It disturbed me the other day when I learned from Alex’s Larry King Live interview that he is working on a clean-up crew for the BP oil spill. It is good image but bad science. He is literally killing himself in having chosen to do this work. Almost all the oil clean-up workers from the Exxon Valdez disaster are now, two decades later, dead.
I’ve read news reports that BP is so concerned with minimizing the public perception of toxicity it is inflicting on our coastlines, it will fire any clean-up workers seen to be using respirators and other protective gear.
As the above photo suggests, even wildlife is in the same dispersed and desperate state as Katrina survivors once were and Gulf fishermen are today.
How many other people in this economy, driven by personal desperation of some kind, are doing work—perhaps for lower wages or mere subsistence pay—which risks their lives and compromises their physical health and family’s future happiness?
If you look at every sector of the economy, you can see evidence that the interlinked leadership of the central banks, big business, and government is forcing down domestic compensation including benefits. Whereas they should be focused on increasing innovation and productivity in the economy, they continue the relentless process begun in the 1980s of squeezing profitability out of labor through a process which reminds me essentially of how fat is rendered.
This morning Paul’s dad Mike commented about how, for the last three decades, US industrial capability and investment have been relentlessly and extensively outsourced to cheaper offshore labor markets. The first step, Mike said, was convincing Americans that it was a good thing that ours should become a service economy based on “intellectual capital.” Now that Americans are dependent on cheap foreign goods and unable to produce so many essentials for themselves, our leadership is applying another turn of the screw which is aimed at lowering the American standard of living and extracting more economic value for the ultra-rich at the expense of increasingly desperate, hard-working people.
Rendering, as I say.
Through this whole process, knowledge and talent—the so-called “intellectual capital” in the economy—count for nothing. In the “New World Order” people are expendable, whether they are oil spill cleanup workers, soldiers, miners, or even bank workers. They are as expendable as the gray columns of slaves who passed through the gates of Auschwitz and the Soviet gulag camps.
I spoke recently with an earnest young man who, despite his class-A academic credentials and first-tier job performance, is being held down and exploited in a job “rolling quarters” for The Bank of New York. He’s being denied an opportunity to apply his talents in ways that would increase not only his job satisfaction but his economic value to his employer. As I asked him questions and he answered them, it became clear to me that, whereas his company states that high-performance is a corporate value and claims it is part of their culture, at this young man’s level the organization does not measure, manage for, or reward performance. I concluded that their corporate “value” is essentially pro-forma, a fraud espoused for the benefit of credulous analysts, shareholders, and new hires.
“Even though you’re lucky just to have a job, you’re in the wrong industry,” I told him. Bankers do not understand the concept of value creation. They only understand transactions and confiscatory interest, commissions, and fees. Their ignorance will be buttressed and compounded as governments add “value-added” taxes to most transactions. This isn’t value creation, but parasitism.
(I will never forget an encounter I had twenty years ago with a bank president who, having just acquired a smaller bank, was in the process of packaging and selling off the acquired bank’s weakest loans. In a candid moment he explained his strategy in terms of unloading the bad loans onto a “greater fool.” I thought this man to be utterly despicable. He exuded an aura of smarminess you could cut with a knife. Someone who knew him socially told me he was unethical and to have nothing to do with him. Yet he was successful in his industry. I just heard a radio report the other day saying these will be boom times for predatory lenders.)
“Look into the cooperative credit unions,” I advised the young man. “You truly care about benefiting your customers. Co-ops are owned by their customers. There’s a different spirit in co-op credit unions, and maybe some real opportunities for creating a career you’ll feel good about.”
These will be tough times for talent unless people break their chains and discover new ways to shine through their work. Paul’s dad was saying this morning that his home-based machine shop is thriving—that these will be good times for cottage industries that can deliver better goods at a cheaper price and in shorter runs than larger organizations. We’ll see, but I think he’s right.
Work can set you free.
Breakthrough innovations and performance will not come out of dinosaur corporate cultures that only know how to exploit and not nurture. They will come out of little guys like him… and me.
Yes, me. I have recently decided that we will need more money coming in if the vision for the retreat at Estrella Vista is ever to be realized. The best way for me to contribute is to begin doing writing projects for hire again.
I won’t be looking for a job, only project work for business and nonprofit organizations that need public relations and marketing communications projects researched, strategized, and written. Executive speeches, strategy white papers, marketing brochures and sales training tools, press releases, websites and direct response letters, etc.—I have done it all and am prepared to do so again to help meet our long-range goals for Estrella Vista.
So I’m putting the word out that I “will work for food” again.
If you are a regular visitor to these postings, I assume you like how I write. If you or someone you know hires writers, would you please tell them about me suggest they contact me through a comment on the blog?
If necessary, I think it would be truthful to say that I, too, am (almost) an offshore worker. Please encourage them to outsource to the border.