Seamus Explains Specialization to Guy on the Couch


I love having nice things. Well, you can thank the division of labor for that! Ah! How did you get past the home security
system again? The only reason a modern and developed society is able to provide us with things like home security systems, wire cutters, and the many other
goods and services we enjoy is because in a market economy people are able to
specialize in creating one specific thing. You mean no one person could make
any of the expensive things that I own? For the most part, no. The reason our products are so intricate and useful is because people who are good at creating
one specific part of them continue to develop that particular element of the
product, sometimes for their entire careers. No one person could make your
cell phone, but a team of people could create a really good operating system
for it, another could develop a really fast processor, and another team could
create a really great screen for it. And within these teams even more
specialization occurs. Whoever’s best at any part of the process fulfills that
role. What? How! Why? How do they know what they should be doing? Who tells them? Well… we do. Us? I don’t remember telling no nerd to make my phone. And I want it done by
next week! Ahh! No.. not like that. We tell them through the mechanism of
profit. If I’m really good at making lemonade I’ll be able to make more money
than my competition, and this increase in profit will work as a signal to tell me
to keep doing what I’m doing. And similarly, a decrease in profits will
tell my competition to either step up their game or do something else. Ha! So a functional division of labour is based on profit motive? That’s right! If everyone made the same amount of money and profit didn’t matter, people wouldn’t be incentivized to make the things others wanted them to make and society
would never produce all the things it needed. Especially because a lot of what
we want is kind of unpleasant to provide. Like those butt implants you got. Why do you keep bringing that up? Without profit, we would end up with too much of what we didn’t want and not enough of what we needed. The further a society develops
the more divided labor becomes. Whereas in the past, a handful of people could hunt and gather everything they needed to survive alone… Today, we rely on an interconnected system of billions of people and each of them for the most
part are developing the skills they’re good at. You know that old saying about
being a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none? You’re adequate at everything, but you can’t do anything really incredible. And without a division of labor, that’s basically what everyone has to be. HEY! THAT NOT TRUE AT ALL. MY NAME NOT JACK, IT OGG. Hey folks, thank you so much for
watching. If you enjoy this video and would like to see similar educational content please check out fee.org Thank you.




Comments
  1. I want to amplify the question asked here by others: who says specialization is bad? I get frustrated by these "common sense soapbox" videos that seem to be random bashing of the Trump agenda but they don't have the clarity to make their point unequivocally. I don't think anyone making policy in the current administration is anti-specialization, though certainly there are some conservatives who are, but who cares? Who is saying that specialization is bad, and why should we care? Also, this video is not at all clear on what constitutes "specialization". People have specialized all the way back to the time when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers on the plains of Africa, when there would be the guy (or perhaps a few guys, and yes, it was typically men) in the tribe who specialized in making arrow heads, and the guy who specialized in shooting those arrows accurately and effectively. There were women who specialized in harvesting certain plants, and others who specialized in making the baskets used to carry that harvest. We know this by both archeological evidence and also from the behavior of modern hunter-gatherers. Is this the sense in which the video is explaining specialization? In that case, can we even conceive of an alternative? What would that be? In a totally non-specialized world where there is no division of labor a factory worker would be drawing wire one day, forging magnets the next, pressing paper cones the following, stamping steel brackets the next day, and finally building speakers with those parts, only to then have to assemble them into some larger units the following week? A world without specialization and division of labor is so nonsensical its hard to even imagine what it would be like. So, I reiterate, what do you mean by specialization? Are you suggesting that it is good even if taken to an extreme, for example if our hypothetical factor worker only had enough education throughout his entire life such that all he knows is how to solder the left hand speaker wire onto the left solder pad of the printed circuit board? The opposite extreme is equally nonsensical. So, the domain of rational discussion is, what is an appropriate amount of specialization, what skills should workers have, what ability to flexibly change to new jobs as demands for any particular specialized skill wax and wane. Tangential to this is a discussion of what role government should take, what role labor unions, are there "greater good" issues that require government oversight, etc etc.
    To answer my own question, I think that the maker of this video is trying to overgeneralize and say that since some specialization is good, any level of specialization is good for the economy and society, and that efforts to broadly educate people so they can easily switch from one specialization to another are misguided and a unfair redistribution of wealth.

  2. Actually, the original saying is, "Jack of all trades; master of one."
    The idea is everyone should try to learn a little of everything so as to have basic self reliance, but also to find what they have natural talent for, then focus and master that one specific talent.

    When you have people so specialized that they can't even carry out ultra simple tasks like cooking a decent meal, doing their own laundry, changing a tire on a car, writing a well thought out and articulate argument, or even something as basic as making and tending a camp fire without modern tools, you get people like those who infest Starbucks cafes in Portland, OR.

    XD

  3. It is not profit that drives the division of labour. It is the inherent complexity of the reality in which we live.

    The market really doesn't care about innovation or competition. Eventually a monopoly will arise since there is nothing more profitable in a market than a monopoly. A corporation will always charge as much as possible for everything it produces. This can be achieved by negotiating a standard price with its competition or just merging with them.

