Open Thread: We Must All Hang Together, or…


(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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Wise words from Professor Krugman on “The Insecurity Election“:

… The truth is that while single women and members of minority groups are more insecure at any given point of time than married whites, insecurity is on the rise for everyone, driven by changes in the economy. Our industrial structure is probably less stable than it was — you can’t count on today’s big corporations to survive, let alone retain their dominance, over the course of a working lifetime. And the traditional accoutrements of a good job — a defined-benefit pension plan, a good health-care plan — have been going away across the board.

Every time you read someone extolling the dynamism of the modern economy, the virtues of risk-taking, declaring that everyone has to expect to have multiple jobs in his or her life and that you can never stop learning, etc,, etc., bear in mind that this is a portrait of an economy with no stability, no guarantees that hard work will provide a consistent living, and a constant possibility of being thrown aside simply because you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…

So here’s the question: isn’t this exactly the kind of economy that should have a strong welfare state? Isn’t it much better to have guaranteed health care and a basic pension from Social Security rather than simply hanker for the corporate safety net that no longer exists? Might one not even argue that a bit of basic economic security would make our dynamic economy work better, by reducing the fear factor?

The problem being, of course, that our current Banana Republicans don’t want a ‘dynamic economy’ — they want a kleptocracy with them as the kleptocrats. As Democrats, it’s our job to keep them from achieving this.

105 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    amk says:

    punk murdock’s UK ops unraveling?

  3. 3
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Let’s see if the Dems protect Social Security from cuts during the debt discussions. It shouldn’t even be on the table.

  4. 4
    bemused says:

    The Insecurity Election and The Twinkie Manifesto…great stuff from Krugman in the same day!

  5. 5
    Schlemizel says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    The AP had a story in Sundays paper about how a debt deal was now impossible because the recent election victory gave Dems a spine so they won’t gut SS & Medicare.

    I figured it was an attempt to give cover to the remaining Blew Dogs and to shift the blame from where it belongs if there is no deal right away.

  6. 6
    Stentor says:

    Very true, I’ve always said that the Republicans want a weak labor market because then everyone will be scared, hold on to their shitty jobs, never complain when they don’t get a promotion or even an annual raise that keeps up with inflation, so that their goddamned shareholders can rake in even more profit every year, & their executive class can get paid 400, 500, or 600 times as much in a year as I make. The pendulum has been swinging towards the investor class for so long & away from the labor class that it’s nearly to the end. It’s starting to become very obvious that CEOs & other executives are the new aristocracy/oligarchs. I hope at some point they become embarrassed about their gluttony, greed, & larcenous usury, but I’m not holding my breath.
    Time to roll out the guillotines.

  7. 7

    they want a kleptocracy with them as the kleptocrats.

    Or, as former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett explained: Republicans are “the greedy, sociopathic party”, who lack coherent views on policy and are therefore “unwilling to do anything that would interfere with their ambition to retake power so that they can reward their lobbyist friends with more give-aways from the public purse.”

  8. 8
    Santiago says:

    via reddit:

    Romney at a Shell station in La Jolla last night.

    ETA. He looks like a tired Bruce Campbell.

  9. 9
    kay says:

    Great column. You know what would help lower wage workers enormously? Regular hours. They never know when they’re working, or how many hours they’re going to get. It is CRAZY.
    It takes some of my clients ten minutes to answer this question: “when do you work?”
    Between temp jobs and just in time schedules, their lives are chaos. I don’t know how they’re supposed to raise children or plan anything. They (literally) can’t say they’ll be anywhere or do anything a month out. They don’t know when they’re working. The newest horror is these sets of 12 hour shifts spread over 7 days. I suspect they’re getting around over-time with this, although I haven’t nailed down HOW yet.
    If anyone really cared about “families” in this country it would get attention, because it makes it so hard to schedule child care, etc.

  10. 10
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Stentor:

    Very true, I’ve always said that the Republicans want a weak labor market because then everyone will be scared…

    Yep. Read John Holbo’s 2003 piece on “Donner Party Conservatives” for the canonical statement.

  11. 11
    Schlemizel says:

    @Santiago:

    Need “I’m so ronry” playing behind the picture

  12. 12
    He Who Should Not Have Been Named says:

    (Delurking:) (My first comment here, honestly) In a recent Israel-Palestine post, DougJ, posting as “John Cole” (how do you find the time to write this whole blog and still pose for pictures in your Tunch suit? good job!) found a new way to give GRATUITOUS, THOUGH ENTIRELY INADVERTENT, OFFENSE: The last sentence besmirched both my last name and my mother’s maiden name (which names I happen to share, though not necessarily in the order given in the post, with a couple of unlamented ex-Congressmen)!

    If abject apologies from “John Cole” (or whatever other FP name DougJ chooses to post them under) are not promptly forthcoming — if, as I say, my good names are not immediately restored — then, I assure you, my vengeance (though you may not recognize it, or even notice it, when it occurs) SHALL BE CONDIGN!

  13. 13
    Cassidy says:

    OT- How about a special food thread pre-thanksgiving to exchange recipes? The normal Thursday might be a bit late.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    @Santiago:

    Ironically, it would have helped Romney’s campaign if he were seen pumping his own gas.

  15. 15
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Security? What’s that?

    But Professor K has a point. Maybe only the secure people are willing to vote for Republicans. Are 45% or so us fairly secure? Maybe. And these are probably mostly married white people who are old enough to have plans in place and a few years invested in those plans.

    Hmmmmm.

    [And yes, AL. Good post.]

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @kay: The local news read emails from viewers discussing Walmart’s and other stores plans to open Thanksgiving Day. Several supported the companies and suggested that if employees don’t like it, they should just quit. There is a real disconnect in our country about what it takes to feed a family for many.

  17. 17
    JPL says:

    @Cassidy: Good idea..

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @Santiago:

    You’d look tired too if you’d just spent all last week amending your tax return.

  19. 19
    kay says:

    @JPL:

    It’s gone so much further than “no defined pension”. How about “no defined schedule, ever”? Wal Mart actually pioneered just in time scheduling for retail. It’s a nightmare. There’s a cluelessness about it too, because higher wage workers and professionals often work odd or extra hours, so they say things like “why, I often go in on a Sunday, if I have a big project!”, but that’s a TRADE OFF. Professionals make the big bucks which is why they can be (essentially) on call. There’s no upside for low wage workers. They have crazy schedules and they make 9 dollars an hour. I love to read David Brooks droning on the loss of “community” and “family life”. It’s impossible to plan anything when your schedule changes every month, and that has a really profound effect on committing to anything, outside work.

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    Maybe all those Republicans and righties who helped Reagan’s crew support murderous tyrants in defense of ‘banana republics’ — like those who flooded in to defend South African apartheid (hello Dick Cheney!) by running murderous guerrilla wars in Mozambique and Angola etc — decided that this was in fact a society they preferred, that places like Zaire under Mobutu which existed primarily for Mobutu’s personal wealth extraction and grandiose self-praise were in fact the America they preferred.

  21. 21
    Schlemizel says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Some of it is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you are worried about your job and your future abortion & gays really are not a problem. This is another way the goopers are destroying their base. AS they make more poor and insecure people they have fewer allies in their hate operations.

    @JPL:
    Yet if it happened to them the whining would be deafening. Its always so easy to tell someone else they should just quit. But you can bet a large enough number of morans will be standing in line when they open the doors Thursday that the companies will do it again next year. I expect to see After Xmas sales starting on Dec 25th, if not this year next for sure.

  22. 22
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @kay: That sounds like UNCERTAINTY there. Didn’t we just hear for the past year about how bad UNCERTAINTY was? I guess that only applies to the “job creators” .

  23. 23
    hildebrand says:

    @Santiago: Does it make me a bad person that that picture gives me a whole new wave of schadenfreudtastic goodness?

  24. 24
    Schlemizel says:

    @kay:

    I don’t disagree with your point at all but want to add a note about professionals & extra/odd hours.

    30-40 years ago that was a rarity. We worked a long day or a Saturday because there was a deadline but that didn’t happen often & almost always was compensated by leaving early or skipping a day with the bosses approval. Now it seems rare to find a professional who is not putting in extra hours, working at home in the evenings, handling emails all night long without any recognition that this is not normal. There certainly is not compensation of time.

  25. 25
    El Cid says:

    @JPL: Remember, there are always plenty of jobs out there for people willing to work hard.

    That may not be true, but it’s true. Maybe not in some sort of ‘factual’ way, but it’s morally true, and that’s good enough to allow people to sneer at people they don’t like.

  26. 26
    Sly says:

    West declares that he will take no further action to contest the election and concedes to Murphy, presumably to spend more time searching for communists outside the halls of Congress.

    In his concession statement, West offered congratulations to Murphy, saying “I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.”

    Asshole.

  27. 27
    jayackroyd says:

    Our job as liberals is to prevent the centrists from allowing the oligarchs to take the party over.

    How can it be that Sanders only has 29 signatories on a commitment to leave Social Security alone?

  28. 28
    Feudalism Now! says:

    It is the duty of American citizens, not Democrats, to stand against all enemies foreign and domestic. No party should have primacy over country. Kleptocrats are Dems too. Blue dogs and Daschles, Geitner and Summers, there is no party line.

    Just in time scheduling, right to work-for-less, holiday erosion, and the joys of part time on-call leave people desperate and unable to get ahead or break even. It is modern indentured servitude. Hopefully, the new Lioness of the Senate can help.

  29. 29
    SenyorDave says:

    What Krugman says is exactly what I argue with some omy conservative friends about. One of the basic concerns of middle class people is health care, since in almost all cases it is attached to their job. Wouldn’t it be better to have some basic form of health care avaiable to all that is not attached to the job?

  30. 30
    Sly says:

    @Guess Who:

    Welcome to the jungle, Obambi! You’ll be ripped the fuck to shreds by investigations and hopefully it will all end with the I-word…

    Oh pretty please, Br’er Wingnut, don’t throw us into that briar patch.

  31. 31
    the Conster says:

    @Guess Who:

    WOLVERINES!

  32. 32
    El Cid says:

    @Guess Who: No doubt. Just wait until the whole Fast & Furious investigators figure out how to drive a stick shift.

  33. 33
    jayackroyd says:

    @Schlemizel: It’s not the blue dogs. It’s the centrist democrats, who are committed to the dismantling of what they regard as the obsolete New Deal. And they run the party. The trouble is that SS and Medicare are both effective and popular–they can’t use transparent, democratic processes to make the cuts they want to make (as described in Bowles-Simpson).

    The good news is the election weakened them–Baldwin and Warren winning, Kerrey losing. And they have less cover. It’t not 2008, but it’s better than 2010.

  34. 34
    kay says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I agree, but I think it’s much worse for low wage workers, because what’s really happening with this? They don’t have any time that’s unequivocally their own and they aren’t compensated for that loss. They can’t complete a 6 week GED prep course without elaborate juggling and begging, let alone commit to “retrain” and add a new “skill set”.

  35. 35
    EconWatcher says:

    @Baud:

    I was actually surprised to see that he does pump his own gas.

  36. 36
    Mark S. says:

    @Sly:

    Wow, that’s one dickish concession speech.

    I also pray that Allan West will take this defeat in stride and not fall into of pit of sniffing paint and fucking goats.

  37. 37
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Santiago:
    That picture could be used to terrify small children into being good. Like Slender Man but with better hair.

  38. 38

    I’m in IT and I have been hearing this mantra for nearly 30 years: “You have to be dynamic and changey!” and all the other crap, learn constantly, etc. etc.

    A few months ago, Richard Tisei (MA-6 candidate) was on my friend’s public access TV show. He gave a familiar talking point: The job creators need stability in regulations (stability in owning the regulators, we mean) before they can make jobs.

    And I am saying to myself in the control room: “Oh, you mean instability for the rest of us!”

    Stability for we and not for thee. Sure. That works.

  39. 39
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  40. 40
    El Cid says:

    @Guess Who: The reason you lost the election was that you failed to say these things frequently enough and loud enough. I think the all cap’s and bold are a beginning, but isn’t nearly as loud and repetitive as needed in order to win the public to your side. Just keep thinking, Bigger, Louder, Repeat.

  41. 41
    1badbaba3 says:

    @Santiago: Now they will hate him even more for being “common” and pumping hizzone gas. Aren’t there any Nubian slaves or itenerate Messicans to perform that function? Mittens, Mittens, Mittens. Caught in-between, neither nor. Doesn’t seem to matter how many companies you bust-out, how many you put out of work, or how many communities you destroy, they’ll never fully accept you, ‘cos you’re a Mormon, and yer Daddy is practically a Messican. So sad. Off you go now.

  42. 42
    Schlemizel says:

    @kay:

    Absolutely, I just wanted to point out that everyone is getting screwed and this is the new normal. The destruction of individuals and whole families through the destruction of low wage security is by far worse – so far.

  43. 43
    Schlemizel says:

    @Mark S.:

    Don’t worry about Mr. West taking up paint sniffing & goat screwing because of this defeat. He has been doing that for years already

  44. 44
    kay says:

    @Sly:

    I’m somewhat relieved. I keep waiting for the first conservative to simply not recognize election results. I was listening to some “on the media” type radio show, and they were all patting themselves on the back for Fox News insisting that Karl Rove recognize the results of an election. They think that’s brave and shows they’re willing to stand up. I mean, Jesus Christ. What was the alternative there? NOT recognize the results? Call it a tie? “Opinions differ”? They met the bare minimum on FOX and they’re all strutting around as proud, independent journalists.

  45. 45
    El Cid says:

    @Sherlock Hound: Job Creation is a delicate magical ritual. All the symbolic elements must be in place and all of the priests present and all of the believers in attendance must be placed exactly and every ceremonial movement must be perfect and every pronunciation of every word must be exact and each person must have the perfect faith in their hearts, otherwise the ritual will fail.

    And if somehow jobs fail to be created, it doesn’t mean that the priests are wrong in their faith for the Job Creators, it meant that one or more of the worshipers failed to have enough faith in their hearts.

  46. 46
    jayackroyd says:

    It turns out, says Third Way, that Obama supporters really want to see SS cuts.

    http://www.thirdway.org/publications/617

  47. 47
    RSA says:

    Might one not even argue that a bit of basic economic security would make our dynamic economy work better, by reducing the fear factor?

    As software people say, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    The way a lot of Republicans talk, it seems they believe that insecurity makes people work harder. The philosophical ones talk about moral hazards; the political ones see it as a corrolary of having skin in the game; the base say, “Why should anyone get what I didn’t have when I was growing up during the Depression?”

  48. 48
    El Cid says:

    @jayackroyd: We must cut Social Security now, or risk facing future cuts.

    It makes sense somehow, I’m sure.

  49. 49
    dmsilev says:

    @El Cid: He needs a new font. That will solve everything.

    Comic Sans, perhaps?

  50. 50
    JPL says:

    @kay: You are so right that the lack of a schedule impairs mobility. Unfortunately this gets little attention on MSM because they are constantly chasing the latest scandal.

  51. 51
    Kirbster says:

    A company-provided smartphone is a marvelously effective ball-and-chain for the modern “salaried” worker.

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    @RSA: That’s why a lot of big employers opposed single payer health insurance even when it would save them money — because then they’d lose the power over their skilled workers to make them stay with the company versus going to the next better offer.

    Benefits aren’t gifts from companies, but ways of getting you and keeping you employed.

    But the right has mostly succeeded in getting benefits and even pensions discussed publicly as though these were just some sort of gifts bestowed upon employees (parasites) by the Job Creators, who giveth, and who taketh away.

  53. 53
    hueyplong says:

    “In his concession statement, West offered congratulations to Murphy, saying ‘I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.’”

    You know, as a change of pace for the constituents.

  54. 54
    El Cid says:

    @dmsilev: Also, too many complete sentences. What America wants are more sentence fragments, more isolated exclamations, shouted acronyms, primal screams, guttural urgings.

    Words are for ivory tower elitists. Real Americans want to get back to basics: growls, yells, barks, grunts.

  55. 55
    kay says:

    @JPL:

    We have people who work 3 AM to noon, which is a “modified third”.

    Could they possibly make it more horrible for workers if they tried, if they set out to make them miserable? Now their shifts bridge day and night. It’s like talking to zombies. They have big, blank spaces between words. They could nod off at any moment.

  56. 56
    Josie says:

    @kay: This is an excellent point you are making, Kay. My oldest son worked for Lowe’s and the scheduling (among other things) got to be a nightmare. At one point they had him go in a 7:00 a.m. to open, work a few hours, go home in the middle of the day, then come back in the evening to close, working until 11:00 p.m. Then he got to get up early the next morning to do it all over again. Of course, it was all carefully calibrated to keep him under 40 hours per week. The other fun part was that he who opened and closed got to move all the bar-b-q pits and other crap out of the store in the morning and back into the store at night.

  57. 57
    Ash Can says:

    @Guess Who: LOL! Yippee! Dance, troll, dance! ::claps in time with the music::

  58. 58
    Punchy says:

    Shouldn’t Ted Nugent be dead or in jail by now?

