Well how about that, looks like my snarky post was discovered by the big league valley blog mafia, dragging a couple new readers my way. Go figure. I've gotten some emails and comments. Might as well address a few of them, paraphrasing below:
Who the hell are you, I bet Jason Calacanis has done more in this weekend than you've done in your life, he's rich, you're not, blah blah blah.
Well, I'm not sure we've met, do I know you? Click the about link if you're bored. I've done a few things in life that are pretty interesting, but that's not the point, methinks. I do know what the f*ck I'm talking about when it comes to economics, however, hence my comments. Test me.
Your thinking is all old-economy, too 20th century. Jason's talking to the community of tech entrepreneurs, startup executives, and the like. It's not all about making widgets.
Jason's email was called the 120% Solution. He did define the problem as the current macro trend facing the US economy. He even said it wasn't the worst crisis that our country has ever faced. I didn't generalize, he did.
But the advice could have well made sense if it was a little more specific.
It's not bad advice for a young knowledge worker, or startup CEO. Presumably
that's the audience of the email, and the readers of Valleywag, and the excuse for some tunnel vision.
I think he has a very specific idea of what we should be toiling for: not producing more factory goods, but innovating services and improving the tech infrastructure.
Well he should have said that. He didn't. Based on what he said my assumption is correct, in the aggregate.
And it's not just factories, though there are quite a few of those. How about ironwork riggers, carpenters, floor sanding guys, fast food workers, airline flight attendents, sandwich makers, supermarket butchers. I could go on and on.
Even in the knowledge worker set, it's not a panacea. Should advertising executives work 20% more to make more ads, or to make their ads more clever?
Maybe they should. Personally, I'd advise that they do. I work my ass off. If you're reading this maybe you do too. Maybe Jason's email would make for great life coaching.
If you're not talking about a solution to macro problems you don't say stuff like this, straight from Jason's email:
Many intelligent people I’ve been speaking with believe that the
economic crisis facing our country today is our biggest challenge
since America’s inception… I’ve been thinking a lot of what got us into this mess and how we might be able to get out of it. What follows are my extremely basic thoughts on what has caused the problem and what the solution might be.
Sorry guys. This conversation is about macroeconomics. If you're going to talk about macroeconomics and you don't know what the f*ck you're talking about don't be shocked when you're called out on it.
How can you really argue that working harder is bad for the economy. How can everyone working a little harder be a bad thing?
There's nothing wrong with this as en ethos or philosophy. I happen to agree
strongly with it. It's good advice. In fact in my response I said that this
is one of those things that's counterintuitive, it might be a good idea for
EACH of the people that does it, but if everyone does it then everyone is
worse off. I love those kinds of paradoxes, I geek out on them in my spare
time, just for fun, examples here or here.
(without any sense of what "work" means for most people) and reduced demand.
On a macro level, as a "solution" for the current "problem" it's just
great advice. In many ways Jason wrote the same email about three weeks prior, except
instead of a solution to Americas problems it was a prescription for what a
startup founder should be doing right now.
smart and really insightful and thanked for writing it, it was thought
provoking. Then the same basic concepts applied more generally as a macroeconomic solution made me think damm, this is retarded.
tech innovator, being smarter or more creative than average, and being an
owner or manager. Most people aren't those things, and most of the economy
doesn't work that way.
write 1500 words in response.
No really, how can people working harder and more efficiently at their jobs destroy jobs? That makes no sense.
I said it was counterintuitive. That doesn't make it wrong. There are at least 80+ years of economics devoted to actually studying and understanding concepts like this. You know, by actually studying them, using math, testing assumptions. Not going with a Colbert-esque "gut feeling."
gets more out of them. The obvious criticism would be that if one man can do the work of two, that's good. That's more efficient and thus a goal, it's a good thing for the economy.
what makes it a disaster. If we could convince everyone to work 120% more
and spend 120% more, we'd be closer to the right track.