Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A New Kind of Corporate Welfare

The best way to get into the middle class is on my Road to the Middle Class featuring a self-directed program of religion, education, mutual-aid association, and living under law.

But it's not for everyone. That's obvious, or we wouldn't have our burgeoning underclass wherever welfare states are found. The foundation of human society is voluntary cooperation; but there's always a temptation to ease off in the harness and hope the other horses take up the slack.

That's why God invented divine justice: to take care of the slackers.

But why wait for God to take care of things? Almost everyone can contribute their little bit, and it's a shame to segregate the unskilled, the unlucky, and the un-motivated off in a welfare concentration camp in the inner city to be used as cannon fodder in the activism wars of the Reverends, marchin' and protestin' and stuff.

My plan is that we ramp down the welfare programs and send the welfare folk to place their heads in the hands of the corporate CEOs. It's similar to the old way of the year 1000 when a starving man would place himself into servitude as a bondsman by placing his head in his lord's hands: a head for food.

I say this because it is obvious that the old plan, of giving people money for nothing, has clearly failed. That's what the conservative Charles Murray has found in his Coming Apart and that is what the liberal Robert D. Putnam has found in his Our Kids. Middle-class, educated, career-oriented people of all races, including African Americans, are pulling away and the lower 30 percent, black and white, is descending into cultural chaos. The men don't work and the women don't marry.

Marx well said that the agricultural revolution "hurled" the rural poor, the band of "useless" feudal retainers, onto the labour market. There, of course, they lingered for a century or two as miserable proletarians until sucked up into the mines and factories of the industrial revolution where they were treated as little better than slaves.

But in time the capitalists realized that treating people like slaves wasn't good for profits. In the first place the workers formed labor unions to oppose the bosses and time has shown that labor unions are poison for a corporation, the best way to kill it off. The whole point of a corporation is a team, with everyone working towards the corporate goal of great products, good jobs, and fat profits. It doesn't help to have a head of rebellion right on the factory floor.

It was a German general that articulated in 1921 the new corporate attitude, General Hans von Seeckt said he wanted
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier.

He was talking about the need for a new kind of soldier, but you can see that the corporation needs the same kind of employee. Both organizations need swift, efficient team members, but more than that they need responsible team members, not mere underground drones marching around in their platoons in the movie Metropolis.

You can see how this works in a news article from the Wall Street Journal. Audi is building a green field auto plant next to the village of San Jose Chiapa where they will build the Audi Q5 SUV for export all over the world. Of course, as part of the deal, they are setting up extensive training in Mexico for the new workers.

But they are also sending the top technical workers, the quality-control analysts and the like, to Ingolstadt in Germany for two years of training in the Audi systems and the Audi way.
Each Mexican worker is paired with a German "buddy" who acts as a mentor, showing the ropes.
We know what this is all about. It is "boot camp" in corporate culture. It is indoctrinating new workers into the corporate culture and system at Audi so that they can return to Mexico to make cars that meet the amazing modern standards that gives us amazing cars that work for 100,000 miles trouble-free. And also become committed members of the Audi team.

Of course people coming off welfare aren't going to go to Germany for training. But they can be handed over to buddies in factories and big-box stores rather than to Reverends in the protest line. They can be immersed in a corporate culture where going with the flow means doing a good job and being polite to the customers rather than making protest signs and yelling catchwords at a TV camera.

In addition these former welfare recipients will enjoy a predictable and secure world, with benefits and a reasonable expectation of stable employment and chances for advancement.

But best of all they will be living in a life that benefits them and benefits us all. As welfare recipients they are useful only for their votes to support the politicians that promise to defend old benefits and offer new benefits. As corporate workers they will be contributing to the economy and providing, in a modest way, products and services for others.

OK. Nothing new here. You can see bright young minorities in every bank branch and less educated ones at the local big box store.  And they are clearly being trained and indoctrinated in the corporate culture, to become "self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated," and hey, maybe even "joyful in taking responsibility" as a woman and a Target associate.

(See where that "associate" comes from? One guess: "In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.")

For over half a millennium, with Poor Laws and welfares, respectable society has punted on what to do with people "hurled" on the labor market by economic revolutions. The ruling class just handed out a pittance to the people left behind by progress. And really, in the Obama years we are seeing the final collapse of this cruel and inhuman cop-out in the absurd gussied-up protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere (which were, Messrs. Obama, Holder, and Soros will doubtless agree at the Last Judgment, pure astroturf).

Now is the time to put an end to this injustice, and use the most obvious resource invented to make lost souls into productive contributors. And really how come it's taken this long? Yes, corporations use systems, and systems are domination. But the fact is that corporations have taken the demoralized proletarians of Marx and Shaw and made them into nauseating middle-class bitter clingers, the despair of good progressives everywhere.

Wouldn't it be too harsh to render up the underclass to the corporations? Maybe. But we humans know that if you can't manage to socialize people with kindness then you have to "put a bit of stick about" as the chief whip Francis Urquhart says in the Brit version of House of Cards.

As God does with his divine justice.

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