Article 43


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Good Jobs Aren’t Coming Back

‘Good’ Jobs Aren’t Coming Back

By Alana Semuels
The Atlantic
Oct 26, 2015

In the last several years some American companies have moved their operations back to the states, but the resulting factory work isn’t providing the prosperity and security that such work once did.

The hulking General Motors factory in this town south of Nashville undermines the complaints by politicians left and right that America doesnt make things anymore.

A year ago, GM announced it was moving production of its best-selling vehicle, the Cadillac SRX, from Mexico to this plant in Tennessee. Today 3,000 people work on this 6.9 million square-foot campus, and more are being hired.

GM is one of the hundreds of companies, big and small, that have moved manufacturing back to the United States from overseas. Outsourcing decimated American manufacturing in the 1980s and 1990s, erasing nearly six million jobs between 1989 and 2009.

But the number of manufacturing jobs has started to slowly grow again, and about 700,000 jobs have been added since 2010. “Onshoring,| as it’s called, is at this stage delivering just a trickle of new jobs, but states such as Tennessee are offering companies generous incentives to try and speed up the process, luring some big-name companies. Whirlpool in 2013 said it was moving production of commercial washing machines from Mexico to the U.S. The company that makes Otis elevators announced in 2012 that it would move production from Mexico to South Carolina. Caterpillar moved some heavy-equipment manufacturing back to the U.S.

But these are not your fathers manufacturing jobs. Many of the companies are locating their new plants in right-to-work states where it’s less likely their workers will join a union, and the prevailing wages are far lower.

In fact, nationally, the average wages of production and non-supervisory employees in manufacturing are lower than they were in 1985, when adjusted for inflation. In September, those employees made an average $8.63 an hour, in 1982 to 1984 dollars, while they made an average of $8.80 an hour in 1985, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are not your fathers manufacturing jobs.

“We’ve not seen the wage growth that we would love to see,” said Jan McKeel, the executive director of the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, which works to train people at local career centers and has prepared the Tennessee workforce for the new jobs in this economy. I think we sort of mirror the national statistics youӒre probably seeing in some areas, that were in wages equal to the early ‘90s.

Onshoring is generally viewed as a positive turn, a corrective to the job losses of the past 20 years. Towns that lost thousands of jobs after NAFTA, where empty factories still stand, could benefit from a manufacturing boom. But the quality of the compensation raises the possibility that in the globalized economy of 2015, manufacturing can no longer provide the standard of living that Americans seek, and America will need to find a different way to restore the middle-class strength it once knew.

* * *

The Spring Hill GM plant is perhaps an example of the best that onshoring can bring. The plant is unionized and the jobsԗwith their profit-sharing perks and high-quality health careare good ones.

This is true even for the plantגs so called second-tier workersӔnew hires who get paid substantially less (topping out at $19.28 an hour) than the long-time workers (at $28 an hour), in a system the union agreed to during negotiations in 2007.

Crystal Conklin had lived paycheck to paycheck, working odd jobs in retail office work, before she was hired as a second-tier worker at the Spring Hill plant a few years ago. Thanks to her $18 an hour wages and subsidized health insurance, she was able to save up enough to buy a car last year, and also bought a house. She wants her 17-year-old son to start working at Spring Hill while he goes to community college.

דWorking at the plant has just allowed me to come out of this hole that I was in, in life, going absolutely nowhere, not advancing in anything, she told me. ԓNow Ive bought a house, I drive a brand-new vehicle.Ҕ

It may be no accident that Spring Hill is one of the American cities where the gap is smallest between the highest-paid and lowest-paid workers, according to NerdWallet; the average household income for the top 20 percent of workers is $157,191, while the average household income for the bottom 20 percent is $26,735; the middle 20 percent made $74,214. Though those differences may seem big, theyre among the smallest in the nation; thanks in part to the union, there isnҒt as much income inequality as in other U.S. cities and towns.

But not all American manufacturing jobs can provide the sort of security that Conklin achieved.

One man, who works for parts supplier Magnetti Marelli, which opened its first lighting-production plant in Tennessee in 2013, told me that employees are required to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. For this, they earn $12 an hour. The man, who didnt want his name used for fear of retribution from the company, said the job has scarred his hands because he has to work quickly with wire harnesses, but that he canҒt quit because he has a family to support.

