Author Topic: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?  (Read 30976 times)

freebeer

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"Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« on: April 08, 2015, 01:18:23 PM »
I have had two personal problems with aspects of "Mustachianism".

One is the assumption that minimizing the number of years of traditional (salaried / company) work is a generally desirable element of an individual's life course.

The second, arguably related assumption, is that personally engaging in a wide variety of useful activities (home remodeling, house cleaning, growing vegetables, etc. ) is more meritorious than trading the monetary fruits of specialized labor for such services.

I basically don't agree with either proposition.

As background, I'm someone with a similar educational background to that of MMM who has for over 30 years engaged in generally "salaried" work in the IT industry.

I am definitely a supporter of the "LBYM" aspect of Mustachianism including the implicit rejection of ridiculousity in our consumerist society. And for the last 4+ years, while I'm still fully employed, I have traded significantly reduced total compensation for much more time flexibility and autonomy.

But the idea that I'd be even better off not working at all has never felt right. I enjoy what I do and those whom I work with, and I feel I'm accomplishing good things for the world as well as myself in so doing. Having "FU money" is a very nice safety net and I am sure that if I didn't work I would (and hopefully someday will) pursue more vigorously various activities that I also enjoy and new ones to boot, but meanwhile I would rank most of my work time as among the most enjoyable of my overall time (and the least rewarding bits of work time as no less satisfying than the least rewarding of non-work time such as doing household chores).

I recently stumbled on an article by researchers at Oxford University that deals with this issue and the seeming dilemma that the most highly compensated people are now working the most hours: http://www.sociology.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/wp20143.pdf

The Economist sound-bited it as:

Quote
Back in 1899 Thorstein Veblen... argued that leisure was a “badge of honour”. Rich people could get others to do the dirty, repetitive work—what Veblen called “industry”. Yet Veblen’s leisure class was not idle. Rather they engaged in “exploit”: challenging and creative activities such as writing, philanthropy and debating.

Veblen’s theory needs updating... Work in advanced economies has become more knowledge-intensive and intellectual. There are fewer really dull jobs, like lift-operating, and more glamorous ones, like fashion design. That means more people than ever can enjoy “exploit” at the office. Work has come to offer the sort of pleasures that rich people used to seek in their time off. On the flip side, leisure is no longer a sign of social power. Instead it symbolises uselessness and unemployment.

The MMM default approach (work less than 10 years saving like crazy, then retire early) is not so great if we make the assumption that "exploit" is (for many of us) best undertaken at an office rather than in our kitchens. And if we are getting good "exploit" (and, perhaps, even "badassity") at the office, then what's the point of seeking it at home by doing routine chores. Being a "jack of all trades" is great and all, but is it worth greatly reducing the "embodied capital" of an educated specialist?

Of course this approach has worked great for MMM himself... I'm just questioning it as a general recommendation. And that harsh last bit ("leisure ... now symbolises uselessness and unemployment") might even help explain why early-retired folks seem to have a harder time getting dates...

iamlindoro

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 01:27:48 PM »
There have been a number of threads along these same general lines pretty much since the inception of MMM.  I feel like where you (and others of a similar mindset) and I differ is on our interpretation of MMM.  I don't personally feel that "stop working" is the fundamental principle of mustachianism, but instead "have freedom to choose."  Attaining a level of financial independence such that you don't *need* any job allows your work to be something you choose to partake in, rather than it being something that enslaves you.

Similarly, mustachian frugality/self-reliance is, to me, for three good reasons-- first, it allows you to accelerate the date at which you achieve freedom to do whatever you want (including working).  Second, it encourages introspection about what is important to you, and whether things or services genuinely make you happy, making personal decisions about the relative value of each.  Third, it instills a self of pride in having a set of skills and abilities, and encourages self-improvement.

In essence, FU money gives you freedom to work or not work.  Being frugal frees you from the feeling that you must purchase non-essential goods or services, making you more thoughtful and less stressed.

Guesl982374

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 01:28:12 PM »
One is the assumption that minimizing the number of years of traditional (salaried / company) work is a generally desirable element of an individual's life course.

The second, arguably related assumption, is that personally engaging in a wide variety of useful activities (home remodeling, house cleaning, growing vegetables, etc. ) is more meritorious than trading the monetary fruits of specialized labor for such services.


I believe you are missing the point. The point is to reject consumerism/LBYM (which you agree with) to allow you to live the life you design and reduce consumption. Simply put, ultimate freedom over your life choices. For MMM its blogging & carpentry. For you its computer science. For others its poetry, sports, farming, etc. The idea is you can leverage FI regardless to do the exact activities that bring you the most happiness without needing to worry about money.

Kris

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 01:31:07 PM »
There have been a number of threads along these same general lines pretty much since the inception of MMM.  I feel like where you (and others of a similar mindset) and I differ is on our interpretation of MMM.  I don't personally feel that "stop working" is the fundamental principle of mustachianism, but instead "have freedom to choose."  Attaining a level of financial independence such that you don't *need* any job allows your work to be something you choose to partake in, rather than it being something that enslaves you.

Similarly, mustachian frugality/self-reliance is, to me, for three good reasons-- first, it allows you to accelerate the date at which you achieve freedom to do whatever you want (including working).  Second, it encourages introspection about what is important to you, and whether things or services genuinely make you happy, making personal decisions about the relative value of each.  Third, it instills a self of pride in having a set of skills and abilities, and encourages self-improvement.

In essence, FU money gives you freedom to work or not work.  Being frugal frees you from the feeling that you must purchase good or services in order to survive, making you more thoughtful and less stressed.

Exactly.  And I think this is something that the freaking retirement police get wrong, as well.  If you, given the fact that you have achieved FI and therefore the freedom to do whatever the hell you want, decide retire, and then you find that the "exploit" activities that you want to do end up making you money, then AWESOME!  Why in the hell is it that people get so hung up on the word "retire"?

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 01:34:56 PM »
Yeah, I don't have the same interpretation, OP.

I think the FI part means much greater freedom to choose the type of work you do, paid or not. The F-you money concept but even stronger if you're really FI.

As for doing stuff yourself, partly that's LBYM, sure, but a big part to me is the attitude of growth. Trying new things, maybe failing, maybe succeeding, either way growing.


k290

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 02:09:21 PM »
As the others have said, it's about choosing freedom OR getting away from an amount of work that you feel is too much in proportion to leisure time OR if you simply don't enjoy the 9-5.

