Monday, August 22, 2011

The Stirrings in the workforce our Masters don't want us to talk about

The Stirrings in the workforce our Masters don't want us to talk about*

Since Reagan's Revolutionary "recovery" after he and Congress drove the economy into the free market ground worker satisfaction with our "jobs" has diminished across the economy.

No wonder why. The jobs this country has created in every recovery are lower waged, less skilled, and, far worse, without benefits of pension, retirement, or the ability to save for that future when Wall Street dreams of grasping its evil hands on that leaden lock box called Social Security.

The shrinking of union work is suggestive too, but since our unions are increasingly reformist - accommodating corporate structures in exchange for a "cut" in union dues and prestige - unions are a far cry from their militant origins, when its goal was worker control of production, not high wages, no management except self-management.

So late 20th century and 21st century workers find themselves in a predicament. They were driven into the strategic hamlets we call cities over a century ago in the wake of the Industrial Revolution; they were trained to work on a treadmill [viz., factory floor, pushing paper in a cubicle]; and they can now can do little more than survive by keeping the wheel of their own destruction spinning ... spinning the twine to make the noose that hangs them.

When ends don't meet, they spin faster, and have even a generation ago begun to send their teen-aged children to work the treadmill. Because, to blow the mill out of the universe - to destroy it - would leave too many workers with a skill-set barely enabling them to tie a shoe but little else.

We can't farm. We can't build. Many can't even pull apart their car engines and rebuild them. The urbane existence we are supposed to consider a pinnacle of civilization has in reality done what the antebellum slave master could not do: many of those African slaves risked life and limb to read and write and to escape. We are grown, illiterate children.

My Tennessee grandparents talked a lot about this in my youth, when they rued the next Depression. The one they survived in the 1930's they survived because while they were dirt poor, they had food from their land and practical skills to sustain themselves.

We deeply loathe our employment, but the Stockholm Syndrome says we are one with it too. Our jobs do less and less for us, except eek out the barest minimum existence, but this basic we've turned into ..."I am lucky to have a job" and bow and curtsey, tug-at-your-locks obedience.

So we are caught between the proverbial rock of joblessness and no means to feed/house ourselves and the hard place of work.

Two reasons employers are not fretting about this.

One must be their deep-seeded faith that we workers will not seek alternatives beyond what the master provides. Thanks to lessons learned in the factory system of education, we've learned to shut up. Otherwise, I should think an employer who has even 50% of his workforce actively seeking work elsewhere would be alarmed.

Two that where the employer may lose a portion of that job-dependent 50% to another job, there's another job-dependent 70% waiting to step in - if only for a moment.

The wasted costs of training and the signal that your workers' minds are elsewhere is no concern, possibly because the training is so minimal, the work not critical. Ask yourself in whatever job you labor if you'd trust a surgeon or even an dentist to operate on you with the level of training you and your colleagues got. If the answer is No, your training is probably over-blown and over-hyped.

Make no mistake. This is a powder-keg. What will ultimately ignite it is hard to pinpoint; and how that coming disaster will destruct is hard to predict. Because when workers take a page from the stockbroker and stop looking at the picture but at the broader canvass - even into the next economic quarter - all Hell will break loose.

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