The labor laws in the United States ought to stand up and say you canӒt do this to a human being, he told me.

A spokesman for Magnetti Marelli, which is owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said that the schedule is related to a ramp-up phase ahead of new-product launches.

Magnetti Marelli, like most manufacturing plants in the South, is not unionized. And those who work at such plants likely wonԒt see the sort of mobility that Conklin has experienced. The compensation for these jobs is not on step with todays economy: Wages for workers at non-union automotive plants have fallen 14 percent from 2003 to 2013, when adjusted for inflation, according to the National Employment Law Project.

* * *

There are many reasons for companies to move manufacturing back to the U.S. Wages are rising in China, and many companies find it difficult to control the quality of goods made there. It takes a long time to make something overseas and then ship it back to the U.S, so locating in the U.S. can speed up production. In the U.S., companies can make small batches of goods, test consumer demand, and quickly adjust accordingly.

Darius Mir grew his business 9to5 Seating, which makes office chairs, by moving manufacturing from California to China in the early 2000s. But manufacturing in China became increasingly challenging. The global slowdown shuttered dozens of plants in China, and some skilled workers went home to their villages, Mir told me, so that the company had trouble finding good employees. WhatҒs more, as China devalued its currency, 9to5 Seating had to spend more on wages because of the unfavorable exchange rate, making it less cost-efficient to produce goods in China.

Looking for solutions, Mir did some research and realized that if he could locate a plant somewhere in the central U.S., where he could ship goods to customers in a day, and if he could automate some jobs to save labor costs, producing chairs in the U.S. could work. Thanks in part to automation, he found, a task or order that would take 22 people in China can be done at the Tennessee plant with five. With the help of generous incentives, the company started manufacturing on 100,0000 square feet in Union City, Tennessee, where Goodyear had closed a massive plant in 2011. Mir is now adding 200,000 square feet of space to ramp up manufacturing in the company. (The U.S. part of the company is called Made In America Seating). He employs 40 people, and hopes to grow to 80 by the end of the year, and 500 within five years.

The average wage, Mir told me, will be $38,000 a year, and unskilled employees will start working at $11 an hour.

A person would be able to without much experience or skills, would be able to start work in the region where we are from $9 to $11 or $12 an hour,Ӕ he told me. We are keeping to the middle of that range.Ӕ

While wages of $12 an hour are much higher than Tennessees minimum wage of $7.25, they represent a significant drop in pay for jobs in manufacturing, which were once a pathway to AmericaҒs middle class. This is the disappointment of 21st-century onshoring: Though some of the jobs coming back to the U.S. require advanced degrees and skills, and are the good jobs pundits predicted would return, many are not.

Today, more than 600,000 manufacturing workers make $9.60 an hour or less, and one in four make $11.91 or less, according to the National Employment Law Project. Manufacturing workers once made more than average U.S. wages, but by 2013, they made 7.7 percent less than the median wage for all occupations. And when adjusted for inflation, wages for manufacturing workers have declined 4.4 percent between 2003 and 2013, according to NELP.

Lower wages are centered in the South, where lax labor laws and an oversupply of workers allow companies to pay less. This is perhaps most evident in the most productive auto plant in the country: a Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, 40 miles west of Spring Hill.

Nissan has made cars in Smyrna since 1983, and the town, and even the county, grew up and prospered around the plant, adding nearly 200,000 residents since the plant opened. But Smyrna suffered during the recession when Nissan, facing huge financial losses, offered buyouts to 6,000 employees in Tennessee and eliminated a night shift. The unemployment rate in Rutherford County reached 11 percent, and did not fall below 7 percent until late 2011.

When Nissan ramped up again after the recession, they hired low-paid temporary workers through agencies such as Yates Services.

Robert Bruhn, 49, was hired by Yates to work at the Smyrna plant three years ago. It was a good job, compared to what he was doing at the time, working for an oven manufacturer for $13 an hour. Yates started him out at $14.50 an hour, although he stood on the line next to people who made $25 or $26 an hour. Other less-skilled Yates employees start out at $12.80 or so, and Yates workers never earn more than $18.50 an hour, he told me. After pushback from workers, Nissan has allowed some workers to transfer to Nissan as part of the Pathway program, though Bruhn told me that the selection of transfers seems random. (He applied a few times before he was finally accepted and transferred in September.)

