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Week Three Blog Revision – Theresa

August 19th, 2011 No comments

Stephen Duck: What an exhausting day at work! I felt like Odysseus today, that’s how long I was toiling in the fields. When I’m out there, “briny Streams [of] Sweat descends” and “no intermission in [my] Works [I] know.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 45)

John Locke: Why, congratulations! All your labor was certainly for good reason, for your labor is your own, and nobody else can claim it.

Duck: That’s not a very funny joke. I toil away all day long for my terrible landlord. He is always complaining that I don’t work hard enough, and that the neighboring lord’s workers are far more hard-working than I am. He always complains that us field workers have “idled half our Time away.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 75)

Locke: But what you do through your own effort belongs to you. After all, if you didn’t cut the wheat and stack the hay, it would lie in the fields to rot, or for wild animals to consume. It is through your labor that the wheat becomes useful. As I like to say, “the labour of [your] body, and the work of [your] hands, we may say, are properly [yours].” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That all sounds very nice, but if I didn’t thresh the fields and mill wheat into flour and till the soil, I wouldn’t have a place to live. If I didn’t work for the landlord, I wouldn’t have a house to live in!

Locke: But once a person “hath mixed his labour with” something in labor by removing it from its natural state, he will have made “it his property…for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to.” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That’s not even a little bit true! I don’t own what I work on. The landlord takes everything.

Locke: Labor doesn’t need to be physically difficult. I earn money by thinking. Or writing down what I think, anyways.

Duck: You sound like you have never worked a day of hard labor in your life. And you earn money for those ridiculous ideas you have?

Locke: Wait a moment there, you do earn something for your work. Doesn’t your work earn you food for your meals and a home for your family?

Duck: I suppose, at the end of the day, “from the Pot the Dumpling’s catch’d in haste,/And homely by its side the Bacon’s plac’d/Supper and Sleep by Morn new Strength supply” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 157-160).

Locke: So maybe your labor isn’t literally your property, but you are not working for nothing.

Duck: I suppose you are right, that I am not working for nothing. …but my labor is still a lot of hard work.

 

 

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Week Seven Blog Revision – Theresa

August 19th, 2011 No comments

“The division of labour offers us the first example of how, as long as man remains in natural society, that is, as long as a cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, as long, therefore, as activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him, instead of being controlled by him.” (160, Marx, The German Ideology)

 

I chose this quotation because it is key to Marx’s argument against specialization. Marx suggests that job specialization as a result of division of labor leads to people being enslaved by their careers.

I agree that if you specialize in a specific field and become very good at it, people around you (society) will expect you to continue doing that job. You will not be able to do whatever job you feel like doing on any day because somebody else will have specialized at it, and will be better than you are. Because you have to perform work in your specific field of specialization, your job controls your actions and you lose your freedom to do any jobs you want.

Marx’s argument regarding this point assumes several things: first, that people want to do whatever work they feel like doing on any given day, second, that people don’t care about becoming experts, and third, that people are content with having just enough to survive. The fact of the matter is that specialization increase efficiency. As Smith stated, “the division of labour…occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers.” (Smith, Wealth of Nations, Chp 1) If we were to return to a state of unspecialized workers, everyone could create just enough to support their own basic necessities, but not be able to create any surplus. And people love their surplus.

Also, labels are a major part of our identity. “Hi, I’m Theresa, and I’m a college student. I’d like to be a surgeon someday” is more defining than “Hi, I’m Theresa, and I do unspecialized jobs that don’t require any unique training.” Members of our society need to be specialized to have that aspect of their identity.

Overall, I disagree with Marx’s assumptions. There are just too many things that could not be done without specialization. If doctors (I use this label loosely—if there was no specialization, there would be no doctors) also had to tend their potatoes and raise chickens for food, they would not have enough time to also treat sick patients. Also, modern societies enjoy surplus too much to give it up for career freedom. We may become slaves to our jobs, and changing fields of specialization may be nearly impossible, but we would much rather stick to our single path in life than return to a state where computers and Harry Potter movies did not exist (I use these examples with the assumption that it takes specialists to make computers and special effects).

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MP2RD – Theresa

August 12th, 2011 3 comments

Theresa Wang MP2RD

For the revised final, I plan on mostly smoothing out the connections between the quotations and the commentary, and perhaps reordering some of the content. (Let me know how the order feels now—I think some thoughts are a little disjointed.)

I’m still thinking about the conclusion (there are a couple general sentences), so if you have any ideas on how I can tie that bit together that would be helpful.

 

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Week 8 Blog – Theresa

August 10th, 2011 2 comments

Hi, sorry about the late post. I thought I submitted it but I didn’t.

For my second paper, I want to look at Debra from Down and Out in the Magical Kingdom. Her motivation is to acquire large amounts of Whuffie—not because she wants to do anything specific with it, but just because she can. Her reason for living is to have more successes. Debra has no regard for human life, which goes to show how very Bitchun she is. Debra is fully integrated in this society, where a body is nothing more than a body. Her views on the economy are deeply ingrained in her actions, and while Debra does some things that are morally questionable, she conforms completely to the rules that guide the society (and knows how to get around them).

Debra is successful because she is so fully integrated into Bitchun society. She is fresh and willing to let go of the past, as demonstrated by wanting to change the park into what people are more excited to see (simulations). Debra is the type of person who benefits most in a merit-based society because she has concrete skills (programming simulations) and people skills.

The aspect of Debra I would like to focus on is her ruthlessness. She is kicked out of Disneyworld for killing Julius, but nothing more—I found this very interesting because in Bitchun society, there isn’t much value placed on life (see: restore to backup). Bitchun society is designed so that group success rewards individuals, and the only way an individual can succeed is through helping the group. But Debra is able to earn a lot of Whuffie without contributing to society in a positive way. I want to look at how Debra takes advantage of Bitchun society to succeed.

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Week Seven – Theresa

August 2nd, 2011 1 comment

“the division of labour offers us the first example of how, as long as man remains in natural society, that is, as long as a cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, as long, therefore, as activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him, instead of being controlled by him.” (160)

 

What Marx is suggesting: Job specialization (from the division of labor) leads to people being enslaved by their careers.

Interpret: If you specialize in a specific field and become very good at it, people around you (society) will expect you to continue doing that job. You will no longer be permitted to do whatever job you feel like doing that day (somebody else already specialized and will be better at it than you). Because you have to do your specific field of specialization, your job controls you / you lose your freedom to do any jobs you want.

Why it matters: I disagree with Marx. While it is true that it is very difficult to change fields of specialization, specialization increases efficiency. We may become slaves to our jobs, but by doing so we serve our society the best way we can. In the highly populated world that exists now, it is not possible for everyone to be self-sustainable. However, I do appreciate that Marx wants people to be free to change around their jobs. Just because of the increased efficiency brought about by specialization, I wonder how a truly Marxist society would work.

Interesting thing I learned recently: I don’t really know how Marxist ideas were adapted into different socialist countries, but in the Great Depression, socialist Russia was the only major country that had a positive GDP.

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Major Paper 1 Draft – Theresa

July 22nd, 2011 5 comments
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Week Five Post – Theresa

July 17th, 2011 No comments

Essay One Ideas

For my essay, I would like to address the first prompt: “What makes money challenging to use?”
Money is challenging to use because its value is difficult, if not impossible, to conceptualize.

I plan on using Locke and Stein as my sources.

From Locke, money is representative of property, which has real value. But money is not the same as property because it doesn’t spoil and you can hoard it, losing the concept of property being things you need to survive. Money is an intermediate representation of value.
“The greatest part of things really useful to the life of man…are generally things of short duration; such as, if they are not consumed by use, will decay and perish of themselves” (Locke, Book II, Ch. 5, P. 46)
“if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its colour; or exchange his sheep for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by him all his life…he might heap up as much of these durable things as he pleased” (Locke, Book II, Ch. 5, P. 46)

The points I want from Locke: money represents objects that we value, and we can hoard money.

This is important because as we use money, we stop thinking of it as representing the objects we really value (the things we can acquire with money) and start to value money on its own. Paradoxically, at that point if money represents itself, there is no reason for it to be valuable at all.

The concept of money representing value and being hoarded leads to the dilemma that Stein brings up: once we have more than “three” dollars, we can’t keep track of it anymore. What does a million dollars actually mean? Interestingly, when we have too much money to count, we being to think of it in terms of what we can buy with it, which is a more “pure” way of representing its value (restores money to its original purpose of representing value).
“It is awfully hard for anybody to think money is money when there is more of it than they can count.” (Stein)
“That came to be what we all used to say when anybody used numbers that they could not count well anyway a million or three.” (Stein)

Points I want from Stein: once we have a lot of money (from hoarding), we forget what it represents.

Main Point: Money is challenging to use because we lose sight of what it represents. There is a disconnect between what we do to earn money, and what we can obtain with it.

I wasn’t sure if I should use Locke and Stein as my source articles. Stein’s paper is quite short, and there isn’t too much I can take from it. However, those two papers seem to be the most directly related to the topic I’m thinking about (why we can’t conceptualize money).

I also don’t know if my topic is too broad, or if my point is too vague. Money is an idea what people agree on. But the fact that it’s only an idea is what makes it so challenging to use. I’m not sure how to narrow down the topic further.

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Week Four Post – Theresa

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Specialization of labor allows everyone to get more stuff.

“The division of labour…occasions, in every art, as proportionable increase of the productive powers.” (Smith, Wealth of Nations, Chp 1)
“Country workmen are almost every where obliged to apply themselves to all the different branches of industry that have so much affinity to one another as to be employed about the same sort of materials.” (Smith, Wealth of Nations, Chp 3)

When a person has to provide for himself in all aspects (growing his own corn, knitting his own sweaters, baking his own bread, hammering his own nails) he is only able to support himself. But people become more efficient if they only perform a specific task. Let’s say there are three individuals in a society. Each one produces “one” of everything they need, so that it is just enough for themselves to use. But if the first person begins to grow extra corn, and the second knits more sweaters, and the third bakes more bread, the other two can perform less of the tasks fulfilled by the specialized worker.

At a point where each person only does one thing, he can probably make “four” or “five” of that individual object, or more if he becomes even more specialized. By looking at the big picture of all the specialized people in an economy, if everyone produces more efficiently and each individual depends on others to provide the things he isn’t producing himself, the whole economy is producing more than if everyone wasn’t specialized.

The takeaway message from Smith appears to be that if we all want to have as much stuff as we possibly can, we should specialize more (and more, and more) and increase our efficiency at the specific type of labor we do. Then, as a collective society, we will produce a lot of stuff (which everyone wants, naturally) and each individual person can have more stuff than if we did not specialize.

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Blog Three Post – Theresa

July 5th, 2011 6 comments

Stephen Duck: What an exhausting day at work. I felt like Odysseus today, that’s how long I was toiling in the fields.

John Locke: Why, congratulations! All your labor was certainly for good reason, for your labor is your own, and nobody else can claim it.

Duck: That’s not a very funny joke. I toil away all day long for my terrible landlord. He is always complaining that I don’t work hard enough, and that the neighboring lord’s workers are far more hard-working than I am.

Locke: But what you do through your own effort belongs to you. After all, if you didn’t cut the wheat and stack the hay, it would lie in the fields to rot, or for wild animals to consume. It is through your labor that the wheat becomes useful.

Duck: That all sounds very nice, but if I didn’t thresh the wheat fields and stack the hay and till the soil, I wouldn’t have a place to live. If I didn’t work for the landlord, I wouldn’t have a house to live in!

Locke: Easy solution, you should find your own land to till. There is plenty of land and so many resources that there is no reason that the fruits of your labor should go to someone else.

Duck: You have some very strange ideas. I think what you need is a hard day of labor, then maybe you’ll see my misery.

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Week Two – Theresa

June 27th, 2011 4 comments

From Locke’s Treatise of Civil Government,

“property” and “labour”

“Every man has a property to his own person: this no body has any right to but himself.” (5.27) Property is something that belongs to a person and cannot belong to anyone else. Locke argues that property should be sufficient to fulfill needs, and no more. Locke does not use “property” quite the way we use it today—property is supposedly something we carve out from nature by applying effort. However, Locke repeatedly emphasizes that the taking of more property than is needed is harmful to others. He implies that the converting of property into the more-permanent money is a bad shift, and allows people to hoard property.

“It is labour indeed that puts the difference of value on every thing.” (5.40) Not only does applying labour create property, it creates value itself. Locke compares untilled land to one that is farmed, and apples on a tree to apples gathered by a person. This is important to his general argument because Locke is trying to say that we should only possess that which we labored upon. This would prevent the problem of hoarding, and in Locke-land of bountiful resources, if everyone was restricted by the amount of labour they could apply, there would always be enough resources for everyone.

Property and labour are two key points in Locke’s text. Property is important because it is the focus of section five, and Locke is explaining his ideal world where there is no conflict over property. Labour is important because it is the way Locke defines property. Regarding what a person owns, Locke writes, “the labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.” (5.27) The entire section five of Locke’s treatise of civil government is trying to define property, and Locke does so by saying labour creates property.

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