What Did the Poor Ever Do to You?

I had a cushy seat job. Then I got laid off.

Now I’m back to doing what I was meant to do: warehouse labor.

I’ve held managerial positions. And one thing you learn quickly about the job is that it’s all bullshit. You only do things to make the company look good. It doesn’t actually contribute to any sort of “material bottom-line” if you will.

In fact, the higher up the ladder you climb…the more useless you become. Hell, I’d venture to say that the most useless person in the company is the CEO. Yet that person is probably the most expensive item in the ENTIRE COMPANY.

The far more important people are at the bottom. But don’t tell anyone in America that because that sounds WAY too much like “socialism”.

Sure, developers, engineers, planners, etc. all design a “product”. But it’s really just an idea. Technically, you can “own” an idea, but who actually has to execute the plan? Usually, it’s the mechanics and hard laborers that have to execute YOUR idea. And for some strange reason (because America hates poor people), the laborers who actually physically execute the purpose of the company are the low men (and women) on the totem pole.

And it’s because they aren’t “skilled”, even though that’s an idea that doesn’t mean shit. That’s a term that people use to help themselves sleep at night because they’re essentially ripping off poor people.

“So you want to pay people $15 an hour to flip burgers?” Some asshole is asking me.

Yes.

What purpose does McDonald’s serve? Come on, we all know why they exist. It’s to fucking serve burgers to their customers who demand their product! And who is serving those burgers? Is it the CEO? Is it the accountants and legal staff? Is it the developers?

No. It’s the mother fucking laborer that’s flipping the burger and serving the customer. That person IS McDonald’s.

And as a side note, every time I go into a McDonald’s…it doesn’t matter where….yes, there are usually fuck-ups, but guess what? Those assholes are actually WORKING their asses off to deliver YOU a product that you can shove into your fat fucking pie hole. And for some reason, people like to give these employees shit for fucking up an order that will probably only end up killing you later.

But think it through!

What if you were getting paid $7.25 an hour to serve the VERY REASON THE COMPANY EXISTS?

Honestly, I’m surprised people aren’t absolutely PISSED about this. Well, to be fair, there are people who are pissed. But how is this not an international outrage? The people who actually execute the purpose of the company, or the “unskilled” labor force…are the most expendable people in the entire organization.

That’s insane. But when you grow up under insanity, then insanity appears SANE. Which is why minimum wage has failed to keep up with the times and labor unions have dwindled. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the strongman at the top is the true genius…the REAL shaker and mover of the universe.

And we’ve taken the power out of our own hands.

The CEO might conceive an idea. But does he execute it?

No.

It’s you and me that have to do his bidding. And we accept whatever compensation that he offers.

So again, we’ve convinced ourselves that we aren’t in control…even though an “unskilled” labor force greatly exceeds any “skilled” one. We’ve allowed those at the top of the ladder to peddle their fairy tales of “genius” and “hard work”….that they are the true saviors of modern society because they “sacrifice” capital to employ the labor force that is the majority population.

Capitalism is a religion. And we are being duped.

ANYWAYS….

Even though my cushy desk job was nice, it felt like I “sold out”. It was devastating when I got laid off, of course, but what was that job leading towards anyway? A career?!

In what?! Pretending to work?!

And I got paid WELL above minimum wage to do it. So because I was a college graduate, with a certain “skill set”, I looked the part. And on that criteria, the company felt justified to pay me what they did. Because there is no way they would pay a non-college graduate without a “skill set” to do that job. Even though a perfectly unskilled laborer could have EASILY done that job.

Why?

Because  that job existed only to make the company look good. It served no vital function whatsoever. (Which would likely explain why I was laid off)

And I had co-workers…that did the EXACT same job: nothing. Not only did I have co-workers, I had MANAGERS! What did they manage? I suppose all of our collective productivity of nothing. But someone had to do it. And they got paid A LOT of money to do it. So we had a lot of people getting paid A LOT of money to basically make the company look good which is pretty much a non-essential function of the organization.

Meanwhile, the entry-level employees that carry out the purpose of the company are getting shafted.

Look, maybe the company realized that they were basically flushing money down the toilet and laid us all off. But this just goes to show that just because someone has a fancy title and a fat paycheck…that doesn’t mean that they actually serve a purpose. And in all likelihood they probably don’t.

When I lost that job, I thought that my career was over. But those ambitions were only a mirage. Best case scenario, I would have continued being promoted….higher and higher to the point farthest away from any purpose.

The labor I do now is demanding. It isn’t “skilled”, and some dickhead would probably think that this work is beneath me. And if you think that, then go fuck yourself. But this is REAL work. I’m contributing to the “material bottom line” or to the purpose of the company’s existence.