Still, Bruhn gets less of a bonus and a lower wage than other full-time Nissan employees.

ThereӒs no way to reach the top here, he told me. Josh Clifton, a Nissan spokesman, responded that the use of staffing agencies is ԓstandard practice in the automotive industry, and that Nissan employees in Smyrna receive competitive pay and benefits).

While Nissan will not disclose how many of its workers are temporary, Ed Ensley, a worker who has been at the plant for 30 years, says he thinks only about 30 percent of current full-time workers are Nissan employees. Ensley is a full-time Nissan worker, but he wants to form a union at the plant because heԒs disappointed in how morale and quality have suffered since the increase in temporary workers. This is something hes made clear at the plant, by giving speeches in the lunchroom and by approaching executives from Japan about the need for a union.

So far, he hasnҒt made much progress, even as hes seen the town of Smyrna deteriorate. Some new hires are making less than what he made in 1982, Ensley told me. Along the main drag of Smyrna, thereҒs been an uptick in payday-loan stores, and Nissan recently instituted a cell-phone lot for people picking up family members from work; Ensley suspects the change is because so many employees can no longer afford to be two-car families.

Meanwhile, the Smyrna plant is becoming the most productive in the nation, and last year produced 648,000 cars. Nissan made $1.57 billion in the first quarter of this year, a 58 percent increase from the previous year.

What are the workers getting from it? TheyӒre getting bad backs and bad shoulders, Ensley told me. ԓThe bosses reap all the rewards and the workers are suffering.

Nissan and other manufacturers who pay low wages may not be able to keep up the practiceԗboth Ensley and the Magnetti Marelli employee told me theres a lot of turnover at the plants, and that many nearby workers now know where to avoid working. Now that GM is hiring, many auto workers may try to move from lower-paying jobs to the union jobs at GM. But not all of them will be able to do so.

I visited the GM plant and saw people waiting, hopeful, for job interviews, and new employees getting trained along a conveyor belt. Such scenes are reason to be optimistic about manufacturing in the U.S. economy. But I also drove down the main streets of Smyrna, which are filled with empty storefronts and check-cashing stores. Whether our new manufacturing towns will look like Spring Hill or Smyrna will depend on the successes of unions in organizing there, and whether local leaders will continue to give big incentives for companies that create bad jobs.

While those factors play out, the return of manufacturing doesnҒt necessarily mean that the middle class is on its way back, too. It may be that most new manufacturing employees in the U.S. will just be added to the ranks of low-paid, overworked Americans trying to get by.


Posted by Elvis on 10/27/15 •
Section Dying America
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Goodbye Middle Class

America is slowly dying

51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year

By Michael Snyder
End of the American Dream
October 20, 2015

We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is dying.  According to brand new numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $30,000 a year.  Let that number sink in for a moment.  You cant support a middle class family in America today on just $2,500 a month - especially after taxes are taken out.  And yet more than half of all workers in this country make less than that each month.  In order to have a thriving middle class, you have got to have an economy that produces lots of middle class jobs, and that simply is not happening in America today.

You can find the report that the Social Security Administration just released RIGHT HERE.  The following are some of the numbers that really stood out for me

-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That first number is truly staggering.  The federal poverty level for a family of five is $28,410, and yet almost 40 percent of all American workers do not even bring in $20,000 a year.

If you worked a full-time job at $10 an hour all year long with two weeks off, you would make approximately $20,000.  This should tell you something about the quality of the jobs that our economy is producing at this point.

And of course the numbers above are only for those that are actually working.  As I discussed just recently, there are 7.9 million working age Americans that are officially unemployed right now and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force.” When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

So many people that I know are barely scraping by right now.  Many families have to fight tooth and nail just to make it from month to month, and there are lots of Americans that FIND THEMSELVES sinking deeper and deeper into debt.

If you can believe it, about a quarter of the country actually has a negative net worth right now.

What that means is that if you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of the entire country.  The following comes from a recent piece by Simon Black

Credit Suisse estimates that 25% of Americans are in this situation of having a negative net-worth.

If you’ve no debts and have $10 in your pocket you have more wealth than 25% of Americans. More than 25% of Americans have collectively that is.

The thing is - not only did the government create the incentives, but they set the standard.

With a net worth of negative $60 trillion, US citizens are just following dutifully in the governments footsteps.

