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Rich Penney - The Contradictions of Capitalism - Australia Z-Day, 2017

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Today we're here to listen to Rich talk about the contradictions of capitalism, so let's Invite you to welcome Rich Thanks so much ok, first thing's first, you see one of my points in this presentation is going to be that I am a little bit disorganized and proof of this is that the computer has gone into night mode with... And I forgot about this because, you know, it's still synced to Canada time so I'm just fixing that now before we start and here we go! Ok. There we go You ever seen Signfeld, you know, Creamer? that's me OK! There is a wonderful line from a musician in Canada, his name is Mathew Good and he so aptly summarized the plight of millennials. Here it is right now: "I did it on Ritalin. I got me some good grades. Now I work me the night shift Where I pull and pull and pull til it hurts." Thanks so much for having me, by now you all know who I am, my name is Rich Penny I wrote the Justice Keeper saga. Today i'm gonna be taking you through a talk called "The Contradictions of Capitalism" And I am going to be telling you a little bit about my own personal story to help illustrate how I learned about these contradictions. Now there are a few things that you need to Understand about me: one is that I live with a condition called "Keratoconus" which basically means that my corneas are warped and my eyesight has deteriorated. On top of that, I have an impaired motor cortex which both affects my ability to move around and also my organisational skills. So, all that being said Let's start with contradiction number 1: You can have any job, just not the one you want. Ok. So, I create universes, that's what it means to be a novelist. Universes with form and structure, Universes with their own unique physics, with characters very vivid and lifelike, they've been mentioned in several reviews. I could have an idea for a television series and within about an hour i would have every episode of every season plotted out and in fact, last night during a social event I began to realize that my story was very, very similar to Peters, just replace "musician" with "novelist" I didn't pursue Story writing in the form of script writing or novel writing because I was told all my life that writers don't make a lot of money. So, let's just take a moment and take a look at some basic free market logic here. The "Invisible Hand" naturally allocates material rewards to people whose goods and services are most in demand. So, if you get payed more, it must mean you do more good, right? well let's examine that. This is data from the bureau of labor statistics in the United States In 2007, roughly 5% of Americans were unemployed. By 2009 that number dropped to 10%. Average salary for an investment banker: $71500 for a fast food worker it's only $19500 So I'm guessing, then, by market logic, destroying the economy is worth more to society than serving people food. This equation of dollar signs with worth is something we see everywhere. This is an article from 10 degrees managers don't want to see. Can I just direct your attention to that paragraph in the upper left? Music therapy majors learn how a variety of musical styles can help facilitate healing and ease suffering in patients. Ok, so.. oh yeah. how exactly do you use that when filling out an accounting report? That's the important sentence there. So, the implication here is Clear, right? don't be a music therapy major, be an accountant, because accountants make money, i just have one small question for you: what if you're a shitty accountant? More to the point, what if you're a shitty accountant, who happens to be a musical genius? The exact kind of musical genius who can see patterns in melodies and use those patterns to bring relief patients who are suffering. See maybe it's true that society needs 50 accountants or even 500 accountants for every one music therapist but what's more valuable overall? one single terrible accountant or one single brilliant music therapist? The market doesn't account for these things. Which brings me to contradiction number 2: The Market prides itself on " diversification of labour", but talents often go to waste because they can't be monetized. "Be an electrician." This was the advice from my 10th grade math teacher. One small problem with this you can choose a "stable" career, like electrician, if you're terrible at it you still won't succeed. now the Idea that there might be a biological basis for skill That we can't all be equally good at everything, wow... See what I mean? Clumsy! The idea that we can't all be equally good at everything is somewhat inathemate of the free market, because in the free market you're supposed to adapt to whatever's in demand so if you're a taxi driver and you get displaced by automation you're supposed to go to such and such technical institute and get retrained as a computer programmer. But, unfortunately there is evidence to suggest a biological basis for skills at least to a limited degree. This is a study by Ariel Starr, Melissa Libertus and Elisabeth Brannon of Duke University. they wanted to see whether children with a natural number sense went on to do better in math class their experiment was fairly simple they would show children cards with a series of dots on them and the only difference would be the size of each dot And they would do this with infants about 6 months old and they would show the infant 4 or 5 cards with the same number of dots and then a new card with a different number. Now some of these infants would