[Marxism] Interesting discussion of work (and refusal to work) on PEN-L

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jan 11 19:29:06 MST 2014

"Doug Henwood" <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:

 > You know what's odd? Most of the people who've dropped
 > out of the workforce say they don't want jobs - they're not
 > "discouraged," or going to school, or sick, or anything like
 > that. They say they don't want jobs. I do not understand
 > why this is. Are the jobs so shitty they're just not worth the trouble?

"Ron Petersen" wrote:
 >Jobs aren't shitty, it's the mid-level managers. My union wasn't
 >effective in protecting its members. I was somewhat active in
 >the union, but it's difficult to get a concensus on bargaining issues.

 >Having been forced into early retirement, I really didn't try hard
 >to get another job since I had a pension, wanted to move to a
 >milder climate, and my wife likes having me at home.

John G.:
speaking as sorta fresh college grad, working on becoming a teacher, the 
job market for young people is really twisted.
I'm about to do some semi-regular substitute teaching for a school 
district. This is a form of temp work. But it's lightyears ahead of what 
I've been doing.

I worked at starbucks for a few months and the manager was an older lady 
who 'retired' or fell from a decent post in real estate. She ran around 
and ran around and ran around as if working her ass off could make rain. 
And so her attitude to young people, who have no sane economic hopes, 
was one of condescension and criticism and a subtle cruelty. I left a 
few months into it because it was dissatisfying, underpaying, and was 
exhausting me so that I couldn't actually work on networking or getting 
a better job.

This past december I had a job that lasted maybe an hour. I went into a 
restaurant that I knew was hiring, spoke to manager A, and was hired. I 
said I needed to attend to some stuff and could be in for my training in 
a few days. I go in, basically only fill out tax forms while manager B 
is on shift. I'm told that I need to memorize the menu, so that I need 
to spend (unpaid) time studying the menu. I leave after only 15 minutes 
on the clock. I come back in the next day, while manager B is on shift. 
I take a test on the desserts, and while I definitely didn't memorize it 
in detail, I gave the basic ingredients. Manager B just looked it over 
and checked it and said that I should come in the next day. I clock out 
after only 10-20 minutes on shift. Day 3, I clock in, and take a test on 
salads and appetizers. Manager A is on shift, and his mood is really 
hostile or petty or powertripping or something. Just testy. Most of the 
other workers there were very unfriendly. I hardly met them and they 
were calling every customer 'faggot' or 'dickhead' and were just 
basically unhappy to be there. I take the test and 'bomb' badly, so 
manager A sends me home and says I need to study up for it tomorrow. I 
was a little pissed and confused but took it in stride; it's just a 
hazing thing I thought. I clock out after maybe 10 minutes. The next 
day, I 'retake' the test, and this time I've studied up a bit. Even so, 
manager A just redmarks it up and says "oh well since this is a retake 
you need to get 100% right, it's policy," and then when I point out 
manager B basically just checked to see I didn't fuck anything up he 
said "we have different managing styles." Then he said that I was no 
longer welcome and that I was basically fired.

Petty, confusing, unexplainable. I know people working on their master's 
degrees working in starbucks. People with finance degrees in clothes 
shops. I'd say that the apathy is deepening, if that were possible. On 
places like 4chan, there's a cultural fetishization of a NEET-lifestyle, 
and working to try and get on SS disability and the like. Other young 
people take a fuck-it attitude, or turn to the black market, or turn to 
Rainbow gathering and hitchhiking. All this of course means either 
reliance on foodstamps, increasingly resentful resource drains on 
parents, family, friends, and a loss of hope, wasted potential..

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