Sunday, December 28, 2008

Q: What’s worse than being unemployed?

A: Depending on a job.

There has been a lot of screaming coming across the sky, “the layoffs are coming, the layoffs coming”. In fact, they’re here.

The economy is contracting. Thus, no dough means no going to the mall to work out with the plastic and no going to the bank to refi the house in order to pay down the plastic to be able to go back to the mall.

It seems that the only things going these days are the Big Ass Corporations going to the Government to refi the whole stinking mess. This has happened before and it will happen again. It’s sort of the way the economy works. That this recent run of profitability from 2002-2008½ was based on more than the usual amount of funny money is making it feel as if tragedy is coming out of nowhere.

One day you’re employed; the next day you’re out of a job. And for most people, not having a job is a devastating experience. Jobs are the compass we use by which to navigate life......for most people.

The story that has been fed to us since the time that we filled out our first form is that a responsible person can get and hold a job....forever. The responsible citizen gets up and goes to the office, plant or delivery truck to do a day’s work for a day’s wage. Only miscreants, con men, artists and actors drift from gig to gig, working as the work suits them, unless of course you happen to be ‘well-off’, which probably means that you made some money doing the work that suits you, not laboring away in a corporate position waiting to see if you get your annual 3-6% raise depending on the strength of your performance review and the company’s financial condition.

And as I said, this is supposed to go on forever, or at least until you retire or die, whichever comes first.

Well those days are over. There is no more ‘forever’ in the corporate landscape. I don’t know if there ever was really . There is little question in my mind that the perceived, maybe mythical, covenant between worker and corporation, which seems to me to be an offshoot of the 1950's emergence of the Corporate SuperState is gone, never to come back. Except for a few shining years when unions sorta looked out for the basic well-being of the membership, employees are and have been an expense to be minimized whenever possible. I mean, I can’t think of any Captain of Industry that started a business saying, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if we started a company that provides really interesting work and employs a lot of people for life, paying them an extraordinary salary and exceptional benefit package? And, the way we’ll do this is to make great stuff that people need and want!”

We’re just not that generous.

So where does this leave us? I like the notion of working as the work suits me. Also, I like the notion of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

To paraphrase Freud, it's all about love and work. So taking a transitive approach, this is what we get:

meaningful_love + meaningful_work = honest_days_work = honest_days_pay

(But, this is easy for me to say. My kids are grown.)


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