Downfall of the Business Ethic; Rise of Beaurocracy

As of today I am officially a temporary employee in the giant machine of a large international corporation that manufactures a product that you would all know instantly. I decline to divulge who it is simply because I don’t want to jeopardize my position there.

To lay the groundwork, I want to explain the insanity that this company faces. It is a non-union workplace, which is fine in my opinion, however it has a dedicated staff of scientists and employees, some of whom have worked there for most of their lives. In order to save money, the company has decided to cut these people loose and replace them with lower paid temporary employees, of which I am one. They hire for a maximum of two years at a time and get to save wages and on regular employee benefits such as health insurance and 401K plans. In the exchange they get employees like myself who have absolutely no loyalty or desire to work harder for advancement or to help grow the company. Eventually, this short-sightedness will cause to company to reap what it sows, namely lowered productivity and innovation within the company. It will eventually cause the company to rot from the inside and be less competitive, but not before the board of directors has reaped the benefits of this maneuver and lined their own pockets.

This is how big business in America is being run today, and you can see it in many places. They will reap what they sow, but it will not be those who have planted the seeds of our destruction who will pay the price, but this generation which will find their future is dotted with dozens of nearly well-paying jobs that lead nowhere.

Luckily, I have the ability to create a different future for myself because I can create my own future by spending a few hours each evening working on my own personal projects. Most people do not have this luxury or determination, I figure they are doomed.

What’s more interesting is the level of beaurocracy such a large company can have, even with these top-down approaches to saving money. I am working for a testing facility inside the research and development branch of the company and it amazes me at how redundant much of the work is. Redundant to the point that much of it could be automated with a machine. Interestingly, such a machine had been proposed, which would ironically put me out of work and save money in the long run, yet was declined due to short-term costs. So there are three or more temporary people doing menial work which could be automated.

The funniest part of this job is that I spent most of today being “trained” on several safety guidelines for handling the company’s products that I will be testing. There are certain safety requirements that I of course agree with, because I would not want the chemicals to get in my eyes or on my skin should the product container rupture during a test. However the company has gone to great legths to certify that employees are trained to use certain equipment, including fire extinguishers. After being certified, the employee must then sign a form verifying the training.

Read that last part again, to put out a fire at this place, you have to be certified to use the fire extinguisher. While being told of this, I naturally asked the hypothetical question, “What if the guy certified to use the fire extinguisher is himself on fire?”

The response was horrifying, “Oh, well he should probably stop drop and roll.”

My guide’s synapses finally caught what I was asking, “Actually, I’m not certified, but I would use the fire extinguisher anyways.”

I wondered how many others would defy the training requirements in the middle of an emergency and how many would look around for the proper paperwork to sign before saving a life. Stephen Gordon’s trained monkey analogy comes to mind.

I’m also reminded of the beaurocracy and paperwork from the movie Brazil.

In all reality though, I’m kinda glad to be working at a job I don’t have to give a damn about, listen to music on my iPod all day while doing menial computer work and come home and code on the PushLiberty project in the afternoons. So, not all bad in my case, but still… kinda sad that this company has no interest in promoting competency.

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