Guest Blogger: Kreisler On "Work"
Oh, great. I'm first? I get all the "this guy sucks" comments* until everyone realizes Lee's engaging in some selfish socio-politico-bloggero experiment to prove the axiom that "absence makes the heart grow Ruder."
Well, fuck that guy.
He wants me to write about work? Work? WTF do I know about work? What is work? Seriously, how's it defined in America? How's that definition changing? Who's helping or hurting the cause? Is asking a series of questions to readers selectively inclined to agree with my worldview "work?" What do you think?
So, me.** As a Slash - comedian/author/speaker/editor/producer/radio-talky-talker/actor/crotch adjuster - I don't really have a "job," but I'd venture that the freelancers amongst us tend work a more that those with traditional jobs. Can't avoid taking work home with you if you work from home, #IfYouKnowWhatIMean***
The truth is, most of my work time isn't doing work, it's administrating work. This is what's so hard about a freelance, project-based career. I just want to work, I want someone to give me a meager check and say, "Do what you do." I don't want to spend 90% of my time convincing people I'm worth that check, waiting for it in the mail, then making them replace it with cash because there is no Bank of Northern GetARealJobYouHippyStan.
This is what makes the idiotic political battles over the economy so infuriating to me. We're missing the point.
Ours is an economy that needs to support the flexible, project-based worker, because that's what we've got left. Brick and mortar industries don't last generations anymore. If they're lucky, some product will have a 5-7 year shelf life - think Palm Pilots, Priuses, the word "artisanal."**** We're careening towards what some call the "free-agent economy." And the need to support that shift and that free agent worker - with stuff like broadband, high speed rail, education that focuses on thinking not facts, health-fking-care - should be a focus of our economic policy. But it's not.
Ya see, I still believe America's strength is in our brains, despite evidence to the contrary. Our ability to think, to take chances, to adapt both individually and in the aggregate. Our ability to Innovate. To see problems others wouldn't dare confront and find creative solutions: Separation of Powers, Kitty Hawk, the Egg McMuffin.*****
In order to find these solutions, to take these leaps, to Innovate, we must have the support system to do so. We must be able to take chances, there must be something to, if not catch us when we fall, at least cushion the blow. But that's not the economy we have right now, nor what we're building. Right now, the innovators can only be those with their own support system, their own safety net (said the guy with the fall-back law degree). That's why, right now, this free agent economy is only for white collar, professional work. Everyone else is too scared by 10% unemployment and health care costs and outsourcing and college tuition and Hudson River tolls and cell phone bills and Charlie Sheen to take a chance.
So, yet again, I question/mock/hate the self-applied "pro-business" label of the "pro-business" Right and what they've done to us. An empowered, innovative, engaged workforce helps business. Modern infrastructure helps business. Public goods - education, fire fighters, national defense, lower crime, clean water - help business. Business should be in partnership with, not ownership of, the workforce.
But the Right doesn't want this. They want a drone workforce***** until it is not just cheaper, but easier, to farm it all out overseas, which is where they're keeping their profits anyway. For stuff that has to be made here, we'll have a workforce with so few rights, such limited skills, so little flexibility that they'll beg for the paltry wages, negative benefits, and 25 hour work days they're gracious enough to offer. And if they keep pumping us full of crap and demonizing efforts to get healthy and to learn and to engage politically then they won't even need to build moats around their gated communities, we'll be too exhausted, diabetic and scared by the physics of battering rams to storm the ramparts.
Innovation? They'll decide what to innovate based upon their bottom line, and you'll make it and buy it and promote it on your t-shirt.
This is where the Right has taken our economic dialogue. We're arguing over how to maintain a dying industrial model, rather than how to forge a new one. And that sucks.
Look, Universe knows, I don't want every industry turned into the hellscape of showbiz, where talent, skill, and hard work have little bearing on advancement and potential is routinely wasted,******* but it would be nice if our economy focused on tapping the true potential of the American worker, based upon a collective embrace of our long-term interests and an honest understanding of the evolving definition of "work."
* If Rude had the balls to allow comments.
** I was supposed to write about making it as a lawyer turned comic, but, again, fuck that guy. And by that guy, I sorta mean me (one Native American teardrop).
*** These will be my last words just before Lee stabs me.
**** Please die soon.
***** You know what industry really gets the real potential of the American worker? Finance. Why do you think they're making all the money? They understand what Americans do best is innovate, and they milk that. The brain drain isn't overseas, it's into finance: Our greatest minds don't cure cancer or end hunger or create hydroelectricsolarwindbeeffart energy technologies…. but ways to make money by moving money around, skimming 2% off the top.
****** As for Rick Perry creating jobs which are a) minimum wage or less, b) energy industry based, and c) at the expense of education, investment, and health insurance, I'll just say this: I miss Molly Ivins. (Also: Fuck that guy).
******* Whoops. "Bitter" does-not-equal "rude."