As far as growing potatoes/doing house maintenance etc goes. That is not the goal. I'm fairly sure those who post about that do it in their free time/enjoy it/fill some idle time with it. There are plenty of threads of interesting tales of other hobbies and outings that people do when FIREd, which may also include "exploit" work on their own clock

Believe what you want OP. I'm pretty sure everyone who has retired early is happy and there is nothing you can do to stop it, you can disagree with the principles all you like. Just head on over to the Post-FIRE thread.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 02:11:51 PM by k290 »

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 02:09:55 PM »
If Mustachianism has a "fatal" flaw (as you put it), then when should we expect it to die?

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 02:11:36 PM »
..  I don't personally feel that "stop working" is the fundamental principle of mustachianism, but instead "have freedom to choose."  ...

Similarly, mustachian frugality/self-reliance is, to me, for three good reasons-- first, it allows you to accelerate the date at which you achieve freedom to do whatever you want (including working).  Second, it encourages introspection about what is important to you, and whether things or services genuinely make you happy, making personal decisions about the relative value of each.  Third, it instills a self of pride in having a set of skills and abilities, and encourages self-improvement.

In essence, FU money gives you freedom to work or not work.  Being frugal frees you from the feeling that you must purchase non-essential goods or services, making you more thoughtful and less stressed.

I'm totally with you on "have freedom to choose" being fundamental and that this is powered by frugality. But the "self-reliance" part, where that implies (in many many MMM posts) that it's simply a Good Thing to trade hours of higher-paid specialized work for hours of more general labor, is what I'm questioning. And self-reliance is, in this day and age, always just a veneer. MMM has mad carpentry skills I'll never have but he isn't going to personally make sheetrock or even plywood. The cars he recommends buying are modern ones laden with computers and require specialized equipment even to determine what's wrong.

Basically MMM seems to get personal "exploit" from manual labor, which is fair enough since "exploit" is after all a personal thing! But in the tone of posts his extrapolates that it's good for everyone... which (unlike LBYM and achieving FI) I'm not so sure about. That may only be because it's not stuff that (in general) floats my own boat but that just reinforces the proposition that there's no general principle here.

Another way to state this concern is that the MMM default approach in effect cheats on FI, because when you early-retire on a shoestring you are in effect committing to expend personal labor on various things rather than hire them done. That's fine but in that sense you aren't really FI. And if you aren't really FI yet, then whether you should meet your needs by doing X hours of low-skill unpaid labor or doing Y hours of high-skilled (and more rewarding) paid labor and hiring the job done with the proceeds is not obvious (perhaps even if Y > X). Whereas MMM seems to argue that it is obvious and in favor of the unpaid labor (even if X > Y).

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 02:19:46 PM »
If Mustachianism has a "fatal" flaw (as you put it), then when should we expect it to die?

The question is whether we should expect Mustachianism to spread widely. If the only reason most people work more hours is to pay for ridiculous stuff they don't need, then Mustachianism should become pervasive with more and more living lives in some ways like the English upper class in Victorian times (particularly those who are highly-educated and well-compensated and can thus most easily save enough for early FI). If instead most people (particularly those who are highly-educated and well-compensated ) are increasingly working for "exploit" and getting much of their personal fulfillment and societal stature therefrom, then paid work should remain prevalent independent of the lure of consumerism.

The Oxford paper (which what I really hoped folks would discuss) seems to support the latter proposition.

Kris

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 02:20:14 PM »
..  I don't personally feel that "stop working" is the fundamental principle of mustachianism, but instead "have freedom to choose."  ...

Similarly, mustachian frugality/self-reliance is, to me, for three good reasons-- first, it allows you to accelerate the date at which you achieve freedom to do whatever you want (including working).  Second, it encourages introspection about what is important to you, and whether things or services genuinely make you happy, making personal decisions about the relative value of each.  Third, it instills a self of pride in having a set of skills and abilities, and encourages self-improvement.

In essence, FU money gives you freedom to work or not work.  Being frugal frees you from the feeling that you must purchase non-essential goods or services, making you more thoughtful and less stressed.

I'm totally with you on "have freedom to choose" being fundamental and that this is powered by frugality. But the "self-reliance" part, where that implies (in many many MMM posts) that it's simply a Good Thing to trade hours of higher-paid specialized work for hours of more general labor, is what I'm questioning. And self-reliance is, in this day and age, always just a veneer. MMM has mad carpentry skills I'll never have but he isn't going to personally make sheetrock or even plywood. The cars he recommends buying are modern ones laden with computers and require specialized equipment even to determine what's wrong.

Basically MMM seems to get personal "exploit" from manual labor, which is fair enough since "exploit" is after all a personal thing! But in the tone of posts his extrapolates that it's good for everyone... which (unlike LBYM and achieving FI) I'm not so sure about. That may only be because it's not stuff that (in general) floats my own boat but that just reinforces the proposition that there's no general principle here.

Another way to state this concern is that the MMM default approach in effect cheats on FI, because when you early-retire on a shoestring you are in effect committing to expend personal labor on various things rather than hire them done. That's fine but in that sense you aren't really FI. And if you aren't really FI yet, then whether you should meet your needs by doing X hours of low-skill unpaid labor or doing Y hours of high-skilled (and more rewarding) paid labor and hiring the job done with the proceeds is not obvious (perhaps even if Y > X). Whereas MMM seems to argue that it is obvious and in favor of the unpaid labor (even if X > Y).

Oh, come on. That's ridiculous.  So, if what you are saying here were true, then you're saying someone who decides to move out into the middle of nowhere, live completely off the grid, raise his own food, and fend for himself completely isn't financially independent?

Your logic... Is not logical.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 02:33:03 PM by Kris »

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 02:23:31 PM »
MMM doesn't endorse retiring on a shoestring.  He endorses retiring on an amount of funds that allows you to sustain a lifestyle that makes you happy, and to pursue whatever *you* feel like pursuing.  It is left to the individual to define what makes you happy and what you feel like pursuing.  If that's work, so be it.  The breakdown in your last reply is that you assume you must always compare manual labor's outsourcing cost against the possible income of the same amount of time.  By not needing any money, you no longer need to assess how much you could be making with that time, because there is absolutely no need to make any amount of money.  As to self reliance being a veneer, I don't think it's a veneer just because it has its limits.  Even if you could make your own drywall, would the argument then become "well you didn't mine your own gypsum?"  That's just silly.  MMM merely asks that people open themselves up to the possibility that they are capable of more than they think they are, and to the possibility that they might derive some satisfaction from pushing their limits.

If you're FI/RE, and you decide that carpentry, renovation, or whatever are a worthwhile and fulfilling use of your time, so be it.  If you decide that the best use of your time is sipping Mai Tais and paying someone else to do it, and you RE'd with the appropriate amount to support those choices, so be it.  Nobody says that you have to make the same choices as MMM to be mustachian, just that you make *informed* choices.

