Leveling strategy in a deteriorating environment

I recently quit my job because it was becoming too hard on my mind and body. The reasons for this are manifold, complex, and- here- irrelevant. It is enough merely to say that the work conditions were getting worse at an accelerating rate.

When I first realized I was suffering, I employed my usual tactic of “failure cycling”, which is merely to say resetting to survival mode and adaptively rebuilding a decent routine from the ground up. In the modern world, this means to cease investment-type activities like exercise and pursue short-term gains as low-risk opportunities present themselves. But the leveling paradigm assumes a more-or-less static environment, injecting X good things and Y bad things into my personal sphere in a predictable way, plus or minus some noise, shocks, black swan events, etc.

How does a predictable change in X and Y over time change the leveling strategy?

The first and most obvious thing I decided was to change environments by getting a new job. Given my low wage expectation and the fact that I understand the job market better than most folks (having, for instance, coined the term “soft nepotism”), I have an abundance mentality toward new jobs.

Okay, fine. But what happens when economic collapse is more general than just my workplace? Considering that this is generally what we r/K nutjobs expect to happen, we ought to consider specifically what it will look like in the case of America. For illustration, many people today can’t imagine a world where the idea of new houses and buildings is so impractically costly as to be inconceivable. Therefore, repair tools and spare parts are going to be in high demand…technicians too at first, but gradually less so as previously soft men begin swapping HVAC repair tips.

(I, for one, welcome the aesthetic changes to be wrought by the dystopic cyberpunk future. May the color name “beige” be as illusive to scholars as the Hittites’ civilization.)

It is simple in retrospect. As resources become scarce, a man must defend what territory and possessions he has. He must draw boundaries and stand by them, so that the cost of an attack outweighs the potential for plunder.

Taking the case of my previous employment as an example, my bosses were driven by foolishness to take on as many new customers as possible and promise them the full range of services, and simultaneously cut labor. (I think this was not due to greed so much as habit and bureaucratic pressure from above, combined with a remarkable lack of perspective, understanding, or interest of our daily business operations.) They would then appeal to my prosocial instincts and Christian charity, these new customers being highly vulnerable people, insisting that I would be hurting these people by failing to accept my enlarged responsibilities. And it was true that these people were being neglected (although I would argue that it was not my doing).

In this case, I ought to have simply refused to take on extra responsibilities beyond a certain point, especially in the absence of remuneration.

There is a problem with this, because some types of work demand prosocial, altruistic teamwork (and this job was one of those). In turn, there was a constant refrain from the well-meaning and the parasitic, both, to produce a harmonious culture. A sort of proto-political correctness, actually. The most economical strategy would be to endorse teamwork with one’s mouth, and then pretend at inability to perform one’s duties and thereby exploit the altruistic folks. I now understand that it was immoral to pick up so much extra slack, aside from being the worst economic choice.

Going to skip to the conclusion, now that I have it in mind. The moral thing is to find a defensible, sustainable position and defend it vigorously, and only expand one’s wealth in ways that can be hidden. The territorial metaphor would be to expand one’s home underground, and build WMDs in the basement. The employment metaphor would be to get a job, become useful, and after becoming useful resist all pressure from above and get a reputation so people say “Don’t even bother ordering Aeoli to do that, he’ll just ignore you.” The economic pressure from outside will discourage them from firing the “difficult” employee, because I’m still earning them more money than otherwise.


About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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5 Responses to Leveling strategy in a deteriorating environment

  1. olddrunk says:

    Better to be fired for inability to keep up with rising workload if you want unemployment benefits.

  2. Zeke says:

    It’s simple in my line of work since I have a direct effect on revenue and profit. I can always make more if I try harder, but I’ve found a very comfortable baseline that requires minimal effort. It still keeps me under the radar since I make my company much more than I cost them and gives me the freedom to pursue other interests in the time I’ve created for myself.

    Usually it’s about 2-3 hours/day of actual, focused work. Don’t tell my boss.

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