The great race for jobs

By Edward Hadas
February 8, 2012

The financial markets rejoiced last week because the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January, 0.8 percentage points lower than a year earlier. Back in the real world, the gain looks less impressive. The proportion of the adult American population with a job has hardly changed since January 2011 – it is up from 58.4 to 58.5 percent. That number peaked in 2000 at 64.4 percent.

The decline in American so-called “participation rate” is a serious economic problem. Many blame the cyclical downturn or inadequate GDP growth, but they are too focussed on output. The real issue is input: the supply and the need for labour. This is not just an issue for the United States. But the current shortage of jobs in most rich countries is the latest leg of a long race between technological forces that lead to job destruction and socio-economic forces which provide new kinds of employment.

Over the last two centuries, the contest has been fairly even. The labour savings in field, factory and home have been nothing short of amazing. Imagine that today’s technology and labour skills were available when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776. If people today worked as many hours a week as they did then, and for as many years of their lives, and if they consumed roughly the same quantity of goods and services, the unemployment rate would more like 70 than 8 percent.

But the forces of job creation have been equally amazing. The work has been spread out. People work less – they have weekends and holidays off, and more years of education and retirement. They also consume much more, and this creates employment. And although rampant consumerism raises some ethical questions, increased leisure and consumption constitutes basically good news.

There have been periods both of labour shortages and excess unemployment, but up to now balance has always been restored. We are now in a new period of imbalance in rich countries. The job-destructive forces of technology have pulled ahead of the rebalancing mechanisms. That should be interpreted as a call for action on jobs.

Luddite calls to stop or reverse technological progress provide no answer. Even if mobile phones and the Internet destroy more jobs than they create – no one really knows – they certainly do much more good than harm. And every job lost in a dangerous mine or on a boring assembly line is a gain for humanity.

But many jobs could be created if the economic arrangements were more favourable. For example, the United States has dilapidated highways and an army of unemployed construction workers, but it has not been able to match the two. Such stalemates in the labour system can be broken, although rarely without changes in taxes, benefits, wage laws and training arrangements. But it worked for Germany. Thanks largely to some tinkering with the unemployment rules, its participation rate is higher now than in 2000.

Tinkering may be enough to get employment back in balance, but jobs could also be created in areas long seen to be of marginal importance, or no importance at all. This idea goes against the professional grain of most economists. Adam Smith wrote disapprovingly of “unproductive” labour and his followers have cheered whenever workers use less effort to produce more.

But economists have an inadequate understanding of what is really productive. They ignore the reality that many jobs in a modern economy are useless – or close to it. The vast bureaucracies of government, finance, and marketing employ many people who add to GDP but whose work does little or nothing to make life better.

Pointless jobs could be created by making the tax code more complicated, by requiring teachers to do more paperwork, by developing new financial instruments. The possibilities are endless. If these ideas fail, we could emulate some of the bad habits of the past masters of full employment, Soviet-style communists. They excelled at wasted effort.

But there is a better way. And that is to rethink the value of jobs that economists have traditionally considered useless. Take a look at Smith’s collection of “frivolous professions”. He includes “churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers and opera-dancers”.

Arguably, most of these bring spiritual richness to life while lawyers – in theory at least – make the world a fairer place. So let’s have more of them (well, maybe not more lawyers), and more employment in similar professions. Let’s have more people in the caring professions too, improving the lives of children, the old and the troubled.

A desirable shift in employment needs change in social attitudes and some technical ingenuity. But the recent fall in participation rates should be considered an opportunity. We could make the economy more genuinely productive and society more humane.

21 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The article excludes more than half the world. For instance, the typical farm in India is the same size as a bedroom floor of a typical house in the USA. In most of China, Africa and Latin America, a typical farm is the size of a living room floor in a typical American house. In all four regions, about one out of 50 farms, or two percent, are huge, tens of thousands of acres, about three percent are large, a few thousand acres, and around 95 percent of the farms are as described. Obviously, the farms of more than half the world are inefficient and unproductive. They are subsistence farms, and not only do they contribute nothing to a national or global economy, they are actively burdensome and parasitical on the economy, because of the many subsidies necessary to support their families. At least half of the farming families of India, China, Africa, and Latin America, approximately half the population of all four regions, are redundant and superfluous to the their nations and the world. They are nothing but a dragging anchor on the global economy, pulling the entire world back from progress and advancement.