  59. 59
    kay says:

    @Josie:

    It’s awful. Imagine that with kids. Tell me how child care is supposed to go with that schedule. Just basic care, let alone going to soccer games or whatever. There’s a split in this town between kids who take part in extra-curricular activities and kids who don’t and it’s not a big mystery why that is. “I may be around to take you, but then again, I may not!” It ripples too, as you probably know. Everyone else has to work within this non-scheduled chaos.

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Linky no work. I fix: “Slender Man.”

    Your link needs to include the “http://” prefix or FYWP will screw it up.

  61. 61
    Randy P says:

    @Cassidy: I’ll second that. I’ve been contributing a duck for the last few years. It’s generally edible but way too dry and I feel like I’m getting only half as much usable meat as it ought to have. I would love ideas on duck roasting and seasoning.

    I do the turkey too but that seems to be a lot easier to get right somehow.

  62. 62
    bemused says:

    @RSA:

    I’m reading “The Republican Brain”, Chris Mooney, written during the debt ceiling brouhaha. Mooney quoted John Tanny who wrote in Forbes, “Learn to Love A US Default”. Tanny wrote, “The day a default leads to the starvation of this economy-retarding beast is the day the US economy really starts to boom”.

    Mooney talked a lot with Bruce Bartlett who had been warning about the disaster of defaulting long before the 2010 election. Bartlett said, Tea Party Republicans “like recessions. They think they’re a cleansing mechanism and you need the collapse to happen as soon as possible, because as soon as you reach the bottom, you can go back up again.”

    I like this: “It’s reasonable,” Bartlett continues, “if you think sticking a knife in your eye is a good way to deal with glaucoma.”

    Lots of Republicans believe folks must suffer, really suffer, before they can take responsibility, pull themselves up by their bootstraps (even if they don’t have any) and succeed! Funny thing is that Republicans don’t believe that applies to them.

  63. 63
    1badbaba3 says:

    The genius of Bronco Bama is that he has both sides thinking that they are Lucy Van Pelt and he is Charlie Brown. How’s that workin’ out for y’all?

  64. 64
    nitpicker says:

    As stupid as they are most of the time, we owe a tip of our hats to the Third Way folks for their efforts on gay marriage.

  65. 65
    Svensker says:

    @Raven:
    Wow, that’s beautiful. Where are you?

  66. 66
    Feudalism Now! says:

    @Josie: @Josie: The way your son was scheduled also conveniently enabled them to avoid meal breaks. It also ensures he can not hold a competing part time job. The real horror of JiT schedule is it completely takes a human out of the equation. Conflicts and requested days off have to be done in at least two weeks in advance and only if the HR manager is Johnny on the spot. Car problems, appointments and sick days will downgrade you and result in less hours or lower schedule preference.

  67. 67
    Cassidy says:

    @Randy P: My wife did something totally freaked me out last year, but came out with the most moist and tender turkey I’ve ever had. She slathered mayonaise underneath the skin. I’m not a mayonaise eater; I think it’s disgusting. I don’t know why it worked, but it did and there was no mayonaise aftertaste on the turkey.

  68. 68
    Schlemizel says:

    @kay:

    For years my old man worked “rotating shifts” Each week he started 8 hours earlier than last week. 8am-4pm this week, midnight-8am next week, 4pm-midnight the week after and so on.

    That is hellish & probably shortened his life a bit. What they are doing now with random hours on random days is obscene.

  69. 69
    Cassidy says:

    And I just want to say, I’m going to enjoy watching the SEC win another championship this year, even if it Bama.

  70. 70
    nitpicker says:

    @Cassidy: I’m brining in apple cider this year. I’ll let you all know how it turns out.

  71. 71
    moonbat says:

    @Santiago: That is a nasty slur on Bruce Campbell.

  72. 72
    jibeaux says:

    @Schlemizel: It’s true. My husband has leave time he simply can’t use, because even if he can manage to get work done before “vacation”, he has to deal with 200+ emails per day that just never stop. He deals with email every day of his vacations. I think it’s a structural problem; your employees need to occasionally be able to leave that shit behind and turn on an out of office message routing people to someone else. It may be the economy, but doing something like that, which would be huge for morale, does not seem to be a priority for employers.

  73. 73
    Cassidy says:

    @nitpicker: I think I’m going to try brining at Christmas so if I screw it up, it’s not a total loss.

