Monday, March 07, 2011

Business macho suckers

You’ve probably run into these people. You may even be one of them.

“I work at least 60 hours each week,” they brag. “Sometimes I work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I never take a vacation. My kids don’t recognize me. The dog thinks I’m a stranger and barks at me.”

The subtext is, “What a stud I am!”

The reality is, “What a sucker you are.”

It’s the modern, corporate version of machismo. (Is there a machisma flavor, too? I assume so, but I haven’t encountered it.)

Dig down, and there’s something much more sinister than machismo. These workers are exhibiting the mentality of the medieval serf who thought he was in the role that God had intended for him and that his noble masters deserved to live in a castle and profit from his labor because that was the role God had ordained for them. His noble masters agreed.

Some of these modern serfs think the system is fine because if they work hard, adhere to most of the rules while bending the right ones, play the game, and have just a bit of luck, then some day they’ll be living in the castle themselves. Indeed, a few of them will ascend to the halls of the nobles. Even in the Middle Ages, there were rare cases of people rising from the lowest rungs of the social ladder to the upper ones. It was rare, but it did happen. But that didn’t make the institution of serfdom any less evil.

Of course modern times are different from the Middle Ages. After all, we don’t have inherited titles, and today’s serfs aren’t legally tied to the land.

I’m sure the plutocrats are working on that.

1 comment:

Leonore Dvorkin said...

Hi, David. I agree completely. If the employees of a company truly need to work more than 40 hours a week, then the company is being badly managed. They need to hire more workers. And if the workers truly want to work more than 40 hours a week, at least on a regular basis, then their lives are seriously out of balance, in my opinion. You simply can't work 50-60 hours a week and also sleep 7-8 hours a night, exercise regularly, spend time with your family and friends, relax with a book or TV or other pastimes, and keep up with the housework and errands.