Probably at least half of the planet’s population, 3.5 billion people, are essentially unemployable and limiting, requiring government charity from birth to death simply to survive, to produce another generation of umemployable and limiting children. Fine-sounding sentiment and idealism will not solve the problem of all those superfluous people. More practical and realistic ideas and methods are necessary.

Posted by FirstAdvisor | Report as abusive

Nice write up. I work in finance, so I guess I’m one of the useless ones… but I always thought finance was important for the reallocation of resources. In the free market, all those areas you mentioned that provide tangible value can exist only with capital. But maybe you were referring to speculation and arbitrage.

Posted by Matt-Chicago | Report as abusive

Changing the tax structure to encourage employment could help, too. For example, a carbon tax could be offset by eliminating payroll taxes. Taxing what we don’t want and removing taxes on things we do want could do a lot for job growth. Corporations that freely belch pollution hate this idea but the net taxation on the economy could be structured to be zero thus removing a Republican opposition to increased taxation.

Another suggestion for useless occupations would be recyclers. The labor involved with taking trash and turning it into resources is prohibitively expensive. However it reduces the burden we are putting on future generations and creates more jobs today. This idea can be encouraged through tax subsidies for recycling, increased costs for throwing stuff in the landfill, and by making manufacturers responsible for taking back products at the end of their useful life.

None of these ideas are new. Perhaps one day they will make cents.

Posted by LEEDAP | Report as abusive

“…many jobs in a modern economy are useless – or close to it. The vast bureaucracies of government, finance, and marketing employ many people who add to GDP but whose work does little or nothing to make life better.”

Spot on! On finance, I agree with Matt-Chicago; but let’s put a big red target on government bureaucracies to become MUCH smaller and more “user-friendly”!

“…although rampant consumerism raises some ethical questions, increased leisure and consumption constitutes basically good news.”

This is definitely true among those of us who recognize and value the “quality of life”. Unfortunately, those who subscribe to the idea that humans are on the Earth with a primary mission to cover every square inch of it with their progeny.

These people will forever object that every pound of steak produced and eaten in America should instead have been another 30 lbs of manna sent to Ethopia. There are many unrepentant carnivores in America that vote!

Anyone that genuinely believes our Earth can support SEVEN BILLION human beings (plus countless more “in the chute”) in an advanced western life style is an idiot, as is anyone that believes those who watch television even once ascribe to anything less. Trouble lies ahead as truth becomes obvious over time.

“…many jobs could be created if the economic arrangements were more favourable. For example, the United States has dilapidated highways and an army of unemployed construction workers, but it has not been able to match the two. Such stalemates in the labour system can be broken, although rarely without changes in taxes, benefits, wage laws and training arrangements.”

America is essentially BROKE because our apparent funding “priorities” appear chosen by the blind throwing darts at a board they cannot see. To move forward, we need to repeal Davis-Bacon (dump the unions and associated needless unproductive expense from the equation).

Then change funding priority from “per head benefit increases” that increase the number of those individuals in public housing, or illegal aliens (neither of which this country NEEDS more of) to the expansion, repair and maintenance of public infrastructure (which increases GDP now AND in the future). Obligations of our government to infrastructure significantly predate our “welfare state”.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Highways construction does not need great numbers of men. Residential and commercial construction does. I watched the highway by-pass in my neighborhood being built about ten years ago and it was done primarily with heavy equipment. It was done in less than two years from clearance of trees to final placing of guardrails and signs. Three and one half miles of pavement were laid in about one week. Even abutments were pre-cast and employed pise de terre (tamped earth). All I saw were tucks and hardly anyone doing anything manually. Unionized or not, they worked very quickly

Public housing on the other hand is the next best thing to private residential construction. The building types are not usually as large as high rises and employ less sophisticated techniques and less pre-assembled parts as is common with high rise construction. The occupants need all the things that homeowners tend to need and that appetite keeps many businesses alive.

This country requires tens of millions of square feet per year of all types of construction to keep the construction industry employed and perhaps it has been built out for the foreseeable future?

And OOTS is wrong about his assertion that the government had an interest in infrastructure before it had an interest in welfare. Even colonial towns had some provision for welfare assistance. Social Security dates from F. Roosevelt Admin. and the Highway Authorization Act dates from the early 1950s (I think – but I haven’t checked) and it was actually a defense bill. Counties use to have poor farms.