notice and they would react, others wouldn't. And what our researchers found, was that the infants who reacted went on to be children who did better in math class. Here's their research: "Given that the correlation between number sens acuity and math achievement holds into adulthood, and given that adults in math-literate societies have, on average slightly higher innate number sense than adults from cultures without systemic count lists, it seems likely that there are bidirectional influences between number sense and math achievement. Nevertheless, the present finding that number sense acuity in infancy predicts number word knowledge and math scores in early childhood suggests that the influence of number sense acuity on math achievement precedes exposure to verbal counting and math education. This finding is therefore most consistent with the hypothesis that number sense acuity has a causal influence on math achievement. So to break that down to you in simple terms; If you practice with mathematics, you will develop a better number sense over time. But if you're born with a naturally high number sense, you're probably going to do better in math class Similar studies can be done with music. This is research performed by Miriam Mosey of the Carolinska Institute in Sweden. She wanted to see if there was a genetic basis for musical talent, and she did this by Having twins perform with musical instruments One twin would practice and the other one wouldn't. I don't have time to take you through the whole article, but can we just (you probably can't see it), but can we just direct your attention to that bottom paragraph? Two twins could have an equal level of musical ability, no matter how much more one twin practice compared to the other. In one instance, a twin practiced 20.228 hours more than his brother, but still had the same musical ability as the other twin. Yeah. So, unfortunately, in the Market whether or not you are capable of thriving in a certain career is never factored into the calculation of whether or not you should have access to basic resources for survival. Not... it's a sad reality but there are some people who will never be skilled mathematicians, there are some people who will never be skilled musicians And there are some people who will never be skilled accountants. This diversity is actually a good thing, because our wide range of talents allows us to come together and build things together and build things together and build things together, but unfortunately Capitalism doesn't look at you and your individual strengths and deci- and give you an opportunity to apply those strengths, rather you have to adapt to whatever happens to be in demand, and which brings me to contradiction number 3: Capitalism glories in individualism but it treats people as interchangeable cogs in a machine. Workers who are displaced through automation or outsourcing can be retrained for new jobs. That's the story we're always told. Low-skill work get's automated, allowing people to move on to more high skill professions. That's the myth, unfortunately it's just not true. This is data from David Atur M.I.T. This graph is fairly simple, each one of these collored curves represents a different decade. Everything above the red line is job growth, everything below is job losses On the left hand side we have low-skilled, low-paying jobs, and over here on the right we have high-skilled high-paying jobs. So what is this graph telling us? Well if you look at the blue curve, which represents the 1980's, you see a dip in low-skill, low- wage jobs, and growth in high-skilled, high-wage jobs. So, great, right? Unfortunately If you look at the two most recent decades Symbolized by the yellow and green lines, you have the exact opposite phenomenon. An explosion in low-skilled low-wage work, very minor work growth or even losses in high-skilled high-wage work. This is Atur's research Figure 5 contributes three nuances to the occupational polarization story above. First, the pace of employment gains and low-wage manual task-intensive jobs has risen successively across periods. Second the occupations that are losing employment share appear to be increasingly drawn from higher ranks of the occupational skill distribution. For example the highest ranked occupation to lose employment share during the 1980's lay at approximately the 45th percentile of the skill distribution. In the final two subperiods that rank rose still further to above the 75th percentile, suggesting that the locus of displaced middle-skill employment is moving into higher-skilled territories Third, growth in high-skilled, high-wage occupations, those associated with abstract work, decelerated markedly in the 2000's, with no relative growth in the top two deciles of the occupational skill distribution during 1999 through 2007, and only a modest recovery from 2007 to 2012 Now, i'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that David Atur is somebody who believes there's always going to be enough jobs for everybody. I happen to disagree with his conclusion, but even if he were correct, what would seem to be indicated here is that the kind of work that will be available to people will be low-skilled, repetitive, menial soul-crushing work. Now, the standard myth that we always hear again and again and again, is that any job is better than no job Unfortunately, in terms of mental health, that's just not true. People who are employed in engaging creative work, tend to become very well off in terms of mental health. But people who are employed in menial repetitive jobs tend to be worse off than those who are unemployed. This is data from a team of researchers