Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” — Upton Sinclair – via @jerrymichalski
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” – Mexican proverb – via @LalitBhojwani
The Atlantic: Good jobs aren’t coming back
While wages of $12 an hour are much higher than Tennessee’s minimum wage of $7.25, they represent a significant drop in pay for jobs in manufacturing, which were once a pathway to America’s middle class. This is the disappointment of 21st-century onshoring: Though some of the jobs coming back to the U.S. require advanced degrees and skills, and are the good jobs pundits predicted would return, many are not.
Today, more than 600,000 manufacturing workers make $9.60 an hour or less, and one in four make $11.91 or less, according to the National Employment Law Project. Manufacturing workers once made more than average U.S. wages, but by 2013, they made 7.7 percent less than the median wage for all occupations. And when adjusted for inflation, wages for manufacturing workers have declined 4.4 percent between 2003 and 2013, according to NELP.
When it comes to low-wage positions, companies like Amazon are now able to precisely calibrate the size of its workforce to meet consumer demand, week by week or even day by day. Amazon, for instance, says it has 90,000 full-time U.S. employees at its fulfillment and sorting centers—but it plans to bring on an estimated 100,000 seasonal workers to help handle this year’s peak. Many of these seasonal hires come through Integrity Staffing Solutions, a Delaware-based temp firm … This system isn’t unique to Amazon—it pervades the U.S. retail supply chain. Many companies choose to outsource shipping work to so-called third-party logistics providers, which in turn contract the work to staffing companies … For employers, the appeal of this system is obvious … For employees, though, it means showing up to work every day with the knowledge that you are always disposable. You are at least one entity removed from the company where you work, and you are only as good as your last recorded input in a computerized performance monitoring system. In the event that something goes wrong in your life—illness, injury, a family crisis—you have few, if any, protections.
The primary principle in monetized corporations is that whoever has money and can buy shares takes everything they can get and all other parties are given as little as possible. That prostitutes the meaning of capital by restricting it to money. It ignores natural capital–that is the value of what the earth produces for us at no cost. It ignores the value of community, and that is a form of capital. It ignores intellectual capital–that is the intrinsic ability and intelligence of people. It ignores every form of capital that is not reducible to the mathematics of money. Money is just alphanumeric data–a means of measurement. It has no intrinsic value …
… There is a place for control. If you want a perfect silicon chip, you need a total dust-free environment. If you want to do some intricate laser surgery on my eye, I don’t want a chaotic situation in the operating room. The fact is there is a role in nature for control. Something regulates your heartbeat. But the fact that this is useful for a limited set of purposes by no means implies it is the best way to run a complex, dynamic, fast-changing totality. But that’s what we’ve done.