The line in the sand

At some stage you’ll have to face a dilemma if you’re still of working age and not in some sinecure you worked hard to get. That dilemma is summed up in the Mother Jones article on production line work:

“Leave your pride and your personal life at the door,” the lady at the chamber of commerce says, if I want to last as an online warehouse worker.

I’d like to graph personal pride and esteem versus realistic position economically. Many of the young today have been criticized for wanting it handed to them on a plate without having paid any dues but to an extent they’re not unjustified. Living at home or living with co-tenants but still with a money conduit from home, their socio-economic position is artificially high and so the prissiness at getting their hands dirty is understandable.

It is relative in the final analysis and just what you’d be prepared to do or how much c*** you’d be prepared to take from others does seem to come down to what’s riding on it. In a town with no benefits system, where the major employer has a near monopoly, where you’re up against people with much lower pride who chase this kind of work from town to town and that job on the production line is the difference between literally eating and starving, you’re going to put up with a lot.

There is then a second question – just how much should people put up with? A Chinese worker might give you a different answer to a college-educated American.

“Yes,” she says. “There’re 16 other people who want your job. Why would they keep a person who gets emotional, especially in this economy?”

Still, she advises, regardless of how much they push me, don’t work so hard that I injure myself. I’m young. I have a long life ahead of me. It’s not worth it to do permanent physical damage, she says, which, considering that I got hired at eleven something dollars an hour, is a bit of an understatement.

There are NO exceptions to this policy. She says to take Brian, for example, who’s here with us in training today. Brian already went through this training, but then during his first week his lady had a baby, so he missed a day and he had to be fired. Having to start the application process over could cost a brand-new dad like Brian a couple of weeks’ worth of work and pay. Okay? Everybody turn around and look at Brian. Welcome back, Brian. Don’t end up like Brian.

That does put the Tesco slave-labour thing into perspective. Don’t get me wrong – I know that in this climate and at this age, the most glittering CV is going to mean nothing any more. “Cut it down,” they say, by which they mean “dumb it down”, which I do, removing anything remotely requiring intelligence or qualifications and ending up with two paragraphs. “That’s the way,” the 20 year old spotty herbert from the Council says.

In the end, it’s the f*** you factor here. Someone makes the comment that human dignity is a luxury when you face starvation. Yes but why should we be facing starvation, loss of home, the soup kitchen?

Well that too depends. If you’re prepared to crank down your sights and accept a harder road than hitherto, if you’re not afraid of work, if you’re prepared to relocate, as Pavlov’s Cat has, then, if you still can’t survive, things are worse than bad – they’re terminal. A benefits scammer is going to come to that f*** you point much more quickly than current day me and the current day me is going to come to it at an earlier point than the younger me would have.

I’d like to think I wouldn’t stay more than a day at a place like that warehouse in the article. I’d like to think I’d be prepared to starve to death on the street first but we’ll see how much resolve I have when I’m actually closer to the point. What I know is that that warehouse is dehumanizing for anyone and it’s meant to be. You give up the job after a few weeks and someone else steps in.

It’s being run by people of quite low quality who don’t give a rat’s and know they can get away with it. People like those in the slave labour racket in England who are taking on unpaid workers to save on salaries.

It’s not a good time to be a conservative because the whole nation can see the criminal way these firms are operating and union leaders are within their rights to turn around and say, “There’s capitalism for you. Pitiless.”

And I’m sure that’s part of what we’re being manipulated into. While monopolies squeeze out the last vestiges of competition globally, people are being forced into an anti-free enterprise stance and would increasingly vote for someone who vows to end the gangster capitalism. Someone like Labour. However, a brief glance back at 1997-2010 shows that no one in his right mind would ever vote that lot back in.

There’s going to have to be a line in the sand in the end – each one of us has a different one and no doubt what line it is will change with changed circumstances but there will eventually come a point when it will be necessary to say, “No more.” Have we the cojones to mean it?

Politically, why should we go on and on as we now are, putting up with ever more?  Because we’re malleable and adaptable, that’s why.  If, when Woollies closed, everyone had said, “Right, that’s it, enough,’ and if we’d all marched on London – maybe two million people, then the issue would have been forced.

As it is, they pick you off where you live and pick me off up here.  You’re not going to help me and I can’t help you.  For how much longer?

[H/T Chuckles]

7 comments for “The line in the sand

  1. February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Good questions, but not enough, James, I think. And what to do though?

