Bill Maher, New York Times Op Ed on the “Post Greed is Good Economy”

Bill Maher has a devastating short segment on the “post greed is good” world, as exemplified by the “sharing economy”. Trust me, just watch it, and then circulate it widely:

In a bit of synchronicity, the New York Times today had another important zeitgeist piece (hat tip Scott), Dinner and Deception, by Edward Frame, a grad student and recent captain at a Michelin three-star restaurant in New York City. It describes the artifice, stress, and tight control of workers required to achieve the illusion of effortless, flawless service. This is also an important piece to read in full, and hopefully this extract will encourage you to do so pronto:

Next to a doorway leading into the dining room, a sign in the kitchen summed up the job in the form of a commandment: “Make it nice.” Make it nice means you hold yourself accountable to every detail. It means everything in the restaurant must appear perfect — the position of the candle votives, the part in your hair. Everything matters.

Most of us internalized this mantra quickly. One of my first assignments as a food-runner was to polish glassware. I worked in a small alcove, connected to the dishwasher. Glass racks came out, I wiped away any watermarks or smudges, and then, just as I finished one rack, another appeared. This went on for hours, like some kind of Sisyphean fable revised for the hospitality industry. By hour two my fingers hurt and my back ached. But I couldn’t stop. The racks kept coming. Slowing down never occurred to me. There wasn’t time. I needed to make it nice. I wanted to make it nice…

When someone spoke about the “swan” in lineup, a metaphor for the ideal server, churning tirelessly beneath the surface while maintaining the impression of absolute poise to the casual observer, there was never a hint from management that, like us, they understood the psychological dividedness their favorite symbol suggested. But as captains or servers or sommeliers, our job wasn’t just serving food, it was playing a part, and we did it with a degree of self-conscious irony that our bosses seemed incapable of.

It’s striking to observe both how deeply the staff internalize the demands made of them. Again and again in businesses settings, to greater and lesser degree, employers are able to exploit deep-seated impulses to do one’s best for one’s tribe, for one’s family on behalf of mere enterprises. Intellectually, these workers know this relationship is transient, yet they invest emotionally anyhow.

I sampled only a few of the comments, which the Times has shut down already, and they were chock full of striking ones. For instance:

Steve Boise
Several years ago I met a young woman while on a ski trip. She told me a remarkable story. It turns out she was a nanny for a super-rich family on the East Coast. She felt they were treating her like one of the family until one day she overheard the father talking to his son after dinner. It turns out that the staff often shared the leftovers from dinner once the family was finished eating. He told his son that if he wanted any more to eat, he should do so before “the rats” got to it. She quit at that point and moved to the West Coast. The family’s daughter was very desirous of the nanny’s cookies so when the daughter’s birthday came up a few months later the family requested a supply of the ex-nanny’s cookies. She agreed. They then sent out their private jet to pick up the cookies. Outrageous, and I am sure they managed a tax write off somehow for the flight, thereby causing the average taxpayer to subsidize the flight.

And this one:

When real community breaks down, as it has in America, what you have left is a world of predation targeting most people (useless college degrees, workplaces that treat their workers as disposable, predatory businesses) and a world of fake community for the very rich. They want to feel special, honored, and looked-up-to, and they are willing to pay top dollar for people from the world of prey to pretend that they care. The experience will, by virtue of its underlying logic, be hollow and dehumanizing for *both* the very rich and the actors they are implicitly hiring. This writer is perceptive and self-aware, though he only captures what is going on on one side of this equation. People need genuine community, and such community is impossible when we live in a world in which economic chasms and a culture of predatory capitalism obviously dehumanizes the preponderance of people and more subtly dehumanizes the very well off. This world comes about when economic and social systems make it so that a very small percentage of people come to control the preponderance of wealth and then leverage that to further come to dominate political and social life, typically without having actually done anything that truly merits their wealth or dominance. Implicitly terrified that they don’t deserve what they have gotten, they overcompensate and embrace their domination and an ideology of superstar superiority that pushes the rest of humanity into a social Darwinist nightmare.

In contrast were the readers who treated the author as spoiled and ungrateful for having a well-paid job. One reader compared high end dining to a fine art; another went so far as chastise Frame for being an opera singer who was contemptuous of his audience. Most people who have been involved in the performing arts (I’ve stage managed and produced theater, including a short professional gig) would find this comparison clueless and insulting. Performers, designers, makeup artists, all have degrees of freedom in their craft that are utterly absent in the regimentation of high end restaurant service. The big reason why pay in creative professions is a power curve (most people making no or little money and a few getting payoffs) is so many people are willing to do it for free or close to free because they find the process enjoyable and challenging.

