19 Nov What golden age?
“And so we’re told this is the golden age / And gold is the reason for the wars we wage…”
-U2, “New Year’s Day”
First of all: no duh.
Secondly: what golden age? People were sent home because we were all told we were gonna die and Corporate America wished to keep the wheels of progress turning. I can’t speak for everyone, but most people I knew were not having one big party at the house.
“Remote work was thrust upon us basically by the pandemic,” said Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University. “Before the pandemic, remote work was pretty rare. All managers and professionals were basically fully remote for much of 2020. And then it turned out it’s worked really well.”
Yeah. About that. Remote work was basically thrust upon Corpo America. It was easier to walk the path of least resistance and send you home with a company-furnished laptop loaded with spyware than to demand you show up at an office, stay-at-home-orders be damned. Let’s be real about this and call it what it is.
Finding fully remote work is getting challenging. New research from Indeed found that job postings are declining faster in metropolitan areas where many jobs can be done remotely.
“Some of the pushback remote work is driven by concerns about productivity,” said Kory Kantenga, senior economist at LinkedIn. “There have been some experimental studies that show that there are some productivity impacts, potentially from remote work. But those studies are also experiments, right? It’s unclear how they apply to the broader labor force.”
Productivity has nothing to do with it. Never has. It’s all about control, compliance, and obedience. Yes, surveillance is a part of this but that can be performed on you at home via employer-provided tech.
Anyhow, in the same way that salary transparency is becoming law in more places, I think it’s good that states are requiring companies to inform employees if they are being surveilled. In the meantime, for situations where companies are not required to tell you this information, please just automatically assume that your keystrokes are being logged and screenshots are being taken if you are using any form of technology from an employer. Better to be safe than sorry.
If you freelance or otherwise work for yourself, USE YOUR OWN TECH. If you use someone else’s technology, their accounts, their passwords, etc., it can open you up to liabilities if anything goes wrong. It also opens up a can of worms for them to be able to sit and watch everything you do, time your bathroom breaks, and so on. One of the things companies can do with this data is pay you for a project, screenshot everything you do, and then give that data to a cheaper freelancer to use as breadcrumbs. In other words, “Hey, here’s what this $100/hr person did. Now let’s get a $10/hr person to try to duplicate the same tactics for us.” If you escaped Corporate America to leave that mess behind, don’t turn around and bring it in to your own business.
The other component is about your obedience. Are you gonna go along to get along or are you gonna be a problem, pal? If we order you to come back, are you gonna do it? Are you gonna play the Corporate Pantomime for us or are you gonna pee in our cereal?
IMO, the digital presenteeism and the “Jesus is coming, look busy” mentality is what these crappy bosses want. Why? Because if you are joining a Zoom meeting that you know will be worthless and you’re jumping through silly hoops online to prove yourself you are being OBEDIENT.
I’ve said it more times than I can count: there are companies who value that compliance more than anything. They want control and surveillance. Periodt. Trying to make the argument to those types – regardless of how well-made and well-reasoned it is – that you don’t need to be present in a meeting that has nothing to do with you or your job will not go well. They don’t care. They want your butt in that seat or your face on that camera because IT’S WHAT YOU WERE TOLD TO DO!
As the world began to open up, though, corporate America shifted its stance on remote work. Some companies have even threatened to fire workers who don’t return to the office for a certain number of days.
“The laptop class is living in la la land,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk told CNBC’s David Faber in a sit-down interview in May 2023. “It’s messed up to assume they have to go to work, but you don’t. It’s not just a productivity issue. It’s morally wrong.”
You’re supposed to go back to the office. Get out of your pajamas and “cross-pollinate” and shop downtown and give the cities your tax dollars. Do it because you’re told to do it.
As for Lord Elon trying to give anyone morality advice: ha.
So . . . the same guy who was photographed with Ghislaine Maxwell and who has been subpoenaed in the Jeffrey Epstein banking case thinks YOU are a moral reprobate if you want to continue working from home post-pandemic. Those of us paying our taxes, raising kids, loving our spouses, feeding our pets, etc., are scumbag pieces of 💩 but Lord Elon is a paragon of virtue? For me this goes beyond a bad satire or a clown world. It’s just flat-out disgusting.