    What would two million demonstrators force our government to do that would be different from more state socialism? How would any line in the sand conjure up the money to somehow pay these modern-day mill workers more cash to ameliorate their sufferings? From where should such money come – from taxing ‘the rich’? Does that really work? By forbidding my Love Film workers from posting off DVDs at 1.30 AM in the hope that film streaming from foreign companies won’t replace them and put them back on the dole? By national wage protectionism, perhaps, that would likely kick off a protectionist war?

    A colleague went to an insurance price comparison site recently and saved £100+ above what her insurance broker could ever do. Must she accept higher insurance premiums in order to keep S. Smith, High Street, Castle City in employment rather than the geeks at
    Technological unemployment is the elephant in the room that no political party, nor most of us on the Right, are presently prepared to build into a good set of piano keys and four umbrella stands. Technological unemployment is not a bug in industrial civilisation or any regime of liberty: it’s a feature. Capitalism is too damned efficient to employ all these unskilled and low-skilled fellow human beings in the purely private sector at much higher wages. I can’t see how our entrenched Statist education is going to skill them up so they can build products of new and saleable value any decade soon.
    And how does not compelling the professional unemployed, the dole class I work with every single day, from battening on the income streams of their productive and industrious neighbours? Why should those taxi drivers and sandwich makers and warehouse operatives finance Wayne and (before her tenth and final kid reaches junior school) Waynetta in a life of couch potato salad and plasma porn? How to break the cycle of inter-generational worklessness without some kind of coercion any time soon?

    Shall we open the mills again? And the mines? And if so, using what capital? Why should we NOT oblige the long-term unemployed to work for dole, perhaps making uniforms for the armed forces and the police, or by building prisons to house the chav incorrigibles until the stay long enough to get the message and be trained to accept responsibility and work for a living, if such a thing can be done?

    Mrs. Northwester doubts any profitable company will want too many tracksuits in its kitchens and service aisles rather than trained and experienced reliable permanent employees with good track records for punctuality and honesty. Some will, but most – I don’t think they’ll want to risk it for long. Quite why there should be a single untidy street (or a single dangerous abandoned warehouse left intact for kids to be injured exploring) in a Britain with millions of healthy unemployed I don’t know. Perhaps leaving productive private economy to do its stuff as far as it can; simply and lightly taxed is the best way. Let industry produce the value that is taxed and then wisely spend some of the taxes on decent make-work would be better than leaving it up to a free market that generates technological unemployment in the first place.

    Keep asking these questions because they’re some of the right ones, but this is a BIG problem, and it won’t be solved by not obliging the professional workshy to stack shelves or flip burgers.

    More thoughts, friend?

  2. February 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I can see more people turning to crime. Why work as a “slave” when you can keep your pride as a gangsta?

  3. February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    people are being forced into an anti-free enterprise stance and would increasingly vote for someone who vows to end the gangster capitalism.

    True. Am I right in thinking this is what is tending to happen in Russia and parts of the old Easter Bloc, where people are becoming nostalgic for the good auld days of Communism?

    • February 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Very much so. One woman said to me, during one of the many non-payment crises: “So now we have this democracy, what are we to do with it?” My own mate over there has swung back this way, mainly as a reaction against the greedy oligarchs, which many see as the only real product of the glasnost.

      People might support ideology but they support a guaranteed income stream more. As long as the incoming is higher than the outgoing, they care not under which system it is maintained. By “income stream”, I mean that their food/shelter is assured and their outgoings minimal.

  4. Andrew Duffin
    February 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    “If, when Woollies closed, everyone had said, “Right, that’s it, enough,’ and if we’d all marched on London…”


    Why would anyone care so much about Woollies? What was important about that particular crappy cheap outdated department store?

    Of course nobody’s going to march anywhere when it meets its well-deserved fate.

  5. February 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    “There’s going to have to be a line in the sand in the end – each one of us has a different one and no doubt what line it is will change with changed circumstances but there will eventually come a point when it will be necessary to say, “No more.””

    I think you have the nub of the problem here – we are all affected differently and to different degrees. Many lines have already been crossed, but some of those people have upped and left.

  6. Dave_G
    February 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    We have been steered into this course of decline over many years – decades in fact. Socially engineered into oblivion. Well, perhaps not quite yet but coming to a town near you soon.
    There MUST be a cure for apathy – but somehow I can’t be arsed to look for it.

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