Large public works projects like the WPA were Roosevelt’s. But agencies like the Port Authority of New York date from between the wars and were expected to be self funding. The WTC was built to generate revenue for the Port Authority but was too large and sat nearly vacant for ten years or more. It didn’t reach full occupancy until the 80s. The subways and early suspension bridges to the boroughs were all built by private investors. I suspect most other cites did things similar to the New York model. It is too difficult for private industry to use the condemnation powers of municipalities and it is now a state or federal job to see to infrastructure improvements but it doesn’t employ as many as residential or commercial construction does. It is only a means to an end. .

Private enterprise lost interest in the subways when Manhattan and the boroughs had been built out and the operating costs began to rise. It was more difficult to expand the lines and fare increases were harder to set because so many relied on the system by then. It became a public utility.

The country relies on automobiles to provide employment at a variety of levels but it is ironic that the most prestigious and attractive residential areas tend to predate the automobile. The automobile is a necessity now regardless of how inefficient or expensive it is to own one. They are a very expensive nuisance in urban areas.

There was an incipient movement, before the crash, to build pedestrian friendly towns and to put less emphasis on private automobiles. The provision of streets and parking areas for automobiles take up enormous amounts of space and I can’t think of anyone who loves a parking lot? An aging country is going to have a problem with aging drivers who should be off the road. Perhaps that is where the country should invest its energy? The public and private sector could both be building better, less auto dependent towns. But it can’t do much of anything mow because of the collapse of housing prices. It can’t adapt to the future because it is stuck in its sprawl. It has built in a high cost piece of equipment – the automobile -while many other countries are not doing this. China is apparently not going to encourage the use of private automobiles. But our land use laws and zoning restrictions will make it difficult to change anything now.

OOTs carps on the undesirability of illegal workers and the low-income person in general. But the country will need low cost environments or his recipe of non-union labor and low wages is going to create slums and they will be trapped in underwater real estate forever. What should be done now is to increase the density of urban and suburban areas and replace underwater homes with larger building types or denser development that can afford to be rented or sold for less to allow for the lower incomes that the world economy will likely impose on more people here. They are not going to disappear to satisfy OOTS sense of entitlement. And they can’t afford to work for slave wages either. The built environment is going to have to adapt to fit new economic conditions.

OOTS is a bundle of contradictions. I believe immigrant construction workers also tend to be non-union.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

I suppose American trade policy with the resultant massive transfer of American wealth and jobs to Asia and the deregulation of banking resulting in corruption of government, massive theft, fraud and the destruction of contract law have nothing to do with our current economic problems?

Posted by HosedInAmerica | Report as abusive

HosedInAmerica, the article was about jobs. Did you read it?

Posted by Matt-Chicago | Report as abusive

Oh, Please!

When is the last time you were out in the real world?

The only way to get our jobs back — the only real solution to what you are inexpertly attempting to discuss — if it isn’t already far too late, is to reverse the favorable trade and tax legislation of the past 30+ years that has resulted in “job outsourcing” to cheaper labor countries.

THAT is the real problem we should be addressing, not moral philosophy thinly disguised as economics.

I really annoys me when someone stupidly attempts to argue for the use of measures other than GDP to measure the wealth of a country — like happiness, for example, which by its nature is entirely subjective and therefore not measurable — of which this article is simply a variation on that theme.

Frankly, without money you can’t have happiness, no matter what the wealthy try to tell us. By the way, if that argument is even remotely true, the wealthy would be trying desperately to get rid of their money in order to be happy, and I don’t see that happening. When’s the last time you had someone approach you on the street any offer to give you a few million so that he can be happy again?

Creating low-paying government jobs is the last thing this country needs, for any reason. Without real manufacturing jobs there is no need to repair the infrastructure, because we don’t need it.

——————————————————————————-

From your website:

A Moral Approach to the Dismal Science

Welcome to the website of Edward Hadas, economist, journalist, author, ex-financial analyst and thoughtful Catholic. On this site you will find information about my latest books, as well as articles ranging over such topics as the moral and ethical basis for economics, a Christian understanding of my own Jewish heritage, and the current financial crisis.

