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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, November 25, 2006

The jobs program

Wow, did you do this for college as well?

Drifty has this up

.......... Because while I do not believe in the draft as a apparatus for democratizing or destratifying our class system, it is also undeniable that the military is most definitely our National Jobs Program, and has been for decades.

Army ads and recruiters since I was little certainly mentioned duty and honor, but the real Hard Sell was always jobs and college. The guys I grew up with, the ones that joined did so almost universally because they were bright and poor and had no scratch for college.

Hell, when base closure debates boil over, the argument is virtually never about risking national security.

It’s about jobs.

It is always, always, always about the economic impact of yanking X-number of soldiers or sailors out of my district.

And let’s be crystal clear. I am not arguing that the military should be a jobs program; I am arguing that it is, and has been for as long as I can remember.

So let’s talk about jobs and service for a little bit.

Some time ago, owing to some very weird circumstances, I had occasion to listen in on some hotel guys talking about their business.

Some depressed hotel guys.

There are lots of problems in their industry, but a lot of it comes down to this: Ideally, the people you want to manage properties have to go through what amounts to a long apprenticeship before they to get to the top. And once there, they aren’t going to make a ton of money.

So basically candidates are being offered the chance to slog through years of long, hard labor for the chance to make a salary they could otherwise get the day they walk out of a decent MBA program or law school. Or so they believe.

The hotel guys’ “solution” so far as I could tell (It was dim. There was liquor.) circled around these dual propositions:

1. Salary isn’t everything, and
2. Service to others is an honorable calling that needs to be revived in this country.

My reactions were:

1. You’re right.
2. You’re screwed.

Because any business plan that begins “OK, first we’ll reverse American culture to make people want to work for us” is doomed to fail.

Doomed, I tell’s ya, because we have done far, far too good a job in this country explaining to people in every social class, using words of one syllable, that if you do your thing for love or the common good, you’re a mush-skulled hippy idjit destined for a work farm, or a cardboard box on Super Lower Wacker, or a pauper’s grave after your cherce meats have been harvested.

We don’t have hero teachers and RNs here. I profoundly wish we did, but we don’t. We have “Wall Street” heroes. We have rock star pro athletes and CEOs who are paid like pashas for what are basically culturally irrelevant skills, and then celebrated for their salaries.

We honor privilege and bling, not service.

We tell people here, in no uncertain terms, that you aren’t what you do; you are what you’re paid, regardless of what iniquities you may commit to make your nut. And if you don’t play our American Game knives-out, you ‘re stupid.

And stupid people deserve what they get.

It is a perfect, brutal little downward spiral that makes us less humane and more bestial every day. And you can take the measure of a man – friend of foe – quick and easy by finding out if he stands opposed to this perversion of honorable living, or if he is counseling that we grease the skids, crank up the RPMs and make the abattoir run faster and more efficiently.

In other words, downsize and outsource faster!!

The WalMart model of keeping everyone too poor to shop anywhere else, working three jobs and skimping on health care to afford even that -- increasingly practiced in industry after industry from Detroit to Denver -- is the apotheosis of this vision of America: A few at the top, tens of expendable millions at the bottom, and nothing but statistical freaks and outliers in between.

posted by Steve @ 1:00:00 AM

1:00:00 AM

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