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16 May 2014 @ 11:30 am
I hate the Cult of Overwork  
Inspired by a friend posting about having to work fifteen days in a row at her part-time jobs and two other people coming in and posting "lol suck it up try working 169 hours a week before you complain. *smallest violin* Put on your big girl panties and work for money so you can buy pretties", which is paraphrased, but not by much. Some of that is quoted literally.

I mean, I'm not surprised that managers set up circumstances that require someone to work multiple part time jobs to not starve, because capitalism. Workers are a cost, not an investment or a value, and they'd be replaced with robots in an instant if robots were good enough to do it. As the Wobblies said long ago:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
-Preamble to the IWW Constitution
Smash the state, etc.

No, it really annoys me when other workers come in and talk about the virtues of working ridiculous hours, how it's just what you have to do to get by, how you shouldn't complain, "put on your big girl panties," and other bullshit like that. It's like when people complain about the pay and benefits of union workers and want them taken away, because G-d forbid you make common cause and try to get your pay raised. That's communism or something. No, we can't have that. We need to make sure that other people also work hard until they die because if anyone else gets one penny they haven't "earned" then justice is a lie, the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves, and it's all sad eagles and Jeezus casting people into the outer darkness.

But even beyond the idiotic Prosperity Doctrine-laced workaholism of American culture, it's bad science! Working that much doesn't work:
The perplexing thing about the cult of overwork is that, as we’ve known for a while, long hours diminish both productivity and quality. Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps; likewise, for knowledge workers fatigue and sleep-deprivation make it hard to perform at a high cognitive level. As Solomon put it, past a certain point overworked people become “less efficient and less effective.” And the effects are cumulative. The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.
-source
Add that together with the assumption that anyone who isn't rich is probably lazy, and... Ugh, I could write pages and pages about how much this enrages me. It's setting society up to grind people under the wheel until they can't hold it up any more, then throw them away and get another person to take their place. It's awful and we shouldn't have to put up with it.

Then again, there's a significant portion of society who thinks that, when asked about someone without enough money for medical treatment, Let him die! is somehow not a horrific opinion worthy of utter ostracism, so things are unlikely to change any time soon.

You could argue that we need a way for supremely motivated people to put in extra hours of their own free will and not if compelled by their bosses, because there really are people who love their jobs and love spending tons of time at work, and while I may not understand them, there are a lot of people I don't understand but whatever, they can do what they want. It's really difficult to allow this while also not setting up some kind of social norm in favor of tons of hours, though. I mean, Marxism aside, a person who comes in 20 extra hours a week, or spends 20 hours at home unpaid doing extra work, seems like a much better investment than the one who clocks in, does their 9 to 5 (for those lucky enough to have a 9 to 5...), and clocks out. It's more work, after all, and without some kind of productivity analysis, it would be impossible to tell if they're producing less work than they could be with a more measured schedule, so it's easy for managers to point to that person as a model and exert subtle or overt pressure to match them. That's the whole point of overtime pay, after all--to add a cost that discourages that kind of behavior.

The problem, of course, is that overtime pay is per job, so people working multiple jobs are screwed. And a ton of jobs are exempt from it even when they shouldn't be, even as the amount of stuff the average worker has to do keeps increasing with no corresponding pay increase. So yeah, smash the state.

Here endeth the rant.
 
 
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marianlhmarianlh on May 17th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
100% agreed. There's also something wrong with one person working 160 hours while others can't get a job at all. If they split that much work up between, say, 5 people--who all made a living wage from their 30ish hours--they'd not only have more productive employees, they'd also have 5x as many customers.