Or is it that these commentors have unwittingly admitted that pretending to enjoy serving the rich is as difficult a role as, say, playing Tristan or Otello?

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  1. IsabelPS

    Well, I know nothing of private jets. But I do know that luxury is “help” to be invisible.

  2. vlade

    Comment #2 – community. We’ve lost the community, and thus are having various replacements.

    Given that most of us now spend more time going to work and at work, that’s the community we can fit into/get most easily. Fundamentally, it wouldn’t even be a problem _IF_ the work really behaved as a community, which is that it’s with you in good and bad.

    Current workplaces are quite the opposite – they (may) be great when things are going well, but the moment stuff is going not that well, they dump the facade of community pronto.

    1. jrs

      Yea the work, but a 40 hour week (yes even IF it’s just a 40 hour week) with a decent commute because we live in overpopulated cities and their impossible freeways is no problem right? More population than any urban infrastructure can withstand is no problem … Or so we are told. But 40 hours plus commute is enough to kill almost all energy to work toward anything else. I try when I can to the very limited extent I can. Noone at work has lives. Go to work, commute an hour or more each way, make dinner, do chores, spend a little time with the family, get up, do it again. Who does anything? Maybe some leisure on weekends. And if you have a family you really can’t be concerned about anything but your immediate family. Who even reads? Especially a non-work related book? Maybe a tiny bit of t.v. before bed (not even time to watch the silly boob tube as anything more than a dubious sleep aid!).

      Community was probably most nursed by stay at home moms and housewives, they are still most active in such things (well and child free people are moderately active for obvious reasons of slightly less responsibilities). Of course, I’m not wishing back the 1950s. Move forward not back, forward for real this time, where’s the leisure technology was supposed to bring?

      The 1950s when men also had good steady jobs? Yes but people also seemed to hate being company men. Let’s face it, even the best that capitalism had to offer sucked from the position of real human fulfillment, or it certainly had no end of social critics. Even if it’s better than what we have now.

  3. Jack King

    All I hear is a bunch of whining and complaining coupled with a few semi-funny jokes. My God! If you don’t like who or where you work, get another job. Today’s workplace in general are far from the sweatshops of the past. Suck it up and get a life.

    1. SoMeINTP

      Sweatshop workers heard from their bosses how terrible slavery was and they should be grateful that they get to choose their mates.

      Slaves were told how they grateful they were to have such kind masters who did not murder them along with their parents, but kept them to civilize them.

      And the dead souls who were never blessed to live at someone’s pleasure were reassured by God that they were lucky enough to pass through the eye of his needle unlike the slave drivers below condemned to hell.

  4. direction

    I never watch this show, but I came down to the basement yesterday and this exact segment was on television in the man cave, synchronicity? I thought it was brilliant.

    I have rented his pants for the next 3 days.

  5. peter

    Good segment I will try to share this and keep a fair perspective on this clip. That said, I will never forgive Maher for doing a hatchet job on Snowden. I do recognize that this does not change the value of this piece. I just want to keep it out there that I don’t think Maher is worthy of respect as a human.

    1. diptherio

      I was somewhat surprised to notice that Mahr doesn’t look nearly as much like a (literally) greasy weasel as the last time I saw him (someone must have told him that all that brylcream in his hair was making him look like a world’s worst used-car salesman.

      I also have been extremely disappointed by BM in the past, but this segment is right on. Of course, by sharing this with people, one does run the risk that they’ll end up watching more BM and imbibing a bunch of his not-so-right-on opinions as well. So maybe all shares of this video should be accompanied by a “stopped clock is right twice a day” notice and a plea to not confuse the messenger with the message, as this messenger, in the past, has been known to present a lot of nonsense.

      1. Inverness

        Bill Maher does his best when he has a script to work from, rather than when he debates issues with far brainier types like Cornel West and Glenn Greenwald. Also I can’t stand his islamophobia. But this was a effective clip, most likely scripted by his writers, that actually explains how everyone is getting screwed by Silicon Valley.

