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View Diary: Lucky to have a job (122 comments)

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  •  It all started when they dropped "Personnel" (7+ / 0-)

    First we were "human resources" and now we're just "resources."   The department is "HR," an acronym that has lost its meaning.  No one wants to be reminded that the "resources" are actually "human."

    I made the mistake of commenting in a staff meeting how I felt being called a "resource" was demeaning, as if I were no more than a computer or a desk chair.  I suspect I had the Mark of Cain from that point on, and when my manager was told to cut someone, I was the sacrificial goat.  Despite having earned certifications, cross-training and doing pretty much everything else I was told I needed to do to preserve my "relevance" to the company, no matter how uninteresting or scatter-shot I found it.  In addition, I volunteered for any project in sight that I could contribute to.  But nope, gotta "trim the fat" (was that the thunk of a cleaver on bone I heard?), so out the door I was after more than a decade.

    Now I'm doing contract work and hoping it will last.  

    How can we, especially in professions like IT, where Union is the concept that dare not speak its name, get BACK to the point where we are personnel, and valued for not only the skills we have but the skills we CAN learn, given a chance?  How do we stop being "resources," seen as overhead and as replaceable as a worn keyboard?

    How can we speak up for anything when no one is listening except other people in the same boat as we are?  We're a bunch of POWs in the Class War, telling each other how we're going to escape... to where?

    It's getting late.  I have a 6 AM meeting tomorrow.  And despite being employed at the moment, I know the abyss is only a couple steps behind me.

    "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

    by stormicats on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:50:36 PM PST

    •  Oooh, you just hit a nerve with me! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Dirtandiron, Calamity Jean

      That job I retired from, I once had a section head who referred to me as a "resource". He thought it was a complement, but I set him straight really quick. He didn't do to well as our section head, though, and we got a new one not to long after that.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:53:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I refuse. (5+ / 0-)

      Have caught shit for it a time or two as well.  I talk only of teams and people.

      The worst?  Sales people vs technical resources...  hate it, and every time I push back I get the oddest looks.  Nobody really wants to recognize that labor creates wealth, but that is universally true and the sooner we all get that, the sooner we can be valued properly.

      ***Be Excellent To One Another***
      IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

      by potatohead on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:00:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it is become less and less (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sky Net

        true that labor creates wealth.  

        More and more, knowledge creates wealth.  Labor is becoming a less valuable commodity.  

        •  And you don't think knowledge is labor? (4+ / 0-)

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:55:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It is talk like yours that is causing a lot of (5+ / 0-)

          problems.

          Basic labors are always needed.  Those that do them have to live just the same as a scientist or some talented artist or other special person.

          They need a place to live, clothes, food, healthcare, retirement and every other thing people need.

          People themselves, have a minimum cost to be healthy, happy people.

          When we don't value their labor well enough for them to labor to reach that happy healthy state, something is wrong.

          No matter who you are, you have only so many hours a day to labor.

          In fact, life is thirds.  One is for work, one is to live, one is to sleep.

          Devaluing people means forcing them to choose between sleep and life, meaning they basically have no life, or they take on higher risks, die early, etc...

          It is ALWAYS true that wealth is the product of labor.  ALL of it, everywhere at all times for anyone.  

          Failure to get this is the source of a lot of basic problems in the world.

          And labor is personal exertion over time.  How do we get knowledge?  People fixate their attention on a specific task over time.

          How do we move materials?  People fixate their use of their bodies to the task of moving things over time.

          In both cases labor was performed.  In both cases that person isn't free to act as they would.

          Now, one could love what they do for work, and that's a desirable state, enviable.  It's rare too.  Most of us spend significant amounts of our time purposed by other people as opposed to self-purposed time.

          That is labor.

          Connect this to wealth.

          What is wealth?  It simply is having the majority, of our time, and in particular waking time, be self-purposed time as opposed to time others purpose for us.

          When we do not value people's labor such that their labor delivers them enough value to live a modest life, we force them into either taking much higher risks, like not getting medical care or eating well or sleeping the right amounts, or we make them very poor, meaning they labor for most of their time, unable to live in a desirable state, most of their time purposed for them, as slaves.

          Capital you say?

          Labor again.  How do you think that value was created and aggregated?  Labor over time producing value above and beyond that paid in compensation to laborers can be stored and that is capital.

          All of it, from the dawn of time is derived from labor.

          Now, here's the ugly kicker.  

          Knowledge applied to labor over time improves efficiency.  

          There are two ways we can go with this.  One way is everybody can work a little less and we all get more wealthy as a society.

          And that was happening until we shifted away from properly valuing people.

          The other way is we can use that technology to devalue people, paying them much less, which delivers most of the wealth to the owners, enslaving the people as the technology grows.

          As a society we don't become more wealthy in the second scenario.  We have nice shiny things, but we labor more for less liquid dollars, with more and more of our time purposed for us as opposed to sharing in the benefit of automation having more time to purpose ourselves.

