Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Technocomony

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” The Shawshank Redepmtion

Memory loss, not job loss, may be the worst effect technology has had on our society and economy if we’re to judge by Obama’s comments in an interview with NBC’s Ann Curry. He’s clearly suffering from technology-induced amnesia or Alzheimers if he doesn’t remember technology is what got him elected.

He’s forgotten all those Ipod, Blackberry-carrying shills of his who put their boots on the ground to drum up the youth vote. He must have forgotten his website (which allowed donors to donate money without identifying their nationality). He must have forgotten all those social networking sites where his cheerleaders anonymously talked him up to the kids, who didn’t realize they were hacks sitting behind banks of computers luring them in.

Ohhhhh….that technology. Yeahhhh. He forgot about that. That’s probably why he needs a teleprompter because his memory is gone. All he sees are his golden words, his soaring prose, his insights and wisdom scrolling up the screen. He doesn’t see all the wiring and electronics behind it. But, if he wants to go back to writing his speeches on the index cards, that’s fine with us. He might actually have to learn how to look at the audience, no his ghostly image on the teleprompter screen. He might have to learn to ad lib without stammering.

Obama sure remembers his Karl Marx, though. Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, railed on about the havoc industrialization and mechanization would have on the workforce of the future.

“The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production was monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guildmasters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labor [see Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations] between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labor in each simple workshop.

“Meanwhile, the markets kept on growing [with the discovery of America and the advancement of world trade]; demand went on rising. Manufacturing was no longer able to keep up with this growth. Then, steam and machinery revolutionized industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant modern industry [Marx’ highlight]; the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires [!!!], the leaders of whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois [boo, hiss!!]

Still, Marx observes:

“Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way [so that’s why the world hates us]. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land [what he think of satellite technology?!]. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

“We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie it is itself the production of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.”

The smarter people, who created the new innovations and creations, risked their capital on them, and gave jobs to people who would otherwise still be working on a feudal lord’s farm, have pushed those somewhat less capable people into the background. Shocking!

There is good news for Marxists like Obama and his cheerleaders – beat them with their own Ipads.

“From time to time, the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers. This union is helped by the improved means of communications that are created by modern industry and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another.”

Use the technology those evil capitalists have created to call upon your union brothers and sisters to descend upon Madison, Wisc., to occupy and vandalize the capitol building to protest the governor’s budget cuts. They have to protect those teacher’s rights to lifetime health care and vacation homes.

My company has made good use of current technology. So good that they employed us writers to communicate management’s intentions to do away with our jobs. How funny is that? My co-workers met the news with varying degrees of dismay, especially the writers who had to write the executive communications (which I skirted away from – I’m not anti-management, but I’m not going to sign my own job death warrant, either).

Our first notice was the Spring of 2010. Just a hint or two. The company was doing a job production study. “You’re going to fire us?” I thought. Oh no, they said (my supervisor reads this – don’t worry, S.D. I’m just a fan of irony, that’s all). They were just studying our jobs to see how we could do our work more efficiently.

Uh-huh. Except I worked for a company that specialized in such studies, and the result of such studies was down-sizing. That’s when I started my blog. Then at a meeting that summer, our managers announced that an announcement would be coming in December. We were given a bit more of a hint about what was coming. I bought some economics books because I knew in my future state of employment, it was a subject I would definitely need to know. All that the managers would say was that there would be fewer jobs, but not too much of a cut, and that in comparison to other companies, our company’s public relations department was too big.

Uh-oh. See – the thing is, my brother works in the construction trade. He asked me to come to his office (about ten minutes away) to take photos of a project he was heading up. I wondered that they didn’t have their own photographer. They did, but she was too busy. She was curious to hear about how large our department was. I told her the number of communications people we had.

“You need that many people?” she asked, incredulous. “We have four people for our entire company, two web designers, one writer and one writer/photographer [her].” My brother’s company is international; they have offices all over the world.”