In effect, MMM's philosophy removes the need to perform the calculus of "is this the best use of my time financially," and replaces it with "is this the most fulfilling use of my time."

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2015, 02:25:10 PM »
I have had two personal problems with aspects of "Mustachianism".

One is the assumption that minimizing the number of years of traditional (salaried / company) work is a generally desirable element of an individual's life course.

I have a question in return; do you ever plan on retiring? The current retirement age is an arbitrary limit; why not retire at 80? If I accept your premise that retiring early is not desirable, then what is a satisfactory time to quit working if ever? If you plan on retiring before 80 generally the same arguments can be applied to retiring before 65.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2015, 02:36:07 PM »
So it seems most people addressed your first concern (that you have to ER when you're FI--clearly not), so I'll address your second, regarding specialization.

MMM promotes insourcing (and badassity) not out of necessity, but due to the happiness and satisfaction it brings.

Of course specialization exists.  And of course we can exploit it. 

But what you want to consider is: is my life better for it?  I could use a bedpan and catheter and stay in bed all day.  Would that make my life better? Probably not.  I could hire someone to mow my lawn. Would that make my life better? Maybe, maybe not.

You have to decide where that line is for yourself.

MMM buys milk from the store, he doesn't milk his own animals. 

Obviously insourcing vs. outsourcing is a line each much draw for themselves.  MMM doesn't argue one should insource everything, but that one should consider what they are outsourcing, rather than accept things by default, like many people do, and should maybe push themselves to insource a little more than they are now, because the accompanying feeling of badassity and skills will improve their life more than the specialization (earning more during that hour and paying someone else to do that activity) will.

In other words, I reject both of your premises as being tenants of Mustachianism.  :)

Specialization absolutely is a great thing.  But the key is to not blindly do anything without consideration -- DIY (general jack of all trades) blindly or specialization blindly.  It isn't an "either-or," but something you should consider for each thing in your life.
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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2015, 02:42:14 PM »
Why has no one mentioned that OP, has actually followed MMM in that having FU money, he traded money for less work time? Seems like you ARE on board! Welcome!

As for the second item, I would hope that the achievement and challenge of doing shit yourself would be self-evident. Like Arebelspy more eloquently points out, you in-source some things now that some would outsource (like complicated computer issues). Have you never put up a shelf? Could have hired a handyman. So you're not that far off on the second point either!

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2015, 02:51:29 PM »
I would love to spend a reasonable amount of my day performing higher level intellectual, strategic, and educational activities.  Sadly, our corporate wisdom has decided that it is more efficient to eliminate administrative and lower level employees and push tedious tasks, such as raw data input, back on highly compensated employees as they know we will complete the task at the expense of our personal time if need be.  Even going as far as taking those who had moved past grunt status and pulling them back down. The only "exploit" that goes on is higher level managers sitting around trying to figure out how to exploit more out of their employees.

I will probably always "work" in some capacity, but my FI is all about doing it on my terms, and not being used and abused to make someone else look good.             

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2015, 02:54:37 PM »
But the idea that I'd be even better off not working at all has never felt right. I enjoy what I do and those whom I work with, and I feel I'm accomplishing good things for the world as well as myself in so doing. Having "FU money" is a very nice safety net and I am sure that if I didn't work I would (and hopefully someday will) pursue more vigorously various activities that I also enjoy and new ones to boot, but meanwhile I would rank most of my work time as among the most enjoyable of my overall time (and the least rewarding bits of work time as no less satisfying than the least rewarding of non-work time such as doing household chores).

Nothing wrong with working if it's one of the things that give you self worth and you value doing it. I would say that you're in the minority of most people, especially those interested in FI/RE. The "retiring early" goal doesn't mean you have to stop working and become a layabout, but it frees you to work on what you deem enriching. You're already there, so stay the course if it makes you happy.

Personally, I've been stuck in the movie Groundhog Day for 2.5 years at work. It pays well, is easy, and allows me to be home with the family more than more fulfilling work, but most days it feels like a sentence rather than a blessing. Imagine a task you could write a script to fully automate in 30 minutes, but you have to do manually for 5 years. I have FU Money, but choose not to pull the trigger. By the time this project finishes, I should be halfway to my "don't have to work unless I choose to" number. It may sound like laziness, but I prefer to change projects every 6 months or so because I enjoy learning and becoming better. Doing the same tasks for longer than that become monotonous and boring.

As far as the end of your post, what is stopping you from doing both "industry" and "exploit"? Balance can be very fulfilling. It's what I strive for, but the beam is usually, and currently, tilted.

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2015, 03:01:06 PM »
I would love to spend a reasonable amount of my day performing higher level intellectual, strategic, and educational activities.  Sadly, our corporate wisdom has decided that it is more efficient to eliminate administrative and lower level employees and push tedious tasks, such as raw data input, back on highly compensated employees as they know we will complete the task at the expense of our personal time if need be.  Even going as far as taking those who had moved past grunt status and pulling them back down. The only "exploit" that goes on is higher level managers sitting around trying to figure out how to exploit more out of their employees.

I will probably always "work" in some capacity, but my FI is all about doing it on my terms, and not being used and abused to make someone else look good.             

Yes yes yes... now THIS is precisely the MMM-ish tone that I have been reacting to! ;-)

The Oxford paper (which no one here seems to addressing due to the radar chaff of what folks have mis-interpreted as an attack on Mustachianism) implicitly questions whether this is in fact a generally increasing phenomenon (since if it was true we'd expect those with more income and thus more FI-ability to work less, not more but the trend is in the opposite direction). In other words, am I just lucky, or are true Mustachians a la MMM in some sense unlucky  (being highly compensated enough to become FI, yet having unrewarding work time that can be preferentially swapped for "insourcing" time)?

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2015, 03:04:09 PM »
Yes yes yes... now THIS is precisely the MMM-ish tone that I have been reacting to! ;-)

The Oxford paper (which no one here seems to addressing due to the radar chaff of what folks have mis-interpreted as an attack on Mustachianism) implicitly questions whether this is in fact a generally increasing phenomenon (since if it was true we'd expect those with more income and thus more FI-ability to work less, not more but the trend is in the opposite direction). In other words, am I just lucky, or are true Mustachians a la MMM in some sense unlucky  (being highly compensated enough to become FI, yet having unrewarding work time that can be preferentially swapped for "insourcing" time)?

Frankly, I'm fairly certain we're being trolled, but I'll bite anyway.

I think you are getting very well reasoned and rational responses here.  To cast them as rash reactions to an attack-- to even suggest that we see your point of view as an attack, and to not address the counterarguments, suggests that you are not open to looking at it in a different way.  I don't need to rebut a 43 page paper in order to have valid arguments contrary to yours.