Edward Hadas is Economics Editor at Reuters Breakingviews, and writes The Ethical Economy column for Reuters.com.

——————————————————————————-

It would seem to me, by your own admission, you are a very conflicted individual — the same as a “reformed alcoholic” — who is driven to preach the “evils of money”. Well, economics and quasi-religious moral philosophy don’t mix well together.

So, how about refraining from telling people to do what you say, and not what you do? That makes you a hypocrite, at the very least.

Let me know when you really want to be “happy” by giving all your money away and begin to practice what your preach. I would be interested in what you have to say then — meaning I would be happy to help you become happy by relieving you of the burden of all your money — but otherwise why don’t you take your pseudo-religious moral guilt elsewhere?

PseudoTurtle
CPA/MBA

Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

Having legal employees would help our nation right now.

Posted by watkinskb | Report as abusive

“the wealthy would be trying desperately to get rid of their money in order to be happy, and I don’t see that happening.”

Isn’t the existence of the luxury goods market proof that this exact thing happens? The whole promise of consumerism is exchanging money for happiness…

Posted by spall78 | Report as abusive

@ spall78

You mistake “excessive self-gratification” for happiness.

What I mean is literally what I said in this paragraph:

“Frankly, without money you can’t have happiness, no matter what the wealthy try to tell us. By the way, if that argument is even remotely true, the wealthy would be trying desperately to get rid of their money in order to be happy, and I don’t see that happening. When’s the last time you had someone approach you on the street and offer to give you a few million so that he can be happy again?”

Like it or not, as a general rule, there IS a direct inverse relationship between the amount of money a person has at their disposal to properly supply their needs — not necessarily their wants — and the amount of “happiness” they have in their life. Most people live their entire lives without enough money to supply their needs, and while they may become reconciled to that, it does NOT mean they are happy about it.

That is NOT the same as “The whole promise of consumerism is exchanging money for happiness…”, which is a scam by the wealthy to make people believe “things” can cause happiness, in exchange for their money, of course.

People who are driven to acquire material possessions at any expense to themselves or others typically have severe personal problems that no amount of money will assuage. These are the kind of people the “luxury goods market” typically appeals to, as they try to gratify their desires.

The bottom line to this argument is that the more money the wealthy accumulate, the less there is for everyone else. That is the hard truth the wealthy would prefer you do not understand. Their gain is your loss.

Most people have a very difficult time understanding that fact, which is one of the main problems we have in society today.

PseudoTurtle
CPA/MBA

Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

Central (debt-based) fiat banking is an economic system that promotes self-interest and short-term thinking. This is not the only economic system that is possible. If the world’s people demand the right to create money, then they can create new social values where greed and self-interest are not the most rewarded character traits.

Posted by transcend77 | Report as abusive

Mr. Hadas,

It’s nice to see an article on the bigger picture!

> “Soviet-style communists. They excelled at wasted effort.”

Russian bureaucracy is not much better. It’s a wonder that Russian politicians don’t think to lighten the bureaucratic burdens of their people by copying some ideas from their more economically successful but less resource-endowed Western or Eastern neighbours.

> “lawyers – in theory at least – make the world a fairer place”

If lawyers TRIED to do their jobs properly, this might be the case. Usually only the rich can afford lawyers, but on those rare occasions when the poor receive legal service, they are again ill-served by the system because some judges and lawyers are too economically & socially privileged to see things from the perspectives of the people they’re supposed to be representing.

The yawning chasm between rich and poor is good for nobody. But that is the natural outcome of our economic system. Some people are just lucky in having the stars align or whatever, for them to get into the right line of work in the right expanding industry at the right time through no special ingenuity or planning of their own… But that’s not the way most Americans see things. If they’re rich, they usually think they earned it all themselves… They worked hard (good for all of us), but forget that they also surfed some favourable waves and winds on a wild economic ocean, and that their windfall should therefore be shared with the less fortunate.

All too often in economic downturns, politicians herald “job creation initiatives”. I cringe every time, knowing what they really mean:

> “Pointless jobs could be created by making the tax code more complicated, by requiring teachers to do more paperwork, by developing new financial instruments. The possibilities are endless.”

Usually they intend only a band-aid to give the cosmetic appearance of progress in time for the next election.

> “the United States has dilapidated highways and an army of unemployed construction workers, but it has not been able to match the two.”

