Mackenzie Andersen

manager, Andersen Studio

This conversation is closed.

Pride in one’s work matters to the individual and the society. Work brings life meaning- work is not just a means to an end.

Leslie T Chang is using an “end justifies the means argument”, which purportedly represents the voice and courage of the workers in the global factories but serves the corporate agenda well. Nothing she says is untrue as it is a general truth that people will make the best of whatever circumstances in which they find themselves. Chang’s argument at best works as a collective voice of a collective society and represents a sort of tyranny of the majority in which those that don’t fit the collective world view don’t really matter and as such they become the social outsiders who in this day and age are ripe candidates for the global terrorist movement.

I in this blog post, I pursue the denigration of the act of “making” in which I make the connection between the local ( in my case Maine, USA) and the global. This post is part of an ongoing series.

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    May 15 2013: Your right is to perform action, not to the result of your action.
    • May 28 2013: adesh: May we ask how you arrived at this bizarre conclusion?
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        May 28 2013: Freedom from Bondage of Action

        Every one acts with results in mind.
        As a consequence your actions are influenced by the expected or unexpected results. The anxiety thus produced might influence your performance adversely
        your actions are bound by the result.

        If you perform any action as your duty without thinking what is going to happen, you can give your optimum.
        You derive all the satisfaction in doing a great job whatever may be the result of your action.
        You are making your self free from bondage of action.
        • May 28 2013: Adesh: Something else occurred to me about this . If it is a good rule to not think about the results of your actions, and take satisfaction from carrying them out singlemindedly, is that not exactly the thinking of Nazi Adolph Eichman, , at his trial for genocidal murders ? He even thought of himself as doing something terrible, but as a sacrifice for his Country. That was not at all accepted as a defense, or sound thinking.
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        May 28 2013: Keep on performing your duties without expecting for any reward in return, leading a selfless life – this it what it is all about.
  • May 28 2013: If you are saying that being "Goal Oriented" , i.e. doing things because of rewards or punishments, has bad effects, I agree with you. But what is all this about "Rights"? If this is at all related to Hindu or Buddhist ideas, I must remind you that "Gods" do not need to worry about "Results" anyway.
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    May 26 2013: I apologize for not being clearer. I agree with you that human beings are able to find value even pride in any activity they engage themselves with regardless of what repressive agencies or mundane tasks that might be imposing those activities upon them and, of course, craftsmanship still reaps a premium market recognition.

    What I was decrying was Ms. Chang's - albeit a cross - cultural view that one's value as a human being is based upon whether they are a "productive" member of the current economic - and thereby political - system and that the recognition of that value is to be found in the consumptive lifestyle they enjoy.

    I see change as inevitable, there is nothing in the universe that is static and our human made systems of finance, politics, governance, economics and so on are just that, they are human made. they exist in whatever form we desire them to take. Or at least, the form that those in power wish them to take. This whole "work" and "employment" thing has only been around for a few hundred years, namely since the Industrial Revolution. We don't have to take it so seriously.

    Just as the days of pride in one's shepherding, or smithing, or tinkering or farming or a thousand other personalized tasks of the communities of the day, that pride still flourishes in the lives of a portion of the modern day workforce and the tasks they perform.

    but that pride of accomplishment, or productivity is slowly but surely being shifted back to one's place in and contribution to their community because having a "job", especially a job that provides a safe and secure future, is no longer possible for ever greater segments of the population every day.

    Change is in the air, nothing is static, everything is in transition. But that would be another thread :)
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      May 27 2013: I didn't hear Ms Chang place value on being "production"- only on viewing the job as a means to an end and trying to pull it off as cool- as the worker beating the system, when the worker is only making the best of the system that they can make. She made it sound as if they were learning new things BECAUSE they moved to an urban location to take a job in a factory, when in fact anyone who is alive in life is always learning new things where ever they are.

      I once had a thought that a worker in a low wage labor market could make as much from one sale on ETSY ( not knowing shipping costs) as working a month in a factory but my next thought was that political forces would not allow that to happen. My thinking then was confined to places with low wage labor markets but I have since come to believe that the globalists are threatened every where by small craft enterprises. These enterprises exist because people exist that love to make things- that have the desire to make things and take pride in the act of making things.

