The Gig Economy

Does the gig economy necessitate universal basic income or something of the sort? Maybe everyone just needs to migrate to salary based pay.

A big thing seems to be the “gig economy” now, which I take to mean doing the various odd-jobs/gigs that are online now like lyft, uber, those sorts of things. Some people seem to think that this new sort of economy is the way that everything is going and companies certainly seem to want to push everything towards this for lower employment overhead in the form of lower wages and fewer benefits for those employees. All in the name of “efficiency,” “proper work force for workload” or whatever random phrases they use.

Considering my very, very limited knowledge of Marx, he seems to be noted for this quote:

… where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

That sounds somewhat like this whole gig economy thing to be honest. The difference is, I assume Marx likes to imagine a world where, even though they have various jobs, those people actually make enough to support a good life too, food, health, shelter, movement, you know, those basic human rights.

Right now, this gig economy does not do that. Right now it’s essentially just moving people to constantly be private contractors for low wages, no insurance and no ability to keep themselves above poverty levels. As such, in order to actually have a gig economy that works for everyone, I think that these gig jobs need to become salary jobs not job/hour based. Only by having some sort of constant level can people actually pull off a gig economy, it allows the flexibility of the gigs but the support of real pay.

Another reason to actually turn these into salary based is, essentially they work just like salary work. Your hours are unplanned, you’re always “on-call” for these gigs (or at least can be) usually, these gigs are service industry based which do not follow “normal” working hours (except banking, which has always managed to do just 9-5 without anyone seriously questioning it. That honestly sounds like a lot of the salary jobs that I can think of: teaching, being a ceo of anything, military. Teacher’s being a prime example of what is essentially gig/seasonal work that is important and barely gets paid.

So what would the economy look like if we could actually live off of gig work through being salary workers, like gig workers actually are?

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Modern Intelligence

I propose that, we, as a culture, are actually less intelligent than generations before. Sure, we’ve had technological advances but, have actually become dumber.

This is because of a few things:

1) a lack of physical movement and physical adversity.  Being uncomfortable and having to move daily, I propose, helps promote creativity due to new connections between mind, body, and environment.  Not to mention, necessity being the mother of invention.

2) Lack of connection with a complex environment.  Yes, our cities can be complicated but, generally, they rely on over-stimulation of the senses.  Instead, a less human-created environment relies more on skill in use of the senses and subtlety.  One is hit by walls of noise, light, smell in cities whereas in more natural environments they are all part of a multitude like birdsong, scent on the wind or colors of different plants.

3) The lack of environment means a disconnect and loss from all of the world knowledge required for survival and nutritional diversity.  For example, all the foods that one could forage if we knew what plants were edible outside of a grocery store.  Yes, those vegetables are obviously good for us but, what if we had hundreds of options or vegetables to mix together instead of the basic say, 2 dozen that we usually see in stores.

This knowledge of edible foods then includes not only what are safe to eat but, things that look similar and are not safe, remembering locations where those plants can be found, what sort of soil they prefer and who knows how many other important information related to those edible plants.

4) We no longer have a culture of story-telling or music-making.  Instead, we watch stories and listen to music, very few people actually create these as parts of the culture or even continue folk-songs and stories.  How much more creative would an individual be filled with myths, legends, lore and stories that are carried through being told stories at night?  Then mix in all sorts of different songs for different situations that they can start singing right away.

Essentially not having to work for food, worry about not having food or a variety of ways to communicate and share time together, has led us down a path of being able to do a few things particularly well but lacking in a much larger domain which, I think, can be limiting our intellect as a culture.

Sun and Health

Sunscreen and vitamin D. Two things that come up as we enter summer in the northern hemisphere.

Usually, I hear recommendations to put on a good amount of SPF30+ sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and then every 2 hours throughout the day and to minimize time outside from 10:00 to 14:00.

Then, vitamin D is discussed often in the winter because of a “lack of sunlight” and time outside. Not entirely knowing the science of sunblock, what if that sunblock is preventing vitamin d production while we’re outside?

What if, during the summer, one spends some good time outside, has plenty of vitamin d and then somehow, our bodies store the vitamin d to an extent for the colder, darker months in winter? Also, what if our jobs gave more, longer breaks and then nudged it’s workers to go outside, especially in the winter?

In general, instead of becoming more complicated with rules, substances and things to do. We need to start changing our society and habits to promote movement outside, time outside, less work and follow a specific clock less (think of roofers, they are probably not really allowed to start before 10 in some places and have the work in the hottest parts of the day, no one seems to care about them having skin health). Everything I come across says to remove items first before adding so, quit adding things and maybe just simplify.

Food and Health

What if it isn’t the nutrients in foods per-say that are beneficial. What if it is actually the defense systems in foods that actually help make whole foods healthy.

Honestly, a study came out recently that news is somewhat excited about because it proves what we already knew: processed foods are bad for health. Science, taking common sense and proving it with millions of dollars.   Sometimes, the fact that these studies need to be done and published for us to acknowledge our own wisdom is baffling.

Anyway, one thing that I have heard and read being brought up was the people ate the processed food faster and talking about how that can lead to a disconnect between how many calories one has eaten and then whether you’re actually full.

I’ve also been hearing bits-and-pieces about a book that promotes a diet which avoids some sort of set of chemicals in food which plants use for some sort of self-defense or prevent digestion. In a way, it’s a toxin-a poison.

Let’s just assume that most plants have this sort of self-defense mechanism, which is why we have to process them in some way: cook, soak, sprout, roast, whatever. Those techniques make the food more palatable and digestible, partially, through removing these toxins.  

What if those toxins are somehow, important to processing and producing the nutrients we are looking for in the food we eat?  Say, maybe these toxins are byproducts or necessary for the plants to create/produce the nutrients.

Then, what if it is those toxins that the body uses a sort of proxy for how much food is necessary for specific nutrients or mixes or, at the very least, as the marker for “stop eating this now, you are nearing dangerous amounts of these toxins.”  This could account for the different hunger/satiation chemicals noted in the study earlier.

Something along these lines would then seem to point towards processed food being problematic not because someone can eat them faster but, because, being processed even further, a lot of these toxins are removed/destroyed basically making the digestive system incapable of measuring how much food is being eaten, potentially not able to gather or process the various chemicals in the food those we want and those we don’t. 

Essentially, how about we assume that food is more complicated than, “well, they ate faster.” Which is what a lot of people are going to focus on I am sure.

Utility and Location

Online learning. Supposedly the thing that will help everyone become a participant in the economy and be able to educate themselves to become the new social entrepanuer, entrepaneur, business owner, newest new newey thing, etc.

But, what ever really comes out of online learning? Is there really any THING, that one can point to and say they’ve learned this or that in order to create a THING. Sure, you can learn some coding, in a very limited way that so far, I don’t think has led to any serious break throughs.

I think an important question never asked about online learning is, what are the things that online learning CANNOT teach? Really, it seems like all of the most important skills needed to be a human or to really be useful fall into the cannot-be-taught-online bucket. First example is every skilled trade: pipefitting, brick laying, carpentry, welding, plumbing, truck-driving, teaching (quality-wise) basically, if it has a union, it is something you cannot learn online and generally, if it has a union, we need it for society. Second, any and all physical sports, if you move on a field you cannot learn it online. This one is important for physical health, mental well-being and generally being social too in most cases (it’s the one situation where focusing on “teamwork” can be beneficial too). Third, food. Sure, there can be an online course showing how to cook food but, there isn’t an online course to get you to be a gardener they can teach the ideas behind it but, to actually learn, one must put seeds into the ground and then real agriculture cannot be taught online because there is no one-size-fits-all for farming, we’re just going to skip over the wisdom that one has to gain about weather, soils and everything else someone in agriculture has to know.

So, an online course cannot teach you how to influence the world, move through the world, or use the world to provide for a basic necessity. Sometimes it feels like online courses are just a conspiracy to make everyone feel good with more certificates to hang up and a way to show insurance companies that “we have trained our employees” and allow companies to make the trite claim that “our employees are our best resource” without actually accomplishing anything.

So instead of constantly being enamored with these free online courses and living online, take a minute to think about all the things one cannot do digitally, consider most of our analog existence, our analog skills and wonder, why aren’t we focused on those things more?

Writing’s Shortcoming

One issue with being a highly text-based society is that writing tends to become minimalist and literal with time. By that I mean that writing/text, since it is static does not grow and change with time well. That is beneficial in some ways, less so in others.

It leads to some interesting problems, how does one “interpret” old texts? Were they potentially all metaphors at the time but, with their physical fossilization the images within have hardened into something “real”?

Then there is legal documents and rules, rules tend to start out as general, over reaching ideas I think. Consider the broad idea of “do unto others as you want done unto you.” Basically covers most right-or-wrong questions technically but, as time proceeds further somehow, that written idea is limited further and further. To the point that we have volumes and volumes of rules/laws to essentially expand that idea.

