Monday, March 23, 2015

The Death of the American Labor force

The American job market wasn't always what it is now. It used to be measured by experience and gumption and the person's individual drive to get things done with a can-do attitude. A person could walk into an auto shop with no applicable skills, be trained while working, learn to fail and at the same time learn to appreciate the value of their successes through learning to overcome their failures.

That is not the case in today's job market. These days everything is very comfortably padded. Everyone gains a textbook knowledge of the skills they're expected to have hands-on experience doing in the job field. These textbook smarts come at the cost of the appreciation of successes and the experience of failures. The biggest scare a aspiring worker has these days is getting a failing grade in their college class and being delayed a semester from their degree or having to pay an extra thousand dollars to retake the class, but that's not really failure in the same way it used to be. There's no other lives being affected by this type of failure, there's nobody yelling at that person for their mistakes, save for perhaps the person's parents or whoever is financing their college tuition.

It's like J.K. Simmons says in the critically acclaimed movie Whiplash "there are no two words more harmful in the english language than 'good job.'" While his methods in the movie border the extreme because he is trying to forge something supremely excellent out of the people experiencing the modern day job market, it still carries weight. It is entirely worth the viewers time while watching that movie to ask themselves: is it entirely possible that we've become a country of yes men and should the new united states motto be "it is what it is?" the universal way of saying "you're fucked?"

We as a country have a tendancy to say good job too often. Educators cut corners to get rid of the undesirable students and make the more mediocre ones feel better, but what happens is we pump them up with all of this hubris about what the world actually is, then when they get out into the working class, all of that knowledge they received has no application and they have no work drive which means they genuinely suck as their job. But they believe they're good at it.

So why is all of this the death of the american labor force? Because there are immigrants from other countries who have the old drive. Who learned how to do what they do by trial and error. By ruining a few people's lives for a month or two and then desperately trying to recover from it afterwards. If you're in the southern states, the immigrants from mexico are a prime example. It doesn't matter what they're doing, whether they're working blue collar jobs or white collar jobs, 90% of them have a work ethic that puts any upstanding modern american to shame. They work hard, they don't complain, they get the job done and they get it done right the first time.

We've trained a society of people who hate to work but need the money. So we teach them how to work in an educational environment for 16 years mandatory to get a decent livable wage, and then release them on their own into the wild where it's the polar opposite of a classroom environment. There is no grade outside of performance reviews, It's not a cumulative review process. Often times, the employees will not get any feedback unless they did something wrong multiple times. In a generation where we've raised people on understanding that people will hold your hand and tell you how you're doing, good or bad, every step of the way, this makes for some very bad chemistry. People slack off and think they're getting away with it until the day they're boss comes up to them and tells them their services are no longer needed. Doing hard labor has become something of an amusing pass-time for channels like Discovery, History and Travel Channels to make a quick buck off of. Meanwhile the american household is sitting on their machine-made furniture going "wow, i'm sure glad i don't have to do that!" and the people being filmed get paid peanuts compared to what middle-class america gets paid.

We have systematically turned the entire job market up on it's head. Experience doesn't matter, it's all about the paper. A man can walk into a job interview with a Doctorate in whatever the subject is, and not have held a single job in their entire life and chances are they're get the job over the person with 10 years tried and true work experience but dropped out of high school. In the end the 10 years physical experience is more valuable, but that person doesn't have any paper credentials saying "Hey! Look at me! I know shit and have mounds of college debt!"' The reason hard working immigrants are getting a leg up in the market is because they have the gumption to start their own businesses by cutting the corners wherever it fits and making riches to rags on their own terms.

So while people stand and complain and boycott their own jobs at places like McDonalds and other fast food chains for not getting paid a livable wage and demanding $15/hour, I can almost promise you that those people will be removed and replaced by someone equally qualified but harder working and more concerned with living than being lavished in the workplace.