‘Double uh-oh!!’ I thought. By December, I knew exactly how much trouble we were in. I was hardly surprised when the manager told me that I could apply for any writing job except the one in my area. They said external public relations people’s jobs were on the block to, but as this, I scoffed. No way. They need those people on the ground, in the communities, holding those photo ops. That’s not something you can do from a computer. It’s the writing and web design jobs that are going to.

I began ordering books on my favorite topics – politics and history. I’ve discussed some of them here on this blog. I’ve made quite a lot of progress, from The 5,000 Year Leap, to Liberty and Tyranny, to The Coming Insurrection (scary stuff), not to mention The Grand Jihad (go, Andrew McCarthy! He’s one of my favorite authors). A few books I already knew to read. I just finished up on Paul Revere: His Life and Times (that’s my next post, I think) and started on The Real George Washington – so far, I LOVE it!! This bio has all the wonderful details that allow you to really get to know him, the details that will really make you remember our first president, as an individual and as a true hero.

I haven’t just been reading these books but taking notes on them as well. You fans of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck think they’re taskmasters (especially Glenn Beck). But if you really believe in the Conservative cause, you must do the reading. You must be literate and conversant on those subjects I mentioned – history, economics, and politics. The teachers are not going to teach your children and grandchildren these subjects; you can’t depend upon them. Their first loyalty is to their unions, not their students.

You need to get directly involved with your local school boards as well. They’re the ones who make the decisions on curriculums and what textbooks your kids are going to be reading. Leave it up to the teachers, and your kids will be reading My Mommies Have Two Daddies.

At our Tea Party meeting this past week, we listened to a school board member describe what it was like to be on a school board. Constant battles with the unions, too many empty seats in the auditorium, and too much money being spent on the wrong budget items. One of out every one of you parents out there needs to get to that school board meeting. Most are held once a month, as I recollect, so it’s not like it’s a big time commitment. Never mind the kid’s soccer game; that school board meeting is much more vital to your child’s future. In fact, bring them with you and let them see what a stand-up Mom or Dad you are.

I digress. So much has been happening what with Weinergate and Obama’s War on the ATMs. This week, our company took us down to the next level of transition – the really bad news. Up until this time, our managers told us we were in a pretty good place and my co-workers believed it. We went on churning those happy-face memos and articles.

Alas, the time had come to drop the ball. I sincerely believe that our corporate offices were leading our local managers and supervisors along. I don’t think my supervisor knew what was coming. She’s a nice person. Unfortunately, as she and I have discussed, it’s the Day of the Bean Counter. I’ve already told her I no more believe that there’s a place for me in the New Order than that I’m going to be find the Fountain of Youth and be 25 forever.

She knows I’ve been looking and figure on looking. As long as I didn’t tip off my co-workers (which she knew I would never do and didn’t), everything was okay between us. Poor S.D. They say she looked so shocked when she heard the news. She’s such a nice person, she came down from our upstate New York offices to visit with our group to see how we were taking it. The young woman who took it the worst wasn’t in that day because of jury duty.

We weren’t fine. That would be a lie. It’s never really “fine” to hear that you job is going away. Some of us may have some small chance at the new jobs. Others know we’ll be looking outside our company. Nearly all of them have been with the company over 15 years. They can understand changes in technology. Most of them have benefited, at least in the long run, by those changes. They’ll go into the job market with greater skills than they had when they began back when they still layed out the magazine in typeset.

By lunch we were laughing and joking. We could either cry, “Boo-hoo! I’ve lost my job!” Or shout, “Yahoo!! I’ve lost my job!” I’m somewhere in between. What will be hardest to say good-bye to (after the paycheck) is all the friends we’ve made. It’s been very convenient having so many friends in one place, for so long (it’ll be 14 years at the end of November).

That’s where technology comes to the rescue. Friends I thought were long since gone have returned on Facebook. I can e-mail or Facebook them any time (but working hours) I want. Technology has made it possible to keep in touch with your friends. How great is that? One person who will never be on my FB page is Obama.

