I can speak directly to the points that Charles is making in his essay “Survival +”
I was speaking with my father on the phone recently and he said that he had been talking to a cousin of mine. Now the back-story on this was that when I was not long out of school I had gone to work for this cousin and his brother in their small business which made photo-frames. Anyway, the comment made to my father was that I had been the best worker they ever had. I was quite chuffed with that comment at first but then had time to think about that some more and started to see it all from a rather different perspective.
I had worked there as my first real job for about 3 and a half years. In the end I left because I wasn’t getting anywhere. After all that time, I was literally no further ahead than when I had started working. In other words the money I was earning was enough to cover the rent, food, bills and transport and after that I was ending up with – bugger all. What’s more I had zero prospects of advancing with that job either. I was doing a blue collar manual job that a monkey could have done, and did it conscientiously and well. Which is more than anyone else after me managed to do apparently.
Now I am no dummy, I later went on to get a graduate degree, but apparently hard work, dedication and intelligence aren’t of any inherant value. Or at the very least weren’t valued enough to make any sort of effort to hang onto a good staff member and pay them better or otherwise develop them. We are always hearing about how people are a companies greatest assets and that developing your people, respecting them and rewarding them well is the key to an engaged, committed team. Well that’s all bollocks. Actually it might be true in theory, and even in practice – if anyone actually did it in practice.
But the reality for most people, and definitely for me, is that that sort of “corporate speak” is only ever jargon, posturing and propaganda. The only reality is the bottom line, the more you can sell at the least cost in wages the better. Anything less than 100% commitment to the bottom line is sub par and something to be eliminated. From picture framing, I went on to working in a bank. Once again you were just a number, a cog in the machine. They demanded total loyalty from you, but there was nothing like that in return. So, over the course of my working life I have gone from one job to another where I have gone in with a positive attitude and come out disappointed and disillusioned. I have been part of a workforce (in aviation) that worked hard and with enthusiasm in a job we had a passion for, to find that corporate incompetence at the top means that the answer to financial losses is mass redundancies. You are merely something to be used, abused and discarded. The priority is to ensure that the company’s regular 7-10% profit and dividend comes through. The quarterly statement is God, people are dispensable. Your career and security is of no consequence and if the costs of a problem can be passed off onto you instead of absorbed by the company, then so much the better. It is the pollution in the river principle, once you have unloaded you trash into the water, the flow carries it off down stream and it is some-one else’s problem. No-one wants to pay the costs of their own messes.
Maybe I am not as smart as I think I am, it took me a long to to realise what was going on and that this is not an accident or isolated instances, this is the norm. Actually it is possible to game this system and get ahead, but it sure as eggs isn’t going to be beneficently awarded to you just because “you deserve it”. Unfortunately, by this time I am not interested in playing the game. At this point I am disappointed, disillusioned and alienated, they can all go screw themselves.
The game is rigged, so why should I want to participate and support it. My working life has been a succession of jobs where I was either underpaid and over worked or simply treated with contempt. Over the course of my working life I have become more and more dis-inclined to put up with that. How many other people feel the same way? How long before there are enough people who simply aren’t prepared to support a status quo that only rewards unethical corporate institutions.
Companies are given in law the fiction of a corporate body, in other words treated as if they are a real person. Which is all very nice I am sure, but somehow they manage to just fold up and vanish if there is any real trouble and leave real people holding the bag. What’s more, corporate behaviour has been analysed and determined to display the traits of a psychopathic personality – and we let these entities run our lives???
The status quo is not a level playing field, it is not ethical or honest and it is not sustainable. Your problems are not all your fault, they are systemic and deliberate. Unfortunately, the sins of the system are coming home to roost and the economic shell game is collapsing. It is time to wake up to the reality that the interests of the plutocracy are not your interests. The end game of this is that one is going to destroy the other – which side is it going to be and which side are you on?