  74. 74
    Svensker says:

    @JPL:

    Unfortunately this gets little attention on MSM because they are constantly chasing the latest scandal.

    Also, too, they’re all making a shit ton o’ money and don’t ever rub elbows with the poors (i.e., folks making under 100K) so they don’t really ever think about that stuff. It doesn’t exist in their world.

  75. 75
    Schlemizel says:

    @Josie:

    The place my teenaged son worked at pulled that same split shift BS with him. In a matter of weeks he had become skilled at his job while they ran through a dozen other kids who either quite or were fired. He was so reliable they let him open (had keys to the joint, the cash drawers etc) then for a while they had him closing (balancing tills, bank runs etc). He was doing great until they told him he had to open AND close but only work about 4-5 hours a day! When he told him his schedule wouldn’t allow that they fired him.

    These @ssholes could not keep employees because nobody was bright enough or motivated enough to do the simple jobs so when they found a ‘star’ they screwed him over until he left. And I am sure they wonder why they can’t find decent employees!

  76. 76
    Schlemizel says:

    @Punchy:

    Here is my official countdown clock:
    http://countingdownto.com/countdown/176293

    – he has till the first of next November

  77. 77
    jibeaux says:

    @nitpicker: They’re idiotic when they talk substance, about “what part of this baby do we all most agree on, let’s cut it that way”. If they choose to, though, they can be effective on “what works to persuade people not to cut the baby and bring them around to agreement to keep the baby whole?” I wish this were a greater focus of their pragmatism.

  78. 78
    Schlemizel says:

    @Cassidy:

    Mayo is 80-90% oil, I am not surprised it added moisture. It probably sticks better than butter & the egg yoke adds some richness to the bird

  79. 79
    Cassidy says:

    @Schlemizel: That makes sense.

  80. 80
    hueyplong says:

    “Shouldn’t Ted Nugent be dead or in jail by now?”

    I think he’s got until April.

  81. 81
    Josie says:

    @Schlemizel: Yes, you are punished for being good at your job. There is no motivation to excel or advance. My son is a trucker now for a beer and wine distributor. They are paid per diem. If they work fast and come back to the warehouse early, they are given another route to take out (another day’s work) for no more pay. The result is that truckers will circle, waiting for it to be too late to be sent out again. Brilliant way to run a business!

  82. 82
    Steeplejack says:

    @kay, @kay:

    Between temp jobs and just-in-time schedules, their lives are chaos.

    This is so true.

    I worked six years in retail, at Barnes & Noble, supposedly one of the “good” places–a step up from McDonald’s, etc. The scheduling was a nightmare. Even as a “full-timer”–which meant nothing more than that I was “guaranteed” at least 28 hours a week (which often didn’t happen)–I had a schedule that was all over the map: opening shifts, “midshifts,” closing shifts. And there was no consistency in shift length: it might vary from four hours to a full eight. But, because I was one of the few full-timers, my schedule was still much better than the part-timers’.

    Another side-effect of powerless workers is that management can feel free to violate its own policies. At B&N the work schedule was supposed to be posted three weeks in advance, but at my store it routinely didn’t appear until less than a week ahead–only five or six days before the start of the workweek. And it’s not necessarily a sinister thing; the managers are overworked and disorganized, and they put off doing the schedule because they can.

    One year there was almost a riot because the schedule for Christmas week was late. Usually they did make an effort to get out the schedule for holiday weeks well in advance. Can you imagine trying to plan a family trip or even Thanksgiving weekend logistics if you don’t know, say, whether you’ll be working Black Friday, or what hours? The regional manager came in, pronounced herself shocked–shocked!–that this was happening in defiance of company policy and said it would be fixed. And of course things went right back to the usual after the crisis was averted.

    Finally, chaotic scheduling is even harder for workers who don’t have cars and have to rely on public transit. I have a standing offer to a former coworker to give her a ride home from B&N, because if she gets out at 11:15 rather than 11:00 p.m. it can mean the difference between catching the last bus or missing it and having to take a taxi, thereby eating up much of what she earned that day. (Not to mention standing at a bus stop late at night in a semi-sketchy part of town.) And quite often when I give her a ride she mentions that she has to open the next day–be back at the store at 7:00 a.m. There is absolutely no reason for that other than managerial apathy and incompetence. It’s insane.

  83. 83
    JPL says:

    @Cassidy: Hellman’s has a recipe for chicken breasts that you spread mayo on then cover with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. It’s amazing.

  84. 84
    Schlemizel says:

    @Josie:

    Thats some real business genius right there! I wonder if the dummys at corporate are even aware?

    My one kid is a tech for a cable company. They get ‘points’ based on the type of job they do & the day is done when they have earned enough points. The have gradually reduced the point value of jobs over the last couple of years. What are supposed to be 4 10 hour days are normally 4 12 hour days. same money more work.

  85. 85
    Cmm says:

    @kay: So, so true. Your suspicions about getting around overtime are correct but apparently it is legal by redefining the “work period” to a week or 2 weeks or a month or something. Our department was trying to move to 12 hour shifts as of last month (the city council decided not to but the department is still pushing for it) and the standard patrol officer pay period before overtime kicks is was to be 84 hours.. At least the schedule was going to be regular with the same rotating off days so one could plan things, but it still was very unpopular with the troops. Ironically one of the things that threw a wrench in the works was the realization that the administrative division employees who would continue with 8 hour shifts, 40 hour weeks, would accrue pension funds at a slower rate since the 12 hour workers would be piling up more cumulative hours. So the people who were trying to wring more out of the line workers eventually protested the move because it seemed to them that they were somehow being screwed out of something.

    The whole 12 hour shift thing has been a neat scam on workers over the years. When I first encountered them, via friends who were hospital nurses in the early 1990s, they worked 3 12 hour shifts per week, for a 36 hour work week. The 4 hours less was seen as a fair trade for the drag on one’s time and energy of working 12 hours straight. As people got more used to and accepting of the 12 hour shift concept, that shorter weeks disappeared and the longer than 40 hour weeks became the norm.

  86. 86
    Cassidy says:

    @Cmm: Part of that 36 hour week thing, though, is the ability to work elsewhere PRN. If you’re single. you can really bank as a RN: 3 weekend shifts plus differential for weekends and nights, and work 1-2 more PRN shifts during the week.

  87. 87
    different-church-lady says:

    Every time you read someone extolling the dynamism of the modern economy, the virtues of risk-taking, declaring that everyone has to expect to have multiple jobs in his or her life and that you can never stop learning, etc,, etc., bear in mind that this is a portrait of an economy with no stability, no guarantees that hard work will provide a consistent living, and a constant possibility of being thrown aside simply because you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…
    So here’s the question: isn’t this exactly the kind of economy that should have a strong welfare state?

    Jeez, talk about missing the point. The whole damn reason for that extolling is to do propaganda for a winner take all system where the mighty rule and the “weak” fall by the wayside “like they deserve.” The moral of those stories is always “I dumped the system and build and entire industry with my own bare hands” and the subtext is always, “…and you’re chickenshit if you don’t too.” And the last things the winners are going to do is put up a safety net for the chickenshits.

  88. 88
    different-church-lady says:

    @Guess Who: Your retirement home is not a fucking jungle.

  89. 89
    Cmm says:

    @jibeaux:

    One thing I like about returning to shift work in field operations vs. being in CID is that time off is truly time off. When you are not there it is someone else’s problem. It isn’t all piled up waiting for you when ou get back. In CID you have on call time (only compensated if you get called in of course), everyone having your cellphone number and calling you whenever, and coming back from vacation to find 60 new cases assigned as the steady 8-12 per day continue to roll in. I didn’t realize how totally sick of it I was until I left it.

  90. 90
    different-church-lady says:

    @Schlemizel:

    These @ssholes could not keep employees because nobody was bright enough or motivated enough to do the simple jobs so when they found a ‘star’ they screwed him over until he left. And I am sure they wonder why they can’t find decent employees!

    My biz has a joke: The problem with production assistants is that just when you finally train one to go without food or sleep, they die on you.

  91. 91
    Cmm says:

    @Cassidy: For my one friend the advantage to her, as a single mom, was to be there more for her daughter. 3 12 hour shifts per week, 7pm to 7 am (I was the overnight babysitter, which was a sweet deal for me, about 1.5 hours of supervising the daughter finishing homework and getting to bed, the rest of the evening to do my own grad school stuff in a quiet comfy environment, sleep in the other twin bed in the kids room, get her up and out in the morning and drop her off at school on my way home.). She didnt pick up the extra shifts tho I am sure that is great for those who can. No coincidence that the people who can get better deals for pay, work hours etc are in the professions where demand outstrips supply.