As a nation we are flat broke and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck.  It has been estimated that it takes approximately $50,000 a year to support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four in the U.S. today, and so the fact that 71 percent of all workers make less than that amount shows how difficult it is for families that try to get by with just a single breadwinner.

Needless to say, a tremendous squeeze has been put on the middle class.  In many families, both the husband and the wife are working as hard as they can, but it is still not enough.  With each passing day, more Americans are losing their spots in the middle class and this has pushed government dependence to an all-time high.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month.

Sadly, the trends that are destroying the middle class in America just continue to accelerate.

With a huge assist from the Republican leadership in Congress, Barack Obama recently completed negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Also known as Obamatrade, this insidious new treaty is going to cover nations that collectively account for 40 percent of global GDP.  Just like NAFTA, this treaty will result in the loss of thousands of businesses and millions of good paying American jobs.  Let us hope and pray that Congress somehow votes it down.

Another thing that is working against the middle class is the fact that technology is increasingly taking over our jobs.  With each passing year, it becomes cheaper and more efficient to have computers, robots and machines do things that humans once did.

Eventually, there will be very few things that humans will be able to do more cheaply and more efficiently than computers, robots and machines.  How will most of us make a living when that happens?

The robopocalypse for workers may be inevitable. In this vision of the future, super-smart machines will best humans in pretty much every task. A few of us will own the machines, a few will work a bit while the rest will live off a government-provided incomeŅ the most common job in most U.S. states probably will no longer be truck driver.

For decades, we have been training our young people to have the goal of “getting a job” once they get out into the real world.  But in America today there are not nearly enough good JOBS to go around, and this crisis is only going to accelerate as we move INTO THE FUTURE.

I do not believe that it is wise to pin your future on a corporation that could replace you with a foreign worker or a machine the moment that it becomes expedient to do so.  We need to start thinking differently, because the paradigms that worked in the past are fundamentally breaking down.

So what advice would you give to a young adult today that is looking toward the future?


Posted by Elvis on 10/26/15 •
Section Dying America
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Monday, October 12, 2015

More Voices Of The Long-Term Unemployed

The invisible long-term unemployed

The VOICES OF THE UNEMPLOYED thread was getting to big.

So I started a new one here.


From Hamilton Nolan:
January 28, 2014

After a while, you drop out of everything. When friends and family decide to get together someplace you opt out. It’s too humiliating when you can’t afford a glass of soda. Besides, how many times can you listen to someone tell you there’s a job fair going on at some hotel conference room?

Even positive activities become points of criticism. You ran five miles? How much did that pay? You watched the game? Bet you made a lot of money doing that!

It’s nearly impossible to stay positive. Low level depression is a constant state. Regular rejection attacks your self image. You begin to doubt all the habits you built up to become successful, no matter how successful you were.


Another from Gawker:

At any given moment you waver between giving up completely or absolutely losing your temper. Maintaining an even keel is exhausting.

You lose so much more than a job with extended unemployment. You feel like you lose the things that make us people. Not just money, a home, independence… you lose your value as a person.

When you finally come to the point where you realize you’ll take a minimum wage position you know that such a job won’t provide for any kind of life… you’ll be lucky to pay for transportation to get to and from work.

You can’t vent your frustration. If you do, you simply prove to others that you’re not worthy, you’re not trying, you don’t want a job, you’re a screw up, you’ve already decided you’re defeated.


From another invisible, long-term unemployed American:

From the “Over Fifty And Out Of Work” BLOG:

August 17, 2015

I knew you were out there. Really probably millions of us unemployed or underemployed. I owned my own consulting firm doing evaluation of educational programs across the country for 14 very successful years. Then the divorce, then the stock market, then in 2011 the contracts dried up. Justifiably so. No educational system ever wants to be evaluated and having states in financial crises evaluation was one of the first things cut. So in 2011 my life began a radical change. I had been undergoing the change since 2008. I had a lovely home in Austin, TX. I was comfortable, great neighbors and friends, and expected to remain there. When the economy began changing I realized if I lost contracts I would not be able to make the mortgage payment.Heartbreak of selling the only home Id ever felt like was just mine alone. Into an apartment complex. Onto unemployment in Texas. Totally disoriented. IҒd never done this before. Sat in a huge room full of people my age and older all dressed for their trade or business. Suffered through the mandatory lectures of staff of the TX Wrkfrc Commission. I was panicked. I had not been without a job since I was 15 and lied to get my first work on a corn cutter in a processing plant. A dangerous job. A tedious job. But I was proud. In the course of the years from 2011-2013 I completed 701 applications. I had two responses. I keep them all in a closet and move them with me in case the state of TX, never known for its expeditious accounts management, should try to make a case I did not try to find work.

