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Hey, Workers! You All Are Not "Concerned" Enough!: (An Editorial)
This is an op/ed
I might as well get this rant off my chest so I can throw away the old newspaper clipping. This is from the Jobs & Automotive section of the July 4, 2010 edition of The Record. This career advice piece is called Accept job stress or lose out; Employers seek concerned workers by John A. Challenger.
I wish you could see the picture. We see a young man in a suit sans tie, shirt open at the collar. A very nice looking, well-scrubbed young man! His colleague is a woman, pretty in an understated way, hair tied back in a bun or pony tail; its hard to tell the way the picture was shot. Both of these very nice looking, well-scrubbed young people are leaning over a desk, furrowing their brows over some papers and pointing at a particular line.
This apparently represents a point in the contract or business plan or sales report or something, that bears close scrutiny. Their faces are marked with a look of... of... oh, yes, "concern," that's the word I'm looking for. Their obvious commitment to furthering the success of their organization is truly inspiring. Really it is!
The opening paragraph:
"Employees who look beyond their own jobs and feel the intensity of competition are likely to secure a niche in today's changing worklife while their more complacent counterparts are eventually likely to lose out."
"Complacent counterparts?" Who are these complacent counterparts, I wonder? Compared to whom? By what standard are American workers complacent?
You know, we're used to "economic downturns," "recessions," and the like being the justification for the ruling class to put the squeeze on blue collar workers. The latest example is the way both the Bush administration and the Obama administration treated the ailing financial sector, the banks, credit institutions, and the like, and the way they treated the auto companies. You remember, don't you?
The federal government rushed to pour tax-payer dollars into re-capitalizing these banks and financial institutions. The government actually forced the banks to accept this aid initially, over their, perhaps, tepid objections. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke went to congress with a two and a half page "plan" which called for the transfer of seven hundred billion dollars to his control to repair the financial infrastructure of this country, as he saw fit.
It was a Friday and Ben Bernanke said that if they didn't do this, the economy would be dead by Monday. Remember? Well....
The government seemed to make sure that the financial sector executives and their frontline personnel, sitting in front of screens staring at Matrix-like streams of data, got their bonuses. Some money went out but there was a brief hiccup in the normal workings of civilization when Senator Charles Schumer of New York made public statements from threatening these people, saying that if they didn't do the right thing and return that money, congress would pass legislation to "tax virtually all of it."
The media said the public were outraged, understandably so some were generous enough to say, under the circumstances. President Obama said some populist things along these lines. But the public furor died down, America came back to our senses, as we remembered that "we're a nation of laws." Contracts are sacrosanct -- except for those of auto workers, of course.
We know all this. This is very familiar. We have also heard of a certain amount of white-collar insecurity over the last ten years -- and, indeed, as indicated in this very article meant to be a pep talk to people like these two nice looking, well-scrubbed young people in the picture accompanying this article I'm referring to, and people like them who have "high-powered" positions in the corporate world.
We don't have to talk, here, about the social devastation wrought, over the past forty years, by what we refer to as the neoliberal transformation of the American economy: the declining social indices; the massively increased homelessness and poverty; the extreme concentration of wealth and political power at the top; the decimation of the New Deal-created social safety net, which, truth be told, was never very generous by world standards; the cessation of rising wages as compensation for continually rising productivity (and profits!) over the past twenty five years or so.
We don't have to talk about the fact that more members of the American household, work more hours than ever before, supplementing inadequate wages with credit. The average hours of the American worker rose by twenty percent, while those of the French, Swedish, German, and Italian worker dropped by twenty percent over the same period, what we call the neoliberal transformation -- at least I do, anyway. We work more hours than workaholic Japan.
What I want to know is: what are these two nice looking, well-scrubbed young people in the photo, in what is obviously a corporate office, likely to get for showing increased "concern?" Remember, the American workforce isn't "concerned" enough.
Well, the writer of the article, John A. Challenger has some pointers highlighted in bold, below. These are the key things to keep in mind as your trying to show your employer how "concerned" you are. These are: Make the workday "clockless," Look for trouble, Bring people together, Non-stop learning, and Cross job borders.
He explains what these mean, of course. But I think these categories are pretty self-explanatory. So, what the payoff, then, for all this?
Mr. Challenger wrote: "An employee who displays that attitude is likely to be the last one replaced with a part-time or contingent worker."
Well, I know that puts me in a celebratory mood. Break out the champagne! You, sir, get to keep your job!... but notice he said "likely to be the last one replaced..." Couldn't exactly promise that Mr. or Mrs. (or Ms.) Dynamo would be completely spared the axe, eh?
Now I can throw away this old newspaper clipping.