“Do not hurt others,” has to become you cannot use a knife or gun or other hand-held weapon to inflict physical/bodily damage upon another person. This then leads to fights over what is a person etc. etc. etc. Before writing though, with just a vocal based tradition, the elders/keepers of these traditions could actually reinterpret and retell stories according to their appropriate context leading to, in a way an expansiveness, broadness and flexibility that writing and text does not have.

What if this was part of the wisdom of Plato in disliking writing and finding it problematic while focusing on dialogue as the route to truth? In using dialogue it leads to truth while being constant, also being fluid in some ways.

Heat Stress

I am pretty sure that “heat-stress” and it’s related recommendations are a sign we are severely off course on physical health.
First, just the fact that it happens I take as generally a red flag that we are not outside enough, moving enough, and overall remotely close to physically capable/healthy enough for basic life. If some hot weather makes you incapable of anything except sitting, that’s a problem.
Second, every recommendation regarding prevention and treatment is somewhat hilarious. 1) sunscreen to prevent burning im pretty sure we can all just pass on that, especially if we are outside late winter to spring, the sun slowly changes allowing that adjustment to happen on its own 2) the acclimatization recommendation, that should just be happening naturally, instead of having to say at least 2 hours 5 out of 7 days, it’s like a prescription which is goofy. 3) don’t trust your own bodily instincts to drink water? Isn’t a basic biological fact that if needing water we get thirsty like if we get hungry we eat? Next, too bad all these wasteful trainings aren’t required of supervisors and those who do control work more because every other recommendation of “take breaks” “drink more water” “do hottest work during cooler parts of day” “work in air conditioning” “slow down” are all great ideas, probably inherently common sense ones at that but, I’m pretty sure unions had to be created to fight for any break whatsoever, no company is going to actually enforce more breaks for safety regarding heat. Also, no company allows just the whole mid afternoon off for less intense work, that’s called a siesta and the U.S. is fairly well opposed to that idea in all possible ways at all times because “efficiency”. Also, some jobs just don’t exist inside: construction and mail delivery to name two that come to mind immediately. Notice how it’s that group that probably doesn’t need bodily adjustment to hear since they’re actually outside once in a while but also, the ones who have bosses who’ll never tell them “it’s hot this afternoon, you’ll get paid/won’t be docked if you just chill from 2-3 or whatever to avoid the hottest part of the day”
Overall, I’d say heat illness and it becoming an idea even is just anothet example of the huge disconnect we have between health, nature, ourselves and those who make decisions and those who actually DO.
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I am pretty sure that “heat-stress” and it’s related recommendations are a sign we are severely of course on physical health.
First, just the fact that it happens I take as generally a red flag that we are not outside enough, moving enough, and overall remotely close to physically capable/healthy enough for basic life. If some hot weather makes you incapable of anything except sitting, that’s a problem.
Second, every recommendation regarding prevention and treatment is somewhat hilarious. 1) sunscreen to prevent burning im pretty sure we can all just pass on that, especially if we are outside late winter to spring, the sun slowly changes allowing that adjustment to happen on its own 2) the acclimatization recommendation, that should just be happening naturally, instead of having to say at least 2 hours 5 out of 7 days, it’s like a prescription which is goofy. 3) don’t trust your own bodily instincts to drink water? Isn’t a basic biological fact that if needing water we get thirsty like if we get hungry we eat? Next, too bad all these wasteful trainings aren’t required of supervisors and those who do control work more because every other recommendation of “take breaks” “drink more water” “do hottest work during cooler parts of day” “work in air conditioning” “slow down” are all great ideas, probably inherently common sense ones at that but, I’m pretty sure unions had to be created to fight for any break whatsoever, no company is going to actually enforce more breaks for safety regarding heat. Also, no company allows just the whole mid afternoon off for less intense work, that’s called a siesta and the U.S. is fairly well opposed to that idea in all possible ways at all times because “efficiency”. Also, some jobs just don’t exist inside: construction and mail delivery to name two that come to mind immediately. Notice how it’s that group that probably doesn’t need bodily adjustment to hear since they’re actually outside once in a while but also, the ones who have bosses who’ll never tell them “it’s hot this afternoon, you’ll get paid/won’t be docked if you just chill from 2-3 or whatever to avoid the hottest part of the day”
Overall, I’d say heat illness and it becoming an idea even is just anothet example of the huge disconnect we have between health, nature, ourselves and those who make decisions and those who actually DO.