The Gilded Age II

Sometimes people actually write decent comments on articles. The New York Times just published “The No-Limits Job” about, essentially, people in my generation working ridiculous hours for ridiculously low pay or no pay at all. While most commenters seemed busy defending their choice to work too much for too little, “Change for the Better” brought up something that I, at least, worry about. How are the changes in the landscape of entry-level positions changing the outlook for equality, social justice, and socio-economic mobility?

Change for the Better   West Coast

NYT Pick

With high unemployment of college graduates, MBA’s and graduate students, this is unfair labor practice. Many organizations– libraries, clinics, animal shelters, hospitals, businesses– use free labor, consequently the pool of unemployed people who can’t work for free increases.

Meanwhile, graduates without “experience” are passed over, keeping this type of almost slave labor supplied with a steady pool of highly educated, motivated labor. However, those in the lower socio-economic echelons don’t have parents who can subsidize this, which leads to greater inequality.

Most often this is called ‘efficient” or clever, but it is costly in the overall health of our society. Thank you for writing this article.

March 2, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.

I’m not looking for sympathy for my generation or the socio-economic class I grew up in. It’s just that I worry about the cultural values taking root right now.

I’m fine with a full 40 hours worth of a work week. That amount of time offers a fair balance to work and life. What does it say if we are not only willing, but expected to put in far more than that? 50, 60, 70 hours a week?

Not only are those types of work weeks mentally and physically exhausting, they cannot be good for productivity. I know that for me just knowing I’ll be working more than 8 hours slows my productivity, no matter what I try to prevent it. Add the mental and physical exhaustion that accompanies working that much and what do you get? Quite honestly, shoddy work. It is not possible to churn out the best products, analyses, etc. if you are running on exhaustion-levels of sleep.

So what do we value exactly? Not good work, not work-life balance, not making sure workers are at the very least healthy and sane. Apparently we value big time-spenders.

If you can spend your time without much return, you get to be slightly promoted to get slightly closer, but not much, to what your time is worth.

Welcome to the Second American Gilded Age, friends, but this time without the economic growth.

Have I mentioned how negative I’ve been feeling lately?

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