If only for more of THIS kind of thinking in the halls of government…

Posted by matthewslyman | Report as abusive

Some more ideas to consider:
http://www.slyman.org/m_politics_migrati on.php

Certain commenters have mentioned immigration/ globalisation. That’s an important subject, and a difficult one. But it’s a much smaller issue than those Mr. Hadas is discussing in this article. If not for the influence of technology, there would still be enough work to go around all the inhabitants of the world, and plenty to spare, without any warfare etc… Or, if only for a little more imagination on the part of our politicians and business leaders – we might soon again enjoy unimaginable economic growth and improvements in our real wellbeing, equality and happiness.

Posted by matthewslyman | Report as abusive

Many people would love to help others and would do so for little wages. But these are the things that they must have: A warm dry, quiet, private place to sleep and live. Nutritional food. Access to health care and medicine. Adequate clothing.

I didn’t say a luxurious house, a big car, face lifts and cosmetic surgery, teeth whitening, fancy nails, stylish haircuts,gourmet food and wine, designer clothing, fancy sports cars.

No, none of that is necessary for people who live from their creative and compassionate centers. But those who live from their base, pleasure seeking ambitious, aggressive centers are the ones who now rule the world. How’s that world. A narcissist will say great. Just give it time buddy. treating you?

Posted by myownexperience | Report as abusive

“So let’s have more of them (churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers and opera-dancers), and more employment in similar professions.”

Surely you jest. This is one of the most ridiculous suggestions I’ve heard yet for dealing with the employment crisis. These sorts of jobs are the kinds of things people pay for out of their surplus of wealth. And that’s just the problem: fewer and fewer people have a surplus of wealth. What little illusion of prosperity they’ve been able to maintain has been built on a growing mountain of debt. And that mountain of debt includes the debt at the federal level – the very reason that there is no further capacity to pay for the kinds of infracture projects you mentioned earlier in the piece.

The reason for the decline in the labor force participation rate lies in the inverse relationship between population density and per capita consumption. As overcrowding intensifies with never-ending population growth, our ability to utilize products is steadily eroded. And since per capita consumption and per capita employment are inextricably linked, rising unemployment and poverty are the inescapable consequence. And attempting to combine our economy with the economies of badly overpopulated nations like Japan, Germany, China and a host of others through free trade only exacerbates the problem.

There is no way to gimmick our way out of the effects of this relationship. As long as the world grows more densely populated, so too will unemployment and poverty rise until finally, at some point, poverty begins to raise the death rate as it inevitably will.

Let’s have more “buffoons?” We have plenty already, masquerading as economists.

Pete Murphy
Author, “Five Short Blasts”

Posted by Pete_Murphy | Report as abusive

I think Peter Murphy makes a big mistake in thinking that population pressure is something that can be objectively measured. The only things that are “real” (for lack of a better word) in an economy are the human beings in it. Everything else is a kind of work of art. There is nothing particularly real about money, whether paper or metal. And bookkeeping does not maintain an endless chain of unbroken links reaching back into history. There is also no clear correlation between man hours worked and income. It is quite possible to exist at both ends of the spectrum of work and leisure and draw either enormous income from little work or little income from difficult and long hours of work.

Cities are amazing multipliers of space. The World Trade Center buildings were many times larger in area than the area of the superblock it occupied. Manhattan office and apartment towers can contain usable floor areas as much as 40 times their actual footprint. Not even the space people inhabit is actually limited. Not even agricultural land is strictly limited either. Vast areas can come into and out of production depending on demand.

Those little subsistence plots may grow a great deal of what that family eats each year. You really should include the weight or volume of production of those plots in your analysis. The large farms you talk about may only produce single specialty crops like coffee, tea, or bananas etc. They may not even be growing food crops. Rubber trees, used for tire production, are not a food crop. The future may not need rubber tree plantations as large and the land can be used for other purposes.

Other places on the planet may be more suitable for bulk production of corn, wheat, soybeans etc. and wouldn’t grow in some of the hotter or dryer places. And the land may not be suitable for human populations either. American corn production is so large now it sits in giant mounds waiting for buyers. SA countries produce enormous quantities of food that must be eaten or large amounts will be wasted.

How can you talk about overpopulation when, as far as I know, there is no way to determine what the correct population level of the planet should be at any given time?

