Saturday, October 10, 2015

Confessions of a Wage Slave, VI

The genius of modern slavery is that the workers truly believe they're free.

Things like flex time, supposedly allowing people to work the hours they "want," despite still requiring the same 40 hours a week in some cramped, dusty office.

Or sick days, days you are allowed to be sick which, when considering the healthcare in this country, is hardly enough time, whether it be a broken bone or a bad flu.

And don't forget vacation days, the equally vile twin of sick days. Your one chance to get away from the grind is measured in days, which seems fair on the surface until you realize that every other first world nation takes vacations by the month. At least. But of course, those are smaller, less powerful countries. They don't need a steady stream of meat for the economic grinder. Besides, they're probably commies anyway...

And let's not forget that greatest of illusions -- and my personal favorite -- the Job Market.

What is it with Americans and markets anyway? A market is where you argue with some crooked-eye swindler over the price of a fish that's been sitting out all day.

Actually, that's a good description of the Job Market. You see, if you get canned it's okay because you can always find another job. Same as if you can't stand where you are now, you can always find another job. Jobs and jobs everywhere, yessiree!

Of course this mercenary lifestyle allows employers to reduce job security, benefits, conditions, demand more work for less pay -- and if you're salaried and working overtime, no pay! -- but that's okay, you can always get another job. So why establish a rapport with your coworkers? Why develop any sense of community or, god forbid, form unions? After all, you won't be there long, just until you get your associates degree or you finally sell that screenplay or until you get a better paying job upstairs or across town or only until the children finish school or only until it's time to start collecting social security or only until that comforting numbness spreads up your arm and squeezes your heart silent.

This Job market is just another backlot full of day laborers who happen to be legal citizens.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Imperial Penis Envy

So one of those big white people superpowers finally came down hard on ISIS. Problem is, it's Russia.

Meaning it's a problem for the aging reptiles who run things in the US and UK. The Cold War is still hot, as far as these guys are concerned, so anything Russia does besides deteriorate under Boris Yeltsin is immediately suspect. The Beltway press has been all in a tizzy for the past week, fretting over just how a card-carrying villain like Putin is going to bomb the bad brown people but spare the good ones.

He's likely not, since no war ever spares civilians. And that it ever could is just one of the many fantasies you must embrace before you can be considered "respectable" in American discourse...

We were already deep into bizarro territory, what with an election next year, but Putin's little pest control operation has really cranked up the DC crazy. Every Republican from Donald Trump to Those Guys Losing to Donald Trump has come out blaming the whole thing on Obama for muddled reasons - muddled even by the usual standards of Obama-blame in right-wing politics. The "objective" media doesn't go quite that far but is still furrowing its collective brow in worry that Russia might be just helping their allies in the Assad regime. And Brzezinski is making noise but he's wanted World War III since 1977, the racist little fucker.

Yet at the same time, ISIS is still everyone's designated monster. They're raping 8-year-olds, if ya didn't know. They've also raped grown Yazidi women and sold them into sex slavery - and bragged about it in their own glossy industry mag - but that was back when only the Kurds were fighting them so nobody in the pundit class cared. Now that Russia is hitting them in Syria, all the Very Concerned People want to get in on the action before there are no more scalps to claim.

That Russia could stamp out ISIS in Syria is a very real scenario. The Kurds were halfway there a few months ago, and they don't even have an air force. Because ISIS has always been more bark than bite, a regional militia that made up for its small numbers and rotten performance in battle by acting extra scary on YouTube. They're the black metal virgins of terrorism.

And the US is obviously jealous of Russia snuffing them.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Confessions of a Wage Slave, V

If you ever doubt America runs on exploitation, take a temp job. All the responsibilities of a regular, salaried employee but never any of the benefits.

They usually bait it with some vague promises of real employment down the line. "Stick it out for two months or two years and we might let you into the company health plan. For a fee." IT companies in particular love this scam. My first job in NYC was for a company flush with News Corp money but just couldn't spare more than the equivalent of 20K a year - before taxes - for the position of One Man QA Department.

I came aboard right as the company adopted a new content management system. An open source product (strike one), specifically the paid premium edition (strike two), that had been chosen to perform tasks for which it was not originally configured (yeeeer outa there!).

This necessitated a full, new QA process complete with Git branches and Jenkins builds and other things usually handled by about three people on full salary and benefits. I did it solo for hourly wages, which I naturally didn't get if the office was closed due to a holiday or I got a cold from management never turning on the heat in the middle of a New York winter.

Whenever the godawful CMS software went tits up, it was always my fault.