I believed I was being humbled for a reason; I had not shown enough gratitude when I had money; I had not shared my good fortunebut all these were untrue. I did, however, grow through meditation and yoga during this difficult time. I knew I needed to forgive myself for the failure that was not mine, but was systemic. I was raised on the philosophy that all work is good work. And I believe that still. My self-esteem bottomed out; I wandered around aimlessly; my anti-depressants were increased. Finally it came to me that all the energy I put into worrying and endless self-talk and monkey-mind was negative and would kill me. So I’ve adopted the |lily of the field” attitude and lifestyle the past 3 years. This lily had to move from Austin to Champaign, IL to be present in case my parents had needs. By seeing myself vividly as a lily in my mind I could see and feel myself blowing in the breeze. Sometimes the breeze was gentle and some small grace came my way. For example, I got a job paying 10/hr to teach children a specific reading methodology, and I helped clean an art professor (hoarders) house out for 15/hr cash each day, and I delivered a single flower to a statue where a man and his wife had met 25 years ago. I presented the yellow rose while the bag piper played in the rain. Each of these brief jobs I viewed as blessings. They kept me going. I was swaying still but upright. This summer I have had no work and I am living off the small savings I have. I will hopefully be substitute teaching when school begins. I have a very small writing contract, I auditioned yesterday as a Simulated Patient for the Med School. I am trying to piece my life together. I ask that you set an intention or pray for me that I will get a call on August 18 from the medical school that I have been chosen. Its only a once in a while job, but it’s something.

Like you I am endlessly restless, bored, unable to concentrate even though this would be the time to catch up on two years of back issues of New Yorkers.

In the 60s and 70s so many of us rose up. We stood and fought for civil rights and human rights. We knew the song “Street Fighting Man” by heart because we were constantly engaged in activism and protest against the war in Vietnam; many of us have continued in activist rolls for causes. We are the generation that knows how to stand and fight and protest in the streets. And how to get results. We know if takes personal sacrifices. I am confounded that our generation is not now engaged in activism around age discrimination, cuts in hours while younger colleagues remain full time, the perception that we have all slid from middle class into poverty because we haven’t worked “hard enough.” I’ve slid into a classless society. I talk every day to those with far less than me. I have food, shelter, insurance, and can still make co-pays for my meds. But as you all know every day we feel like there is an axe over our heads. We had money and lost money. Or, we didn’t save enough when we did have it. Or, we never had it. Now here we are. All in the same boat.

When I finally understood that “Senior” now begins at age 50 I was pissed as hell and still am. I am not ready to go gently into that night. I agree with many of you that we must become a presence. Perhaps our mantra are those words, “The Forgotten.” Let others ask what we are about. Form a loose coalition. I feel so fortunate to have discovered the article that brought yall to my attention. I am not one who has been interviewed, but I too am among “The Forgotten.” We perhaps need to take a look back from an historical perspective at where we came from. How were we organized in those days of demand for civil rights, or an end to the war? How have we continued to be cogs in the wheels of activism? What were the strategies then and could the most successful of those strategies become a springboard for a new need to organize as a political force? Now is our time to take what we learned and apply it to the crisis confronting millions of us. Now is our time to become highly focused, strategic, and to agree that we may not come to consensus, but it is a need so large we will agree never to sabotage. There is a place and tasks for each of us. I do truly believe one person can make change. I am thinking of the woman who walks endlessly back and forth across the country as a Peace Pilgrim. She lives like a lily of the field. She depends upon the ԓkindness of strangers. Wherever she stops she engages others in discussions about the need for peace, how it might come about, and what their role could be.

