Debate Magazine

Post-It Notes and Other Stuff.

Posted on the 06 June 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

I'm at the Citizen's Income Trust all day conference today, so here's a few random thoughts to keep you going.
1. Post-It Notes
I left a pad of small Post-It Notes in a shirt that I washed on Monday (cotton 40 C cycle plus spin). They were bit crumpled when they came out, but blow me down with a feather, they still unstuck and stuck again just like fresh out of the packet. I do wonder, did the clever testing guys at the factory put them through the laundry and then tweak the formula a bit to ensure that they would survive this toughest of tests for paper-based products?
2. Specialisation
There are two ends to this spectrum.
At one end, it can mean that jobs are broken down into ever smaller tasks, like on a production line. At the other end, it means somebody who knows more about a particular topic than anybody else, such as the proverbial rocket scientists or brain surgeons, none of whom would be of the slightest use if they were one of a small group of shipwrecked people washed up on a desert island.
The other point is that although specialisation occurs of its own accord in a free-market capitalist society, even Communist-dirigiste-authoritarian-caste systems have specialisation; under the latter, they still have distinct categories of doctors, bureaucrats, factory workers, bus drivers, toilet scrubbers etc.
3. Slavery
The first thing that springs to mind is the Brits and others taking West Africans to work in cotton fields in the Deep South, or maybe the Israelites in Egypt before the Exodus.
Clearly, there are degrees to this, nobody can ever be completely 'free'; even if there is nobody else around to oppress you or for you to oppress: think Robinson Crusoe before Man Friday turned up. If you were all on your own on a desert island, would you feel particularly 'free'?
That said, seeing as we are commemorating World War II again this week (in the big build up to commemorating the centennial of the start of The Great War, presumably), surely the most horrific slavery of modern times was "forced labour" in Nazi- or Communist-run factories and building projects? Why does anybody even use the awful euphemism "forced labour"?
Compared to what they suffered, being a slave on a plantation or an Israelite in Egypt was a holiday camp.

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