lead by Peter Butterworth, of the center for mental health research at the Australian national University I'm just gonna read you the conclusion Overall, unemployed respondents had poorer mental health than those who were employed. However the mental health of those who were unemployed was comparable or superior to those in jobs of the poorest psycho-social quality. This pattern has been evident in perspective models: those in poorest quality jobs showed greatest decline in mental health greater decline in mental health, I should say, than those who were unemployed. Now, why is this the case? Well often, if you happen to work in a low-skilled, low-wage job, you take a lot of abuse from customers or from your bosses. Now, when I was in these positions myself, I was frequently told that I was just supposed to let it roll off me like water like a duck's- water of a duck's back, you just don't let it bother you. You just decide that you're not upset. Unfortunately the human brain doesn't work that way. Emotional and physical pain light up the same center of the brain, so a job, where you are payed to be told that you're worthless all the time really isn't all that different from a job where you're payed to be punched in the face. The claim that workers who are displaced through automation and outsourcing can be retrained for new jobs fails to ask the questions of whether these workers will benefit from the new jobs. And as always, it depends on the job. Which brings me to Contradiction number 4: People who don't work are a drain on the system, but we have to create jobs. Now, this one's tricky and not everyone, sometimes I tell it to people and they don't quite get why it's a contradiction So just as kind of a curiosity of mine, hands up if you can see why that's a contradiction... Ok so, a few people, let me break it down for you. If it's true that people who don't work are a drain on the system It means there's an enormous amount of work to do and not enough people to do it. But if it's true that we have to create jobs it means that there are plenty of people and there's not enough work for all of them. Well which one is it? These two things can't exist at the same time Which brings me to my story. These are the various jobs I've had throughout my adult life. This is what your life looks like if you don't pursue the vocation you actually want and simply drift aimlessly from one thing to another because you have to make money somehow. I was one of the people who experienced a significant decline in mental health due in no small part to repetitive, demeaning work. Why is that the case? well for one thing, I'm a night owl This is an article by live science, that breaks down what that means People span the range of those who are very early risers to very late setters and this is genetically determined, says Frederick Brown, A professor of psychology at Penn State. To a certain extent, behavior and environment- say, routinely pumping iron in a well-lit gym toward midnight- can shift can shift our built in dispositions. But for those of us squarely in one chronotype camp or the other, in the end, the body is boss. If you're a morning type person you can't become an evening type and vice-versa I don't have time to take you through the whole article, I really recommend it, it's a wonderful read, but let's just look at that highlighted paragraph there. Brown and Arand believe that one's unavoidable preference for morning or evening should not be considered bad or unhealthy. Society, they agree, should be more accepting of inherent sleep-and-wake modes particularly for night owls, for whom adhering to business hours is arduous, I cannot tell you how true that is I'm perpetually disorganized, as you've already seen. I have a tendency to misplace documents Lose files, while we were on lunch, I lost my phone for about 20 minutes I become increasingly flustered when I have to do paper work. Now why is this the case? Well, i'm not entirely clear on it to be perfectly honest with you but according to a neurologist who treated me it has to do with an impairment to my motor cortex. Which I've, we have know about since I was about 5 years old. See, your motor cortex does more than just control how you move your body, it also controls how you make sens of of the physical space around you, including where things belong. All these difficulties made it very hard for me to get work done on time when I was an office clerk I would have to double check and triple check everything. This is a normal aspect of my career for my entire life As a result, in that particular job, I would stay late an extra 3 or 4 hours after the end of my shift to make sure everything got done. Now, one day, My boss comes up to me, she takes me aside and she says I can't do that anymore, because they can't afford to pay me for all those extra hours. So, I had to either get my work done in the standard work day, or I was fired. So can you guess how I handled this? you got fired. Well I did but that's not- that was further along. See, I started by working for free. I would stay late the extra 3 or 4 hours, and I would just not log them. Well, after several weeks of this, wow...uh.. there we go. After several weeks of this, my boss takes me into her office, tells me that I committed a fireable offense accused me of falsifying payroll statements. and basically implied that I committed fraud. Now I broke down in tears in front of this woman. Because i told her that the only reason I was doing it is I didn't want to be the person who dragged down the rest of the team. I wanted to help, I wanted to contribute, and i wanted to make sure things got done on time. She