  92. 92
    Cmm says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Dickens in Oliver Twist has a wonderful lengthy satirical bit on the same problem…the people running the workhouse and parish orphan nursery worked to balance expenditure per dependent so precisely that they could get by on the barest minimum and every time they approached success, the darn paupers would go and die. It is scary how Dickensian things are becoming again…we are accelerating past a return to the 1890s and now aiming for the 1840s. Final stop: 1300 AD when we are all serfs and vassals again!

    Seriously I think one way to adapt to this or make the craziness work better in low wage jobs is for people to figure out a way to organize groups that share housing, vehicle etc. so that someone is available for child care and money goes into a pool so the expenses are shared. It is still a low income but with shared expenses the overall pool can be stretched further. Of course you then have to deal with all the people who will take advantage and take more than they are kicking in or just flat out steal and disappear, but groups of immigrant workers and extended immigrant families make this work.

  93. 93
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Stentor: They want the reserve army of the unemployed to keep the workers in check.

  94. 94
    Cassidy says:

    @Cmm: And heavan forbid we make college accessible so that high demand professions can get filled by people who don’t live in suburban enclaves.

  95. 95
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Cmm: The problem is that you then have deal with city/town/locality ordinances that restrict the number of people who can live together or say only related people can live together or restrict the total number of people for a particular location.

  96. 96
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Steeplejack:
    Bah, I blame Firefox. Thanks.

    Ever since they decided not to show http:// in the address bar, it seems to be picky about when it chooses to include it when copying and pasting.

  97. 97
    catclub says:

    @kay: “If anyone really cared about “families” in this country it would get attention, because it makes it so hard to schedule child care, etc.”

    Both the socialist northern europeans and the lazy southern europeans actually do far better on taking care of families than the ‘faith and family friendly’ US of A’

  98. 98
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @catclub: But they are socialist and/ or lazy.

  99. 99
    Liberty60 says:

    Isn’t it funny how when investors feel insecure and are unwilling to spend their money, it is cause for panic and consternation.
    Yet when the middle class feel insecure and refuse to spend, it is considered a bracing tonic.

  100. 100
    yopd1 says:

    Anyone else see Donald Trump tried to become relevant by going after the CEO of UNICEF on Twitter. Her response was classy and classic:

    .@realDonaldTrump sorry no rolls; only a prius. fire your fact checker and help us save kids lives.

  101. 101

    @Guess Who:
    Please. Make sure you (loudly) shut down the gubbmint at least once per year before the mid-terms, too. Maybe even get the US credit rating kicked down again as a result of your tantrums.

    The prospect terrifies us.

    Really.

  102. 102
    El Cid says:

    @Liberty60: And when you want rich people to work harder and be more productive, you need to make sure they get and keep more money.

    When you want working and poor people to work harder and be more productive, you need to take away their luxuries and place them one step closer to perilous risk.

  103. 103
    nitpicker says:

    @hueyplong: Are we taking bets on which?

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    @kay:

    Some of G’s employees have to be on call for holidays, but he tries really hard to make it a rotating schedule so everyone knows ahead of time when it’s their turn to be on call for, say, Thanksgiving, so people can make their plans.

    What really drives him nuts is that he has no slack whatsoever, employee-wise, so when things come up like illnesses or family emergencies, everyone else’s schedule gets screwed up on short notice because they have exactly as many employees as they need and not one more (not even someone in another department who is cross-trained, because then that would require the other department to have more headcount than they’re allowed to have).

  105. 105
    Original Lee says:

    @RSA: Or not even back that far.

    Example: A local youth group was meeting in a church basement. A group of parents decided the meeting place needed some sprucing up, since all the furniture was dust-laden castoffs circa 1970, as were the carpet and the drapes. They spent about a year convincing the church to let them do this, they found a deal on the carpet and furniture and so on, and when the time came to install the new carpet, they discovered that the old carpet was glued to the (wait for it) asbestos tile. The carpet guy refused to have anything to do with the installation until the asbestos was remediated, so the cost shot way up. The church council refused to authorize funds to remediate the tile because everything in the basement was good enough for their kids when their kids were in the youth group, and why should these fusspot parents make things nicer for the current kids than their kids had back in the day?

    Amazing.

    (Edited for clarity.)

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