I know us. We are the generation that has been forced into an untenable place in society. I don’t know about the rest of you but I want out. I am only 64. I am not ready to be retired. We may feel like The Forgotten but we cannot let that word define us. We must become highly visible. We have endless talents, endless problem solvers and out of the box thinkers among us. I refuse to be among “The Disappeared.” The expression for those who go missing in the endless struggles and battles between cartels and corrupt governments. I do not know how to maintain contact with this group but I would like to continue to read your thoughts, consider possibilities, and move forward. Is “Over Fifty and Out of Work” an accessible website? I don’t feel so alone today. Namaste.


From the NY POST October 10, 2015

Battered bull

The situation for high-flying Wall Street bulls is not much better.

John, 55, says hes a victim of Washington’s over regulation of Wall Street.

Until two years ago, John was a senior executive at a major regulatory firm in the metro area, earning $100,000 base compensation (plus bonus and expenses) and traveling the globe. After the Dodd-Frank Act passed in the wake of the financial crisis, his firm shifted gears in anticipation of new requirements for heightened regulation of hedge funds.

John was the presumptive candidate for a new job and with his masters degree, multilingual fluency and extensive connections in law circles, he never saw the ax coming.

His new assignment never came, and the firm downsized him, hiring two 20-somethings for half his salary.

Since he was pink-slipped in 2013, John hasn’t re-entered the workforce. I don’t think I will ever find the kind of work and salary I once enjoyed, he told The Post.

His job searches are not only confined to financial services. He’s applied for low-paid associate jobs at Costco, Lowes and Home Depot - to no avail.

“I have so many friends like me that just gave up looking for gainful employment,” he said.

Redacted editor

The experience of Amy Hayden should be an eye-opener for anyone working today fearing tomorrow.

Hayden, 42, has two masters degrees and a background as a publicity manager and a high-ranking career in journalism, but she has not had a long-term job since 2009.

That’s despite her distinguished credentials as a top-notch editor for the Sun-Times Group in Chicago, where, she said, she earned $70,000 a year plus benefits back in 2001.

“I’ve found it nearly impossible to find stable employment,” said Hayden, who sleeps at night on a couch in a friend’s apartment in Chelsea. “I get food stamps, which help, but I don’t qualify for cash assistance. Next month I will rent a clean room somewhere in the city and live out of there for $125 a week,” she said.

“I moved to NYC [from Chicago] in 2012, thinking things would be better for me here and in a sense they have been. There are more jobs to apply for, and a lot more freelance work and day labor and side jobs.”

“But in a way its a lot more difficult,” she said, “because there’s only so long I can keep trying to get a job in the field Ive worked in for 18 years.”

When I interview at startups, I’m explicitly discriminated against as a woman Hayden asserted.

Paying sitterԒs salary

Lea (Lenore) Geronimo, 44, of Elmhurst, Queens, lost her job in January 2014 as an executive assistant at a Wall Street firm, following a post-merger shake-up.

Her job search is not working, despite her valiant attempts.

I called my headhunter, saying, ӑI want part-time work so I can take care of my new baby, Ҕ said Geronimo, a single mom with an 8-month-old son.

But there was no way I could take what was available out there ӗ retail jobs paying $10 an hour because thatגs what I also have to pay my baby sitter when Id be working in retail.Ҕ

PR problems

Judy Segaloff was laid off in a corporate reorganization in 2008.

Working in Connecticut, she was the public relations manager for a major retail chain, earning $120,000 annually, and at the top of her high-pressure game.

But after Segaloff, whos in her 50s, relocated from Scarsdale to Detroit to join her new husband, she hasn’t had a company job since 2008.

It is really hard for me to make a re-entry into the workforce, despite all my experience. I am good at social media, I know how to market, I am a great writer, and I have experience in design and editing programs,” she said. “It is very frustrating.”

“I used to charge $150 an hour at my own firm,” she recalled. When Segaloff recently offered to handle publicity for some groups, she was rebuffed: They complained her $30 hourly rate was too high.


Lou had some 15 years as a legal transcriber in a small Manhattan agency, making about $30,000 for a small firm that offered minimal benefits.

That was enough, though, thanks to his rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village.

But about five years ago, the agency started having problems, and Lou was out.

With no job, Lou ran through his savings. He broke into his 401(k) plan and exhausted it.

Now in his early 60s, Lou is taking early Social Security. Although he had been employed through most of his adult life, Lou feels overwhelmed and is considering going on welfare.

Laid-off librarian

Sally, 51, has a masters degree as a library media specialist.