No one has yet come up with a single definition of a proper or good standard of living either. Building code requirements only try to define a minimum adequacy.

The problem isn’t so much overpopulation but the inadequate ways human beings try to organize themselves into societies and economies.

I was educated in Architecture and Urban design and the problem with the field is it can only react to demand and the conditions of the economy. What urban designers should do is try to define sustainable economies within their developments. And it will be very difficult to do that because there are no clear rules regarding human density, adequate productive hours, proper compensation, the necessary amount of rest and recreation. They are all left to the vague forces of the market and those forces aren’t necessarily honest either.

Some Utopian experiments were tried in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the one that lasted the longest and was the most successful were the Shakers. But they did so by limited their births to zero and adopting foundlings when necessary. They conformed to a strict religious rule and were a kind of monastic community that could create a very high standard of living. They lived with extremely well maintained buildings and grounds, did not work themselves to death or live lives that anyone could really claim were abused. They ate well and dressed comfortably if plainly. They could have actually lived with more elaborate grounds and buildings but believed in functional adequacy more than ostentation. Actually, the quality of their built environment would probably be considered luxurious by today’s construction standards. They did not believe in conspicuous consumption for its own sake. But European monastic communities did indulge in conspicuous displays of consumption and were frequently lavish even if the members tended to live plainly. But European societies were wealthier overall and could indulge.

It is possible that sane, rational and very stable people could try to start their own economic communities that are not Jonestowns or Koresh compounds. If they were successful in solving the basic issues of providing a decent and fulfilling physical life and providing for their needs and, better still, producing a marketable surplus they would have mastered the largest difficulty of life on earth. They do not have to practice family planning by fiat but individuals might choose to. They do not have to be communal but might create hybrid communities of shared and private activities. They should be able to use their imaginative creativity. Western societies tend to build marketable artifacts, even houses and neighborhoods as though they were cars or furniture. They tend to leave the community and economic development needs to the chance of the market place.

The greatest economic conflicts today seems to be the conflict of free market economics versus planned socialist economics. The socialist economies like China have a lot to recommend them. But they live with severe restrictions on birth rates. The free market economies have low birth rates as well because it is imposed by standard of living choices at the individual level. I personally could never afford a family and live alone. That means someone else could have the child or two to make up for what I didn’t, if zero population growth were a target. But why should it be? There is always the off chance that a super plague or some other disaster could severely reduce human populations. Not everyone wants to breed. Restrictions on birth rates do not have to be a matter of law but could very easily be a matter of choice. Many people, gay and straight, want relationships sans children.

There’s always the porn channel for satisfying sexual urges. Of course the Shakers wouldn’t have approved.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

@paintcan,

“I was educated in Architecture and Urban design and the problem with the field is it can only react to demand and the conditions of the economy.”

Viable opportunities in every field of endeavor are largely determined by economic conditions which can expand or contract demand. The rules are there, but generic; not specific. They are flexible, of necessity.

What is “appropriate” in terms of human density depends on the society of a proposed development, zoning (where applicable) and building site cost. Urban designers, developers and/or speculation builders must make competent research and evaluation of applicable conditions before an economically viable business plan/project is possible.

Compensation, productivity, compensation, rest and recreation aren’t in any recipe for “success”. They
are what they are where you are. At some point you have a “go or No Go” decision you must live with, win or lose.

I would love to hear how a person who believes “truth” indistinguishable from “information” would define “honest” economic forces. You clearly yearn for guarantees that life doesn’t offer, and so you play the game of “what if”. Good luck with that.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Why are you commenting on my post at all OOTS? You have nothing to add to it but tell me what I already know. I didn’t mention you once in this one, did I? I’m simply saying that if the ship is sinking then it might be a good idea to build a few rafts. And can the patronizing tone you always use.

BTW – You don’t know any truths. You haven’t once said what you believe is the truth you talk around it. Maybe you think you are but I don’t see it. If you were a religious person you would no doubt believe your creed was the truth, the way and the light etc. You would likely disbelieve the “truths” of other religions.

If you were a politically active person you would tend to believe your party or government was the truth and disbelieve the others. In business – the health and welfare of you firm would be the truth; or most likely it’s the most expedient way to get what you want out of life. For many that’s truth enough. Many see their families as the most important truth in their lives. It’s their most immediate and demanding concern.

