Paul Ryan Was Right — Poverty is a Cultural Problem


Log from Blammo's picture

I have noticed (anecdotally) a trend in business wherein a worker is fired, or not hired, on the basis of his current productivity. While profitable, employment may continue, otherwise the worker is dumped at the curb.

Thus, training and apprenticeship programs are gone. Training costs money. If the company hires only trained workers, they will train themselves at their own expense to get the job. If a contract or big order is lost, a mass layoff occurs, rather than shuffling those affected to other work. If they want another job with the company, they can apply for it, just like everyone else, except the company won't have to pay them as HR works out the details.

Entry-level jobs are among those that are initially unprofitable. So they disappear. Companies remove the lowest rungs of their career ladders. Unless you bring your own stilts, you cannot even begin to climb.

And this creates a culture of chronic deprivation, without hope, opportunity, or thought for the future. People stop looking for work because it is a fruitless waste of their time. They find other ways to survive. They abandon work culture in the same way that work culture abandoned them.

Jim Davies's picture

A couple of remarks. First, my own (pre-1985) employment experience was very different. Possibly, you may have encountered an unrepresentative company. My observation was that human resources were highly valued, and trained in one way or another, and paid well so as to minimize attrition. The cost of recruiting and acclimatizing a new hire was recognized as considerable, so this made good sense for the bottom line.
Second, I later began my own business and for a few years it prospered well, to the point when I needed to hire help. Aware of the enormous surcharge of regulation and red tape I succeeded in avoiding hiring any employee, and that was deliberate; the government-imposed hassle was simply not worth it. So I used a temp-help agency instead, and paid over the odds. Had the growth continued I'd have had to change that, but alas it did not.
Having seen the scene from both ends, I do recommend setting up shop as an employer, or at least visualizing what it would be like, and figuring out what you'd choose to do differently from what you've seen. Who knows, if employers are that bad, you may discover a business opportunity!

Sharon Secor's picture

Work culture is different from working for somebody else. It is a culture that connects work with obtaining the stuff of life, the expectation that work -- whether it is work you do for pay or work in your garden or work in effectively disciplining your child -- is part and parcel of achieving anything in life. A person may not have a job, but can still feed the family by investing labor in hunting, trapping, gardening, etc. 'Tis the concept of work as an intrinsic part of life having value and dignity that seems to be lacking...