Tag Archives: Tribalism

Good Jobs

What exactly is a “good job?”

Here is another concept that is not new, but has recently popped up in my reading enough times that it begs some inspection.

What is a “good job,” and in particular, is it in any way better than just having the equivalent income with no strings attached?

I don’t think there is any firm answer here, ultimately. I suspect that “good jobs” are like “the American dream,” or “free market,” i.e. terms so vague in use that they are immune to obsolescence. “Good jobs” are not a mathematical calculation you can disprove, nor are they an ISO standard or defined by the dictionary. The concept only has meaning because, and as, people choose to believe it does. Regardless of what component ideas a critical study may strip away, the terms live on through a combination of other components that are still valid, plus widespread readiness to pretend that the false components are still true.

I feel like picking at this a bit, anyway. Why do so many people choose to believe that this is a meaningful, and important, object?

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Failed states

The coverYesterday brought me last week’s issue of The Economist, which promises coverage of “the Republican victory and what it means for America’s broken government.” The casualness of this reference to American government as “broken” is particularly interesting, to me, because I distinctly recall a different editorial stance from the same publication less than five years ago. Then, they noted a growing sense that “the political system is broken. America has become ungovernable,” before declaring that “we argue to the contrary.”

Poking into their newest cover story, the transformation is remarkable. Then, they allowed that various systemic problems “should be corrected. But even if they are not, they do not add up to a system that is as broken as people now claim.” Overall, they insisted, “the basic system works as intended.” The real problem was that “Mr Obama” would not compromise.

Fast-forward to 2014, and subheadline to their story is “Republicans have won a huge victory. Now they must learn to compromise [emphasis added].” This prospect, moreover, they categorize as an optimist’s hope, and a faint one absent systemic reforms. Now, The Economist warns that “even if the optimists are right [emphasis added], America faces a host of ailments that seem beyond the reach of today’s politics.” If this is to change, Americans “need to change the way they elect their leaders.”

So, I guess I won that argument. Progress. Splendid.

…oh, wait, the society I live in is breaking down. Actually this is terrifying.

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