Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unhappy Furloughs

I'll soon discuss the Obama reforms, but meanwhile blood flows in the trenches. The NYT had a good piece on furloughs, the new work-for-nothing strategy (as it turns out in practice). But the most telling moment in the piece was about fear and secrecy at work:

Ms. Roberson and Mr. Becht were among the few people interviewed for this article who were willing to allow their names to be published. Others asked to have their names and workplaces withheld out of fear of retribution from bosses or colleagues. And some were hesitant to complain openly about their employment situation, given how many of their friends and family members had lost jobs.

“You’re not sure what they’re watching,” one furloughed man, an online salesman in Chicago, said about his bosses. “Do some people feel that they have to work those hours? Yes.”

The US workplace has gotten so despotic that it flatly contradicts the US conception of itself as democratic. Employers are displaying almost no interest either in the welfare of their employees or even in the reduced effectiveness of workers who skulk like punished dogs.

One of my colleagues in Grenoble remarked today that people are being asked to fit the work rather than the work fitting the people. It's true, and this self-imposed darwinism is so advanced in the US that it has become almost invisible.

More examples:
23% wages cuts at the Globe = survival.
firing 400 people = creating an innovation culture.

They should just say we have no ideas, but this way we spend less of our money.

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