On the off chance that we are not being trolled, I am genuinely happy that you have found a path that makes you happy and works for you, which is what MMM is all about anyway.  Carry on with my blessing.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 03:11:08 PM by iamlindoro »

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2015, 03:07:58 PM »
Why has no one mentioned that OP, has actually followed MMM in that having FU money, he traded money for less work time? Seems like you ARE on board! Welcome!

As for the second item, I would hope that the achievement and challenge of doing shit yourself would be self-evident. Like Arebelspy more eloquently points out, you in-source some things now that some would outsource (like complicated computer issues). Have you never put up a shelf? Could have hired a handyman. So you're not that far off on the second point either!

Yes, I AM most definitely on board! :-)

Re: the 2nd item, sure... last week my son and I repaired a sailboat mast myself and it was definitely satisfying. I am trapping mice nightly, not calling pest control folks (at least not yet)... maybe not "satisfying" in the same way but still feels right. But I do "outsource" a lot lot more than MMM in part because I'm working full-time so have less available time. I guess to sum it up, MMM sometimes kinda seems to imply that not choosing as he does = "ridiculousness".  To me, that part isn't what Mustachianism is all about.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2015, 03:09:22 PM »
I think you are getting very well reasoned and rational responses here.  To cast them as rash reactions to an attack-- to even suggest that we see your point of view as an attack, and to not address the counterarguments, suggests that you are not open to looking at it in a different way.

+1.

Troll or not, OP does not seem open to other points of view.  Or maybe isn't reading the replies? 
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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2015, 03:11:12 PM »
I guess to sum it up, MMM sometimes kinda seems to imply that not choosing as he does = "ridiculousness".  To me, that part isn't what Mustachianism is all about.

Yeah, it's not.  Many of us have pointed out that your narrow reading doesn't mesh with how the rest of us read it.  Maybe consider re-looking at how you read/interpret MMM's post, and keep in mind at the same time they're written with purposeful brashness designed to get through to people.  Take what you can from them, and leave the rest.  Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater though.
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freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2015, 03:19:15 PM »
...if what you are saying here were true, then you're saying someone who decides to move out into the middle of nowhere, live completely off the grid, raise his own food, and fend for himself completely isn't financially independent?

Your logic... Is not logical.

If someone has to work 60 hours per week at a job to pay for their food, are they financially independent? You will no doubt say: no way! So if another person has to work 60 hours a week on their farm in order to have enough food to eat, is it logical to consider them financially independent? Personally, I think not. In both cases their personal labor is equally essential to their survival as their personal capital is insufficient to allow them to do as they please with their time. It's true that the second person would have less dependence on the rest of civilization (but not none - they are probably buying seeds and tools and other stuff), but that is not what I call financial independence.

And the vast majority of the billion+ people who live in the middle of nowhere, off the grid, raising all their own food, and fending for themselves completely are not only working long hours in order to to live, but are not living well. It's hard to call a subsistence farmer in a remote hamlet "financially independent" with a straight face.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2015, 03:21:25 PM »
...if what you are saying here were true, then you're saying someone who decides to move out into the middle of nowhere, live completely off the grid, raise his own food, and fend for himself completely isn't financially independent?

Your logic... Is not logical.

If someone has to work 60 hours per week at a job to pay for their food, are they financially independent? You will no doubt say: no way! So if another person has to work 60 hours a week on their farm in order to have enough food to eat, is it logical to consider them financially independent? Personally, I think not. In both cases their personal labor is equally essential to their survival as their personal capital is insufficient to allow them to do as they please with their time. It's true that the second person would have less dependence on the rest of civilization (but not none - they are probably buying seeds and tools and other stuff), but that is not what I call financial independence.

And the vast majority of the billion+ people who live in the middle of nowhere, off the grid, raising all their own food, and fending for themselves completely are not only working long hours in order to to live, but are not living well. It's hard to call a subsistence farmer in a remote hamlet "financially independent" with a straight face.

"financially independent"

I don't think those words mean what you think they mean

iamlindoro

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2015, 03:23:31 PM »
And the vast majority of the billion+ people who live in the middle of nowhere, off the grid, raising all their own food, and fending for themselves completely are not only working long hours in order to to live, but are not living well. It's hard to call a subsistence farmer in a remote hamlet "financially independent" with a straight face.

The difference, of course, is that someone FI by the definition of an MMM adherent *does not have to do the work to survive*.  They do it to enrich themselves, to challenge themselves, and for enjoyment.  Draw your own line in the sand of what you *want* to do yourself, and what you *want* to pay for, and then earn the minimum amount of money necessary to support that lifestyle in perpetuity.  Then do so, stress free.

arebelspy

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2015, 03:23:53 PM »
...if what you are saying here were true, then you're saying someone who decides to move out into the middle of nowhere, live completely off the grid, raise his own food, and fend for himself completely isn't financially independent?

Your logic... Is not logical.

If someone has to work 60 hours per week at a job to pay for their food, are they financially independent? You will no doubt say: no way! So if another person has to work 60 hours a week on their farm in order to have enough food to eat, is it logical to consider them financially independent? Personally, I think not. In both cases their personal labor is equally essential to their survival as their personal capital is insufficient to allow them to do as they please with their time. It's true that the second person would have less dependence on the rest of civilization (but not none - they are probably buying seeds and tools and other stuff), but that is not what I call financial independence.

And the vast majority of the billion+ people who live in the middle of nowhere, off the grid, raising all their own food, and fending for themselves completely are not only working long hours in order to to live, but are not living well. It's hard to call a subsistence farmer in a remote hamlet "financially independent" with a straight face.

I agree, I think one has to have enough coming in from investments to support their lifestyle to be "financially independent" under a FIRE-type definition.

Many use the term to mean "not beholden to anyone else" -- e.g. when a teenager becomes "financially independent" from their parents when they move out and start paying their own bills.  They aren't FI in our sense of the word, however.  The farmer is similar.  But if the farmer had an FU stache of 500k and could stop farming and buy all the food they need, but farm for pleasure and independence's sake, of course they're FI.

There's two different definitions of FI -- around here we commonly mean "have enough money to not work yet still pay all expenses." 

The farmer is not that type of FI.  But he is the type of FI as in "not dependent on anyone else financially."
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freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2015, 03:25:41 PM »
I think you are getting very well reasoned and rational responses here.  To cast them as rash reactions to an attack-- to even suggest that we see your point of view as an attack, and to not address the counterarguments, suggests that you are not open to looking at it in a different way.

+1.

Troll or not, OP does not seem open to other points of view.  Or maybe isn't reading the replies?

I am reading replies (as my paid work permits, ha ha) & am very open to other points of view. But I was hoping that SOMEONE would express such views about the linked articles rather than about the fluff I put around them (that was really intended to just get the conversation started, trying for a bit of MMM brashness myself was perhaps a bit much though since yeah OK there's not really a "fatal flaw"...).

Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Kris

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2015, 03:33:28 PM »
I think you are getting very well reasoned and rational responses here.  To cast them as rash reactions to an attack-- to even suggest that we see your point of view as an attack, and to not address the counterarguments, suggests that you are not open to looking at it in a different way.

+1.

Troll or not, OP does not seem open to other points of view.  Or maybe isn't reading the replies?

I am reading replies (as my paid work permits, ha ha) & am very open to other points of view. But I was hoping that SOMEONE would express such views about the linked articles rather than about the fluff I put around them (that was really intended to just get the conversation started, trying for a bit of MMM brashness myself was perhaps a bit much though since yeah OK there's not really a "fatal flaw"...).

Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Maybe because it seems completely obvious?

arebelspy

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2015, 03:34:11 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers)

There's no one question to your answer.

Paid work can certainly be quite interesting.

Other work is not interesting at all, that's why they have to pay people to do it.

And some people find some work interesting that others would find quite boring.  And some find it interesting at first, then tire of it over time.

For most of us here though, we want the flexibility to move on when the work is no longer interesting (if it ever was) or find more interesting things than work in ER.  Others will continue their work, and not ER after FI, because they find it interesting enough.

THAT's the bottom line for Mustachianism--freedom to work, or not, as you choose, and find interesting work, or play.

For me, I love my job.  But I've done it 8 years.  That's plenty of time to get out of it what I wanted, and move on to other interesting things.

If your job is interesting, great.  But is it the only interesting thing, ever?  Is there nothing else out there that would interest you?  If so, work at your job for 40 years.  That's cool.  In the meantime, reduce your waste (ala Mustachianism).  If then you find that you want other things, you have the freedom to move on.

Regular paid work is interesting to an individual. Or it's not.  But that's irrelevant to Mustachianism.
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iamlindoro

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2015, 03:35:00 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

What about the work being paid makes it more interesting?  Is attaching money to it a panacea that makes it instantaneously more rewarding?  I do not find my my satisfaction with my job is increasing.  Nor, I suspect (and anecdotally observe), do most others.

Your assumption here also seems to be that ER = inactivity, whereas for must of us, it's not at all.  In fact, I anticipate greatly increased activity.  More travel, more entrepreneurial ventures, and all without any obligation to continue them if I become dissatisfied, because I am not chained to them as a means of supporting myself.  In ER, I am opening up my job for someone else who needs the money, and filling my hours in a way that is far more interesting to me.  At present, nobody is willing to offer me a job for the same wage that allows me to do whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Kris

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2015, 03:38:50 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

What about the work being paid makes it more interesting?  Is attaching money to it a panacea that makes it instantaneously more rewarding?  I do not find my my satisfaction with my job is increasing.  Nor, I suspect (and anecdotally observe), do most others.

Your assumption here also seems to be that ER = inactivity, whereas for must of us, it's not at all.  In fact, I anticipate greatly increased activity.  More travel, more entrepreneurial ventures, and all without any obligation to continue them if I become dissatisfied, because I am not chained to them as a means of supporting myself.  In ER, I am opening up my job for someone else who needs the money, and filling my hours in a way that is far more interesting to me.  At present, nobody is willing to offer me a job for the same wage that allows me to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

This.  And once I am FI, if someone magically decides to offer me a salary in exchange for me doing whatever I want, whenever I want, for as long as I agree to have him or her give me that salary, that doesn't mean I won't be FI anymore.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2015, 03:45:40 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Honestly, I'm not sure it matters much if engaging work is becoming "more" or "less" common. What matters is simply, "Is MY work engaging? Would I continue to do this (or any job) if I didn't need the money?" If yes, keep working. If no, find a way to RE.

I'm glad you love your work so much. There are others like you here who are really only interested in FI, not RE. My entirely anecdotal experience is that you are in the minority (not here in particular, but IRL), but I could be wrong. I am one of the many here who has a well-paying knowledge-work job and is fighting hard for FIRE. What pays well and what I enjoy doing are not the same - even if the paid work is intellectually engaging.

There is something intrinsically enjoyable about the *freedom* to do as I please, even if what I end up choosing is technically the same activity. I enjoy coding, but doing it on my own time would cut out the politics, the paperwork, the meetings, etc. which compose 90% of my workdays. If you don't have to deal with that stuff at your knowledge-work job then I'm super jelly :)

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2015, 03:47:42 PM »
Generally speaking, I dislike my job and can't wait to quit and pursue the things I enjoy (which are very difficult to monetize, and so cannot be my source of income themselves).

If you enjoy your work and have no other pressing priority (as MMM had fatherhood) then I say more power to you. This is about choice; being free to choose what you do with your time, and free to change your mind at a moment's notice without worrying how you will house, clothe or feed yourself.

Philociraptor

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2015, 03:47:59 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Here's where personal opinion comes into play. The study comes to the conclusion that highly educated individuals are working more than less educated ones, but the study can't come close to explaining why that is. So I'll present another theory: highly educated individuals are not immune to advertising, logical errors, lifestyle creep, and keeping up with the Joneses. Therefore, when one is highly educated (correlating with high compensation) each hour they work leads to more earnings, much more earnings than an extra hour worked by a person of little education. That extra work is more valuable because they're compensated more for it!

Another point: from the quote in your original post, they mention that there are less dull jobs and more glamorous ones. That is simply untrue. There may be fewer "dull jobs" thanks to automation and efficiency, but I don't see the rise in "glamorous jobs". Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that most "glamorous jobs" they're thinking about have a small group of highly-compensated individuals and a large group of folks making marginal amounts of money from these jobs.

I believe you're reading the results of the study correctly, but the meaning you're drawing from those results is incorrect. Regular paid work is NOT getting more interesting except for an exceptionally small group, those who derive their self-worth and value from their jobs. That fact doesn't call Mustachianism into question.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2015, 05:00:16 PM »
Work in advanced economies has become more knowledge-intensive and intellectual. There are fewer really dull jobs, like lift-operating, and more glamorous ones, like fashion design. That means more people than ever can enjoy “exploit” at the office. Work has come to offer the sort of pleasures that rich people used to seek in their time off.

If the argument really is this ridiculous, I'm not surprised most people aren't commenting on the paper. Most jobs are very very dull. I think the Economist columnist doesn't have a clue how many cashiers, janitors, and call center workers there are in this country.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2015, 05:44:54 PM »
Super simple explanation: there is dignity and self worth in accomplishments.

If you find that in a 9-5 job after you hit FI then keep at it. If you prefer to accomplish new things and learn new skills with DIY tasks after you ER then you should do that. To each his own but I think Mustachianism is about personal growth.

