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Taleb:How to legally own a person
Old 07-03-2016, 05:43 PM   #1
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Taleb:How to legally own a person

Great article about working for a company, what it means to be an employee these days, and working for 'the man'. Relevant for those trying to escape the rat race...
No solution offered, but it sheds a little little light. Sadly, I see myself profiled in the article.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: How to Own a Person | naked capitalism
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Old 07-03-2016, 07:39 PM   #2
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[Mod edit] decided he didn't wanna deal with us old slaves in 2008, and he sent a bunch of us over 55 years old out to pasture. Best thing to ever happen to us all.
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Old 07-03-2016, 08:00 PM   #3
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:32 AM   #4
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What you read in the blog commentary is not Nassim. Important point.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:12 AM   #5
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Absolutely fascinating. Now, I won't denigrate the sufferings of actual slaves by calling myself (or any other employee) one, but the author describes a lot of very interesting parallels.

I always thought of myself as a wage slave, and used to say I was "renting my brain" to the government and that by the time I got home (where are these 40-hour government work weeks, anyway? I seldom had one) there was hardly any brainpower left for me.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:31 AM   #6
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Interesting article and well worth the read. It makes me quite happy that I am retired and am not an indentured servant to an employ*r. I see that there were LOTS of comments, but I didn't read them. They often give me a headache.

And when you think about w*rk in these terms, I don't see why more people are doing their damnest to get out of it...

Quote:
Someone who has been employed for a while is giving you the evidence of submission

Evidence of submission is displayed by having gone through years of the ritual of depriving himself of his personal freedom for nine hours every day, punctual arrival at an office, denying himself his own schedule, and not having beaten up anyone. You have an obedient, housebroken dog.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:50 AM   #7
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Thanks to the mods for editing the thread title.

I remember back in days of w*rk, all the reshuffling of organizations and thinking the ones who were let go are the lucky ones and the ones that remained had the long long work hours, on call or w*rking from home.

I remember my last day when I co-w*rker came up to me and said that she wished she could retire to and leave the very stressful situation but couldn't because she just started a family.

When I left on the final day, I felt like Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke". The part where he pretends to submissively follow the boss' orders, steals the jeep and flees, not how the movie ends .
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:52 AM   #8
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Great article about working for a company, what it means to be an employee these days, and working for 'the man'.
Well, as far as "these days"--they are probably a lot better than the "old days" (1950s-1970s) for white collar workers due to the portability of retirement benefits. In the "old days" a person was virtually an indentured servant as he toiled away for the big payoff years near the end of his working life and the company had a lot of leverage. Less so today.
For non-management, non-professional types, the full employment and high demand for esp skilled blue-collar labor in the US has abated considerably since the "good old days," and neither labor nor management generally feels a need to be especially loyal. That's just an unavoidable result of global factors that the US could not escape forever.

Are those who are in business for themselves "slaves" to their customers according to Taleb's construct? The only way to be truly free of being "ruled" by others is to live in a shack on your own property and grow your own food.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:00 AM   #9
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When I was in engineering school my favorite professor (who later was my thesis adviser in grad school) told me to remember that I would always be working for myself, that employment was a mutual contract that either party could cancel on notice. He also taught me that I was a commodity and so was employment. Trade hours for money and be sure that you remember that just as you can quit, so can the employer. Stood me in very good stead. I also remember when I knew that my wife and I could live on what we had, not like we would want to, but we could eat, sleep out of the rain and get by. That was the moment I really felt free.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:17 AM   #10
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Are those who are in business for themselves "slaves" to their customers according to Taleb's construct? The only way to be truly free of being "ruled" by others is to live in a shack on your own property and grow your own food.
Strangely, maybe not. He starts out with the concept of the gyrovague as the ultimate free person.

In any case, this article was very thought provoking. It was a mish-mosh of the way the working world works, along with a good dose of politics.

I have to say, he uses a specific Megacorp in his example of a company man. Boy, I know that Megacorp all too well, and he is pretty much spot on, except that the dress code was a bit more relaxed than he thinks. I saw a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was because of what I saw, I got out.

But then I fell right into becoming a companies person.

Way too much hits home, right down to his prediction that we leave our company in an orderly way (he calls it an "honorable exit"), instead of sticking it to the man on the way out as you cross the bridge.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:19 AM   #11
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When I was in engineering school my favorite professor (who later was my thesis adviser in grad school) told me to remember that I would always be working for myself, that employment was a mutual contract that either party could cancel on notice. He also taught me that I was a commodity and so was employment. Trade hours for money and be sure that you remember that just as you can quit, so can the employer. Stood me in very good stead. I also remember when I knew that my wife and I could live on what we had, not like we would want to, but we could eat, sleep out of the rain and get by. That was the moment I really felt free.
Great to have had an advisor like that. Good way to look at employment.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:24 AM   #12
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Regarding the "companies person". What a concept, and so true. There is another thread in play on this forum called "Dress Code Issues" Here a group of interns had the chutzpa to petition their employer to change the dress code.

In getting fired, they pretty heavily screwed themselves for a while from employment. Much like AJ Clemente, whose first words as a TV reporter on air were two of the seven dirty words, it will take them a while to recover.

Today, The Company is in effect bigger than Megacorp.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:27 AM   #13
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To be actually free is quite hard in modern society. Look at all the threads on here about how to structure life to get this or that government granted exemption, for example ACA discounts. First they make an incredibly expensive and unworkable medical system, and then they grant subsidies if one jumps through a bunch of hoops.

Look at all the record keeping and essentially unpaid work that it takes to accurately file a 1040, which we must do.

When I bought my condo I intentionally bought a much cheaper place than I could have paid for. When she later found out what my cash reserves were my agent asked me why. I said because I have been reasonably free for a long time and I have no intention of voluntarily giving up any of the freedom I have. It would be incorrect to say that I would not prefer a higher material standard of living, I just am not willing to pay the price, either in cash or risk.

Right now I am working to try to keep our condo from entering into expensive upgrades that I see little need for or benefit from.

I think Taleb or whoever wrote this piece is is correct. The only way you can have freedom is to not give a crap about what rewards or punishments can be handed out to you or levied on you. At base, you have to be unafraid to die, or to disappoint people who may be important to you, whatever. Few of us can or will do this, and that is why few of us including me will ever be truly free.

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Old 07-04-2016, 11:30 AM   #14
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My son just graduated from college, got a good job at what seems to be a good company, he worked hard to get his education and I am proud of him. As father's do I was always worrying that he would get a good enough education and find a good job doing work that he would enjoy.

Now that he has achieved it, I see him where I was long ago, and feel a little bit of remorse. He has a lot of sh** to put up with during the next 30 or so years of wage servitude.

Over the past few years my counseling and advice to him was how to get to where he is now. Now it will be how to eventually get out of it.

Being a parent is hard.
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:17 PM   #15
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Nice article, I'll have to read the paper leading to the commentary when I get the time.

Any comment about dress codes reminds me how lax they became at MegaCorp in the late 90s when technical position people had a lot of employment opportunities. They weren't officially reminded, but if a Director said anything you could just tell your manager I'll put on the tie and then call back the head hunter. When 2008 happened the company got real tight on the dress code again. I decided it was just easier to work at home most time then. Now I hear from coworkers the work at home option is gone since they want people to leave.
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Old 07-04-2016, 02:48 PM   #16
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Absolutely fascinating. Now, I won't denigrate the sufferings of actual slaves by calling myself (or any other employee) one, but the author describes a lot of very interesting parallels.

I always thought of myself as a wage slave, and used to say I was "renting my brain" to the government and that by the time I got home (where are these 40-hour government work weeks, anyway? I seldom had one) there was hardly any brainpower left for me.
My head hunters who got me new jobs around the country, I called them my pimps, which of course made me a wage whore.
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Old 07-04-2016, 04:10 PM   #17
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Yep, laws, regulations, taxes, etc., and the need for income, preclude being "free". How much of the aforementioned are you willing to trade for flush toilets?

I've certainly done my share of complaining about the Dilbertesque culture of the corporation. But I made a decent living, escaped with a decently-matched 401k, and subsidized health insurance!

As for employment-at-will, I agree philosophically, but practically speaking, I submit that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Put another way, the beatings will continue until morale improves...
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Old 07-04-2016, 08:22 PM   #18
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Taleb is not saying anything new. Nor is he saying anything sensible - he's just trying to be a provocative follower of the "bash big bad megacorp" trend. Importantly, he fails to mention that for all the angst about today's workers being "slaves", we are a lot better off than people in our demographic (i.e. non-ruling class) have been under any other political/economic system - we have longer life expectancy, better health care, more material possessions, better education etc etc etc than at anytime in recorded history. Any critique of "naked capitalism" which fails to recognize that and offer a better alternative is, at best, populist nonsense.
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Old 07-04-2016, 08:55 PM   #19
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Ok, I admit, I absolutely did not understand the point of this article. Maybe it's because I'm African American and yes I find the concept of comparing megacorp workers to actual slaves the height of stupidity or maybe it's because I never understanding what the naked capitalism articles ramble about. they always seem to have articles where they start by quoting a sociologist, psychologist or in the case of this one "a researcher in practical and philosophical problems" What the heck is that?

lol, I gotta stop trying to hang on this website.
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Old 07-05-2016, 03:34 AM   #20
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Strangely, maybe not. He starts out with the concept of the gyrovague as the ultimate free person.
It seems some rather shady folks are trying to recapture the gyrovague lifestyle in today's America:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/ny...cle-click&_r=0
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