  4. Hey FEE/Seamus… what do you think of Trump's recent rollback of Obama-era environmental safeguards, such as mandated standards for automobile companies to ensure steady fuel efficiency progress?

  5. So what's the point of a liberal arts college? Learn a little bit about everything, and take A FEW specialized courses

  6. Thank you for not citing I, Pencil. Most naive and optimistic and most over used essay to prove this point. Thank you for helping avoid an eye and nose bleed.

  7. “Jack of all trades, master of none” is good and all, but it’s a rhyme. The full version is “Jack of all trades, master of none, is still yet better than the master of one”

  8. Counterpoint…
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  9. 2:04 woah woah woah hold up hold UP. What’s with the shot at Zune. I freakin loved my Windows Zune player. It was so much better than iPod ever was. I was so pissed when someone broke it and I couldn’t get it replaced.

  10. I'd like to submit an idea. A young liberal girl falls asleep and starts dreaming the democrats win Congress, and Pelosi announces the first order of business is to END the tax cut and raise taxes.

    Liberal, "Uh, just a sec. You're not really going to raise my taxes, right? I thought that was just Republican propaganda."

    Pelosi, "Well of course I'm going to raise them. Haven't you been paying attention?"

    LIberal, "But…but…I'm barely getting by and the tax cut gave me much needed relief."

    Pelosi, "So sorry, but we've got to get to our private jet and head to Hollywood. We're going to party all night with the best champagne money can buy. Now run along and stop bothering me, or I'll call security."

    Liberal, "But…but….but….fine, I have to go to work anyway."

    At work, "Boss, can I get an advance on my salary?"

    Boss, "Oh, I'm so sorry but I have to let you go. You heard Pelosi, she's going to end our tax cut so I need to start cutting back on expenses."

    And of course she wakes up and heads to voter registration and becomes a Trump supporter.

  11. Ok, so I don't know if you know about processor speeds, but 4.8 is really fast. I applaud your attention to detail, or research

  12. Does he not know the saying is actually "jack of all trades, master of one" which was created to encourage people to master a skill for primary use and monetary gain, but to also be flexible in many areas in order to be a provider of a home

  13. Not trying to cast shade but i would like some of the source material your getting this info. Just the link really

  14. some people like doing work others don't want because the like that job, i work in a elderly home not becouse of the money i live of welfare no because it gives me appreciation .not everybody specialises and not every job needs to profit. in some jobs profit, justs shouldn't matter

  15. Wow, even here the "jack of all trades" saying is misinterpreted.
    The FULL saying is "jack of all trades, master of none. But oftentimes better than a master of one."

  16. Jack of all trades, a master of none, IS OFTEN BETTER THAN A MASTER OF ONE
    Why do people keep forgetting the second part of that quote?!

  17. Hey but that makes me wonder what you think about soldja boy 😂 he’s just adding to the competition and lowering the prices of goods and tbh it’s disgusting how much profit apple makes off its products

  18. I never knew young children in the Philippines were so specialized in making cell phone parts. Or is it they're just cheap?

  19. Full Quote: "A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one." There's nothing wrong with polymaths.

  20. The original jack-of-all-trades phrase is
    "Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of-none, but better than a master-of-one"
    It's used to express that it's better to be adequate at many things than only good at one, although it's an old phrase, so it may not hold up

  21. Gotta love how the jack of all trades quote keeps getting snipped. The last line is “Is better than the master of one”

  22. The phrase jack of all trades master of none, but still far better than a master of one really got shown how poor the second part of the proverb aged.
    Edit: nevemind the original said master of one, not none

  23. One minor flaw with this. If you have name brand recognitions your next product might sale more but be received worse. This happens a lot with video games and phones. Though given enough time you destroy your brand and tank.

  24. "profit is the only motive for specialization or doing jobs that people find undesirable"

    wow okay thats a huge issue right there buddy… No, profits aren't the only motivator one can have. They are one of the big ones in our current society but how many people go into college for a career just because it pays well? some, but not nearly as much as you think. A far more significant amount will go into college for what interests them, and then end up having to work for a big company to pay their bills having no financial incentive to "improve" because its not their business all because there's way too many people in specialist fields for how few jobs there actually are in those fields.

    Not to mention there are people who want to be garbageman… like legitimately.

     Whats going to happen to this model once the 2nd big wave of automation takes place and jobs like garbage collector, tech support, cashier, and many other low paying jobs with a ton of people in them are removed? we can only get so specialized before there's too many people for only handfuls of jobs. The only "functional division of labor based on profit motives" will be rich fucks paying for the electricity on robots and for the humans (or lets be real, robots soon too) to maintenance them.

  25. A point to always keep in mind though – we can't just have masters. Jacks are good for filling in the easier levels, and have the most flexibility because they are Jacks that can fit into many different lower-level spaces.
    How effective will you be in chess with no pawns or queen and can't move their king, against an opponent who does have those things and can move their king?

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