Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whatever Happened to the 15 Hour Work Week?

I came across an interesting thought recently, and darned if it didn't hit home as to what's happened to up-end our society. The author basically talks a great deal about "meaningless" or "worthless" jobs and the impact on our social well-being. While I don't agree with the term "meaningless" in this context -- lesser value is more likely the term -- I can't help but agree on a fundamental level. Below is the paragraph that hits the nail pretty hard on the head:

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it in Britain, when tabloids whip up resentment against transport workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that the workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It's even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilising resentment against schoolteachers or car workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or car industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It's as if they are being told: ''But you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and healthcare?''

The piece that you have to understand is that productivity has been on the rise for decades -- and yet middle class compensation and benefits have been on the decline. I can't put it as eloquently as the author (I really have to recommend that your read this one -- the link is at the bottom).

I work with a lot of people who at the end of the day do such meaningful work -- and I see this same group demonized as if somehow their getting paid to do this work at a reasonable rate is a burden to our country. The truth is that their work is some of the most worthwhile work -- like a school teacher or a car mechanic -- because if they didn't do it, our nation wouldn't be what it is today and certainly wouldn't be strong. I think of my friends from high school (one in particular, you know who you are) who ended up as school teachers and how they're certainly not compensated for the value they've brought our lives -- and the difference in pay compared to say, someone who's an investment banker.

While the author of this piece may have not chosen his words carefully enough, he's certainly hit home on the front of the mismatch in value our society has at its core. The end effect is demoralizing and insidious. I'm again thankful that I'm paid to do something I love.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service/the-modern-phenomenon-of-nonsense-jobs-20130831-2sy3j.html#ixzz2j6X6Lt2d

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