Dying early means big profits for bad businesses

“Steady improvements in American life expectancy have stalled, and more Americans are dying at younger ages. But for companies straining under the burden of their pension obligations, the distressing trend could have a grim upside: If people don’t end up living as long as they were projected to just a few years ago, their employers ultimately won’t have to pay them as much in pension and other lifelong retirement benefits.” From: Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions – Slashdot

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: You should expect the average American’s life expectancy to go down, over the next couple of decades. The overarching model for life in the US is for individuals to provide labor to businesses as long as they can, and to be thrown away when they can’t. Pensions? Retirement plans? All are generally inadequate in terms of both keeping seniors housed and fed, and for providing sufficient medical care, which is why we have Social Security and Medicare.

Big business doesn’t like SSI and Medicare though. It costs a lot of money to run the programs that care for the used-up and ground-down victims of capitalist exploitation, and a lot of that money comes from taxes. If you’re a big business who thinks that taxes should be eliminated, people will ask, “what about SSI and Medicare?” They’re a big obstacle standing in the way of a tax free nation. So, uh, don’t expect them to be around forever. The only thing protecting SSI and Medicare is that old people are allowed to vote. And, since voting has become an impediment to profits, uh, how much longer do you suppose that will be allowed?

 

Not a great hobby

Prospecting for Atomic Minerals Knoerr and Lutjen 1955[…] Those of you looking to change your career, here is an option to consider. Why not collect all those fancy minerals they use in an atomic bomb? It’s perfectly safe and easy for anyone to just pick up a shovel and start digging.” From: Bring Your Own Geiger Counter – Awful Library Books

I freely admit that this idea is unappealing to me only partially due to the potential danger — mostly, it sounds like you’d have to go outside to do any sort of prospecting, and ugh, outside.

Open office plans are snake oil bullshut

“When he [Srouji] was shown the floor plans, he was more or less just ‘F— that, f— you, f— this, this is bulls—.’ And they built his team their own building, off to the side on the campus …” Neowin: John Gruber: Apple employees rebelling against Apple Park’s open floor plan | Via Slashdot

Open floor plan offices reduce productivity. They don’t actually save you any money. Your employees hate working in them. Given these facts, why then do 70% of American businesses use open floor plan offices?

Part of the issue might be that they’ve all fallen for a scam, but are now in too deep to admit their mistake without looking like fools. (Avoiding the appearance of foolishness is second only to personal financial gain as a motivating factor for business people.)

But I’m beginning to suspect there’s something else at play. I think the means and ends of certain business practices have gotten mixed up in the minds of corporate culture, and those of us on the outside haven’t noticed. See, we’re used to the idea that executives and business owners are willing to do anything to enrich themselves, even if makes their employees miserable. But I think that this has been going on so long that those execs and owners have started to believe that employee misery in-and-of-itself actually generates financial rewards, regardless of the actual mechanics that cause that misery.

We’ll see, in time, if I am right.

“Um, there’s a skunk loose in the office.”

“Good, good, as long as the employees are unhappy, we’ll remain millionaires.”

Too big to work?

Techdirt: Facebook, Twitter Consistently Fail At Distinguishing Abuse From Calling Out Abuse:

‘But, unfortunately, the response of many people to this kind of thing is just “do better Facebook” or “do better Twitter.” […] When you run a platform and you need to make thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of these kinds of decisions a day, you’re going to make mistakes. And that’s not because they’re “bad” at this, it’s just the nature of the beast. With that many decisions — many of which involve people demanding immediate action — there’s no easy way to have someone drop in and figure out all of the context in the short period of time they have to make a decision.’

Facebook, Twitter, Google, et. al., rely on algorithms and armies of beleaguered content moderators to try to protect people from abuse — and when you keep seeing stories about victims being punished, while their abusers get off scot-free, one can tell it’s clearly not working. If these industry titans, flush with smarts and capital can’t cope with the nastiness their platforms enable, then I think it’s safe to say that online discourse will remain completely fucked forever.