I get it. The Great Resignation during the grips of COVID has made people question a lot around the current dynamic around our work and careers. Working long hours, commuting long distances for decent work while trying to find and maintain affordable rents, the constant duality between selling out for a better pay verses working for a job you love but with lower pay.
Not as frequently discussed is how much employers are loading extra work onto employees who are staying, because of ”staff shortages”, yet not compensating them for the extra workloads. Or the people who get promoted but don’t want it.
However, some are taking a more radical approach, and it’s called ”the anti-work movement”:
[S]ome people are going further, wondering aloud if there’s purpose to their work – or the economic system itself. These people are part of the ‘anti-work’ movement, which seeks to do away with the economic order that underpins the modern workplace. Anti-work, which has roots in anarchist and socialist economic critique, argues that the bulk of today’s jobs aren’t necessary; instead, they enforce wage slavery and deprive workers of the full value of their output.
That doesn’t mean there would be no work, however. Supporters of the anti-work movement believe people should self-organise and labour only as much as needed, rather than working longer hours to create excess capital or goods.—BBC Worklife, «The rise of the anti-work movement»
I’m not going to go the usual route that certain jobs are meant for teenagers, like babysitting and flipping burgers. I think all jobs should only hire for full-time, permanent positions—even fast-food joints. These jobs should be providing 40 hours per week at a wage that a person can live comfortably and not worry about making ends meet from paycheck to paycheck, or without having to live off food stamps or other welfare benefits (which should be saved for the elderly, those on long-term or permanent disability, those who got laid off, single parents with deadbeat ex-partners, and so on). No ”temps”, no rotation shifts (if multiple shifts are needed at places like factories, only hire for say just daytime or second-shift), no seasonal workers, no contract workers. Produce and store things year-around, so during holidays when people buy more, you’re not forcing workers to produce more nor need to hire ”seasonals” to meet quotas—that extra product you had your full-time workers produce and store year-round are working constantly, and you can meet your purchase goals and shipments. If a company is short-staffed and is placing extra work on their current staff, they should get compensated accordingly (of course, once more workers are hired and workloads are lightened, I also agree then that wage should be reduced back to prior wage rates).
It seems very funny to me, that one of the guys mentioned in the article above thinks he doesn’t ”need” to work anymore, so he can be home to help his family around the house. It must be quite nice living in a society where everyone else works to produce for all your needs and desires, to think you don’t ”need” to work. If we all took this attitude, who will produce and supply us our food, our electricity, our entertainment, our electricity?
Not of all us know how to take care of our electricity when the wiring goes kaput, when the car needs tuning and maintenance, fix our plumbing when something goes awry, especially how to troubleshoot our electronic devices when they fubar.
I do wish wages increased yearly to keep up with the rising costs of living. I wish I could afford living on my own, but right now the cheapest apartments either require me to drive substantially, or require me to have a partner or roommate to afford them—and after my time in Missoula, I’d rather live in my parents’ basement or live with someone I know (friend or someday-future-girlfriend) than share a flat with a stranger again.
I also think retail especially is in need of an overhaul. The above-mentioned full-time, permanent, consistent schedules. Managers need to better stick up for their workers when customers are rude or hostile, rather than take the customers’ side; as well be given permission to throw out rude and hostile customers without fear of demotion or firing. Restaurants should be forced to pay employees’ wages, rather than force customers to tip to cover wages—tips should be extra, not required, as like in other countries.
I think permanent, full-time work at wages people can live comfortably with will stress out workers far less, and promote productivity.
The idea of “universal income” will incur too many freeloaders. People will end up not working, and then further insist it’s ”not enough” to live off of. They would accordingly insist their food be free, utilities be free, basics be free—not understanding that the funding the workers to provide the essentials have to come from somewhere, and this would increase taxes, taxes the working public can’t afford unless we all benefit from it. At that point, we must as well encourage a planned economy, and people would get reshuffled from jobs they may currently like, into jobs that are necessary to provide for the masses but they would end up hating. (I work a factory job already; not a dream job, but other than the issue with affordable housing, it pays for all my bills, even my car payments.)
If the ”revolution” were going to happen, I’m not going to involve myself. I worked hard to medically, socially, and legally transition so I could finally live a ”normal”, low-key life as a working member of society, not as a “queer revolutionary”. I have found a job that is needed locally and globally regardless of the economic model; I work with a great team, have decent benefits, and see potential career advancement—and that is all I need, as I just want to live comfortably, as I have no need nor desire beyond the basics and a few luxuries.
The system is broken; I don’t know the answer, but it’s also not my job to provide one.