“But since most schools usually employ just one librarian, it’s a tough gig to get and keep.”

I have posted my info on the NYC New Teacher Finder [site] and met with the head of library services and had maybe five interviews at schools.

“Most of these schools were more than an hour commute each way for me (not that it matters; if it were a good job I wouldnt mind the commute), but the schools were also not the best-performing ones. Every time I thought my interview went well and I thought the school, the principal and I would be a good fit, I was wrong!”

“It is disappointing to send out resum after resume and have interview after interview year after year and be a smart, eager, adaptable person willing to work, yet not get a job.”

“I was in the process of reinventing myself and then decided to give up!” Sally concluded.

Posted by Elvis on 10/12/15 •
Section Dying America
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Behavior Modification

What a fascinating thing! Total control of a living organism!
- psychologist B.F. Skinner

I remember when I was a kid waking up early and switching on the TV, stations would play the STAR SPANGLED BANNER when they signed off for the night and started the day.

SO WHAT you ask?  ARE THEY REALLY sticking SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES in the videos we watch?


Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate and Control?
Shoppers, students, workers, and voters are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.

By Bruce E. Levine
October 11, 2012

The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.

In psychologist B.F. Skinners best-selling book BEYOND FREEDOM AND DIGNITY (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society.

During the height of Skinner’s fame in the 1970s, it was obvious to anti-authoritarians such as Noam Chomsky (THE CASE AGAINST B.F. SKINNER) and Lewis Mumord that Skinners worldview - a society ruled by benevolent control freaks - was antithetical to democracy. In Skinner’s novel Walden Two (1948), his behaviorist hero states, “We do not take history seriously,” to which Lewis Mumford retorted, “And no wonder: if man knew no history, the Skinners would govern the world,” as Skinner himself has modestly proposed in his “behaviorist utopia.”

As a psychology student during that era, I remember being embarrassed by the silence of most psychologists about the political ramifications of Skinner and behavior modification.

In the mid-1970s, as an intern on a locked ward in a state psychiatric hospital, I first experienced one of behavior modifications staple techniques, the “token economy.” And that’s where I also discovered that anti-authoritarians try their best to resist behavior modification. George was a severely depressed anti-authoritarian who refused to talk to staff, but for some reason, chose me to shoot pool with. My boss, a clinical psychologist, spotted my interaction with George, and told me that I should give him a token - a cigarettee - to reward his “prosocial behavior.” I fought it, trying to explain that I was 20 and George was 50, and this would be humiliating. But my boss subtly threatened to kick me off the ward. So, I asked George what I should do.

George, fighting the zombifying effects of his heavy medication, grinned and said, “We’ll win. Let me have the cigarette.” In full view of staff, George took the cigarette and then placed it into the shirt pocket of another patient, and then looked at the staff shaking his head in contempt.

Unlike Skinner, George was not beyond “freedom and dignity.| Anti-authoritarians such as George - who don’t take seriously the rewards and punishments of control-freak authorities - deprive authoritarian ideologies such as behavior modification from total domination.

Behavior Modification Techniques Excite Authoritarians

If you have taken introductory psychology, you probably have heard of Ivan Pavlovגs classical conditioningӔ and B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning.Ӕ

An example of Pavlov’s classical conditioning? A dog hears a bell at the same time he receives food; then the bell is sounded without the food and still elicits a salivating dog. Pair a scantily clad attractive woman with some crappy beer, and condition men to sexually salivate to the sight of the crappy beer and buy it. The advertising industry has been using classical conditioning for quite some time.

Skinner’s operant conditioning? Rewards, like money, are “positive reinforcements;” the removal of rewards are negative reinforcementsӔ and punishments, such as electric shocks, are labeled in fact as “punishments.” Operant conditioning pervades the classroom, the workplace and mental health treatment.

Skinner was heavily influenced by the book Behaviorism (1924) by John B. Watson. Watson achieved some fame in the early 1900s by advocating a mechanical, rigid, affectionless manner in child rearing. He confidently asserted that he could take any healthy infant, and given complete control of the infants world, train him for any profession. When Watson was in his early 40s, he quit university life and began a new career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson.

Behaviorism and consumerism, two ideologies that achieved tremendous power in the 20th century, are cut from the same cloth. The shopper, the student, the worker, and the voter are all seen by consumerism and behaviorism the same way: passive, conditionable objects.

Who are Easiest to Manipulate?

Those who rise to power in the corporatocracy are control freaks, addicted to the buzz of power over other human beings, and so it is natural for such authorities to have become excited by behavior modification.

Alfie Kohn, in Punished by Rewards (1993), documents with copious research how behavior modification works best on dependent, powerless, infantilized, bored, and institutionalized people. And so for authorities who get a buzz from controlling others, this creates a terrifying incentive to construct a society that creates dependent, powerless, infantilized, bored, and institutionalized people.

Many of the most successful applications of behavior modification have involved laboratory animals, children, or institutionalized adults. According to management theorists Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in Work Redesign (1980), “Individuals in each of these groups are necessarily dependent on powerful others for many of the things they most want and need, and their behavior usually can be shaped with relative ease.”

Similarly, researcher Paul Thorne reports in the journal International Management (Fitting Rewards, 1990) that in order to get people to behave in a particular way, they must be “needy enough” so that rewards reinforce the desired behavior.

It is also easiest to condition people who dislike what they are doing. Rewards work best for those who are alienated from their work, according to researcher Morton Deutsch (Distributive Justice, 1985). This helps explain why attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-labeled kids perform as well as so-called “normals” on boring schoolwork when paid for it (see Thomas Armstrong’s The Myth of the A.D.D. Child, 1995). Correlatively, Kohn offers research showing that rewards are least effective when people are doing something that isnt boring.

In a review of the literature on the harmful effects of rewards, researcher Kenneth McGraw concluded that rewards will have a detrimental effect on performance under two conditions: “first, when the task is interesting enough for the subjects that the offer of incentives is a superfluous source of motivation; second, when the solution to the task is open-ended enough that the steps leading to a solution are not immediately obvious.”

Kohn also reports that at least 10 studies show rewards work best on simplistic and predictable tasks. How about more demanding ones? In research on preschoolers (working for toys), older children (working for grades) and adults (working for money), all avoided challenging tasks. The bigger the reward, the easier the task that is chosen; while without rewards, human beings are more likely to accept a challenge.

So, there is an insidious incentive for control-freaks in societyԗbe they psychologists, teachers, advertisers, managers, or other authorities who use behavior modification. Specifically, for controllers to experience the most control and gain a power buzz,Ӕ their subjects need to be infantilized, dependent, alienated, and bored.

The Anti-Democratic Nature of Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is fundamentally a means of controlling people and thus for Kohn, “by its nature inimical to democracy, critical questioning, and the free exchange of ideas among equal participants.”

For Skinner, all behavior is externally controlled, and we dont truly have freedom and choice. Behaviorists see freedom, choice, and intrinsic motivations as illusory, or what Skinner called “phantoms.” Back in the 1970s, Noam Chomsky exposed Skinner’s unscientific view of science, specifically Skinner’s view that science should be prohibited from examining internal states and intrinsic forces.

In democracy, citizens are free to think for themselves and explore, and are motivated by very real - not phantomintrinsic - forces, including curiosity and a desire for justice, community, and solidarity.

What is also scary about behaviorists is that their external controls can destroy intrinsic forces of our humanity that are necessary for a democratic society. Researcher Mark Lepper was able to diminish young children’s intrinsic joy of drawing with Magic Markers by awarding them personalized certificates for coloring with a Magic Marker. Even a single, one-time reward for doing something enjoyable can kill interest in it for weeks.

Behavior modification can also destroy our intrinsic desire for compassion, which is necessary for a democratic society. Kohn offers several studies showing children whose parents believe in using rewards to motivate them are less cooperative and generous [children] than their peers. Children of mothers who relied on tangible rewards were less likely than other children to care and share at home.

How, in a democratic society, do children become ethical and caring adults? They need a history of being cared about, taken seriously, and respected, which they can model and reciprocate.

Today, the mental health profession has gone beyond behavioral technologies of control. It now diagnoses noncompliant toddlers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and pediatric bipolar disorder and ATTEMPTS TO CONTROL THEM with heavily sedating drugs. While Big Pharma directly profits from drug prescribing, the entire corporatocracy benefits from the mental health professions legitimization of conditioning and controlling.

Bruce E. Levine is a practicing clinical psychologist. His latest book is Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.


Posted by Elvis on 10/12/15 •
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