2 July 2013
Blue-collar new norm America: Dadio’s handy manual to break workers’ spirit – The shitty work schedule culture
This entry was posted on 7/2/2013 1:30 AM and is filed under Broken spirit.
Gone are the days of nine-to-five work days. That rubric I remember from my youth, used a no-weekend work format – unless of course you were a dairy farmer. In the last 35 years there has been a shift to the 24-hour a day, 365 day a year work schedule.
This new norm work world would even cause an old farmer used to 80 to 90 hours a week to look at this new norm system, shake his head and say, “That’s crazy. Life’s too short to work that many hours.”
I remember back in the 1970s wishing I could find a restaurant open in the middle of the night. Be careful what you wish for. The new shitty-work-schedule-culture has transcended almost every industry in America. What’s left of every industry, anyway. Of course nowadays, we are mostly a service economy of fast food, sports bars, big-box stores full of Chinese junk, health care, repair companies, and gas stations.
This giant service work culture is ripe for a systemic template of: No pay increases in the foreseeable future (assuming you are lucky enough to even find and have a job any more); less work hours; non-benefit jobs; no vacation time; no sick time; minimum wage; seven-day-a-week work week at four hours a day thereby wrecking the whole week for 28 hours of pay; and finally, relentlessly buying Chinese junk products probably for the rest of our lives.
This trend started in the 1960s with cautious gusto. The first wave had been the flooding of America in the 1960s with cheap products from Japan and Taiwan. Everyone had a transistor radio made in Japan. Japanese scooters and small motorcycles began to become ubiquitous on the roads. That first rubric was part of bringing the defeated Japanese economy after World War II, back into a happy world economy. We also did not want them to become Commies. The Cold War was in full gear.
The second wave rolled in in the 1980s manifesting itself in our jobs being shipped out of America, going overseas and Mexico. Products began showing up from China. The shift from a manufacturing American economy to a service economy notched up.
In the last 20 years, China and the peripheral countries like Pakistan, Vietnam, and India, flood big-box stores with products. Big-box stores have shuttered mom and pop shops in ever town in America. The difference in a vibrant downtown and a bleak one is if the community can sell to tourists and visitors, a culture of antique shops, craft shops, and nick-nack shops.
Therefore, there is now an entire generation of younger workers that have been conditioned from their first job to find nothing odd about working every weekend of their lives. They are in their thirties and never have worked a decent job with benefits. They have always worked mostly 30 hours per week if they work at all. They have never known any other culture. They have always come to work sick because if they call in sick, they don’t get paid.
The over-lords of this system, quietly say the 40-hour work week with all its benefits was a necessary evil to facilitate World War II and the rebuilding of the free world in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. That’s a stunning revelation.
This shitty-work-schedule-culture has of course had far leaching nuanced effects on our simple workaday life styles. In a culture where 5:00 p.m. means nothing any more, it is no longer known for the end of the work day, happy hours for the most part have become only the subject of urban legends. Weekend jaunts were something your grandparents did. Outings with friends and family are micromanaged to the point of ad nauseam because the players and actors in your clique all have to work late or get back to work tonight.
Add in the culture of instant information via satellite TV, cell phones, and Internet. Free time is spent on the gaming machines and video games. The days of real leisure are gone. I am sorry I ever wished for a society “more efficient.”
This new systemic dysfunctional culture has matured after 40 years as a blue print, either intentional or through unintended consequences, to grind workers in the dirt. They can be molded and manipulated; simply giving them any kind of job will keep them benign, malleable, and catatonic. They are just glad to be getting a little cash.
The transition from a society where a worker had a chance of acquiring a decent job with benefits and a reasonable work schedule, then shifting to a shitty work culture has been subtle and nuanced, but also relentless. The one last straw to put on the camel’s back is the fact that few of today’s jobs pay enough to sustain a family; therefore, workers are forced to work more than one of these jobs at once. With, no hope of the situation ever changing in a life time.
It is a slam dunk to break even the strongest person’s spirit.
Note: This blog “Blue-collar new norm America: Dadio’s handy manual to break workers’ spirit” – book version Category is a work in progress. These original vignettes are being edited for book form. Go to the Cooldadiomedia Web site and the Broken Spirit Page for an ordered chronology of the book vignettes (chapters).