A Slight Attitude Problem in Management

Antique theories of economics assume that labor is labor, that any worker can move this box from one place to another the same as any other worker. This is not even close to the truth, even in the case of moving boxes. Even so, many who should know better accept these disproven theories as fact, and attempt to explain the current economic situation with them. These decrepit theories also assume a bunch of other falsehoods that mislead us, but the immediate fallacy is that workers are interchangeable, and therefore have low value.

Antique theories of economics assume
that any worker can do any job.

Very few instances of this error are more arrogant, unproductive, and generally evil than the following example.

In the 1990s, Bridgestone Tire management imposed a bunch of wildly unpopular changes at their Illinois plant, including significant pay cuts and 12-hour work days. They didn’t so much as mention these things to the workers or their union before they were imposed. Naturally, the union voted to strike, and for three years Bridgestone could only operate the factory part of the time with non-union workers, under the assumption that one worker was like another, and any of them could do any job. But the tires these workers made were 15 times more likely to be faulty, and they caused dozens of accidents, a number of them fatal. Bridgestone lost billions in legal settlements and had to recall 15M tires. The company lost half its value, and the Illinois plant closed. What do you suppose the moral of this story should be?

Unfortunately, the attitude of management at Bridgestone Illinois is still all too common, and is enshrined in Republican mythology, where nearly half of all Americans are moochers who don’t take responsibility for their own lives and the only really worthy people are owners of businesses. Workers are assumed to be interchangeable and equally (un)talented. Therefore, anyone can do any job. In reality, I seriously doubt that a single one of the executives at that Bridgestone plant could do a single one of the skilled jobs they so disparaged, particularly not week after week. Nor would they deign to do it for the previous higher worker wage, let alone the much lower one they imposed. It is the attitude of the prince toward the peon, the plutocrat toward the laborer, the master toward the slave, and it is malicious and evil.

Presuming that ordinary people are interchangeable,
as Republicans have said they believe,
is a despicable attitude that
has no place in a democracy.

Presuming that ordinary people are interchangeable, or worthless, as Republicans have said they believe, is a despicable attitude that has no place in a democracy, where it is the people who are supposed to be central, not the mega-rich plutocracy. Further, Republican attempts to beat down all those not-rich is counter-productive and short-sighted, leading to a nation of gross inequality and excessive need to spend tax money to support people who are unable to live on the substandard wages they earn working full time. The inevitable result of such policy is an expanding welfare requirement and declining levels of education and economic competitiveness, which hurts even the corporations that advocate for it.

We have solid proof that a thriving middle class brings with it high levels of economic wellbeing, because that is exactly what happened after WWII, when labor unions were at their strongest. Their decline since the seventies has been accompanied by diminished fortunes for everyone but the rich, and is championed by Republican business owners everywhere, who mistakenly suppose that it is only they themselves who are valuable, and the rest of us are nothing more than incompetent, lazy riffraff, to be paid as little as possible.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You reminded me of this part of The Dictator:


    • Hahaha satire at its best. A tiny elite running the country for their personal gain? Surely America would never accept that? Oh wait . . .


  2. Hilarious–or painful.


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