Metropolis We Have Arrived!

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

My Grandfather was a Union organizer in the Ironworkers Union. His first week at the Iron mill he saw a man burned sent home to live or die as if the company wasn’t involved. He said he was beaten on picket lines at first because he was tall. “Hit the big guy first to intimidate the others.” Then after they knew who he was “Hit their leader first to try and intimidate them.” When my Grandfather died there was a Union, a healthcare plan, a retirement plan and college scholarships.

“If it is a fact that after working for George M. Pullman for many years you appear after two weeks after your work stops, ragged and hungry, it only emphasizes the charge I made before this community, and Pullman stands before you a self-confessed robber…The paternalism of Pullman is the same as the self-interest of a slave-holder in human chattels. You are striking to avert slavery and degradation. – Eugene Debs

I find it very ironic that Upton Sinclair wrote his classic novel, “The Jungle” about the meat packing industry in Chicago. Saying they used every part of the hog but the squeal. Employees overworked underpaid and brutalized with the line determining the speed of their work. The Amazon runs flat through the South American Jungle. Amazon is a river filled with crocodiles and piranhas where one false move could mean injury or death headquartered somewhere in the United States. Determined to out slumlord even Walmart, Amazon uses robots, computers, and high technology to insure the fastest possible delivery. Meaning the worker is merely a cog in the machine. “Yes sir, Mr. Transistor. I’ll try to do better in the future.” Metropolis we have arrived!

Henry Ford famously paid his workers five dollars a day. Not because Ford was a sport or economic revolutionary trying to build the American middle class. He did it because it created a burden on his competition and gave Ford the pick of the litter of the workforce. Ford had his own police force and bugged the washrooms of the factory to get the latest dope on employee sentiment. A factory always filled with rumors, Ford encouraged rumors of layoffs and shutdowns to keep the workers motivated. In a line of machines, they would place the fastest operator first. Thus, forcing everyone else on the line to try and keep up.

You have a right to my labor but not to my life. I will clock in and happily work my shift making Styrofoam plates or radiators or idler arm bushings. But when the work endangers my life or my sanity that is not work, that’s industrial terrorism. “Look, I know you are new. What I want you to do is climb over that fence and wrestle that 1,200-pound bull to the ground. You got four minutes.” At the grocery store warehouse workers were expected to pull two tons of groceries per hour. To expedite early attendance only half the tow tractors worked properly, first come first serve. What the workers hated most was “Fancy Cheese Night.” Expected to pull two tons while pulling orders of eight-ounce blocks of multiple cheeses.

They’re a-working away at our spirits. They’re a-tryin’ to make us cringe an’ crawl like a whipped bitch. They’re trying’ to break us. – John Steinbeck

So, Jeff Bezos sits as the new Citizen Kane, sitting in his new tower of Babel and surveys his world. He underpays his taxes and grinds through workers like a sausage factory. All with the added benefit of destroying employment in your community and eliminating local revenue. When living in Ohio, I was impressed by the Old Order Amish book. Anything you might need supplied by the Amish. They kept their money in their community and traded with each other. In their Gutenberg Internet they saw past the value of everyday low, low, prices or same day delivery. Besides it’s too hard on the horse for same day delivery.  You are three hundred years behind the times anyway, what’s another week?

When the Amish build a barn, they decide how many Amish it will take to build the barn. The non-Amish figure how few it will take to build the barn and how they can do it faster.  The Amish are out to build you a barn and will charge accordingly. The non-Amish are out to make as much money as possible while building the least barn possible without legal penalties. The Amish work hard but aren’t expected to kill themselves doing it. The Amish operate their tools; their tools don’t operate them. They don’t have performance data on their employees and don’t answer to Mr. Transistor.

You will know them by their fruits as recently Dave Clark, Amazon’s Chief of Consumer Business was bragging on Amazon’s progressive virtues. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez asked, “This you?” Posting an Amazon company memo. I’ll spare you the totality and get to the straight poop.

“We’ve noticed an uptick recently of all kinds of unsanitary garbage being left inside bags; used masks, gloves and bottles of urine. By scanning the QR code on the bag, we can easily identify the DA (Driver’s Associates) who was in possession of the bag last. These behaviors are unacceptable, and will result in Tier 1 infractions going forward. Please communicate this message to your drivers. I know it may seem obvious, or like something you shouldn’t need to coach, but please be explicit when communicating the message that they CANNOT poop, or leave bottles of urine inside bags.”

As a child of the space race, I once dreamed of going to the moon but didn’t know how I would handle pooping in a bag for ten days. For the moon it might be worth it, but for $15.00 per hour, I’ll pass. Drivers forced to take a poop in the back of a van so exhausted they forget to throw it away. How tired would you have to be after the humiliating circumstances of defecating in the back of the van? Into a bag amongst all those packages like field hand. How could you ever forget the experience? So, when you see those Amazon trucks parked in your neighborhood with their flashers on, they’re either delivering packages or taking a shit.  

“God told you what the trouble was. The philosophers told you what the trouble was; and when you have a country where one man owns more than 100,000 people, or a million people, and when you have a country where there are four men, as in America that have got more control over things than all 120 million people together, you know what the trouble is.” – Huey Long

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