Nobody Wants to Work for a Corporation
The 90's Golden Age and the Fair Corporation
Let's be honest with ourselves, nobody in their right mind wants to work for a corporation. Your typical corporate job rates from unfulfilling at best, to brutal at worse. What people steering the ship fail to comprehend, is that corporate survival in both America and Canada long depended on financial incentives. People were willing to put up with their unfulfilling corporate jobs in exchange for big and fast money. It was a trade off; you did a job that sucked the living daylights out of you when you were younger, in the hope of maybe retiring sooner, and having the occasionally lavish weekend.
By contrast, there was a second crowd of people, those who wished to do more fulfilling and intellectual jobs. These jobs often involved a much lower salary, despite often requiring a higher level of education, yet had more stability and benefits. They were jobs such as teachers, social workers, foreign aid workers, policemen, firemen, social outreach, non-profits, etc.
The decade I'm describing is the 1990s. It was a time, at age 16, when I got my first job. It is unfortunate to this day that I was too young to take fully advantage of this era. I've known nothing but economic downturn ever since. I am part of a lost generation, those born between X and Y, whom as I'm turning age 30, will most likely remain lost in the abyss. If and when we as a human species can overcome this current economic collapse, I will be by far too old to take advantage. In retrospect, I was far too young to take advantage of the 1990s boom, and I will be far too old to take advantage of any upcoming future boom in the cycle. This isn't exactly unprecedented throughout history, just look at the generation who had to fight both World Wars. A generation just old enough to get drafted into WWI, and was just young enough to get drafted into WWII. I'm holding my breath as I want to see a silver lining, arguing how it could be worse, after all I'm not fighting both World Wars like the generation I mentioned. However, I wouldn't be surprised if I was ordered by the state to walk face first into a mushroom cloud by tomorrow, so I'm not making that call just yet. . .
It's of little wonder why the 1990s were economically prosperous times. There was a certain economic equilibrium at work here by those doing the crappy corporate jobs getting paid lots of money, while those doing the necessary fulfilling jobs enjoyed their work, benefits and stability. This created the foundation of a very strong social order. It created a harmonious blend of capitalism and socialism unprecedented throughout human history. I will be the first to admit it was an ingenious arrangement. Long story short, the golden age ended as soon as it began. Greed of both the capitalists, and even those who call themselves socialists, soon consumed the lands and brought us to wretched darkness. . .
Globalization Put on Maximum Thrust. . .
In the late 90's, I started to notice a very disturbing trend. Well meaning people, left of center, were opening up a Pandora's Box that could easily be abused by the very people they claimed to have fought against. You must understand; that being a teenager, becoming a Liberal was a political rite of passage. At that time, if you excuse my nostalgia, the biggest talked about subject amongst young ambitious Liberals was that more had to be done for the 3rd world. Speaking up and fighting for the interests of the 3rd world was considered quite fashionable. Blaming evil corporations for 3rd world misery could potentially make you numerous friends. Young adults, rather than having kids of their own, were adopting babies from Africa and China. The consensus was that more had to be done to assist the 3rd world, and that many were willing to make some sacrifices in living standards in order to do so. Globalization, a system without borders were everyone is seen as one human race, along with openhanded immigration, was regimentally touted as the solution.
On the other hand, I had my own reservations towards such a movement. I remember leaving my "comrades" with the cryptic warning, "if you give someone an inch, you'll hand them the world." I was trying to warn them that corporations would mercilessly exploit a young person willing to sacrifice for the sake of economic progress in the 3rd world. In the end, it would leave both you and the 3rd world poor. I was accused of being paranoid and blowing things out of proportion. It came to the point they would hear my protests no longer, globalization was a progressive movement entering the 21st century that should be celebrated.
I won't judge my old friends too harshly, as they were clearly ignorant. Not everyone was blessed with the high level of intuition that I possessed at such a young age. While the ignorance frustrated me, it wasn't that in the end that made me leave my Liberal political leanings and become a Centrist. Amongst my peers there was a certain level of contempt they had for the working poor in Canada. As hard as it is to believe, in year 1999, it was the Conservatives who cared more for the working poor than the Liberals did. A talk about the working poor in my given area would be immediately shut down by conversations of what should be done about famine and H.I.V in Africa. If I tried to push the issue, I would often encounter resistance. "The poor of this country have no rights to complain," shouts one of my acquaintances, "they're living in luxury compared to those in China!" "The poor in this country should just go to college," remarks another one of my former comrades. Without a doubt, these young Liberals aged 15 to 25 were fully converted Globalist cosmopolitans. Make no mistake that they sound very much like the Neo-Conservatives that we hear today, as yesterday's passionate Liberal, will be tomorrow’s passionate Conservative.
