Monday, August 31, 2015

The Conversation About Work-Life Balance is a Scam

It's probably because I'm antisocial, but I cringe anytime people exclaim the need for a national conversation about something: gun control, domestic violence, and now, work-life balance.  It's a scam because it makes people feel part of the decision making process even though reality has already been decided behind the scenes.  To defend against real change, you shift the conversation towards something soft and unquantifiable: what should be done?  It just seems wrong...  Meanwhile, people forget about the only thing that matters: supply and demand.

If you feel overworked and underappreciated, why not leave?  Logically it has to be true that you can't find a better job, assuming you aren't a lazy piece of shit.  Maybe the risk of an unknown job is too high to warrant leaving your current one, even if your soul gets blacker every day.  But after hearing that Amazon story, I'm hard pressed to believe that's the case.  These dumb fucks got to be masochists.  If that story is true, they are allowing themselves to be abused simply because of the Amazon brand?  

Never forget that working is simply selling your time and expertise for compensation.  It's as commoditized as Jose selling oranges by the corner.  This has nothing to do with capitalism; supply and demand is part of the natural world.  It existed in Soviet Russia, it existed in the cave man days, and it will exist long after you and I are dead.  Now the compensation need not be money; it can be innate like accomplishment or a vague sense of superiority that you accomplished something that other bozos couldn't or maybe so that the commisar won't send you to the gulags.  The point is, you always get the most you can out of it because you implicitly realize your time is valuable.

This is where all these fuckers are getting bamboozled.  They may feel their shitty jobs demand a $100k paycheck, but they don't quit even if they only make $50k.  Why?  Because they get the other $50k in intangibles.  It has to be true or else why didn't they quit?  In this case, intangibles is just a brand: getting to put Amazon on your resume.  It didn't matter that you were treated as an indentured servant, as long as people got to know that you worked at Amazon.  And that's not even the most retarded part.  I bet some of these people love bitching about Amazon as some kind of badge of honor, implying that mere mortals would have never survived such a harrowing experience.  It's the same kind of retardation that some Marines exhibit when they shit on the Air Force for being the Chair Force when all the facts point to the reality that the Marine Corps is a much worse occupation in every measurable metric.

The flipside is that since the burnout rate is so high, isn't Amazon losing money rotating these new guys in all the time?  Supply and demand dictates that if you have one orange and 10 people want it, you jack up the price and if 9 people die of scurvy, so be it.  At least that will incentivize others to plant more orange trees.  In the same vein, if Amazon knows that there are 100 charged up young college graduates lined up to be a glorified unskilled labor, they are going to give you as little compensation as possible.  Quit?  They wish you would so your stocks won't even vest.

It's turning out to be a rant, but this intangible compensation is the biggest reason why wages aren't going up, much to Janet Yellen's dismay.  People are risk-averse thanks to 2008 so they literally have to get raped at their jobs before considering getting a new job, but that's not the whole story.  By talking about work-life balance, society is also implicitly saying that a company offering work-life balance is part of the compensation package.  This is like 1984 when the dude got a smaller piece of chocolate, but they claimed it was an increase.  By framing the conversation around work-life balance so that it is a double-plus good thing that companies offer, they can cut back on their tangible benefits and these dumbass workers think they are getting a sweet deal.  When really they should be saying fuck you pay me.  The truth is: most companies understand work-life balance.  By default, it already exists and had existed for a long long time.  The only place it didn't was the valley (and wall st)and that's simply because of the endless supply of enamored workers and this is not even including the h1b visas who will gladly work today for a hamburger tomorrow.

As a corollary, ask yourself why so many silicon valley guys dress like shit, even the owners.  Even Mark Cuban prides himself in never wearing a suit.  It's because dressing like a homeless guy signals that you have made it.  You are so rich and important that you can get away with dressing like those guys who shot up the high school.  Meanwhile, if you wear a suit, you are a wage slave, forced to wear one.  By framing "being allowed to dress as badly as you want" as compensation, companies can cut back on actual compensation, like $$$.

If you are having a conversation about work-life balance and you sound like Bernie Sanders, talking about what corporations should do and how it's just plain wrong and unfair and then proceed to bitch about capitalism, congratulations, capitalism has won.  You have taken a slight against you and redirected it into bitching instead of action, which would be to consider the supply and demand forces in your industry and thinking about how supply and demand can work in your favor.  Maybe increase your skills so that you aren't competing with Patel who don't need health insurance because he can just reincarnate.  Maybe stop comparing yourself to TV shows and instagram where everyone is a success.  Do anything but bitch on your personal blog as if the world owes you something.