Camperforce: Laura Poitras documentary on the elderly precariat nomads who keep Amazon's warehouses working


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/05/end-of-retirement.html


#2

Large settlements of these folks are in the Mojave Desert. While researching a retirement home I personally had contact with such a settlement. The cross section of careers & skills was impressive to say the least. They’re highly resilient and well fortified living arrangements are almost envious. The have a well tuned hierarchy that takes care of any trespassers to petty grievances amongst their own, it was really fascinating.

We bought a house in Joshua Tree, running H2o and all that ya’ know.


#3

I can’t help but think that we are progressing from “Late state capitalism,” to Aesop’s “It’s my nature” as the CEO class stings to death the very middle class that is ferrying them across the river.


#4

Wow, that’s interesting. It’s a shame that only Amazon is stepping up to help these people? Makes me feel a little bit better about shopping there.


#5

Yes, but the DOW just hit an all time high, massive tax cuts to all the working classes, measured unemployment percentage too low to bother and Hillary.


#6

i was watching Youtube vids a year ago aimed at van dwelling telling how to get a job as part of Amazon’s Camper force. It wasn’t specifically age orientated, more of a guide for folks that didn’t want to do the 9-5, or couldn’t afford to live in a brick and mortar home.


#7

Is it a matter of Amazon specifically helping this group of people, or is Amazon taking advantage of a workforce that may have few other options?

If I want to support a company that appears to have more on the ball ethically, I’ll buy Costco.


#8

Not just Amazon, if you watch the show


#9

Hey, if Costco wants to compete for these workers, I’d have absolutely no problem with that. That would be fantastic!


#10

You seem to really love watching others scramble as they get crushed underfoot in the race to the bottom. How did you acquire such affection for predatory neoliberalism?


#11

It ends with quite a kicker: the Camperforce is being displaced by people in their 30s who have given up on ever owning a home

The Millenials displacing the seniors now would be well advised to start voting for politicians and parties that value human persons more than corporate ones, lest they find themselves in the same place as the Boomers 35-40 years from now with even fewer starting resources in an economy where these warehouses are more automated.

Some of the Boomers who supported the last 35 years of “free” market extremism have really screwed themselves over, but the poor saps who are now being squeezed out of the last-ditch jobs they had to take after being wiped out in 2007-8 are still a relative minority within the generation.

As things are trending, Gen X will be the last American generation whose members will still have a somewhat decent shot at getting through their “golden years” without having to depend on the prospect of brain-numbing and body-destroying gig work (assuming it’s not taken by robots) to finance their semi-homelessness.

Here’s a thought: how about the government actually stepping in to help future versions of these people (perhaps including you) by doing things like providing single-payer universal health coverage or, even better, not continuing to deregulate the markets in ways that allow their retirement savings to vanish into the pockets of speculators. Perhaps then we as a nation won’t be in the ridiculous and embarrassing position of praising companies for hiring desperate people at rock-bottom labour prices (which, I assure you, is not a charitable endeavour).


#12

Precariat is a great term. First time I’ve heard it.


#13

Yep, a useful term indeed. It’s been kept off corporate media for a fair while now, along with other terms with which it chimes well, like say, neoliberalism, oligarch and plutocracy.


#14

Yes seems to be a whole interesting thread there, which I intend to follow up on. I see the Wikipedia page associates it with basic income, another idea which, without presently knowing the whole argument, seems very appealing to me. Appreciate the link.


#15

Not to worry, they’re funding the R&D for the robots to replace the little people. /s


#16

Another one that follows logically:


#17

A well-written blog. I’ve bookmarked it, thx.


#18

I got the exact opposite impression. Building a whole economy of part-time workers doesn’t seem like a great idea at all.


#19

i worked for amazon as a “flex” driver for about a month, maybe longer. not a pleasant experience, especially if youve delivered professionally beforehand. i think the setup is catered to uber or lyft drivers who want to hustle even more than they already do. I assume most of them are used to this technocratic kind of work, with only a faceless app to answer to and no support at all.

It wouldnt have been so bad if they had had a functioning app, seeing as the entire operation hinged on it. it would crash constantly, often right after you made a delivery and got photos of all the QR tags on the packages, marking what you just delivered as late or undelivered still.


#20

also worked for postmates for an even shorter period, talk about a hellish job. They still email me about coming back to their digital chaingang of drivers, i wont do it tho. Ive also received emails about a class action lawsuit against them, to the tune of 8 million bucks

The worst part of postmates work was the cheapskates that would order 1 (one) free chik fil A sandwich or a free fucking starbucks drink and nothing else. Especially because the clerks would refuse to fulfill these orders when i actually got to the stores