      In the state of Maine, our government run economy, which I call Maine State Inc ignores new internet venues and phenomena like Etsy and KickStarter because Maine State Inc is in bed with high growth investors ( tax payer subsidized high growth investors- no less!). They are spinning a yarn for the Maine taxpayers that Maiine State Inc is creating high tech manufacturing jobs for Mainers with top pay and top benefits- as if that is competitive in the global market place! But most Mainers buy their line.

      In the legislation, a different picture emerges. There is something called "foreign trade zones" coming down from the federal government . The warehouse must be state owned. The exemption applies to the goods stored or assembled and repackaged in the ware house and so it is a setup where by goods can be manufactured in low wage markets and assembled state side and so be promoted as "made in America"
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    May 24 2013: I am not sure what you are calling nonsense .This subject is actually pride in one's "work" and the conversation was posted in response to the conversation Leslie C Chang- The Voices of Chinese Workers who presents the scenario that it is only Westerners who care about the working conditions in the sort of factory that you describe. Ms Chang, a well dressed young Harvard educated Asian woman bases her opinions on interviewing Chinese workers whom she glorifies for accepting the job in its self as having no particualr meaning other than ast a means to an end. Ms Chang presents this as a bravado attitude on the part of the Chinese worker as if they are putting one up on the owners of the means of production, which these days is the global investment community

    .My gut instinct when I heard Ms Chang;s presentation was that she is a clever spokesperson for the corporate factories, posing as a spokesperson for the Chinese workers. She is presenting the way that the owners of the means of production want the worker to think because the owners have created exactly the conditions about which you speak- conditions in which there is little pride to be had in the work that one preforms in the here now. The value of the work is indeed outside of the job as the only value of the job is as a means to an end- which is measured by wealth and what wealth can acheive.

    I am saying that is delusional glorified corporate hype. The work process matters to the human expereince and has an intrinsic value of its own independent of the wealth that it may or may not bring but my vision of work is not framed by the factory type of job that you have described. You seem to be in agreement with Ms Chang in taking the pride out of the work process and then seeking pride somewhere else and of course one can derive pride from activities outside of work but that is not the point. All of life matters.
    • May 28 2013: Ms. A.: I'm afraid the idea that Industrial Society is going to provide even tolerable "Jobs" for everyone is seriously out of date. The Luddites pointed out the problem, but even they did not have to cope with AI and robots, I see nothing in the History of Capitalism, or its practice (outside of a few eccentrics like Henry Ford) that does, or could , justify paying a live person an
      "excessive" salary for doing something that a robot could do better.
      As for myself, and my Nordic sympathizers, we naturally work like beavers, just for the creative feelings it brings. (I'm not kidding, Look at all those rich kid scientific geniuses in Victorian England) But the pay is limited.
      It is not hopeless, however. Just as our present comfortable level of civilization was enabled by cheap coal and oil, basically, our future can be even better once we get serious about using Thorium LFTR energy (cheaper than coal, and plentiful) Once it is accepted by everyone that "jobs" are a thing of the past, it becomes the "Rich family" problem: What do we do to keep younger ones out of trouble, with no jobs. lThe answer is the usual: we create "jobs" , however useless and inefficient, according to taste.and interest. Like lots of Artwork, NGOs, anything at all. We would be able to afford it. All we have to do is convince the !% that if they don't go along with it, its the French Revolution all over again.
      All is not hopeless, however.
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    May 19 2013: Nonesense! The time when it mattered whether the worker took pride in the product of their labour is long past. The vast majority of jobs today are assembly line, office cubicle and service (servants really) tasks which, for the worker, are repetitive, boringly mind numbing, and prone to repetitive injuries that are chronic and debilitating. Meanwhile the wages attached to these "jobs" have not kept pace with inflation for years meaning that more and more people every year are driven deeper and deeper into debt or destitution just to survive.

    Besides, more and more employers these days simply view workers as problem prone necessities that can be easily replaced at any time and whose wages - even the subsistence wages - are a cost factor rather than an investment in the product. The garment workers in Bangladesh are a classic example of where the "jobs" market is headed.

    It is time to think beyond mere "jobs" as the principle means of obtaining a "living". Nor should a "job" define a person's value or relevance. Science and technology, robotics and automation, have been eliminating the human component from the "jobs" market at an every increasing rate for decades. And that is a good thing. Yes, there will always be tasks that humans must perform and which can not be trusted to machines alone, but those tasks are become scarcer every year.

