"The managers of the economic machine exploit this situation. Full employment is a thing of the past, but we still use criteria that were current in the nineteenth century, or twenty or thirty years ago, when it still existed. Among other things, this encourages many unemployed people to feel ashamed of themselves. This shame has always been absurd but it is even more so today. It goes hand in hand with the fear felt by the privileged who still have a paid job and are afraid of losing it. I maintain that this shame and this fear ought to be quoted on the stock exchange, because they are major inputs in profit. Once upon a time people pilloried the alienation caused by work. Today falling labour costs contribute to the profits of big companies, whose favourite management tool is sacking workers; when they do this, their stock market value soars." - Vivianne Forrester
Actually it's been several years since I've seen stocks rise on layoff news. More often these days there'll be a slight dip. The market apparently doesn't believe that the salary/benefit money thus freed will translate into overall revenue improvements anymore. More and more lately I hear talk about the increasingly long hours people are working in the US. And the truth of the matter is, we drive ourselves as hard as management drives us. Why? Several reasons, probably. First and foremost, of course, when something like 1/3d the workforce fears that they may become unemplyed within the next 365 days (so much for the idea that the recession ended in 2001), there's a pretty powerful incentive not to give management an excuse to put yourself into that 1/3d, and one of the few worker-controllable ways of doing that is to work longer, skip lunch, not take vacations, etc. Then there's the 24x7 nature of the Information Age. People have an almost pathological fear that something will happen while they're out of touch, so they take laptops, PDAs and cellphones everyhere they go - even on vacation. Even more than time, information is money. Gone are the days when you got up with the sun to work in the fields, but went to bed with the sun as well, because you simply can't do much farming in the dark. Most People need to work. It's not just a matter of allowing oneself to be exploited, it's a matter of needing to feel needed and to avoid the stagnation and boredom that you'd have if you didn't have to work for anything and could just goof off all day long. But that's just the start of it. Recent studies indicate that if everyone's wealthy, they're all unhappy. What everyone really wants is to be "better" than everyone else. In this culture, "better" usually means richer, and - despite considerable evidence to the contrary - many people think that the more/harder you work, the more of an edge you get. Back in the 50's they called it the "rat race". Eventually, if you buy into that idea, you end up with an ever-tightening spiral until everyone's working at 110% or more of their abilities and the inevitable breakdowns begin. Sorry if I'm pricking anyone's bubble, but the most lucrative work I ever did (percentage-wise) was to license someone else's hard labor, add a small, but significant amount of value and sublicense it to yet another party to to the actual packaging and marketing. Far too many of my long-hour work projects ended up killed, thus their only true productivity was in the paycheck I earned while doing the work. Which is no way to build a better world. A lot of what we live with it the legacy of the 1700's Clockwork Theory of the Universe. That is, back then the world began to lose its idea of a world where life, the tides and the seasons ebbed and flowed fairly loosely and man was the plaything of the Gods, and discovered that the world is has immutable rules (this is also when precision manufacture of mechanical devices began to become prevalent). As the years passed, we lost more and more of the "soft" view of the world until things more or less peaked in the "Satanic Mills" of the Victorian Age - where persons were simply a squishier sort of cog in the great machines and the idea was that output was a linear function of input. Run the machines longer, get more output, make more profit. You can see this idea all over the software industry (among others). The assumption that programmers (despite innumerable studies) are essentially code grinders where lines-of-code = hours-worked * programmer-productivity in lines/hour, a constant figure adjustable by various incentives and threats. I like to say that after "n" hours, "lines-of-code" should be replaced with "lines-of-bugs", but no one listens to me... In actual fact, like wine, there's a certain amount of aging and settling time that should be part of any good software effort, and attempting to force the process will do more harm than good. However, some lessons have to be learned the hard way, it seems.
"privilege" comes from the Latin words for "private" and "law" (legal) and dates to feudal times. To "claim privilege" meant that you were above the laws that applied to the common people.
Originally posted by Tim Holloway: More and more lately I hear talk about the increasingly long hours people are working in the US. And the truth of the matter is, we drive ourselves as hard as management drives us. Why? Several reasons, probably. First and foremost, of course, when something like 1/3d the workforce fears that they may become unemplyed within the next 365 days (so much for the idea that the recession ended in 2001), there's a pretty powerful incentive not to give management an excuse to put yourself into that 1/3d, and one of the few worker-controllable ways of doing that is to work longer, skip lunch, not take vacations, etc.
An International Labor Organization study showed that Americans worked the equivalent of an extra 40-hour week in 2000 than 10 years before. Americans work almost a month longer than the Japanese and three months more than Germans, it said.
The Kellogg corporation was founded by a man who walked the line between progressive and whacko....He instituted the 6 hour work day back at the start of the company. Kellog killed it an started working 8 hour days sometime in the late 1990's.... Todd Killingsworth
He got surgery to replace his foot with a pig. He said it was because of this tiny ad:
Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop