WORK, D-A Analysis of Jobs and Work - Let's Prehend
Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

WORK, D-A Analysis of Jobs and Work

Let's use the charts to help analyze `work' and `jobs' to aid in thinking and sharing on this occasionally uncomfortable subject. Good jobs pay more, that's the usual way to evaluate jobs, according to the HOGs (p.281) using the magic of the marketplace, MOM (p.239). But market or corporate values differ from objective human values (ICE, p.236, 241). The human value of jobs measures production and service, often paying lower or minimum wage. MOM often rewards people highly who produce or serve very little, or who harass, punish and degrade the human and natural ecology. It's not their fault, they're just doing their job as CGMs, p.248. The subject is a painful one, since one's self concept and self respect is often tied up with one's work and financial status. Of course, objectivist are less distracted by such personal, anecdotal and mundane concerns and are free to take a hard look and work and jobs.

As an exercise, take any job and put it on a simpler CHART OF JOBS, with the help of friends. Compare each job with a vertical i scale of earnings and an A scale of ecological health. This can be quite difficult, yet worth the effort. It satisfies the objectivist imperative of telling the whole story. Don't expect too much from this chart - it's only a tool, a framework, to stimulate thought and discussion.

For example, the MDs make a positive contribution to human life and health. In this case i matches the pay for the job, and A the contribution to human welfare. The nurse may earn less i, but offer more TLC A.[ TLC is the commonly used term for Tender Loving Care.] Both would be useless without the support staff that cleans up the mess and maintains the environment, similar to the supporting subsystems in any complex system (p.28). One might also compare the MD with the plastic surgeon - one who fixes the faces of collaterally damaged girls with one who alleviates the ravages of age on rich old men.

We leave most of the chart blank, not only because it is difficult, but also to provide a worksheet for the readers, it goes against the current ideology, as explained in HOGs, p.281.

  i    ^  
    $  5³
       4³              ?               ?    
       3³                                     MD
       2³                                       nurse
       0³                          0
      -2³         ?                               ?
         -5   -4   -3   -2   -1    0    1    2    3    4    5

Difficult as this objective analysis of jobs is, be obliged to take a broader more anthropological look at work, it's subjective, ideological and ethical aspects.

Imagine the `work ethic' contrasted with the `job ethic'. The work ethic represents the participative, harmonious, contributions to human welfare. Subjectively, work ethic refers the experiences of being lost in ones work, often unconscious of self, engrossed in `the other', the creation, production or service - a high A state. In contrast, the `job ethic' is experienced as an effort, conflict with self and others, often adversarial and occasionally combative, a low A, highly dissociated and contracted state. On a D Chart, the Job ethic would be the dissociated adversarial left side and the Work ethic on the right more harmonious extreme of this JW parameter.

The different rewards for work also express the JW contrast. The work ethic offers `implicit' rewards of satisfaction with a task well done - and occasionally creative ecstasy for lucky workers. The job ethic offers `explicit' rewards such as the self satisfaction, money, and status - and occasionally the ecstasy of the boss's praise with a raise, using the company jet, and making a killing.

Notice that in any system people find themselves in roles anywhere between these extremes. This scale is not a dichotomy, it is a parameter. Any person in any job oscillates from explicit to implicit rewards, from adversarial to cooperative relationships, from the joys of competition to the joys of production.

To compare the work ethic and the job ethic, make another chart of jobs using the job ethic on the left of the Dissociation scale and the work ethic on the right. The i scale can measure the objective value, with the central zero line being the border between those jobs which contribute to the human and natural ecology and those jobs which degrade it. Start by comparing two jobs such as selling shoes and selling cigarettes. Try it, you'll like it. Notice the money earnings rarely measure the objective value. That discrepancy itself measures the health of an `abstract' compared to an `organic' economy.

Different systems may emphasized different values. For example the so-called capitalist system seems to emphasize selfish motives, explicit rewards, competitive relationships in adversarial environments. However, any firm or organization demands sacrificing narrow self interests, attending to the job regardless of salary, cooperating with fellow workers, and submitting to the boss. A so-called `socialist system' claims to alleviate these contradictions, with more or less success. The abstract vs organic parameter can help cut through the veil of RIDly words to a more illuminating description, evaluation and diagnosis of all aspects of economic systems.

In Modern Abstract Culture, MAC, (p.61) the Compulsion to the Abstract Life, CAL, pushes the job ethic against the work ethic, an essentially pathological i dissociation (p.?). The MAC job ethic drives an assortment of rationalizations that might well be called pathologies because they distort objective relationships and distract from valid descriptions.

Perhaps the most pervasive and unquestioned pathology is the assumption that everyone must have a job, and the job is the main mechanism for the distribution of wealth.[ See the essay AMERICA, p. 347.] Far less than a quarter of human economic income comes from wages and salaries, most income comes from capital investment.[ The late Sir James *Goldsmith asserted that only 19% of income comes from wages and salaries, the rest from capital. One might argue that income to capital pays for economic initiative and successful management. Sir James might have argued, "Very little, mostly from inheritance, successful gambling, exploitation of those distracted by productive and creative work, and mischief."] This job portion is decreasing because wealth is concentrating, labor costs are decreasing, and technology is advancing. This `need a job' illusion obscures the increasing burden and stress on the employed and unemployed. Culture design provides alternative modes as described in SUSTAINABLE LUXURY, p.225.

Another pathology is the assertion of the value of individualism in a competitive environment. The `individual' is obliged to submit to the corporate ethic (ICE, p.236, 241), often symbolized by the necktie for men and tight clothing for women. Each employee is obliged to fight on both sides - the submissive employee and the oppressive boss, depending on the particular job status. This submission is the abstract opposite of the cooperative spirit of a more organic labor environment.

It is the employers' job is to find an employee willing to be loyal and subservient, yet intelligent and productive. The personnel interview is a juggle of such contradictions, complicated by the employee's attempt to make a good impression, and the employer's attempt to penetrate the employee's con. The employer wants to give his employee a sense of security and belonging, yet be able to release him easily back into the labor market place. (One New Yorker Magazine cartoon portrayed the personnel manager explaining, "We ask no loyalty and offer not security.")

According to the GOLDEN MEAN, (p.194), the unemployed are isolated and insecure, the employed feel exploited and degraded, and the partially employed experience both.

Fortunately, the newer personnel policies such as *Deming's "quality circles" from Japan have alleviated this problem somewhat.[ See QUALITY OR ELSE, A Way of Thinking, Not a Recipe. by Lloyd *Dobyns and Clare Crawford-Mason, Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, Mass 1991.] Mr. Deming's personnel policies of high worker morale through group discussion, lower authority and job security were rejected in the more adversarial United States employers, but adapted first by Japanese firms as the best way to achieve quality and efficiency.

The job ethic demands a sacrifice of personal and group integrity. The employee is obliged to ignore and deny the meaning and implications of the work - selling cigarettes or guided missiles, items that kill people, is of no concern. Even thinking about such human values is essentially disloyal to the corporate ethic. Rationalizations abound: "If I don't do it, someone else will", "It's the only way to get ahead, "Look out for number one.", "I have to feed my family.", etc., statements that deserve sympathy as well as analysis.

Another pathology is the touting of `freedom' (p.86), the opportunity to take any job rather than being limited or assigned by `the government'. Such freedom is often exaggerated, partially as a way of justifying the surplus of unemployed, partially as a subconscious denial of the alienation of most workers. People usually select a job from a narrow range of opportunities, then accept whatever transfers the firm demands. They often chose more for status and wealth, less for personal resources and demand, but most commonly it's the best they can find.

Often the choice is made under duress, driven by the need for money and the threat of unemployment. The basic human need for participation is repressed for the sake of the myth of individualism: The job seeker is usually expected to express the `myth of the self', the desire for status or image or salary rather than the deeper need to participate in organic cultural life. Most people fall into some job because of family, friend, education, and random opportunity. The newly hired often experience a relief from the threat of idleness, that Deprivation Of Participation, DOP, that functions as a threat of punishment.

A reservoir of unemployed competing with each other and driving down wages is an advantage to employers. An undercurrent of DOP anxiety permeates the job culture on every level, even up to Andy *Grove, *ONLY THE PARANOID SURVIVE. "Fire in the belly" is considered a positive trait, rather than an incipient ulcer.[ See *FIRE IN THE BELLY, a book by Sam *Keen. Julia *Schorer's THE *OVERWORKED AMERICAN, AND THE DECLINE OF LEISURE describes leisure as a commodity. *Mapleton describes how Korea has the longest work week, 54hrs/wk. `Karoshi' is the term in Japan for death by overwork. Germans get 9 weeks of vacation. Americans experience `time poverty', all on Alternative Radio, 2129 Manella, Boulder, CO 80304.]

A pathology related to `free competition' is that joblessness is caused by lack of education and that more education would create more jobs. To a RIDLY, the creation of jobs is MOM's task, and attention to it is a taboo. Objectively, education does not create jobs, except for educators and their staff. On the contrary, it more often teaches conformity, passivity, and dependence. Education may teach the rudiments of punctuality and obedience, so that the newly socialized pupils can displace the troublemakers.

Another painful pathology includes the myths of motivation. Images of individual initiative competing in the free market is usually the opposite of what actually happens. The myth masks and denies the conformity and cooperation in most people's work experience. In common alienating work environments, the satisfactions of service and production are displaced by profit and power, victory over the less advantaged, and triumph over those unfortunates who are displaced in the mythical marketplace. In a warrior culture, the degradation of the losers enhances the self-esteem of the winners, as described in WARRIOR ETHIC, WE, p.242, and ENHANCEMENT OF INVESTMENT, p.298.

In modern abstract culture the mechanisms of organic social life have so decayed that conscious intervention through culture design is needed just to keep the system going. Though `competitive individualism' may maintain a high level of operation, modern personnel management such as the *Deming movement struggles to alleviate the worst of it and keep the system going. Nevertheless, Anxiety Motivation, AM, underlies the modern job ethic - enhanced and enabled by greed, power, and deviousness. Meanwhile, personal meditations and various support programs help the individual to adjust to the pathologies of the work place. The field of personnel management is thick with these issues.

Another common pathology is that people need financial incentive to work, therefore capitalism is better than socialism. Objectively, if the socialist less able to make money from accumulating capital, she is more dependent on salary and wages. Furthermore, the essence of capitalism is to accumulate enough money so that one can withdraw from labor and live off capital, to hire others to support them, and to indulge the position of the victor over the vanquished.

The capitalist entrepreneurial spirit can spur economic growth, but often at the expense of the human and natural ecosystem. The socialists such as the former Soviet Union and China see themselves as under siege by the Global Economy feel obliged to degrade their human and natural ecosystems. "Socialism in one country" seems unlikely in the Global economy.

Working for money distorts the broader and deeper human motivations and distorts the complex of relationships involved in work. Work in any job, like love in prostitution, would be more humane if it were done for love, not money. Studies show that workers and most jobs avoid adversarial relationships, transcend the stresses of the system and simply loose themselves in the tasks at hand - they try to love their work.

Perhaps the conscious mind, being contractive in its structure, is obliged to DIMly rationalize its motives. But even the person who thinks she's working for money, is often seen to work mindlessly, lost in the intrinsic mechanism of human action. Work is inevitably a process of loving reality, in spite of its corruptions. When interrupted, she will probably shift back to the false-focus position and claim to be working for some extrinsic reward. Montessori educators emphasize how important it is to avoid interrupting the children while they are working, `building their model of reality'. Of course, that's not so easy in most school or job settings. Such is the mechanism of the conscious mind. In this context, capitalism motivates people to make enough money to avoid work.

Young people are particularly hard hit with the alienation. The unspoken message is too often "we don't need you and we don't want you." Even advantaged youth are often shunted into non-serving and self-centered studies. In this cultural desert, no wonder so many are lost and tempted by drugs and fads, many driven to suicide. The youth deserve more from the economic culture. They need something they can honestly devote themselves to and participate in, as president Kennedy so eloquently voiced, "... Ask what you can do for ..." They need security and foundation to satisfy their lesser needs and allow them to live and contribute to a higher life.

Perhaps these simple charts can offer a framework for the evaluation and diagnosis of work, from imaging grandest ecological design to alleviating the smallest personnel problem.

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