A lot of people kill each other defending their “truths”. I tend to think of all of them as “information”. I don’t know how anyone can rationally disagree with that? We tend to expect others to get over their sectarian or personal or mythical truths, whether they care to fight or die for, but I’ve seen enough of them I have defaulted to the notion that they are all just “belief systems”. That makes me a kind of philosopher I suppose? You die soon enough anyway. We have a world where people are rigging themselves to blow up for their beliefs or to defend their way of life. Others are more than willing to blow anyone away if they believe they are a threat to their interests. Many will kill or die for their way of life because that is the truth for them. They all think they are the truth somehow.

Do you think what they all do is in the service of Truth? And don’t obfuscate or change the subject as you usually do. You like to blow smoke more than I like to smoke cigarettes.

The Shaker communities were a very good idea for their time and they died because they clung to a truth that was very limiting for them. They more or les went extinct and knew they would actually. There are a few holdouts in Maine as I understand it – perhaps 6 or 7 – but the number is far too small to really be considered a viable solution for anybody but their very exclusive, and quite possibly snobbish, sense of community. They probably can’t even fill a single house and a field. They are committed Christians – for them the point of the Shakers is their belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ. I have a warm spot because I was raised a Catholic but when I was first indoctrinated the Catholics called them, in fact any non-Catholics heretics. But I also like to read Hindu and Buddhist literature and am not at all exclusive now. I know religious people who are not exclusively one sect or another. They don’t all tell the same truths.

I’ve actually tried to write a book on alternative community development models and have even sent it to some professional bodies in this state and some architects I have worked for. It was a very rough draft with my own text and contained hundreds of sketches. It would take thousands of hours and more hands than I have to complete it properly. They didn’t laugh at it put they couldn’t help much either. I sent it to one state planner and didn’t even get an invitation to meet him and talk about it in person over a cup of coffee. I have a library of related books on this idea and it is by no means a new idea. It just can’t make it competitive in the market place because it needs to answer so many questions that contemporary practice, and the marketing of real estate up here doesn’t want to deal with. They usually opt for the simplest approach because they can take their money ands run. They leave the towns to deal with the more problematic issues. I tried to come up with a denser development model for rural areas that would allow for conservation, more attractive and substantial developments and built-in work and leisure opportunities that also used as little land area as possible to permit continued use of the available open space for faming etc. I actually started it as a diversion and then it started to look serious.

The impact of real estate speculative bubbles was just what I most feared when trying to create a sustainable community development. I tried to address about fourteen issues I thought were worth combining in a single model. Developers tend to leave most of the difficult issues unanswered. It is so much more difficult to try to design a more self-sustaining residential environment that also builds in conservation, and some employment prospects. That is too much to talk about here. I try to get people to look it over and suggest ways to simplify the puzzle.

But I certainly don’t expect a guy like you, who’s road to riches involved kissing the ass (and bribing him for the privilege apparently) of a potentate who was really only a splashier dressed version and more of a raconteur at the Four Seasons, than Saddam Hussein. At 60 years old I don’t see the “truth” in any political leaders. Some are better or worse than others but you can dig all you like and you won’t find the truth about any of them or anyone else for that mater. You won’t ever find the truth about “good government but we all seem to know the n bad ones. I’m convinced that truth only looks like the truth if you don’t think about it too much. I can’t understand why you have a difficult time realizing that. I tend to think that honesty beats truth any day. But don’t think about that too much either.

You may claim you know the truth but you aren’t an honest man so why should I give a tinker’s damn about your charming notions of the truth? I may as well listen to Adolph Hitler trying to teach Sunday school. This world is loaded with some of the most self-righteous idiots claiming they know the truth and I still say – that’s an interesting bit of information. That’s all you really have.

BTW, I can’t remember a single “truth” about correct punctuation except where to put periods. .

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Why are you commenting on my post at all OOTS? You have nothing to add to it but tell me what I already know. I didn’t mention you once in this one, did I? I’m simply saying that if the ship is sinking then it might be a good idea to build a few rafts. And can the patronizing tone you always use.

BTW – You don’t know any truths. You haven’t once said what you believe is the truth you talk around it. Maybe you think you are but I don’t see it. If you were a religious person you would no doubt believe your creed was the truth, the way and the light etc. You would likely disbelieve the “truths” of other religions.