The next day, after the Big Announcement, I went to Best Buy and bought my own router. Tomorrow, I’m going to give myself one of those Ipads for Father’s Day. I need to be prepared to prove I know and am familiar with this new technology. I want to be able to type as quickly as I see the young people typing – with their thumbs. That will be my new skill set – typing 80 WPM on a keyboard about the size of my credit card.

At this announcement, they announced that they had no idea when the interviews for the new positions would begin. They have no idea yet of what the pay or job titles will be (how’s that for being prepared for the future? Sorry, S.D. ) . The word along the optic cable wires is the interviews will begin in September. Since our managers are hoping for October, but our Corporate offices have let them down every step along this transition route, it probably will be September, to be completed by November. By January 1st, Corporate expects to be up and running.

Anyone who expects to get their severance pay must apply for one of the new positions. Lower level employees can’t apply for positions above pay-grade (that’s been a standard practice with this company since I began there) but higher level employees and managers may post for lower level positions. The company won’t force us to accept a position more than 50 miles or one hour commute away or is below our current pay level (unless we want it).

They passed out an expensive-looking PowerPoint presentation, 75 pages long, giving us all the details that were available and they were willing to disclose. Our manager is such a laugh. She told us to flip ahead any pages but wait for her. ‘Do not the flip the pages.’ Our video guys raced either other to see who could find the bad news first. Always being the one to get caught, I discreetly flipped the page and found it – just what I expected – immediately.

It was still a depressing shock but I had the comfort of knowing that I’d known it all along and was in the midst of preparations. Tomorrow – the Ipad. I’ll have to rearrange my service providers. Still have to figure out how that all works. But I’ll be one step closer to my future.

Whether you’re expecting a lay-off or Doomsday in 2012, the secret is to be prepared. I started preparing for this eventuality back when I was deciding on where to live and what I was going to live in. I decided a condo was the most practical option financially and logistically (less space to clean and more time to devote to writing). I decided on ownership rather than renting because I didn’t want a landlord telling what I could and couldn’t have. I shopped around and got the place on a short-sale (unfortunately for the seller).

We’ve been guessing when the “end” will come for our jobs. The company has assured us (and in this I trust them), that the date will be sometime in the first quarter of 2012. Knowing these Bean Counters, I’m counting on the first business day of January. Others are hoping for March 31st. That would be nice; March 30th will be my 16th anniversary of owning my condo. That will mean four years left on my mortgage. I can manage, one way or another.

At the most optimistic, I’ll have until next August to adequate means to support myself. At the worst, next May. This is where we have to play The Game. Happily, my anniversary date will be past. One of my poor co-workers in one of the other offices has a February anniversary date. The glum news is we’ll be competing with our managers and supervisors for jobs (that’s okay, S.D. Don’t worry about it.). The better news is we’ll know fairly quickly what that final date is before we have to start sending out the resumes. If it’s March 31st (and I doubt it) that will be the better news. If it’s January 1st (that’s the not so good news). One savvy co-worker thinks it’ll be Jan. 31st. It could be worst.

I tell you all this personal stuff not to bore you but so you understand why you have to think ahead and be prepared for every day. How technology can do away with one job but create another. Why it’s better to listen to your mother (“Learn to type!”). Not so good to believe everything Corporate tells you., which is phoney. Not so bad to listen to your employees when tell you, “That’s baloney!” Not so good to stay in a job that bores you and not so bad to look at doing something new.

Not so good when hackers use new technology to cheat and rob. Not so bad when new technology may mean a new job. Not so good when politicians shine you on. Not so bad when a cheater is gone. Not so good to stay past your prime. Not so bad to show a new employer you can rhyme.

Obama was okay with technology when it suited him. The unions are okay with technology. When it suits them. They’re not so okay with technology when it creates a new job and new investments for capitalists. They don’t like it that we might just control the future after all – and we’re using the technology they tried to trap and ruin us with.

The future holds more promise than you might think.


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