Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Antiwork - Over the Top?

There is a fine line between asserting your rights as a worker and advocating the overthrow of the government.

There is a subreddit in Reddit that is getting a lot of press lately - "r/antiwork". The sub is filled with stories from people who quit their jobs after being abused by employers.  But of course, we are hearing only one side of the story, and one should always beware of one-sided storiesThere usually is another side.

The people running the subreddit, however, have another agenda.  Not only are they promoting unionism, but Communism and the overthrow of "Capitalism" which would be an interesting trick, because, as I noted before (time and time again) capitalism isn't some construct of governments, but the default mode of operation of human beings.  Even in Communist or Socialist countries, capitalism exists and people buy and sell goods in markets - legal and illegal.  All Communism does is make markets go underground, create shortages and raise prices.  It isn't the solution to anything.

But getting back to one-sided stories, some of the tales of woe published on that site make you scratch your head.  Why would employers be so shitty to employees?  In some instances, one can believe the stories.  In others, however, the stories are a little too slanted.  And we've all worked with the "Sad Sack of Shit" who does nothing but complain, foist his responsibilities off on others, and steals from the company when he thinks no one is looking.

And yes, marijuana use is involved.  As an employer, you can spot these folks a mile away.  Their resume is filled with jobs - but none last longer than a few months, a year at most, and there are huge gaps between jobs listed.  And if you ask them, they will go on at length about how their boss was an "asshole" and the former company was "all messed up!" and so on and so forth.  And they will tell you this right up front and at length, whether you want them to or not.  They are not the brighest bulbs in the universe.  If you hire such people, you will have to fire them in a few months, as they will do no work, interrupt the work of others, and steal anything not nailed down.  And now you will be the "asshole boss" and your company the "all messed up!" place he will describe in his next job interview - if he ever gets one.

And I've seen this firsthand - people applied for jobs to work for me, and their resume was quite checkered.   It was a non-starter from the get-go.  If you have an applicant who has held 12 jobs in eight years - and was fired from all of them - perhaps, just perhaps, the problem wasn't an exceptionally long string of "bad luck."

What is really sad is that some of the postings are putting forth really bad ideas.  And of course, this being Reddit, we have to assume that 3/4 of the postings are made-up bullshit or trolls from Russia. For example, one recent posting normalizes adult children moving back in with their parents.  The son is unhappy with his job, and instead of applying elsewhere, he rage-quits and calls his parents asking to move back home with his wife and child.  And in this fantasy world, the parents say "Sure, but you can't apply for a job for at least a month, and we'll pay for therapy to help you through this tough time!"  Sounds like some sort of stoner fantasy to me.

The weird thing about the job market right now is that there is a labor shortage.  Don't expect that to last.  People will go back to work as wages rise.  Many will be forced to go back to work as inflation eats away at their savings and income.  That might include people such as myself.  Economies tend to seek equilibrium this way, and again, this isn't some artificial construct imposed by governments, but a natural force stronger than a hurricane.  And when jobs are once again scarce, well, having a checkered resume isn't going to help.

A huge number of the postings there (many of which are likely made-up) whine and moan about how it is impossible to live on $15 an hour - the new minimum wage in reality these days.  Not satisfied with this, the "moderators" of the subreddit push for a $25 an hour minimum wage, which is about $50,000 a year, which until recently was the median household income in AmericaHousehold, not just one person!  What they are arguing is, that a couple working two slacker jobs should be hauling in $100,000 a year.  A nice fantasy, but even if it did happen, $100,000 just becomes the new $50,000.

I lived through the stagflation era of the 1970's.  It is interesting to read old car brochures from that era.  In 1970, you could buy a "subcompact" car for under $2000.  By 1980, it was over $4000.  And we had shortages of everything from coffee to peanut butter to gasoline - the latter of which was available on even or odd days depending on your license plate number (and sometimes not even then!).  And unemployment was over 10%, inflation over 10%, and mortgage rates 14%.  It was a sucky time and we might be headed back toward that, at the present rate of inflation.

This is not to say I am unsympathetic with the conditions young people face today.  As I wrote in an earlier posting, I think this whole "gig economy" nonsense is just an excuse to screw the crap out of young people.  And speaking of young people, these are the types who take a lot of these shit jobs and often are screwed out of money. I know when I was a dishwasher at the Olde Tyme Gaslight Restaurant (aptly named!) my paycheck always seemed a little short.  The manager gave me some rigmarole about how they measured time in 15-minute increments or something.  I was 17 at the time and didn't challenge it very hard.  Today, I would handle it differently.  But the owner shot himself and I had to clean up the mess in the kitchen before I left.  I never got my last paycheck, either.   But I digress.

The answer to a shitty job is to get another job, not overthrow the government.  I have said it time and time again, that predicating that success in life is only possible if drastic social change occurs isn't a very good battle plan.  Such social change might not occur (and isn't likely) and if that is the case, you have no "plan B".  What''s worse, is that revolutions and social change often don't work in the favor of the people who agitate for it.  Communist revolutions, in Russia, Cuba, China, Cambodia - just about everywhere, ended up taking a big shit on the working class.  Sure, working a crappy job and barely making ends meet sucks.  Being worked to death in a gulag or work camp sucks even more - and that was the reality of life for tens, if not hundreds of millions of "workers" in Russia, China, Cambodia, and other places where the "workers controlled the means of production" (which in reality meant that a different set of elites controlled the means of production, and they did it badly).

Like I said before, we saw this same pattern in the past - where there was a labor shortage and it was nearly impossible to get anyone to work.  It was about that time I closed my shop and went back to being a solo practitioner.  Hiring people just wasn't worthwhile.  And in a short period of time, well, the economy tanked and a lot of people who were commanding high wages (and doing little real work) were the first to be laid off.  And as before, they were the loudest whiners and complainers as well.

I am all for worker's rights.  You should assert your rights. And if you don't like your job, find a new one.  That's what I did, again and again in life.   But I was always able to find a job because I had skills that were in demand.  And even for unskilled jobs, like delivering pizzas and washing trucks, I never had a problem finding work, as I could hustle.  People who work hard might not end up owning the company, but they end up getting hired - and retained.

Both Mark and I had to work "shit jobs" before we got better jobs.  Most people do.  Mark started out in retail, while in college, and after college (Hotel Restaurant Management) he got a job with Williams Sonoma as a "manager" in a new store.  Yes, the old gag - give someone a title and then pay them a salary and expect them to work 60 hours a week or more - with no overtime.  He got burned out at that and went to work at Sutton Place.  Same deal, although he enjoyed the work.  But when they moved him to "corporate" and cut his salary, well, he got burned out.

He went to work at Sheets 'N Things - as an hourly employee this time.  No unpaid overtime, no overbearing responsibilities - and he could control his own schedule.  He negotiated his rate to $13 an hour, which was seven more than anyone else was making at the time.  But he had talent and humped.  He could merchandise a store without a "Plan-O-Gram" and boosted sales as a result.  But he lived through a lot of crap there - someone taking a dump in the middle of the store, another fellow exposing himself, and finally, someone setting the store on fire.  He saw it all.  He started his own catering business and eventually got into Real Estate - getting his license and working for two different agencies.  But he had talent and drive.

Others do not.  And that's the problem with unionization - everyone makes the same wage, regardless of whether they are talented or not, and whether they work hard or not, so the incentive is to work as little as possible.  It becomes a race to the bottom and eventually you end up like the Russians, "They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work!" - and that's why the Soviet Union is no more.

You have to ask yourself, do you want to make the same amount of money as the biggest dullard in your companyDo you want to get no reward for better work?  Do you want to spend the rest of your life in a dead-end job?  The folks complaining about having no advancement, no hope, no dreams, and no success, aren't just victims of circumstance - they are often the laziest of people, addled with drugs, and not very smart. I know this as that was me at one time before I quit the drugs and drinking.  I would feel sorry for them, but many of these were also the sort of people who bullied me in school and would be the first to bully me at a job.  I learned long ago not to "feel sorry" for people, as most of them are victims of their own malfeasance, not victims of outside forces.  Who put a gun to their head and told them to sign those student loan docs?  Not me!

But speaking of the Soviet Union, there are a host of postings on "antiwork" from Russians telling people how much better things are in Russia.  You get more vacation!  More time to spend in the gulag!  It is not a coincidence and the "mods" of that "subreddit" are either agents of the Russian Internet Research Agency, or just useful idiots.   Many people complain (and overseas voices chime in) that no one can afford health insurance in America, even though an Obamacare plan is 100% subsidized (read: FREE) if your income is below, say, $30,000 for a married couple.  For some reason, that never seems to resonate with r/antiwork, which tells me the subreddit is being trolled by foreign agents.

I think this "antiwork" subreddit has some merit with regard to worker's rights.  Young people, in particular, are often psychologically exploited and made to feel "lucky" to have a job.  It is just too bad that the moderators founded it based on Communist agitprop.  Their agenda is quite different from the agenda of many of the posters there - they want to work, but be treated fairly and paid appropriately.  The "mods" of r/antiwork want to destroy our country and replace it with a welfare state.

Not only is that a bad idea, it just ain't gonna happen, at least anytime soon!

Antiwork sounds like a great idea, but when you scratch the surface, well, it turns out to be a front for Communist propaganda.   Rage-quitting your job might make you a hero on Reddit for 20 minutes, but it may harm your career more. It is akin to buying Gamestop "stonk" to get adulation from peers on r/wallstreetbets.  All you are doing is advancing someone else's agenda, not your own.

You'll make them happy, yourself miserable.