I believe this is when the Neo-Conservative imperialistic movement found it's wings. Don't get me wrong, it was always there on the fringes, but the youthful cosmopolitan Globalists represented an opportunity. People have often shouted Neo-Conservative so many times; that they forget its true meaning. "Neo" simply means new. The corporate Globalists looked at what was developing in the nation's young people and shouted out loud, "let's use it!"
Today, across both Canada and the United States, this Neo-Conservative Corporate/Globalist movement has complete political dominion. It's very different than the Conservative politics in the mid 20th century. While I could argue their civil rights beliefs would be considered questionable in today's era, at the very least you could depend on the Conservatives of old to fight tooth and nail for the working class.
The Corporate Contract is Violated
Entering year 2000 is when the corporate contract gets openly violated. There were numerous cracks in the armour before that time period, but around year 2000 is when the violations of the corporate contract and its consequences were coming to full fruition. Corporations are simply no longer willing to pay big money for their soulless jobs. You could hear the sucking sound in the background, as jobs are being rapidly shipped off to China and India. At first, it is much to the applause of Globalization Liberals. Indeed, if you were to search websites back from 1995 to 2000, much of the pro globalization arguments come from what I would consider Liberal academics. My benevolent socialist friends saw this as an opportunity to help these poor countries. They were under the illusion that job creation here could never end; that any job shipped to India would in two seconds get replaced. After all, "there are more jobs than people, so we have more than enough room to share," was the saying.
Now, the people doing corporate jobs were not only expected to continue doing their soul sucking corporate jobs, but at much lower pay. The contract has been violated. Let's be honest with ourselves, nobody grows up dreaming to work a corporate job. People do it for the money. And with the money gone; all incentive is gone.
Looking back at the time with a renewed perspective, I would go on to say that perhaps the biggest victims of this economic cataclysm were the people derogatorily known as yuppies. They did shitty jobs in exchange for big money, and when globalization was allowed to run amok, they lost their jobs. They were then subsequently relegated to doing even shittier jobs in the corporate service sector, for even lower pay than most government social workers. Of course, the ignorant were only too happy to see the yuppies get shot down. . . From the perspective of many socialists, the greedy yuppies are gone, prices on my products are cheaper, and I help that little poor guy in a Chinese shack get a job. Can't get any better than that; right? Wrong.
In comes the I.M.F, N.A.F.T.A, G8, G20, etc. I would describe them as Globalized centralized monetary cartels and treaties. At first, they're heralded by the ignorant as a solution to address the 3rd world. Little did they realize; that all were accomplishing is removing the prosperity of the West and loaning it out to the East. Yes, you may have given Xio from Vietnam a factory job, but it's only temporary. Once the loans are up, the sharks will want to be paid back the same amount plus a ridiculous amount of interest. So in your short-sightedness, all you did was give the Xio's of the world a slightly better job for a short period of time, in exchange for indebting his country for life. By not taking the time to come up with patient solutions to address the 3rd world, the 3rd world is now essentially poor forever, with no hope of escape. Just ask people what happened to Latin America, or better yet, turn on your television and have a look at what's going on in Greece or Egypt if you want to see the results.
Corporations Will Come to an End with the Current Generation
The biggest myth going is the might of the corporation. People look at corporations with shock and awe, yet fail to realize that if it were not for numerous governments in the world bailing them out, they would already be extinct and left to the history books.
What will cause their downfall is ironically what brought them to power; their greed. You can't keep on playing a Globalization deck of cards by competing downwards on worker wages without one day reaching absolute zero. It's a mathematical certainty that corporations will inevitably fail. Corporate Globalization can only fail. Unfortunately, corporations will try their best to make life as miserable as possible for the rest of us as they go down. . .
Already, I can see the hypothetical downfall of corporations in the minds and hearts of my younger peers. They're by far much smarter than the kids I described in the 90's. Unlike the kids in the 90's, the kids of today know the score. They know they have a shitty hand; and that they will most likely grow up to be much poorer than their parents. Contrary to what the media portrays, I see a change in attitude towards corporations that is both healthy and positive.
The youth are asking: what’s the incentive to work for a corporation? If I'm going to be poor, I would much rather be poor doing something I love or something useful to society, rather than working for a corporation. Nobody wants to genuinely work for a corporation. Nobody works in a corporation because “they love it.” In the past people worked in corporations for money, but with corporate jobs today now paying the same as a school teacher, honestly where's the incentive?
Indeed, before the economic down turn in 2008, corporations found it impossible to recruit and retain Generation Y. I maintain that this problem will remain timeless, even in spite of economic conditions, until corporations start offering similar salaries that adjusted for inflation are the same as back in the 1990’s. I don't see that remotely being a possibility due to Globalization putting real downward pressures on wages, so corporate North America may come to an end with the current generation.
Of course, this doesn't mean the end of the world, of society, or even capitalism. The demand is still there and corporations will get replaced by savvy entrepreneurs. The only question that remains is by what exactly? And will the government allow this necessary change to take place? I'll leave the answers to both those questions for another article. . .
-Donovan D. Westhaver