Having a job in America means being subjected to continuous, intimate surveillance

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/06/mumble-mumble-mumble.html


late stage capitalism.


Really, the only ‘late stage’ bit is in the fact that we already Taylorized the easy cases(particularly in manufacturing) ages ago; but packed the technology to properly turn the screws on ‘knowledge workers’ and the subtler details of service-sector labor until relatively recently. The spirit has been willing for a long time, however.


The HR Culture continues to evolve the supportive mechanisms for its guard labour in innovative ways as it serves its corporate masters.


Yep, that’s how it happened folks.


Ditch digging as a job looks better and better every day.


EVAN: It also monitors your toilet visits and scans your retinas every 80 seconds.

MANNY: Why’s that?

EVAN: Just making sure you’re still you! Some people might call that invasive, but we like to think is shows we care, see ya later.

Black Books, S03/E01 "Manny Come Home


Now, employers are fining employees who refuse to wear junk-science fitness trackers (that is “offering health insurance discounts” to people who “opt in” to wearing them).

So if I give Alice something nice, that’s the same as taking something away from Bob? Christmas is gonna suck this year.

since i like eating? and having the money to buy said food? I’m kinda stuck with it.

bend over - take it. you still like eating, right???

I remember a conversation I had with my mom about similar concepts - “gatekeeping” practices in online job applications, invasive information gathering, and whatnot - during the recession. She thought I was being overly-paranoid.
Now that she went through a period of unemployment herself recently, I would like to revisit that conversation with her and ask her how she feels.


I remember the thrill, from roughly the late 80’s to late 90’s, that me and my mates felt regarding how computers were going to usher in a new era of freedom of expression, shift power to the powerless, transfer wealth to the needy, etc., etc. Boy were we stupid, and spoiled, and ignorant.


Exercise caution. Nothing enrages people like correctness retrospectively recognized.


We’re good. She now realizes it truly was difficult to find a job where I could actually have some self-respect and autonomy, especially during the recession, when it was an employer’s market.


I have a constant feeling of trying to hold back the tide.

As long as my nice North American salary remains about 3 times higher than it would be in India or China, my company is going to be under constant pressure to out-source me, or, failing that, trying to extract every last ounce of productivity from me they can.

I don’t see that pressure changing until the dam breaks and I get swallowed by the great equalization, and lose 2/3rds of my salary (and the rest of the world’s salary goes up by a few percent).

However, at that point, I’m cheap enough that there just isn’t another person around the corner with my skills at a lower price, and I’m back to having some workplace bargaining power.

Which sounds good, except for the living on cat food in a 1 bed-room apartment part :-).

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Late-stage human ownership


F*ckin’ A, Man.


“When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we’ve brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they’re making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y’know what? There’s only four things we do better than anyone else:
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery”


The lunchroom still has a microwave?

It’s all good.

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I think that this is linked to what Pickety calls “neo-feudalism”. The relationship between members of society concentrates between two classes. The member of the lower classes are ready to accept a lot of abuse just for the privilege of still being a member of society. We would need an historian to confirm, but I think that the peasants of the middle age accepted their lower status.

That is the current evolution of the workplace: people do not have a job for the money alone, they want to avoid the status stigma of being jobless. They associate that status with being destitute. In Europe where they have a relatively good social protection system, you will still see people wanting to have “a job”, while they earn very little in addition to the basic surviving money a jobless person gets. The fact that they have “a job” is worth something in itself and that perceived worth is much higher than one would think. People are ready to ge through many vexations to keep that status.


Great article. I’ve written a piece for Psychology Today on the same subject: "Your Boss is Watching You: The Employee Monitoring Explosion."