We may be the “low men on the totem pole”, but without us….there wouldn’t be a company.

The Static Identity: The Root of all Evil

A chained man no more.

Have you ever been in this situation? Knowing that you must do a thing, but your body and mind just couldn’t let you do it?

I faced this scenario this morning. Everyone knows that I have (or had) a terrible job. But I woke up. I put on work clothes. Got in my vehicle. And drove the 20 minutes that it takes to get to my (former) place of employment. I got to the building, and everything fiber in my being wouldn’t let me pull into the parking lot.

I literally couldn’t do it.

So I drove on by and didn’t look back.

I have never done that in my professional career. Usually I’d just bite the bullet and hack out another day, and hope that I will land on my feet somewhere else. But not today. My body and intellect kicked in and took over. I was no longer in control.

My rallying against careerism is nothing new. I’ve always felt that people overly associate their identity with their career. But in doing so, their profession becomes just another stone that weighs down the true identity of a person.

In the last post, I mentioned this thing called the static identity. We’re born. Then we’re given a name, a social security number, and assigned a gender. We’re stuck in this life until the day we die. You can run all your life, but you will never escape your social security number.

This is how we see ourselves.

We are our family. Our jobs. Our community. And our relationship with others. You are not permitted to escape.

While it’s not possible in a physical sense to become something or someone else, the notion of the self (or the “I”) is not actual. It’s something that only the mind applies to itself, and so the notion of a continual self is an illusion. As in Buddhism, all of reality (to include the self) is a stream moving forward in time. The notion of continuity is an idea in the mind, and is therefore not real.

This might sound crazy, and I don’t care. I can say anything I want in this blog.

But the important thing is that these ideas in the mind are rudely enforced by the external world. We can choose to ignore them, but in doing so, we risk having the will of the outer world imposed on us….meaning the law will imprison us, we can become ostracized, or any number of other things. To avoid this confrontation, we placate these societal norms and play the part that was given to us.

We become locked-in to our identities, and it is made difficult to transform. Then we are forever trapped within the existence imposed upon us. This, I believe, is why we are undergoing a mental health crisis. Not only because we are getting better at diagnosing these problems, but because bureaucratic, technological, and economical entanglement is getting better at transposing societal norms onto individuals. And the only way forward is to find acceptance, so we have higher rates of depression, paranoia, addiction, and recidivism of crime.

Therefore, as the great Jean Jacques Rousseau said: Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

Rousseau seemed to have differed from his fellow contemporaries in believing that human progress has not been beneficial; that mankind was better off in its state of nature. Believing that in this state, humans were peaceful, noble, and lived in harmony.

This belief in the nobility of the natural state of mankind is, of course, bullshit. HOWEVER, I don’t believe that he was completely wrong in challenging human progress. This “progress”, really hasn’t been progress at all. At best, it’s just been a matter of switching one set of problems out for another. IN FACT, this progress has contributed to a great deal of modern problems, namely class warfare, racism, sexism, slavery, poverty, and God knows what else. While this state of nature might not have been peaceful and noble, mankind was at least EXISTING in its natural state, rather than living in a manufactured and prolonged misery of being.

We might be living LONGER, we can also say that we are living in an extended existence of slavery. Slavery to jobs, to mortgage, to materialism. Instead of being seen as an integral part of a community (as in a state of nature), we are seen as being just one.  Just one of the millions that consist of a nation-state; an existence that doesn’t matter, that only plays a small role in the vastness of world population. We have to fight for meaning and purpose because we are chained to an insignificant societal identity.

To be happy is to be unaware of this predicament, or to find meaning outside of this paradigm.  This means to be stupid or in complete denial. OR to find acceptance in this stream of existence.

This is an unpopular opinion. Especially in our state “feel good” literature. Everyone wants to read or hear about how “they matter”. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. The average person today just doesn’t matter. The individual has been disconnected from a grand community; thrown into existence. We are all just a minor player in this realm of society.

Of course, the solution isn’t to return to a “state of nature”. We know too much. A state of nature is a ship that has sailed. For better or worse, we are stuck with this economic-bureaucratic-technological complex. The paste is out of the tube. How we fix this problem would require a recognition of hard truths.

What are these truths??

Chiefly, most of the nonsense we surround ourselves with is false. They are only problems that we create in our heads, and become reinforced by societal standards. Imaginative problems are the number one cause of stress in the world. Having a mortgage and career are not LITERAL necessities for survival. Realistically, to live a reality that’s genuine, we have to recognize our basic selves. One that is stripped away from from modern conveniences.

But truthfully, I have no answers on how to fix these problems. Because in order to do so, would require an understanding that’s fundamentally contrary to everything that we know. It’s not as easy as reverting back to anarchy or taking up a Marxism. The only revolutions that work are the ones that are generated from within.