          Add in outsourcing with that technology?

          Now we get insanely cheap TV's and tablets produced in places where people suicide because they are valued so poorly, treated badly, paid little, laboring constantly so that others elsewhere live more desirable lives.

          Here?

          We gut our middle class, rendering wave after wave of people poor, despite having nice things.

          Whoever convinced you of that lied big and is seeking to over exploit you for their own gain.  Count on it.

          The basic things I have just written have been true as long as humans have been around.  Absolutely nothing has changed, and it won't either.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:11:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thoughtful comment, enough for a diary ! (0+ / 0-)

            Several business bloggers ( example here - Umair Haque of HBR) are musing on the need for not just "more stuff" but "lives better lived"

            http://blogs.hbr.org/...

            Excerpt:

            Yesterday, pundits and talking heads believed this crisis was just a garden-variety, workaday crash. Today, people like Tyler Cowen and I have called it a Great Stagnation. But here's what I believe it might just be called tomorrow, when the history books have been written, and the debates concluded: a Eudaimonic Revolution. A sweeping, historic transformation in what we imagine a good life to be, and how, why, where, and when we pursue it.

            Though it harks back to antiquity, eudaimonia's a smarter, sharper, wiser, wholer, well, richer conception of prosperity. And deep down, while it might be hard to admit, I'd bet we all know that our current habits are leaving us — have left us — not merely financially and fiscally broken, but, if not intellectually, physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually empty, then, well, probably at least just a little bit unhealthy. Eudaimonic prosperity, in contrast, is about mastering a new set of habits: igniting the art of living meaningfully well. An active conception of prosperity, it's concerned not with what one has, but what one is capable of.

            http://blogs.hbr.org/...

            Excerpt:

            What, then, does it mean for an economy to be "healthy"? Consider, for a moment, a few very different numbers.

            9.8% of adults strongly agree that their life is close to their ideal.
            19% of adults strongly agree that they are satisfied with their life.
            21% of adults strongly agree that their life has a clear sense of purpose.
            30% of adults strongly agree that on most days they feel a sense of accomplishment from what they do.
            Surprised? Here's what I'd suggest: we might be in a eudaimonic depression. The real depression isn't merely a temporary lapse in economic "output" — but a depression of human potential; one of human significance squandered.

            "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

            by New Rule on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 02:59:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And they ask.... (4+ / 0-)

          Why pay somebody when I can just use a machine?

          The answer?

          If you don't pay people, their value drops, and when their value drops they are increasingly unable to meet needs with their labor shorting wants, increasing crime, raising costs due to sickness and the many other things poor people suffer from.

          The result of that is they simply become unable to afford the product of the machines.

          Truth is, when we make machines, we free time and labor that can be applied to better machines, or more robust lives, or more advanced things, better things, simpler things.

          Always going for the cheaper things means we devalue ourselves and for a time it works, but in the end, when so many of us simply are not valued properly things break down, and that is where we are right now.

          Could be you tomorrow.

          It has been me twice in my life.  Jumped careers twice, finally settling on people based work because they simply cannot easily outsource that, and so I will endure for a time valued well enough to live a modest life.

          Can all of us do that?  No.  The basic labors are always needed.  Always.

          So we come to a basic question.  Is it OK to undervalue people so that we get nice things?

          That cool computer you are working on is the product of a lot of people royally screwed to bring it to you.  The words we exchange here are subsidized with blood and bright futures rendered moot.

          That cheap sandwich you get?  The guy who made it has no real future, will likely die early, can't retire, won't see good health care without an expensive subsidy, will see great difficulty owning a home.

          Wash, rinse repeat for wave after wave of work, whole industries gone or rolled over into low wage jobs where they paid family wage jobs before.

          Suddenly that sandwich costs too much, because an increasing number of people do not make enough to participate in the society they live in.

          That is the impact of your words.  Know it.

          ***Be Excellent To One Another***
          IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

          by potatohead on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:22:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why bother (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk

      To your company, you are a resource. Get over it and try to be the best resource you can. It seems pointless to me to pick fights over such minutae.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:17:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You really ARE a troll, Sparhawk! n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate, wsexson, farmerchuck

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:34:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whatever (0+ / 0-)

          Unfortunately, cutting into a staff meeting asking that people not be called resources is not a smart thing. It sends the message that you don't really care about the true purpose of the meeting and are willing to waste everyone's time with trivial irrelevancies.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 09:05:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, insufficient information (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            I did not provide complete details of the meeting, which was a general discussion in which individual concerns were solicited, regarding the working of the department and "any other concerns" we might have had.

            My comment, if uncomfortable, was germane to the subject at hand.  Sometimes staff meetings really are about the staff.

            "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

            by stormicats on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:30:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  We're not even Resources anymore (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stormicats, means are the ends

      We went from Personnel to Human Resources to Human Capital. Next step Soylent Green?

      Oh, and we're not employees. We're independent contributors.

      I can't tell you how happy I am I'm retiring next month.

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