Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All the Glory none of the Work?: Ah Capitalism


I received a request via email to post my opinion on why it is that those of us who work the hardest, seem to harvest the least amount of glory. Hmmmm. This got me thinking. Now, I know that the person who requested this post was half kidding. I also know that she is one of the hardest working people I have ever met, and she is right... she doesn't get the credit due for the work she does. Or does she?

We live in a capitalism. Do any of you remember the Seuss story "
Yertle the Turtle?" If not, read it. But the gist is that Yertle would be king of all he could see, so he ordered the other turtles to stand on top of each other so he could climb on their heads and backs and stomp on them in order to see more and more of the world...making him king of more and more and more. Unlike our society, there is a massive proletariat, Marxian uprising in the book... but Seuss was an amazing sociologist, in my opinion, and should be studied by anyone interested in sociology.

Capitalism is a work of art. It is. And not all fine art suits everyone's taste. I have been to museums with friends and children who look at Picasso or Pollack and say things like "I could do that." And I have to tell them, emphatically, "NO, you could not." AND THEN I have to show them the earlier work, classically and undeniably fantastic, that both men created. The genius was there, the luxury of freedom came after hard work. That is the American Dream. Do CEO's of companies do less of the grunt work? Yep. Does the "big boss" do a lot more sitting and ordering around of harder working underlings? Yep. Do the supervisors take credit for the work done by the peons in the department? Yep. That is the way it rolls.

Is this fair? Sometimes. When the well oiled machine that is the mechanics of our financial system is putt, putting along as it should, it all works out. A good manager will take credit for the work of the workers in his/her employ because he can rationalize that is was his/her management skills that led them to do the fine work. He/she will also give some sort of credit to the worker. Credit can be something as little as a pat on the back, or as large as a promotion, but if the manager if doing their job, they will reward their workers somehow.

And then there are the workers who never get that pat on the back. Who never hear "nice job!" or "The company would be lost without you." In those cases, the workers remain unhappy and in the end, the product (a shirt, a bolt, an education) suffers.

My friend gets no reward. No pat on the back. No nada... and she is right to complain. She is also looking for another job. This is how the management will suffer. They will lose her. They will lose her and have to re- train someone else and only hope to get one tenth of the loyalty out of their new hire as they got out of her. That is where she will get the glory, even if it is after she is long gone.

It is sometimes very hard for us, in the middle of the
forest, to understand how our glory reveals itself. The truth is that a hard worker at work is also a hard worker at life. Our lives are a much better indicator of whether or not we are appreciated. What kind of people surround you? Are you respected in your home? Do you have a strong marriage or union or relationship? Are you able to appreciate the fine, subtle, grains of sand like moments of bliss that are present with every breath? If you look at those questions and are able to answer them in positive ways, you are already basking in glory. And to you (and you know who you are!) I see you rolling in glory, girl! All you have to do is look all around you.

Ahhh Capitalism. When it works, it works. When it doesn't, it self corrects. How? People. Free people who decide that they are better off somewhere else, doing work that fulfills them and makes them proud. Good people make good bosses, good bosses make a great workforce, a great workforce makes a great product and a great product sells... even in a bad economy.

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