  6. Metro Gnome

    It’s eerie how much he’s starting to look like Bill Moyers. He’s also about as funny as Moyers, which is to say not at all, but he isn’t nearly the class act. If you’re going to make a political point by poking fun, it helps to be funny.

      1. abynormal

        a beggin he should…his net worth is 30M & salary 6M

        “From a fallen tree, make kindling”

        1. diptherio

          Mahr’s? Wow. So his bitching about inequality really is pretty hypocritical then…unless he’s giving 90% of that away…which he obviously isn’t if he’s managed to amass $30M

          1. Ditto

            I always assume noblesse oblige, which admittedly is out of fashion with both the wealthy and the poor. The middle class, of course, never understood it with their “it’s hypocritical that you wealthy types aren’t trying to screw me over!”

  7. Llewelyn Moss

    US management has turned the office into a “King Rat” environment, pitting employees against each other and driving all with fear of job loss. As a salaried worker for a fortune 50 company, we used to work 8 hour days (in the 80s/90s). Now you are expected to work 10 hours at the office, then go home and work all night online. The management arse kissers will be instant messaging with the boss until bed time to make sure the boss knows(thinks) they are hard at work. This goes on 7 days a week. No weekend off for the weary. People are afraid to take vacation and will let vaca days expire unused. Every year they offshore 1000s of jobs to the BRICs so this keeps the US workforce petrified. Only top rated employees (top 15%) get a small raise so rather than teamwork, it has turned into a pit of snakes. It was actually a relief when my job was finally offshored.

  8. allan

    A flip side to this is the bizarre eating experience these three-star meals are for the customers.
    They are often paying thousands of dollars to be infantilized (being instructed how to eat the precious creations), humiliated (not being able to eat the 12 course chef’s menu without suffering gastrointestinal distress) and taken advantage of (being charged 3.5 x retail for wine). See Tanya Gold in Harpers: A Goose in a Dress.

    So, it’s only natural that the customers want other around, even lower on the totem pole and subservient to them.

    1. DJG

      I have a feeling that Harper’s had to import Tanya Gold because no U.S. reviewer would dare to contradict the demigods. I get the paper magazine and had to read the article twice: It’s that amusing. And it is that appalling.

      I suspect, though, that only customers who are ignorant of food are willing to be led by the nose by the over-trained waitstaff. These restaurants must cater to insecurities. Why else would anyone order the single tasting menu and allow oneself to be forced through an evening’s meal? And people stop to photograph their food? So these places are for the insecure who don’t know how to eat?

      And the bill at Masa was, what, $1,706 for two? Wretched excess. (Although the details about the bathroom are priceless.)

  9. WFGersen

    This reminds me of why I ended up watching Jon Stewart over Bill Maher… and how much I already miss the Daily Show…

    1. Ditto

      Someone talks about income inequality using the topic of the “share economy” as an example and the most important thing to say about the topic is “I prefer Pepsi over Coke.”

      1. jrs

        Really the “sharing economy” is probably not all bad or good. It probably serves some real needs of consumers (except that it’s poorly regulated in some cases massively so like with Uber). And not everyone is lending an airBNB place out of desperation either. What he talks about lending out your apartment it breaks contracts in most rentals (subletting yea that tends to break the rental contract except maybe in places with very strong renter rights and protections, which is rare). I would tend to think people making money off of AirBNB are frankly not the 1% necessarily but better off than most, for instance having a vacation home to rent, or even having a place somewhere where some *wants* to vacation, it’s not middle of nowhere or worst urban ghetto probably. Maybe it is, but I doubt that fetches much. Like everything else things become bad when they are taken out of desperation, but the same is even true of those rare entities called full time jobs.

        1. Inverness

          One thing is for sure: airBNB is raising rents in cities like Vancouver and Toronto (can’t speak for US cities, but hard to believe it’s so different), since some renters have found it more profitable to rent their rooms to strangers than to locals. So less inventory is available to people who are actually city residents.

        2. Ditto

          No minimum wage and slave labor would also be great for consumers. That’s the problem with your logic. It changes the subject to consumers rather than how the product is made or social issue such as desperation

          1. jrs

            Yes well people not being able to get a cab in a questionable neighborhood actually is a problem, even if it’s “only” a consumer problem. But the alternatives, if alternatives arise, should be regulated enough to carry proper automobile insurance.

          2. cwaltz

            No minimum wage and slave labor would decrease the amount and ability of many to BE consumers. So it probably wouldn’t be the big ol’ boon to the economy the right always seems to think it would be.