Let’s also not forget that he’s happy to endorse bigotry:
Displaying advertisements next to Hitler stuff is ultra-bad “brand safety,” that advertising term that’s come up a lot since Musk bought Twitter and gutted its content moderation team. But maybe Musk could’ve kept Apple’s and IBM’s business if he were not personally providing antisemitic content on his own platform.
On Thursday—in a tweeted response to some random antisemite who had fewer than 5,000 followers—Musk made clear how he feels about Jewish people’s treatment of “whites.”
This otherwise inconsequential poster, using the handle @breakingbaht, wrote: “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” He added, “I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much. You want truth said to your face, there it is.”
Musk replied, “You have told the actual truth.”
And this guy wants to put a chip in my brain? I don’t f*cking think so. I provide no safe place for Nazi ideology. It’s one of the most corrosive, destructive forces on this planet. The amount of hatred it stirs in its adherents destroys the very soul. In 1966, Alex Haley interviewed George Lincoln Rockwell for Playboy magazine. The story is so incredibly disturbing but it is worth reading because people need to understand the absolute disease, the blight on the soul that is Nazi ideology. In 1979, James Earl Jones and Marlon Brando recorded a scene for Roots: The Next Generations that depicts this interview. Even with two incredible actors, it’s difficult to watch because of the hate speech. In a furthering of the clown world, we find IBM pulling its advertising on X. Where was this outrage, I wonder, when it consorted with Hitler?
This book will be profoundly uncomfortable to read. It was profoundly uncomfortable to write. It tells the story of IBM’s conscious involvement—directly and through its subsidiaries—in the Holocaust, as well as its involvement in the Nazi war machine that murdered millions of others throughout Europe. . . .
When the Reich needed to mount a systematic campaign of Jewish economic disenfranchisement and later began the massive movement of European Jews out of their homes and into ghettos, once again, the task was so prodigious it called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
When the Final Solution sought to efficiently transport Jews out of European ghettos along railroad lines and into death camps, with timing so precise the victims were able to walk right out of the boxcar and into a waiting gas chamber, the coordination was so complex a task, this too called for a computer. But in 1933, no computer existed.
However, another invention did exist: the IBM punch card and card sorting system—a precursor to the computer. IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler’s program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler’s Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting operations were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.
You’ll have to pardon me if I refuse to give much credence to the machinations of Corporate America or some bigoted billionaire with a god complex.
As a not unrelated segue:
Amazon is digging in its heels in the return-to-office tug of war. It has advised corporate staffers they risk not getting promoted if they don’t meet the company’s expectations to work in the office at least three days a week — if RTO is required for their positions. The news comes as the tech giant downsizes again, cutting “several hundred roles” from its Alexa unit Friday. In his note to staff, Amazon’s VP of Alexa and Fire TV said the company decided to streamline in order to focus on core objectives, including maximizing efforts on AI.
I feel like we live in such a bizarre, up is down, blue is yellow, topsy-turvy environment. The onus is on you to think for yourself and cut through the noise and the bullsh*t. If some “expert” is out here telling you that WFH is gonna last forever or some billionaire knobhead is trying to convince you that you’re awful if you like remote work: PROCEED WITH CAUTION. ⚠️
I started this post with the question: what golden age?
The notion seems to imply that people who were sent home with laptops had one big party. The folks who were simply tossed out with no job at all were “flush with cash” and living the high life. Meanwhile: no. Just no.
IMO, we are in a K shaped economy. The ultra-rich aren’t suffering from inflation as meanwhile, there are people who never fully recovered from 2008. So whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned Middle Class American Dream?
✔️ As a schoolkid in the 1980s Midwest, we heard it alllll the time: as long as you behave and work hard, you can be anything! You can be an astronaut, the President, a scientist who cures cancer. Later on, you’re told that actually, no, not really and all that hopium is on par with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
✔️ “Just like everything else, those old crazy dreams just kinda came and went…”
✔️ Instead of the little house in the burbs with a white picket fence, is it now the 375 sf box home?
-“Whatever Happened to the Middle Class American Dream?” https://www.buzzsprout.com/1125110/11214103
One of the sources I discuss in that episode is Alissa Quart’s book Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America, which was published in 2018. There are people who never recovered from The Great Recession and there are people who weren’t doing well even when Orange Man was touting his record highs of the stock market.
Saying that there was a golden age during the pandemic but now it’s coming to end misses the mark for me. Like the house in Vegas, Corpo America always wins. We’re in a crony capitalist system and it’s not rigged in favor of you and me.