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #35 on: April 08, 2015, 05:45:45 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Here's where personal opinion comes into play. The study comes to the conclusion that highly educated individuals are working more than less educated ones, but the study can't come close to explaining why that is. So I'll present another theory: highly educated individuals are not immune to advertising, logical errors, lifestyle creep, and keeping up with the Joneses. Therefore, when one is highly educated (correlating with high compensation) each hour they work leads to more earnings, much more earnings than an extra hour worked by a person of little education. That extra work is more valuable because they're compensated more for it!

Another point: from the quote in your original post, they mention that there are less dull jobs and more glamorous ones. That is simply untrue. There may be fewer "dull jobs" thanks to automation and efficiency, but I don't see the rise in "glamorous jobs". Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that most "glamorous jobs" they're thinking about have a small group of highly-compensated individuals and a large group of folks making marginal amounts of money from these jobs.

I believe you're reading the results of the study correctly, but the meaning you're drawing from those results is incorrect. Regular paid work is NOT getting more interesting except for an exceptionally small group, those who derive their self-worth and value from their jobs. That fact doesn't call Mustachianism into question.

This is the discussion I was hoping for on this thread.

But you assert as "fact" without any data or supporting arguments ("I don't see the rise..." and "I would be willing to bet..." don't count) the thesis that "Regular paid work is NOT getting more interesting except for an exceptionally small group". Admittedly the Oxford paper and Economist article offered only indirect evidence for the alternative proposition that regular paid work is generally getting more interesting (in the upper tier of compensation/education, which is not a small group and in which I'd bet an overwhelming majority of current Mustachians sit) but they did at least offer some supporting arguments, including the point that a number of activities that were once leisure-time gentlemenly pursuits, such as scientific research, so thus ipso facto interesting, are now clearly mainly paid work and not often/easily done by amateurs.

Anyway so how could we empirically test this question? One way might be to investigate whether people presented with the option not to work, choose not to do so  at a greater or lesser rate than in the past. If at a greater rate, that would support the proposition that regular paid work is getting less interesting. If at a lesser rate, that would support the alternative (albeit complicated by longer life expectancies). We could look at the % of folks choosing early vs. late retirement, or even whether the rise of Obamacare (which has free many of us from having to worry as much about "mainstream" employment) has led to more early retirement vs. more entrepreneurship. I don't know the answer and I'm not necessarily supporting the Oxford/Economist line.

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #36 on: April 08, 2015, 05:49:26 PM »
Work in advanced economies has become more knowledge-intensive and intellectual. There are fewer really dull jobs, like lift-operating, and more glamorous ones, like fashion design. That means more people than ever can enjoy “exploit” at the office. Work has come to offer the sort of pleasures that rich people used to seek in their time off.

If the argument really is this ridiculous, I'm not surprised most people aren't commenting on the paper. Most jobs are very very dull. I think the Economist columnist doesn't have a clue how many cashiers, janitors, and call center workers there are in this country.

Well there's quite a bit of data in the Oxford study and some more nuanced conclusions... as I said The Economist naturally only sound-bited it. But regarding "Most jobs are very very dull" the question isn't whether that's true or not, the question is whether the percentage of interesting jobs is growing or shrinking. Certainly one would expect there are now fewer cashiers and janitors, proportionally, than there once were... thanks to automation. Call center workers, well probably significantly fewer in *this* country ;-), in a way also thanks to technology.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #37 on: April 08, 2015, 05:55:11 PM »
Again the main question I'm trying to ask here is whether, if regular paid work is really getting more rather than less interesting (for the most educated/skilled workers), that would call into question the "insourced=good" plank of Mustachianism as well as about actually doing ER=good (as something applicable to most folks vs. just as particular personal choices among many)? I'm not hearing much responsiveness to this question.

Here's where personal opinion comes into play. The study comes to the conclusion that highly educated individuals are working more than less educated ones, but the study can't come close to explaining why that is. So I'll present another theory: highly educated individuals are not immune to advertising, logical errors, lifestyle creep, and keeping up with the Joneses. Therefore, when one is highly educated (correlating with high compensation) each hour they work leads to more earnings, much more earnings than an extra hour worked by a person of little education. That extra work is more valuable because they're compensated more for it!

Another point: from the quote in your original post, they mention that there are less dull jobs and more glamorous ones. That is simply untrue. There may be fewer "dull jobs" thanks to automation and efficiency, but I don't see the rise in "glamorous jobs". Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that most "glamorous jobs" they're thinking about have a small group of highly-compensated individuals and a large group of folks making marginal amounts of money from these jobs.

I believe you're reading the results of the study correctly, but the meaning you're drawing from those results is incorrect. Regular paid work is NOT getting more interesting except for an exceptionally small group, those who derive their self-worth and value from their jobs. That fact doesn't call Mustachianism into question.

This is the discussion I was hoping for on this thread.

But you assert as "fact" without any data or supporting arguments ("I don't see the rise..." and "I would be willing to bet..." don't count) the thesis that "Regular paid work is NOT getting more interesting except for an exceptionally small group". Admittedly the Oxford paper and Economist article offered only indirect evidence for the alternative proposition that regular paid work is generally getting more interesting (in the upper tier of compensation/education, which is not a small group and in which I'd bet an overwhelming majority of current Mustachians sit) but they did at least offer some supporting arguments, including the point that a number of activities that were once leisure-time gentlemenly pursuits, such as scientific research, so thus ipso facto interesting, are now clearly mainly paid work and not often/easily done by amateurs.

Anyway so how could we empirically test this question? One way might be to investigate whether people presented with the option not to work, choose not to do so  at a greater or lesser rate than in the past. If at a greater rate, that would support the proposition that regular paid work is getting less interesting. If at a lesser rate, that would support the alternative (albeit complicated by longer life expectancies). We could look at the % of folks choosing early vs. late retirement, or even whether the rise of Obamacare (which has free many of us from having to worry as much about "mainstream" employment) has led to more early retirement vs. more entrepreneurship. I don't know the answer and I'm not necessarily supporting the Oxford/Economist line.

No, what you were hoping for was someone to argue with so you could flex your intellectualism (disclaimer: my opinion, since you seem to take everything as stated fact). We know from psychology that people aren't very good and choosing the optimal path for themselves or their own happiness, so a population study in early vs. late retirement is useless in this case.

The study shows that some previously unpaid jobs, done for fulfillment, are now getting paid. Cool story bro. But that doesn't support your original argument.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 06:54:06 PM by Philociraptor »

Eric

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #38 on: April 08, 2015, 06:16:25 PM »
Work in advanced economies has become more knowledge-intensive and intellectual. There are fewer really dull jobs, like lift-operating, and more glamorous ones, like fashion design. That means more people than ever can enjoy “exploit” at the office. Work has come to offer the sort of pleasures that rich people used to seek in their time off.