If you were a politically active person you would tend to believe your party or government was the truth and disbelieve the others. In business – the health and welfare of you firm would be the truth; or most likely it’s the most expedient way to get what you want out of life. For many that’s truth enough. Many see their families as the most important truth in their lives. It’s their most immediate and demanding concern.

A lot of people kill each other defending their “truths”. I tend to think of all of them as “information”. I don’t know how anyone can rationally disagree with that? We tend to expect others to get over their sectarian or personal or mythical truths, whether they care to fight or die for, but I’ve seen enough of them I have defaulted to the notion that they are all just “belief systems”. That makes me a kind of philosopher I suppose? You die soon enough anyway. We have a world where people are rigging themselves to blow up for their beliefs or to defend their way of life. Others are more than willing to blow anyone away if they believe they are a threat to their interests. Many will kill or die for their way of life because that is the truth for them. They all think they are the truth somehow.

Do you think what they all do is in the service of Truth? And don’t obfuscate or change the subject as you usually do. You like to blow smoke more than I like to smoke cigarettes.

The Shaker communities were a very good idea for their time and they died because they clung to a truth that was very limiting for them. They more or les went extinct and knew they would actually. There are a few holdouts in Maine as I understand it – perhaps 6 or 7 – but the number is far too small to really be considered a viable solution for anybody but their very exclusive, and quite possibly snobbish, sense of community. They probably can’t even fill a single house and a field. They are committed Christians – for them the point of the Shakers is their belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ. I have a warm spot because I was raised a Catholic but when I was first indoctrinated the Catholics called them, in fact any non-Catholics heretics. But I also like to read Hindu and Buddhist literature and am not at all exclusive now. I know religious people who are not exclusively one sect or another. They don’t all tell the same truths.

I’ve actually tried to write a book on alternative community development models and have even sent it to some professional bodies in this state and some architects I have worked for. It was a very rough draft with my own text and contained hundreds of sketches. It would take thousands of hours and more hands than I have to complete it properly. They didn’t laugh at it put they couldn’t help much either. I sent it to one state planner and didn’t even get an invitation to meet him and talk about it in person over a cup of coffee. I have a library of related books on this idea and it is by no means a new idea. It just can’t make it competitive in the market place because it needs to answer so many questions that contemporary practice, and the marketing of real estate up here doesn’t want to deal with. They usually opt for the simplest approach because they can take their money ands run. They leave the towns to deal with the more problematic issues. I tried to come up with a denser development model for rural areas that would allow for conservation, more attractive and substantial developments and built-in work and leisure opportunities that also used as little land area as possible to permit continued use of the available open space for faming etc. I actually started it as a diversion and then it started to look serious.

The impact of real estate speculative bubbles was just what I most feared when trying to create a sustainable community development. I tried to address about fourteen issues I thought were worth combining in a single model. Developers tend to leave most of the difficult issues unanswered. It is so much more difficult to try to design a more self-sustaining residential environment that also builds in conservation, and some employment prospects. That is too much to talk about here. I try to get people to look it over and suggest ways to simplify the puzzle.

But I certainly don’t expect a guy like you, who’s road to riches involved kissing the ass (and bribing him for the privilege apparently) of a potentate who was really only a splashier dressed version and more of a raconteur at the Four Seasons, than Saddam Hussein. At 60 years old I don’t see the “truth” in any political leaders. Some are better or worse than others but you can dig all you like and you won’t find the truth about any of them or anyone else for that mater. You won’t ever find the truth about “good government but we all seem to know the n bad ones. I’m convinced that truth only looks like the truth if you don’t think about it too much. I can’t understand why you have a difficult time realizing that. I tend to think that honesty beats truth any day. But don’t think about that too much either.

You may claim you know the truth but you aren’t an honest man so why should I give a tinker’s damn about your charming notions of the truth? I may as well listen to Adolph Hitler trying to teach Sunday school. This world is loaded with some of the most self-righteous idiots claiming they know the truth and I still say – that’s an interesting bit of information. That’s all you really have.

BTW, I can’t remember a single “truth” about correct punctuation except where to put periods. .

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

Mr Haddas, please remove one of those posts – that was a mistake. It didn’t look like I had submitted it properly.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive