can get involved:”

“The fact that 11 million people are losing their federal unemployment benefits or seeing their benefits reduced today, on "Labor Day," should tell you all you need to know about how much the US government values workers.”

“Happy Labor Day to the incarcerated of California”


Video (Short)

What makes for a dream job? (part 1) via @80000hours

“Research shows that to have a dream job, do something you’re good at that makes the world a better place. Don’t aim for a highly paid, easy job, or focus too much on your “passions”.”


Websites

The Labor Day Graph That Says It All

“A reminder that if we hope to ever rebuild an economy that works for everyone, we need a much stronger labor movement.”

Who is the world’s biggest employer? The answer might not be what you expect.

Braintrust Launches BTRST Token to Decentralize Ownership, Control, and Governance on the Braintrust Network.

“We exist to spread economic opportunity more equitably around the world.

Braintrust’s mission is to build the world’s most impactful talent network — one that is user-owned, aligns incentives, and redistributes value to Talent and Organizations.

The Ownership Economy

The way we work is broken. In fact, it’s been broken for a long time now. We’d hoped the gig economy would usher in a new era of worker autonomy and abundance, but the economics didn’t pan out. A few wealthy people became even wealthier, and the average worker is still scrambling to make a living.

But we believe there's a better way to think about work—a model that benefits talent and enterprise alike. At Braintrust, our decentralized talent network is built on the belief that everyone should be treated fairly. Fees should be transparent. Incentives should be aligned. And the huge percentages taken by middlemen should be a thing of the past.

This new model is uniquely enabled by a blockchain technology and the BTRST token.”


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