If the argument really is this ridiculous, I'm not surprised most people aren't commenting on the paper. Most jobs are very very dull. I think the Economist columnist doesn't have a clue how many cashiers, janitors, and call center workers there are in this country.

Well there's quite a bit of data in the Oxford study and some more nuanced conclusions... as I said The Economist naturally only sound-bited it. But regarding "Most jobs are very very dull" the question isn't whether that's true or not, the question is whether the percentage of interesting jobs is growing or shrinking. Certainly one would expect there are now fewer cashiers and janitors, proportionally, than there once were... thanks to automation. Call center workers, well probably significantly fewer in *this* country ;-), in a way also thanks to technology.

I'm a little lost.  I guess I'm wondering why the question is whether the percentage of interesting jobs is growing or shrinking.  What do overall trends have to do with anything?  As posted by AJ above, isn't the only relevant data point the enjoyability of one job -- the one you're working?

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2015, 07:48:38 PM »
OP, did you actually read the paper you cite?  I read through the paper, and the sound bite from the Economist you quote does not accurately summarize the paper's actual research content.  They covered data on time spent in categorized activities, showing that higher compensated people are indeed working more.  No data was presented regarding people's satisfaction (or lack thereof) with these activities. 

It's hard to find comparisons of job satisfaction surveys for more than a few years, but this article
http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/06/20/most-americans-are-unhappy-at-work/
summarizes a recurring study from the Conference Board which shows a significant decline in worker happiness since 1987, with currently less than half of those surveyed saying they're satisfied in their jobs.

My personal take on people who are highly satisfied with their jobs (especially in tech or IT fields) is that they're often limited intellectually, socially, and athletically. 

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."  -Robert A. Heinlein

You bring up another false dichotomy that many people use to justify hiring others to do work: "I'll work at my highly compensated job because my compensation per hour > compensation rate of xxx specialist, who I'll hire."  This is only true if you do in fact work extra hours rather than do this task.  Most of the time this is not true; our labor hours and/or compensation is set, and we pay others while we sit unproductively rather than learn new tasks and broaden our skill set. 

Additionally, I'd posit that if you're working so much that you can't take on non-"paid work" tasks, your life/work balance is already skewed, and not favorably.

Even if we were to accept the (very unproven) thesis that some modern jobs offer the equivalent of Veblen's "exploit" satisfaction to workers, I'd say that narrow, specialized stature is a pale, sad shadow of what those historical aristocrats strove for: accomplishment in many areas, engagement in intellect, art, public policy, adventure.

That's my goal for financial independence: to live better, more broadly, to take the offered chance.  I don't think I can do that in an office.

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2015, 11:15:37 AM »
...the sound bite from the Economist you quote does not accurately summarize the paper's actual research content.  They covered data on time spent in categorized activities, showing that higher compensated people are indeed working more.  No data was presented regarding people's satisfaction (or lack thereof) with these activities...

Correct... that was only a possible explanation for the data (suggested in the original paper as well as by The Economist). It's right to be skeptical of "Just So Stories" but OTOH there must be some explanation and this data does at least suggest that higher compensated people aren't already rushing towards Mustachianism.

Quote
My personal take on people who are highly satisfied with their jobs (especially in tech or IT fields) is that they're often limited intellectually, socially, and athletically. 

Richard Branson is more what I was thinking about as a paradigm of job satisfaction blending with life satisfaction. I don't think it would be easy to call him limited intellectually, socially, or athletically.

Quote
...Even if we were to accept the (very unproven) thesis that some modern jobs offer the equivalent of Veblen's "exploit" satisfaction to workers, I'd say that narrow, specialized stature is a pale, sad shadow of what those historical aristocrats strove for: accomplishment in many areas, engagement in intellect, art, public policy, adventure.
That's my goal for financial independence: to live better, more broadly, to take the offered chance.  I don't think I can do that in an office.

That most historical aristocrats were really Renaissance Men is of course also a very unproven thesis. It is certainly true that many of them weren't skilled in basic trades or things like cooking and cleaning or sometimes even dressing themselves. And many of the hereditary upper class who made the most memorable contributions were rather narrow in their accomplishments (e.g. Charles Darwin).
 
But I'm with you about living more broadly! This week I've fixed a sailboat mast, climbed a mountain, assisted with my town's government, helped fundraise for a kids competition, and gone dancing... as well as spent time in my actual job. So no I couldn't live more broadly *just* in an office. The question here is whether for most of us the office will still have a significant role to play in that overall mosaic of life. To the degree that the answer is "yes" then the full-throttle version of Mustachianism (get FI ASAP and drop out of the rat race) should remain of more limited appeal rather than (as MMM sometime seems to posit) being pretty much the best plan for all, with staying with a traditional career spun as a mug's game for over-consumers (and I guess in your version also nerds who don't have a real life).

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2015, 11:19:57 AM »
the full-throttle version of Mustachianism (get FI ASAP and drop out of the rat race) should remain of more limited appeal

And again, multiple people have told you that's not their interpretation of Mustachianism.  Do you think you might be reading it wrong if basically no one else reads it that way?  You keep harping on this made up definition of Mustachianism that many of us have told you seems to be a very odd misinterpretation.

Mustachianism is about FI and options and badassity, yes.  It's not about dropping out ASAP.  It's about building a good life.  If quitting your job gets you there, great.  If working does, great.
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bacchi

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2015, 11:46:06 AM »
Anyway so how could we empirically test this question? One way might be to investigate whether people presented with the option not to work, choose not to do so  at a greater or lesser rate than in the past.

Yep, we could ask those in the intellectually demanding jobs whether they'd stay at their jobs for free if they won the lottery. The lottery earnings wouldn't be enough to, say, open their own research lab, but would be enough to live very comfortably.

Richard Branson is a fine example of someone who continues to work. Of course, he's an extreme outlier that's irrelevant to the rest of us working schleps. Most of us have to contend with irrational deadlines, non-listening bosses, and inane rules.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2015, 12:35:15 PM »
Correct... that was only a possible explanation for the data (suggested in the original paper as well as by The Economist). It's right to be skeptical of "Just So Stories" but OTOH there must be some explanation and this data does at least suggest that higher compensated people aren't already rushing towards Mustachianism.

