Being quietly radicalised by being on holiday

16.37, Friday 12 Apr 2024

I’m on my hols right now.

Breakfast from the supermarket and bakery, for three people, costs a shade over 7 euros. Two fancy-pants coffees to-go costs a shade over 8 euros.

That seems like the right kind of gearing? Essentials are easily within reach; luxury items you have to think about.

Essentials are like: basic groceries, broadband/phone, roads, education, healthcare, energy, water, rent up to a certain amount etc. “Normal” coffee, house wine, that kind of thing.

It’s very hard to justify, in my head, why these should be the province of profit-seeking companies. Given we all have to have them, why should some people get to leach on that? Yes the profits are taxed but that’s an inefficient way to collect extra money from citizens.

We all form a government which is a kind of enlarged co-operative really. Why don’t we make a basket of essentials, democratically argued about and iterated over time, then nationalise not-for-profits to run supply chains and shops for them?

Just… take essentials out of the for-profit bit of the economy.

Our priorities have lost their way somewhere along the line.

And good for for-profit companies too, right? People without broadband can’t buy from Shein; can’t receive deliveries from Amazon. People without their health, without education can’t staff them. Remove the friction by making essentials work.


Something related I’ve been thinking about is:

What is a company for?

There’s the Coasean definition of the boundaries of the firm – you outsource paperclips when it’s economically more efficient for you to do so, given that outsourcing incurs transaction costs.

But for me that misses purpose.

I saw a post online about someone comparing their own company comprising themself, two contractors, $4m annual revenue and large profits, with another company: same revenue, small profit, many dozens of employees. Implying that their company was better. Higher ROI I suppose.

Yet.

For me, a company is, at least to a degree, for the people in it. Right?

A company that makes not too much profit but is the collective endeavour of many people is a good company, surely? Or rather, it occupies as many people as it requires and allows those people to enjoy a relaxed life.

Imagine a company staffed by people with enough room in their days to build intuitive skill in their work and show empathy to customers. To be not transactional.

And to take long lunches.

That’s good for them and good for the community the company is part of, right?


An aside:

My second job was as Saturday boy at the local ironmonger’s.

One day we cut the hedge and swept the street. We did it for the neighbour too because, as Eric said, that’s what neighbours do.

On the other hand. My first job was word processing for an actual drug smuggler, no kidding, though I didn’t know at the time. He ran a cover company. I designed the logo.


We’ve been taking local buses over the last week.

An essential if ever there was one.

They’re cheap here and they run bang on time. They’re not super regular (you consult the timetable). They stop for an hour over lunch.

So going somewhere takes planning, unless you want to pay more and hop on an express. The drivers get a proper break.

That seems… an ideal trade off?


People aren’t super wealthy, as far as I can tell, or at least it’s not as ostentatious as London. Admittedly it would be hard to have the extremes of London, and I’m in a town and not a global financial and cultural centre. Even so.

Also people aren’t overweight so far as I’ve seen.

Partially that’s the sunshine and the quality of the produce, I’m sure.

Partially… well, I don’t see much need for Ozempic, looking around. The miracle weight reduction drug, and also generalised impulse dampener, is papering over something, cracks that aren’t apparent here.

It’s hard not to see it all related: the cost of living, how helpful and unharried people are in shops, the buses and the lunch breaks, the lack of wealth and health extremes.

The convivial life is a natural semaglutide demand inhibitor?

So we miss something, I think, in conversations about working hard for early retirement and then living the good life.

Like – why not both.


Come to Europe and get low-key radicalised haha

The EU may (or may not) be making technology policy missteps, but they are gently and patiently promoting a certain way of life which feels globally very, very special, and fundamentally counter to the hypercapitalism found elsewhere.

Honestly I’d like to see serious economic papers that compare the two approaches. Why not do it this way? Why not go further and, as I suggested, choose radical nationalised businesses for essentials? Genuinely what is the problem with that? Why isn’t it simply obvious that we should live our lives in comfort, with room to participate and be kind to each other, and knock off early to go to the beach early on sunny days? And that’s not compatible with profit-extracting water suppliers etc, and shops run by people not just on minimum wage but without any kind of employment protection?

Why can’t politicians propose these kind of ideas, even as a generational directional plan rather than an election promise, without getting yelled at?


That’s holidays for you I suppose. These feelings will evaporate with my tan as I’m back in my esoteric work bubble, back home. A day dream.

It shouldn’t be a dream.

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