              1. cwaltz

                Uh no,

                If all of a sudden a portion of the population were to become slave labor they’d have zero ability to become consumers because they’d have zero income.

                If all of a sudden I were to eliminate the need to pay a floor on wages then you’d a) potentially have new hires paid at a lower rate then present which gives them LESS earning potential then now and would give them LESS power to spend and be consumers.

                A businesses job is to maximize resources. Your position that it’s BS that it would not amount to lowering wages and people’s potential to consume is bunk.

  10. Tertium Squid

    Fantastical attention to the things that patrons can see comes with a trade-off. Down and Out in Paris and London:

    Take cleanliness, for example. The dirt in the Hotel X, as soon as one penetrated into the service quarters, was revolting. Our cafeterie had year-old filth in all the dark corners, and the bread-bin was infested with cockroaches. Once I suggested killing these beasts to Mario. ‘Why kill the poor animals?’ he said reproachfully. The others laughed when I wanted to wash my hands before touching the butter. Yet we were clean where we recognized cleanliness as part of the BOULOT. We scrubbed the tables and polished the brasswork regularly, because we had orders to do that; but we had no orders to be genuinely clean, and in any case we had no time for it. We were simply carrying out our duties; and as our first duty was punctuality, we saved time by being dirty.

    In the kitchen the dirt was worse. It is not a figure of speech, it is a mere statement of fact to say that a French cook will spit in the soup– that is, if he is not going to drink it himself. He is an artist, but his art is not cleanliness. To a certain extent he is even dirty because he is an artist, for food, to look smart, needs dirty treatment. When a steak, for instance, is brought up for the head cook’s inspection, he does not handle it with a fork. He picks it up in his fingers and slaps it down, runs his thumb round the dish and licks it to taste the gravy, runs it round and licks again, then steps back and contemplates the piece of meat like an artist judging a picture, then presses it lovingly into place with his fat, pink fingers, every one of which he has licked a hundred times that morning. When he is satisfied, he takes a cloth and wipes his fingerprints from the dish, and hands it to the waiter. And the waiter, of course, dips HIS fingers into the gravy–his nasty, greasy fingers which he is for ever running through his brilliantined hair. Whenever one pays more than, say, ten francs for a dish of meat in Paris, one may be certain
    that it has been fingered in this manner. In very cheap restaurants it is different; there, the same trouble is not taken over the food, and it is just forked out of the pan and flung on to a plate, without handling. Roughly speaking, the more one pays for food, the more sweat and spittle one is obliged to eat with it.

    Dirtiness is inherent in hotels and restaurants, because sound food is sacrificed to punctuality and smartness. The hotel employee is too busy getting food ready to remember that it is meant to be eaten…

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Or, as someone once commented on Orwell’s work, you’ll never want to eat roast potatoes again after you’ve read about how they’re cooked in restaurants.

    2. neo-realist

      Understanding that dirty unsanitary conditions can be a problem of varying degrees when traveling, whether it’s a plane, a hotel, or a restaurant, I think the best you can do is use hand sanitizer, take your antioxidants, and make sure you bring the medications for stomach problems due to bacterial exposure in food in case they occur. And if there are vaccination recommendations from the CDC website for a particular country that you’re going to, get them.

    3. RUKidding

      Back in the day (long ago), I was a “waitron” in a number of food establishments both here and in Australia. While I never experienced quite that level of dirt and dirty fingers touching food, it is nearly always the case that most restaurants have “critters” and things aren’t always super clean behind the scenes.

      Which explains why, in part, I don’t eat out a lot.

      I’m not overly fond of super expensive places anyway, as I typically find the food these days to be way overly rich and not to my taste, plus stupidly overpriced. It does surprise me, though, that when I do happen to eat in a higher priced restaurant, they typically seemed filled with millenials (or looks that way to me). I guess they are the lucky few who grabbed the brass ring at graduation and have a better paying jobs???

  11. flora

    The PBS hit show “Downton Abbey.”

    The grand houses, beautiful furnishings, elegant clothes, charming manners, social and political power…. that’s the upstairs.

    The no-outside-life, one half day a week off, expected to serve the family loyally, endless hours – from before dawn to well after nightfall, meager wages and no savings, only one good dress, socially and politically invisible… that’s the downstairs.

    Is this the world we’re returning to?

    1. RUKidding

      But but but… that excessively rich family (who then lost all their money & had to beg from the dreadful, no-class Yanks) was ever so kind and friendly to their “help.” Why wouldn’t anyone want to work for such lovely gracious people?

      To answer your Q: yes, that’s what the greedy stinking rich want the whole world to return to.

      Someone up above recalled a story from a friend who had been a nanny to filthy rich people in NYC. I have a “failure to launch” niece who is, at 40, still a nanny (really not a good position to be in). She is a little messed up. At any rate, she keeps getting nanny jobs with different rich people, and then is constantly amazed (as I said, she’s messed up) that they treat her like the “hired help.” How, after 20 years of this, she doesn’t “get it” that that’s all she is to these people is way beyond my comprehension. My niece, I might add, has a Masters degree but cannot find a different type of job (or so she says; it may or may not be true; hard to tell). She thinks that somehow having this advanced degree will “matter” to the fabulously wealthy, and that they’ll somehow see her as an “equal” and treat her “better.”

      I’ve given up attempting to explain the facts of life to my niece. As messed up as she is, she may be an indicator of why so many US citizens put up with this kind of bs treatment from a variety of employers.

      1. Tertium Squid

        When those rich kids are scared or sick or hurt who do they cry for?

        That’s why she’s startled to be treated like a servant.

    2. Inverness

      I had to stop watching that show, which I found frankly overrated. It bugged me that it suggested that those wealthy, do-nothing gentleman were full of noblesse oblige and their servants were grateful for service jobs. A brilliant presentation of service is by British historian Pamela Cox whose BBC documentary really shows how much suffering so many servants had, including her own grandmother.

      1. M

        The Pamela Cox documentary is brilliant! AND you can find it on youtube by doing a search for Pamela Cox.

      2. Mike

        Likewise. My otherwise perfectly sensible wife loves Downton Abbey like no other TV show (we watch little TV anyway). It makes my Scots blood boil, since these are the descendants of the lords, barons and earls that drove my ancestors off their land in the Highland Clearances. A nice working-class/farm trash upbringing along with a nasty habit of reading history books means I can’t bear to watch the damn thing. Sucking up to the rich? We’ve done that since Reagan’s inauguration and look where we are.

        1. Synoia

          that drove my ancestors off their land in the Highland Clearances

          Certainly did. Perhaps they should not have rebelled against the King?

          aka: “Not my fight?”

      3. Lexington

        It bugged me that it suggested that those wealthy, do-nothing gentleman were full of noblesse oblige and their servants were grateful for service jobs.

        You think being a servant in a great house in Edwardian Britain sucked? How about working 10 hour days -including half a day on Saturday- doing backbreaking labour in which you are continuously exposed to all manner of occupational hazards so you can earn just enough to prevent yourself and your family from literally starving to death for another week? If you miss work due to illness you will probably be fired. If you sustain a permanent injury you will almost certainly slide into destitution. In any case you’ll probably be worn out and dead by the time your 60, which is just as well, because you’re never going to be able to afford to retire. This was the life most working people lived well into the 20th century. In other words, they routinely endured hardships that would readily kill most of the population of a First World country today.

        Sure, as a servant you work long hours, but its mostly “light work” and unless you do something egregious like get pregnant (or worse, get someone upstairs pregnant) or steal from your employers you have secure employment, decent food and housing, and the paternalistic goodwill of your employers to fall back on when life throws you a curve ball. In some important ways even the wealthy and privileged in Edwardian society lived lives that were narrowly constrained by social roles and expectations, one of which was a responsibility for the welfare of the domestic staff -something which was frankly alien to the thinking of many private employers, for whom workers were interchangeable parts to be used up and thrown away.

        As a species we’re very resilient, but it’s dismaying to see how a few short decades of very soft living have alienated us from the realities that were the lived experience of most people through most of history.

        I would remiss in failing to mention that Downtown Abbey is just a yuppified ripoff of ITV’s critically acclaimed Upstairs, Downstairs series from the early 1970s.

  12. davidly

    Yes, inequality is increasingly outrageous, but as with so many of Maher’s “Rules”, this one is overly general and uninformed. The problem begins right after the Olsen twin bit when he makes one of those “these people are those people” brush-strokes without any substantiation, and he gets applause for it because people recognize a pair of truths and respond like any good Pavlovian consumer of “what with the way people are these days” banality. Yes, less people are in unions and a significant portion of the population doesn’t vote, but saying they “are the ones” who defend inequality begs the question just a tad.

    Is Bill “in the streets” like all the people who “should be”? Oh, no. He’s got a tv show. Why, he’s a street corner preacher!

    And can one really employ the editorial “we” when one earns as much as Maher? What does he know about people who have used airbnb to rent out their flat? If he or his more well-to-do brethren sublet their second home, it’s seen as their right to earn a little extra cash. One doesn’t have to be desperate to rent for a week while on holiday.

    If you’re going to mock the wares that self-made artisans hawk on-line, why not aim a little higher? Next to his barely noticeable cutesy-derisive diminution of the word “Etsy”, his contempt for the artist on the beach knows no bounds.

    As a matter of fact, that wasn’t a New Rule against the exploitation of the growing underclass at all. It was a typical beatdown of anyone trying to make a living whose lives he cannot understand, with some heeelarious sexist fratboy lingo for our amusement. He couches his anti-anti-social argument in vague “everybody should be able to be gainfully employed” language, which is just really just code for “everybody should work for a soulless corporation like me”. I think it’s been too long since he was really self-employed.

    The current problem of a growing class’ wages shrinking in the here and now is not best illustrated by buzzing “Bush” and “minimum wage”. He might want to look just a little bit closer to home.

    1. RUKidding

      Good analysis. Find Maher a boorish dullard with not much to say at best. This commentary did absolutely nothing for me. The article from the NYT is better and worth reading.

      While Maher paints a picture of himself as being “there” for the small guy, he just seemed condescending and dull to me. After he made one of his many “bon mots,” he paused, and it’s obvious that there was some kind of sign to the audience to start laughing. pffft.

      Nonetheless, the issues are very real. I have used Air BnB, myself, and while it can be a good way to find a place to stay, one does wonder how those who rent out bedrooms or whatever actually “feel” about having to share their place with a succession of strangers.

      I’m not a fan of Uber and Lyft, myself, but I do know people who drive for them part-time. One person I know felt it really helped tide him over a very slow time with his own business and enabled him to stay in business. I guess without Uber, he would have had to declare bankruptcy, so it has been a good thing for him.

      Still… it’s all well and good, but why don’t we have good paying jobs available for most citizens? Why are the uber wealthy so insanely rich that they’ll pay $2000 for a dinner for 2 and think that’s normal or maybe even “cheap.” Sad.

      1. Ditto

        Again, huh?

        Both you and other poster are using typical right wing manipulation points.

        If he feels connected to the overall society on the issue of income inequality , that’s condescending how?

        Your use as a customer of the services that exploit is not relevant to his point about the overall exploitative nature of what’s happening due to increased desperation: if people were able to make a living wage or support themselves they wouldn’t need these exploitative services

        That’s the whole point of why this site raises issues about the attempts to get around regulations

      2. davidly

        Thanks. It’s one of the smug qualities of the neo-neo-liberal that lambastes the concept of trickle down econ unless it begins with the middle class. They rip on the uneducated rubes who shop at discounters who treat their employees like crap, but carry the water for the party who sells out those same people with trade agreements and charter school-to-privatized prison schemes that render the underclass unable to shop anywhere else.

        I can only guess that Ditto doesn’t get it because he’s been conditioned to think they are worthy of such condescending lectures.

      3. jrs

        I’ve used Air BnB too, at a place that was self-evidently designed to be rented out to a group. Everything about it said “party house” not residence. And it was at a touristy place. It’s someone’s second “residence” and they are making profit off it, which is possible as if you bought years ago you could get a place like that pretty cheap. So all exploitation? I don’t think so. But with some of the car drivers you are probably moving down the income scale. It takes having had some money (at least when you bought even if you are now a poor retiree) to have a place to rent out. But a car, not so much.

    2. Ditto


      Unpaid internships are exactly in the same vein as the share economy in that both represent desperation. The unpaid route has increasingly become a litigation issue bc intern employers exploit desperation just like the share economy does.

      To be frank, your comments are the standard last “I’m smarter than everyone else”, but not really rants that I see a lot.

      For example, why can’t he say “we”? Is he not an American?

      I guess making money means he can’t feel connected to the county in which he lives or the problems like income inequality.

      That kind of thinking suggests that if one is wealthy the only acceptable behavior is the sociopathic behavior of right wingers.

      Really, sloppy thinking.

      1. davidly

        Unpaid internships are not even remotely in the same vein as renting one’s flat to visitors. People I know who rent their flats and have used airbnb to do so are in not doing it out of desperation but because they can, and could use the money. Just because people do things for money because they are desperate does not mean his analysis is accurate. It’s not even an analysis: it’s a co-written speech that’s supposed to be amusing and pretends to be insightful. It’s not.

        A defense of Maher that accuses his critic of “I’m smarter than everyone else” is not only ironic, but doubly so when also accusing that person of sloppy thinking. One sees it a lot, especially when “heroes” are involved.

          1. davidly

            You have no idea what you are talking about – nor what I am talking about. Nowhere do I deny the existence of unpaid internships. I merely countered your assertion by stating, correctly, that it is not the same as renting your friggin flat to someone via a third party.

            1. Ditto

              Anyone wanting to know more about the subject should read the link or Google unpaid internship exploitation of litigation on the subject

              The person abovr is spinning

              1. davidly

                On the contrary: You have been spinning my initial comment since your first reply.

                I deliberately focused my criticism of Maher’s “Rule” to begin after the issue of the wanton exploitation of interns. I did this because I too believe that such internships are a scourge. But what you did was use that issue as a means to falsely conflate both my comment and the phenomenon of “sharing economy” with unpaid internships.

                Nowhere in either the link you provided or the additional litigation you allude to is there evidence that the issues correlate. On the contrary. The unpaid internships cited are all facilitated from the likes of traditionally behemoth corporations. The only thing remarkable otherwise is that in some cases the aggrieved plaintiffs have actually won initial instances.

                If you want to take up a pet cause, you might try to quit mis-attributing sources and defending pet media darlings and begin to focus more of your ire on the pending trade agreements that are underwritten & supported shore to shore by the very corporations cited in the litigation you’re on about.

                Otherwise, draw attention to the problems with the sharing economy as they exist. What you have heretofore done has accomplished nothing. At least Maher garners laughs from people with a poor taste in comedy and a disregard for detail.

    3. jrs

      Yea but he’s just a comedian so … (no I don’t find him funny either). But the Pavlovian response to a clip like that is “‘sharing economy’ bad” which of course isn’t a critique of neoliberalism which is the real root cause.

      The problem is the desperation crowd and the bohemian crowd are probably seriously hard to distinguish. That street painter might love his lifestyle. There will ALWAYS BE people who seek out bohemian ways of life even at the cost of great economic insecurity. They are probably better served by a society with less poverty and inequality though. But if economic situations are increasingly desperate there will also be people who seek out other ways to make money not because they would prefer an alternative insecure bohemian lifestyle to the daily grind but simply because they can’t get jobs.

      1. Ditto

        What do you think neolibetalism is if it isn’t the avoidance of regulations like employment and housing laws, which has been at the heart of share economy start up busines models. These orgs also lobby to weaken regulations

        1. jrs

          Mostly the problem started with the outsourcing of all the jobs to begin with, so I think that is the main problem. So the “free trade” agreements.

          1. Ditto

            That’s only one tactic

            There are many

            One of the challenges is getting people to understand that neoliberal tactics can and do evolve

            They aren’t static and neoliberals are not dumb

            They know how to be creative

            If a trade agreement does not do it, try grtyh getting around employment regulations, if that does not work manipulate guest worker programs, or may be try a bit of all the above

            Also if you are smart , you want consumer buy in into the explotation

            Note how many comments in this thread are about how one enjoys the fruit of other people’s desperation , without admitting that’s the value being extracted

  13. Lune

    To add to “Peter’s” comment in the post, I think the problem is that community has broken down in *all* social classes, even the upper classes. Craving community is an innate human desire; biologists even label our species “obligate gregarious”. When real community is lost, we substitute with what we can. For the upper classes, that means paying someone to pretend.

    While the cause of the loss of community in the lower rungs is easy to identify (I’d assert more time / energy spent working, more forced mobility for one’s job, more economic instability, etc.) it’s not so easy to figure out why the upper classes, doing better than ever financially, have lost their community as well.