Middle Management and Aggressive Mediocrity

First off, I need to apologize for talking too much about my overly dead professional career. But it is dead. I’m not expecting a resurrection anytime soon, unless there’s some talent agent that just so happens to read philosophy blogs.

But I did start a new job. And it really sucks….but not in the way you might think.

Have you ever had a dream where you woke up laughing? Am I the only one that happens to? Perhaps that’s a bad example. We’ve all seen Apocalypse Now, right? About the journey into madness?

That’s what my job is like, minus the Vietnam War and Robert Duvall. But the farther down river you journey, meaning and logic cease to be. What’s left is pure madness. And that is what this company is. They don’t produce anything. They probably don’t even make any money. But the company exists only to drive you insane, much like the nature of war itself.

Only my job is hilarious! I mean, I don’t even know what the hell I do! What kind of company operates like that?

Anyways, the basic organizational structure of this operation brings forth many sociological issues. We’ve all seen that video where that teacher segregates her students by eye color. We all know about the Stanford Experiment. Well imagine a company that does the same thing. Not for any productivity purposes. Just for the hell of it. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I become convinced that this company isn’t real. It’s just a covert study by the government.

Members are segregated by jersey color. Yes, I said jerseys. What function these jerseys serve…I do not know….other than the blue jerseys are the “managers”. I put “managers” in quotations because I never really see these people manage. They just loom in the background and look at Facebook on their phones. One would think that managers would be, you know, older. I’m probably older than all of them. 18 year old kids running around claiming to be a “manager”. But they appear to have been randomly handed a jersey and told to just “act like a boss”. They’re not the ones to fear.

The real pain-in-the-assess are the ones in the dark green jerseys. You are to fear them. I suppose we could call them the “supervisors” or “middle managers”. Again, randomly selected. Their one and only purpose: to hand you papers and be a complete and utter bastard. Don’t look them in the eye or else you’ll get a mean and sarcastic comment. These are the whip-crackers (is that how you say it?). You fuck with them, you are as good as dead (probably literally).

Then there are those in the orange and lime green jerseys: the pee-ons. I wear a lime green one. And once again, everyone is randomly selected. There are at least five within this group that are college educated. One even played D1 college football. But they all do the shit work. But there’s a reason why there are two colors at the lower echelon: to divide us.

The dark green jerseys prey on our weaknesses. They want us to turn on each other. As a lime green, I am told to hate the orange. THEY are the reason why WE can’t get anything accomplished. I imagine that the orange are told the same about us. Occasionally a dark green will whisper into the ear of a tenured lime green-orange: you could have this power! Thus forcing the individual into moral crossroads…tearing apart their soul.

This organizational structure is a representation of our own society: The ruling class ominously watching over us, with their attack dogs keeping the lower class in line. So the evidence is clear. I am working for a poorly constructed and asinine governmental experiment.

But really, fuck those dark green jerseys!

It’s proof that when you give people a little bit of power, they go fucking ape shit. But the real important lesson here is what I like to call aggressive mediocrity. Or aggressively reaching for middle management, or some safe profession, and bemoaning those that don’t strive for the same goals.

It breeds contempt and a false sense of superiority.

We all know someone that’s ‘aggressively mediocre. Perhaps you yourself are suffering from this. I’m not gonna lie: I was aggressively mediocre. As I stated before, I went to college to find safety. I wanted to find the soft middle ground of life, where I would neither be poor or possess any ground shattering responsibilities. And I falsely believed that those that didn’t strive for this were idiotic. This is the great and well-traversed path of aggressive mediocrity.

And the truth is, some people will find success. Perhaps great success. But in our capitalist society (as I’m sure Zizek would tell you), not everyone can be a winner. Some of us HAVE to be losers. And in order to find solace in our doomed fate, this capital machine offers a solution to keep the pain and anger at bay: the middle-management profession.

The ruling class and company executives want YOU to feel like you are making a contribution, that you are a valued member of the team. YOU are making decisions that change people’s lives. They give you the title of manager, but that’s only to disguise the real purpose of your job. You are nothing but a sheep dog, there to nip at the heels of the sheeple, to keep the machine running. But you’ll never be one of THEM. Because to them, you are nothing but a dog.

Look, what do you want out of me?

This job kicks my ass, so it’s extraordinarily difficult for me to write philosophy that will kick your dick off. So my apologies for straying away from philosophy in the last couple of posts. But my ultimate point is this: If you’re going to be a manager (or supervisor), and you work in a high-turnover warehouse, it’s probably not the best strategy to be a dick to your workforce on day 1. Just sayin’.

But more importantly: Don’t be a dick!