called me dishonest and untrustworthy And sent me on my merry way. Shortly after this, my eyesight began to deteriorate from the Keratoconus I mentioned. I was living with constant nausea, dizziness, headaches It's been corrected to a limited degree, but I still deal with it to some extents. I sank into a deep dark depression cause I couldn't hold on to a job for more than 4 to 6 months, I felt like I was worthless, of no use to anyone, and just a burden. I wanted to die. Now, I did a lot of things to come out of that depression. I took medication, I saw a therapist. I learned the cause of my fading eyesight and had it corrected to a limited degree. And I wrote a book. And then another book. And then one more. I also got involved with the Zeitgeist movement, because the Zeitgeist movement helped me realize that I didn't need to justify my existence, I was perfectly entitled to exist and have access to my basic necessities, just by virtue of being alive. in that time, I've developed a new philosophy, it's pretty radical, are you ready for it? I only apply for jobs I actually want to do See, this is me. Perpetually disorganized, a night owl I have been repromanded for crying at work more than once. Socially awkward. Prone to boredom give me a repetitive task, which most jobs are, I have this tendency to zone out and start writing novels in my head. Non-conformist, hostile to authority, unable to multitask, that's part of the organization thing, and now on top of all that I've got chronic pain. Now I could maybe overcome one or two of these things but not all of them. In my late 20's when I was really starting to hit rock bottom, I used to tell people in my life that I felt like I had to completely overhaul Does ten minutes mean I have ten minutes left? Ok, we're gonna be done in like 2 Sorry. Easily distracted! we should put that on the list. Ok, So, As I was saying. I felt like I had to rehoo- overhaul my entire personality, essentially rebuild myself from the ground up. I felt like I had to make myself into a robot, that, you know whatever the corporations wanted me to be And, eventually I said that I just couldn't do it the amount of mental strain was just killing me and the response you always get in a situation like that is "Just try harder." "Go to bed at the same time every night, you will eventually become a morning person." Wrong. Develop a system, I love that because it's actually not advice, develop a system and you will eventually become organized. Wrong. See, if you think about it, "develop a system" just means "be organized and then you'll be organized". I did try harder. I, like, that- the part with the working for free was one of the many ways I tried harder. I tried harder so much that I had a nervous breakdown. And the truth of the matter is that I am a shitty office worker. But I'm a brilliant novelist, that's from a review. I don't know if you can read it. Umm, anyway And if you're thinking about contribution to society, the simple reality is that I've done more good in the last few years than I ever did in any of my full time jobs. I get E-mails from people telling them- telling me that my work has inspired them. I get E-mails from people after these talks; last year was like 300 Facebook friend requests and like 70 of them were people that would say: Rich, i don't know what I'm doing i feel completely alienated in this market-system, I feel like I'm worthless and i don't know how to get by. And I say, I know exactly how you feel cause I was like that a couple of years ago as well. No, I'll be perfectly honest with you I don't make a lot of money. I make some, I have a couple part-time jobs in addition to my novels maybe my novels will take off, and I won't have to worry anymore. but my family does help me out. So the day may come, because they're not gonna be able to do that forever, the day may come where Rich Penny is impoverished, and where he potentially you know, pays whatever consequences, up to and including death as a result of that. I have understood this and accepted this reality and realized that there's not that much I can do to change it. So, here's the basic crux of everything that I've come here to tell you. If you're a good capitalist, the thought of me being eliminated from the market because I can't find a way to monetize my skills, well that should make you happy cause i'm just a drain on the system anyway. But if somewhere deep inside you, you look at this guy who came up here and gave this talk and, you know, entertained you for 20 minutes and possibly made a buffoon of himself, If somewhere you look inside you and you see, you say, you know what? that person doesn't deserve to have that horrible fate, then I invite you to contemplate whether capitalism is really the system for you. And I'll leave you with one last quote, because last year the quotes were really popular, this is from a band called Hostage Life, and it was ins- I put it in, cause it was inspired by the psychopath talk. "My cause is acquisition. Survival of the vicious. Slaughter the competition. If you want a better spot, destroy what they've got And hang them high from a Windsor knot." Thanks for having me, have a wonderful Zeitgeist day

Video Details

Duration: 23 minutes and 15 seconds
Year: 2017
Country: Australia
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: The Zeitgeist Movement
Views: 30
Posted by: ltiofficial on May 25, 2017

Science fiction author, futurist and proud Resource-Based Economy supporter, Rich Penney, presents The Contradictions of Capitalism at the 9th Annual Z-Day 2017 Main Event held this year in Brisbane.

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