That most historical aristocrats were really Renaissance Men is of course also a very unproven thesis.
Aaaargggghhhhh!
Freebeer, I'm trying not to get frustrated and listen to your posts, but I can't help it.
For starters, the word 'data' is plural.  Datum is the singular form of data.  It is incorrect to say "this data" or "the data is."  Also, data are quantifiable observations.  The data do not suggest anything; we merely infer what mechanisms may be causing specific patterns in our data.
Also, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation for a pattern or phenomenon that has been rigorously tested and is generally agreed upon. 
A thesis is a body of work focusing on related questions.  A hypothesis is a narrow and testable explanation for a specific pattern or phenomenon.

In most cases you are presenting neither a theory nor a hypothesis.  Your assertions are not theories because they are not well substantiated or broadly supported, and they are not hypotheses (at least not in this thread) because there are no data with which to challenge them.

I will just throw my voice into the chorus here saying that I do not believe a tenent of mustachianism is to quit work as soon as possible.  Instead, the goal is to maximize happiness by spending wisely and gaining financial freedom. 
Also, I agree with kendallf that you are stretching what was presented in that paper to conform to your argument.  The data are simply not there to support the conjectures being made.

EDIT: typo
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 01:55:38 PM by nereo »

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #44 on: April 09, 2015, 12:46:00 PM »
Kill me now.  Please, no more of these we have an "obligation" to ourselves and society to work and do what we're good at nonsensical threads.  (Spider-Man may feel he has a duty to society, but I sure as shit don't.)  Or any more of the "luck" craziness.  (Dunno why somebody who's reading Oxford academic papers would start talking about "luck" anyway.) 

freebeer

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #45 on: April 09, 2015, 01:45:20 PM »
...
I will just throw my voice into the chorus here saying that I do not believe a tenant of mustachianism is to quit work as soon as possible...

I think you meant "tenet". It's not fundamental but certainly it is woven into MMM's discourse and default advice. For example, MMM just recently tweeted to the Canadian couple worried about making it on $200K/year to "retire RIGHT NOW - you've made it!" (and the caps were his, not mine). This where no indication was presented in the source article that either person found their work at all burdensome (to the contrary the wife said about her prior job that “I loved the people and the work was always challenging”). So that sure sounded like "quit work as soon as possible" to me.

Anyway I was just trying to poke a bit at this ... but I hadn't yet seen the thread on Sacred Cows, that captured it and much much more and the humor's more overt.

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2015, 01:48:54 PM »
Correct... that was only a possible explanation for the data (suggested in the original paper as well as by The Economist). It's right to be skeptical of "Just So Stories" but OTOH there must be some explanation and this data does at least suggest that higher compensated people aren't already rushing towards Mustachianism.

That most historical aristocrats were really Renaissance Men is of course also a very unproven thesis.
Aaaargggghhhhh!
Freebeer, I'm trying not to get frustrated and listen to your posts, but I can't help it.
For starters, the word 'data' is plural.  Datum is the singular form of data.  It is incorrect to say "this data" or "the data is."  Also, data are quantifiable observations.  The data do not suggest anything; we merely infer what mechanisms may be causing specific patterns in our data.
Also, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation for a pattern or phenomenon that has been rigorously tested and is generally agreed upon. 
A thesis is a body of work focusing on related questions.  A hypothesis is a narrow and testable explanation for a specific pattern or phenomenon.

In most cases you are presenting neither a theory nor a hypothesis.  Your assertions are not theories because they are not well substantiated or broadly supported, and they are not hypotheses (at least not in this thread) because there are no data with which to challenge them.

I will just throw my voice into the chorus here saying that I do not believe a tenant of mustachianism is to quit work as soon as possible.  Instead, the goal is to maximize happiness by spending wisely and gaining financial freedom. 
Also, I agree with kendallf that you are stretching what was presented in that paper to conform to your argument.  The data are simply not there to support the conjectures being made.
it's tenet, not tenant. :)

(oh, and co-sign with everyone disagreeing with the OP. the paper is ridiculously long, but one trend in the US is that lower-paid jobs are often hourly and thus 40-hour-per-week gigs, while higher-paid jobs are salaried and thus "work-whenever-the-man-says-so")

nereo

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #47 on: April 09, 2015, 02:08:33 PM »

I think you meant "tenet".
Typo corrected.  This is what happens when you don't proof-read with autocorrect ;-)

Quote
It's not fundamental but certainly it is woven into MMM's discourse and default advice. For example, MMM just recently tweeted to the Canadian couple worried about making it on $200K/year to "retire RIGHT NOW - you've made it!" (and the caps were his, not mine). This where no indication was presented in the source article that either person found their work at all burdensome (to the contrary the wife said about her prior job that “I loved the people and the work was always challenging”). So that sure sounded like "quit work as soon as possible" to me.
I read that article, and I can understand MMM's advice - she recently unemployed, and they've been working incredibly hours while at the same time bleeding money.  Their challenge is that without her very high income they are unable to continue to spend $172k/year.  They are stressed because they cannot find a jobs which will pay such high wages.  Their two stated goals were retirement and funding their children's education. 
I think what's written between the lines is that most of their expenses now are to pay for them to work these absurd hours, and without working there's no need for a nanny, a grocery service, and private preschool.

arebelspy

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #48 on: April 09, 2015, 02:16:11 PM »
...
I will just throw my voice into the chorus here saying that I do not believe a tenant of mustachianism is to quit work as soon as possible...

I think you meant "tenet". It's not fundamental but certainly it is woven into MMM's discourse and default advice.

Again: no.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with three kids.
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whydavid

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Re: "Exploit" vs. Work: The Fatal Flaw in Mustachianism?
« Reply #49 on: April 09, 2015, 02:26:51 PM »
...
I will just throw my voice into the chorus here saying that I do not believe a tenant of mustachianism is to quit work as soon as possible...

I think you meant "tenet". It's not fundamental but certainly it is woven into MMM's discourse and default advice. For example, MMM just recently tweeted to the Canadian couple worried about making it on $200K/year to "retire RIGHT NOW - you've made it!" (and the caps were his, not mine). This where no indication was presented in the source article that either person found their work at all burdensome (to the contrary the wife said about her prior job that “I loved the people and the work was always challenging”). So that sure sounded like "quit work as soon as possible" to me.

Anyway I was just trying to poke a bit at this ... but I hadn't yet seen the thread on Sacred Cows, that captured it and much much more and the humor's more overt.

"retire - and by that I mean either quit working altogether or do something you enjoy regardless of income - RIGHT NOW - you've made it!" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. 

Not every sound bite is going to carry the nuance expressed in a couple hundred MMM articles, interviews, etc.  I think you are right that he typically comes across as assuming that most people want to quit working, but he'd be a giant gasbag if he always attached a full explanation of what is meant when he says "retire."  Also, a lot of his posts begin with some reader comment/case study that sets the stage for "retirement = stop working" based on the reader's preference, so context has to be considered as well.