    Could it be that social inequality has increased so drastically that the distance between the 0.01% and even the 1% has increased so much that the super-rich can no longer relate with *anyone*? It was not that long ago that CEOs lived in nice suburbs and sent their kids to public schools. While they might not have been slumming it in the ghettos, their neighbors could easily have been doctors, lawyers, successful small businessmen, etc. Now, they live in fenced-in fortresses, and their “neighbors”, if they have any, are more likely to be Russian billionaires who rarely spend more than a few days in any one of their global estates. Not exactly someone you can say hello to while mowing your lawn or invite over for a weekend dinner party.

  14. craazyman

    why would anybody go to a 3 star restaurant in New York City?

    what a freak show of specious vanity and pretension punctuated by vapid and desultory stabbing at overly salted food made tolerable by wine priced 3 times higher than what you’d pay at a wine shop down the block.

    go to Queens. Really. There’s lots of places there where slackers or extended family act like a self=possessed person while you order your meal watching fish swim around in an acquarium and soccer on the TV up on the wall with some dude screaming in Spanish calling plays. Do they even have plays in soccer? It looks like a bunch of chaos to me.

    Manhattan is for losers. Only losers go to shit holes that treat people like that, where other shitholes look around judging you and themselves on some invisible scale calibrated by money or at least the illusion of money.

    Why would somebody work in a shithole like that? I guess for the money. There’s a point where it becomes “Give me liberty or give me death.” But mostly it’s give me money, until the bitter end. Then you realize.

    1. Clive

      Yep, it’s a global disease. I was once “treated” (supposedly, or so my generous host thought) to a meal at The Ivy Restaurant in London. Same sort of set up as at the New York place. Made my skin crawl. Would rather stay home and put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea if that is what passes for gracious living.

      1. optimader

        An organ meat pie at Rules!

        Personally I go to very, very few restaurants anymore. No bistros as a matter of principle as I avoid “foodie” places like the plague.

        For me, a couple real mom and pop Italian, greek, and Asian places and of course my favorite anytime Emilio’s Tapas As good as it gets, loyal staff.and has been in the biz forever so his place is bought and paid for.

        Frankly, the only reason to go out is to be w/ friends and eat great food none of us would ordinarily go to the trouble to create, (like Bejing Duck ) An esthetic dump w/ sweaty windows, but everyone is comfortable with it because it’s absolutely the best in Chicago and the prices as at a point where you could never possibly reproduce it at home.

        The expense account restaurants generally suck anymore, and for the price of one entrée we’d much rather buy an entire trimmed prime tenderloin or a fresh Salmon, grill it, and wash it down w/ great adult beverages that aren’t stupidly priced and not have staff obliged to try and turn a table.

  15. Jack Skwat

    I find it funny that some of the comments to the original article took the author to task for having a well-paid job. It smacks of the readers having to find something to complain about. What, are they going to tell a guy who writes an article about a plane crash that the latter should be glad HE wasn’t on the plane? I mean, what gives?

    It’s also like the stories of the pukey college students who don’t want anybody on campus that espouses different philosophies or points of view than theirs, ironically diametrically opposed to what college should be all about, but I digress…

  16. RBHoughton

    Quote “I’ve stage managed and produced theater, including a short professional gig” unquote.

    Yves, I’ll contribute to a show if you’ll put one on expressing your superior vision for society. You could crowd-fund the endeavor and promote the cause that we are not mere economic animals.

  17. redleg

    Yves – you nailed the arts compensation. I’m a songwriter with a day job and identify with the restaurant staff.
    It’s a lottery, each gig is a ticket, talent and drive are bonus tickets. A tiny few win big, some win a few bucks, most don’t win a thing even if they have all the talent and drive in the world.

  18. Minor Heretic

    The restaurant piece stirs a memory.

    I went to a meeting at an exclusive club to do a presentation to clients. This was one of those places that probably cost the price of a small house just for annual membership. I had lunch with my clients. We were served by waitstaff consisting entirely of knockout beautiful women in their 20s. Decent food, good service, but something was weird. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something was off.

    Later I slapped my forehead. In a regular restaurant (not a $1000/meal one) we talk with the waiter/waitress and exchange those pleasant little formulas that essentially say, “I acknowledge your humanity.” It’s a ritual, but a good one. In this place the waitresses never smiled (or frowned, or anything) and never said more than was absolutely necessary to get us our food. They appeared and disappeared again almost instantly. They never looked me in the eye. Stepford waitresses.

    Totally weird, but apparently the level of deference desired by the ultra-rich.

  19. Jc Demmy

    Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes.

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