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Hey, Workers! You All Are Not "Concerned" Enough!: (An Editorial)

Updated on December 13, 2016
wingedcentaur profile image

The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


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.


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    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Thank you, gr82bme, for commenting on my unworthy hub. I shall look for your hub on this subject, and check out the link to the documentary you mention. I have to say, though, at this point I don't believe there is much that would surprise me.

      Thanks again, and thank you for the up vote.

      Take it easy.

    • gr82bme profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I did somewhat of a hub on the same thing. I am not as good as you. There is also a link to a documentary they did on this. You may want to have a look

      You think you are pissed now at what Paulson got away with, you will be ready to kill him and the others.

      Great hub. voted up!

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      7 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Thank you LillyGrillzit! From reading your profile and looking at some of your hubs I see that you've had a very varied work history.

      One of the things I object to is the way American society (perhaps more than any other country) separates people into the designations "skilled" and "unskilled" workers. You see, I do not believe there is any such thing as an "unskilled" person.

      Everyone has innate skills, talents, gifts regardless of years or lack thereof formal education and training. That we can write human beings off as "unskilled" is, of course reflected in the fact that our education system is not designed to bring out our innate talents and abilities for the purpose of self-fulfilment and general social betterment, but rather to prepare us to become a cog in the wheel, as it were.

      Yada, yada, yada. And so on and so forth.

      Listen, thank you for stopping by, LillyGrillzit, and commenting on my unworthy hub.

      Take care.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Workers, eaters, breathers, water drinkers, are not concerned enough, excuse my butt into your rant. Your description is so good, a photograph could not do more. Your example of the sanitation worker hit home. The only reason sanitation workers are happy (other than self-generated)is because of over-time, and pay. I assisted in the construction of over 10,000,000 square ft. of model landfill cells. At the completion a $5,000,000.00 project, it was hard to share the pride with anyone but others in the industry. "Wanna see the garbage hole I helped build?" :0P

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      No problem, reynold jay. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      reynold jay 

      8 years ago

      Your 6th paragraph is a good observation of human behavior. Thanks for responding. RJ

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day to you Reynold Jay!

      I appreciate your interest in my unworthy hub, which as I mentioned, was a rant inspired by a newspaper article. Also, let me say that I appreciate the honor you have done me by 'following' me, joining the "fan club," as it were. I hope I do not disappoint.

      Your comment shows that you kindly took the trouble to read some of the comments that came after the hub. I am most appreciative and humbled by your thoroughness.

      Now then, let us talk about garbage collection. You saw a television series in which the main character is a garbage collector and he "loved the job and took it to new highs." By the way, I love The Honeymooners; but I would say this character you're referring to is more like Ralph Kramden's friend, Ed Norton (who worked in the New York City sewer system) than bus driver Kramden.

      Now, back to this television character you mentioned. It might be that his "love" of his job and innovation in taking it to "new highs" is a necessary function of the show. For some reason the creators of the show deemed this characteristic as needed to make the show work.

      I have no doubt that there are many garbage collectors who are happy people (for other reasons, I should think: happy home life, good health, religious faith, etc.) And I have no doubt that their happiness spills over into their jobs. Some people are generally regarded as happy people and such people occupy all strata of society and all socioeconomic classes.

      For such people, then, we must ask the question (and make this important distinction, talking about garbage collectors: Does the work actually make them happy? Or are they happy in spite of their work (for some of the reasons I mentioned) and this happiness comes with them to the job?

      If all people had the opportunity to get a "higher" college/university education, would you then have a significant number of graduates then saying to themselves: "What shall I do now? I know, I think I shall go to work for the city sanitation department.

      Its one thing to have fun being a garbage collector on a TV show, quite another to have to do that in real life. Could you feel comfortable going to your child's school on "Career Day"? Would you even be comfortable with your child telling people what you do for a living? Would you really enjoy a job in which you have to jump into the shower immediately after you get home from work? Would you?

      Personally, I think society must find a better way to dispose of its garbage (as well as produce much less of it!) than, in effect, making "untouchables" out of a certain class of people. "Untouchable" is a term from India for those designated to do the dirtiest, most disgusting work!

      And so on and so forth. Yada, yada, yada. Listen, thanks for stopping by again.

      Take care.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      8 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Garbage collection...There was a TV series in which the main character was a garbage collector and he loved the job and took it new highs. Kind of like Ralph Cramdon driving a bus. IT should be a choice like you mention. I would enjoy the physical workout and being outdoors and probably enjoy it more than working on an assembly line etc. I was a teacher and enjoyed all of it more than the things mentioned here. Read Tiny Tim at my hub site. Winner of Hub best Writer award last month. Awesome and up 1. RJ

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day mythbuster

      You sure are Mr. Follow-up, aren't you? I am flattered and humbled that you even bother with my little suggestions.

      See you when you get back!


    • mythbuster profile image


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Watching the vid now...will be back soon.

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day mythbuster

      Thank you for finding this old rant of mine. I believe that what I'll call "occupational class" flows from the structure of work, which flows from the structure of the education system, which itself flows from the structure of work laid out, say, in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution in America.

      The education structure, then, was built on the basis that we would need a very broad mass of people to do the "unskilled" manual labor. Then we would need a middle level of workers to do middling administrative work, which would require a little more education.

      Than there would be a need for a top-of-the-pyramid professional class: lawyers, doctors, statesmen, scientists.

      To put it simply and crudely, the system works to conform the individual to its needs. I believe the challenge (if we want to evolve socially and politically, that is) is to restructure work and the attendant education system for the total liberation of the individual.

      Here's what I mean in short. As long as we have a society that has the structural need for the "profession" of garbage collector we do not have an educational and work system provides the true liberation of all. Personally, I do not believe that garbage collector is a job that any human being should have to do -- if we are to eliminate it, this will require very serious thinking across a number of fields by whole communities; these are not problems any individual can even concieve solutions for on his own.

      There is a very smart thinker on education and the new direction it has to go. Its a chap called Sir Kenneth Robinson. Here, check him out if you're not familiar with his work.

    • mythbuster profile image


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Interesting article, wingedcentaur. Your outlines of problems are very clear - well-stated. What "calls to action" do you have for these problems? Do you imagine there are any solutions to some of these problems outlined in this article?

    • wingedcentaur profile imageAUTHOR

      William Thomas 

      8 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Day McHamlet

      Thanks for the pat on the back. Hey, I liked your follow up hub to The Awkward Truth About Jesus, the one about Christians and "Christians."

      As blake4d would say....

      Keep on hubbing!

    • McHamlet profile image

      Paul Buckle 

      8 years ago

      Nice rant') That clipping sounds like corporate crap aimed at turning people into mindless drones. I'm sure big companies would just love it if workers 'concerned' themselves to death for their benefit. I like the way you took it apart')


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