    But I say good riddance to the assembly line jobs that dehumanize the workers by making them simply another part of the plant's machinery and offer little to no mental stimulation or value as employees since they are so easily replaceable.

    There is a rich, vibrant and engaging life to be found outside the workplace and a mere "job" and it is time we looked outside this box towards other ways that people can find value in what they do such as volunteering, community projects, family care, amateur sports and a host of others. But that is another thread :)
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    May 15 2013: Tying the rate of pay into the value of the product would be very problematic. For instance Hodgdon Shpyard is down the road from us. A few years ago Hodgdon Shipyard had contracts to build the largest sailing yachts in the world. This meant employment for very fine highly skilled craftsmen whom I am sure were paid quite well by the standards of the industry but if the standard were the value of the two largest sailing yachts in the world, one would say they were poorly paid, after all none of the fine craftsmen can afford such a yacht.

    More recently there has not been a market for such yachts and so Hodgdon Shipyard has been building less glamorous and more utilitarian products and so the workers on current projects would be paid at a much lower rate if the standard of pay is based on the value of the product.. If such were the standard, there would be wild and unpredictable shifts in the amount a worker is paid, creating a lot of uncertainty for the worker making it difficult for him to plan his own life.
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    May 15 2013: Thanks for the tips Fritzie. I'll try to find those talks- Hopefully they are still active.

    Rhonda, as iI read the creative economy rhetoric lead, by Richard Florida,I have been following the thinking of the “creative economy” movement since it is dominate at Maine State Inc. I find that this ideology automatically measures the amount of skill in a job by the standard of pay- thus Richard Florida and followers assume that repairing motor cycles is low skilled labor compared to lets say the CEO of a big corporation- a conclusion based entirely on the rate of pay. In “creative class” ideology, there is an attempt to portray paid foreign labor as low skilled labor despite the fact that the Chinese test higher in the skills of math and reading and some other skills than Americans.

    In Maine the government advances the idea that the government is going to create highly skilled, highly paid high tech jobs for Mainers, -this as the government glamorizes a global approach to the economy. The only such jobs likely to remain in Maine are not in product manufacture but in developing prototypes to be manufactured in low wage labor markets- and so that tax-payer money which is being used to finance government “economic development” is really serving the investor’s agenda and not that of the people of Maine or the USA.

    One can’t insure global wages unless one believes in world government, which is just another word for totalitarianism- not a good thing.

    But one can become more acutely aware of the propaganda that is being used to advance the agenda of the global owners of the means of production and to try to refocus the narrative. That’s what I am trying to do with my blog, which focuses primarily on Maine legislation but what is going on in Maine resembles what is taking place elsewhere. The use of language being a big factor.
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      May 15 2013: Hi, MacKenzie. The talks all remain active. If you are new here, go to the link at the top of the page for Talks.

      On that page, toward the bottom left there is a red link that reads "all tags."

      If you click that, you will find tags you can click that display all the talks on that subject. So, for example, since you are thinking about "work", you can see we have maybe a couple of dozen talks on that subject. If you look at the tags for happiness or creativity or economics or psychology, you will find many more.
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        May 16 2013: Is there a way to add related conversations after the topic has been started?
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          May 16 2013: If you look up at the gray box in which your thread question is presented, you will see in the bottom left corner of it a red link that says Edit. If you click that, you can revise or add to your initial opener.
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    May 15 2013: You might enjoy two TED talks in particular that go to this point. One is Mihalyi Czikzentmihalyi's talk about Flow. He is in the Psychology department at Chicago.

    Another is Martin Seligman's talk about his research while at Penn into what makes people happy. Work with meaning is a key factor.

    I know others of the TED talks on happiness make this same point, that spending ones energy doing work with meaning is key to a sense of well-being. Dan Pink and Dan Ariely are others who discuss the importance of intrinsic motivation in our work.
  • May 15 2013: It is imperative that the worker who creates the value is paid in accordance with the value of the product or service created. Currently, this is not happening. I wonder what we can do to make that happen.
    • May 28 2013: Rhona: Since there is no way to measure "value" which is objective , we might as well give that up. It should be obvious that "the Market" is not up to the job. It assured us for years that financial "Derivatives" were a triumph of modern invention, and not the devastating scams that they turned out to be.
      But that's OK. Why don't we just adopt the point of view of the family, or the military, and take a position that you deserve sustenance just because you are a member, no questions asked.