By David Glenn Cox
Henry Ford famously paid his workers five dollars a day. Ford has been acclaimed by some as some sort of Liberal hero, but his reasons were far more cynical. With fifty percent of the market Ford Motor Company was the Microsoft of its day and could easily afford to pay its workers top wages because the competition could not. Ford was using his wealth and his workers to punish the competition.
Only in America do we assume wealth equals intelligence. The person who makes a billion dollars sucking septic tanks is a genius. Their opinion matters! Old Henry had an opinion too! “The American worker won’t do a good day’s work if they can get out of it.” According to Ford, Americans were just lazy and shiftless by birth. “I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten. Look away, Look away, how we long for the good old days.” Ford never worked a single day on his own assembly line just to show us how a good worker behaves.
Instead, Ford hired his own police force and put hidden microphones in the restrooms. Ford held square dances and encouraged workers to stay away from Jazz music and lead a godly life. Ford forced his dealers coast to coast to carry and sell subscriptions to Ford’s own newspaper, The Dearborn Independent. And Ford wrote editorials blaming the decline in the American work ethic on the Jews and Jazz music. So popular was the Dearborn Independent that reprints were found in Adolf Hitler’s outer office.
Let me first say to the employers who have successfully lobbied to destroy the minimum wage. You brought this of yourself, Fuck you and your hamburgers too! The prices keep going up, but the wages stay the same! One of my favorite corporate thieves is Walmart. They have a place in the deli department where you can order hot food. Only the one worker there has nine different tasks to perform in systemized dysfunction (Lucy in the candy factory) until waiting on the customer becomes the lowest priority. “Let’s see, he can vacuum, clean the rest rooms and fly the plane all at the same time!”
“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country… By living wages I mean more than bare subsistence level – I mean the wages of a decent living.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I love watching the old training films and documentaries. I ran across one run during intermission at the movies looking for workers for a propeller factory during World War II. Rather than cry and call their Congressman and complain because workers wouldn’t come in and work for peanuts. The employer tried a different tack, “Good Wages, Free Daycare, and new homes within walking distance of the factory!” Women and minorities welcome and the handicapped too! Sign up today!”
Amazing what employers can do when they really want too. But because of the contentious nature of American employment workers refuse to be lectured from the porch of the Plantation house. Employers just don’t understand, “Why won’t they just pick the cotton, I’m offering this shiny nickel. Do you have to eat every day?”
Anyone who has spent any time reading employment ads knows the game. The not job, job. “Now is your chance to get into the exciting field of solar power!” Go door to door selling solar power! No more Fuller Brush man or door to door vacuum cleaners’ salesmen. Sell alternative energy…door to door!
“We’re a fast-paced start up with a bold new idea. An idea that will take the marketplace by storm and all we need is you! We need you to sell this fast-paced start up with a bold new idea. Never mind what the product is we will tell you later during your two weeks of paid training before we fire you. You could make hundreds of thousands of dollars and get rich! Our average salesman makes 120K while top performers can earn 200K. Take my word for it because there is no proof or documentation of it. An employer wouldn’t lie to you, would they?”
I worked for a guy once who held fiery sales meetings. “Something’s got to be done, or we’re gonna lose this business! It’s a tough world Amigo’s and if we don’t get those sales, it could mean curtains for somebody!” Then when you would bring a proposal, he would get cold feet. I brought a proposal to repower the antique car ride at an amusement park that you have all heard of and maybe driven on yourself and he went white. Top speed fifteen miles per hour but my boss had second thoughts, “People could get hurt and we’d be liable.” No amount of convincing would make him understand an engine was only safe in a box in the warehouse after that…shit happens.
We had sold pumps to a barge operator, and they called and said, “One of the pumps wouldn’t fit through the hatch.” As you can imagine the boss lost it. “Heads were gonna roll! Oh shit! Look what you’ve done to us now!” They called back an hour later to apologize for being so stupid and not turning the pump the right way. They tell you they can’t find workers, but we can’t find bosses. We can’t find a place without some stupid mind-numbing philosophy or company song. Three paragraphs that boil down to we love you, but we won’t pay you… ever. We trust you, but we’re gonna watch you and if that bank deposit isn’t made by ten AM we want to know why. Thank you for your suggestion, rest assured it’s been placed in the highest level of trash cans available.
Your call is very important to us. You’re not an employee you’re an Associate, wear the polyester with pride! Don’t forget to join our golden suckers club, give us your e-mail address and we’ll spam the shit out of you, for free! And you’ll get ten dollars over your regular wage for every overpriced walk-in bathtub or electric awning you sell!
“If it is a fact that after working for George M. Pullman for many years you appear two weeks after your work stops, ragged and hungry, it only emphasizes that 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 the slave holder in his human chattels. You are striking to avert slavery and degradation.” – Eugene Debs
Because you can’t really call it Capitalism if coercion is involved. Under Capitalism, if you can’t find workers you raise wages. Under Republicanism, if you can’t find workers you call your Congressman and cry and tell him to cut unemployment until you starve them back to work. “How am I doing Mr. Pullman?”