(originally published at OpEdNews)
I’ve written about my employment history on several occasions. It comes in handy because it seems that my personal employment history follows the decline in the esteem which American business, and, frankly, in which Americans hold towards workers. When I began my true career in 1972, businesses and Americans in general were appreciative of the initiative shown by most American workers. At the end of my career, it seemed that businesses lost that appreciation. Just look at the change in the names of the departments which handled labor problems for most businesses. When I started, they were called “personnel” departments. At the end of my career, humans merely became just another “resource”, like fuel, metal, bolts, nuts and water. When businesses began to decide upon which resources to cut back, humans were right on top of that list.
I’ve sort of beaten that truth to death. I hope that at least some people who were sympathetic to the “poor” CEOs and their legal responsibilities were enlightened, at least just a little bit, by some of my articles.
Although I’m, once again, going to give examples from my own employment background in this article, the main object of the article is not about the relationship between employers and the employees who already work for them. I’m going to back up a bit and talk about how I, and I know many, many others, got their jobs in the first place. I’m going to try to contrast that with how people who work in one particular field go about obtaining their employment.
In my case, I wasn’t a college graduate. I didn’t have head hunters looking at me and my accomplishments either in college or in previous jobs. I had finished three semesters in college and came to the conclusion that, although I didn’t flunk out of school, at the rate at which I was going, sex and drugs and rock n’ roll became barriers that I placed between college classrooms and me. I may even have somehow made it to graduation, but it would have been very difficult as I didn’t care nearly as much about graduation as I did about those other three “courses”. So, I quit.
At that particular time, the manufacturing sector in The FUSA was still rather strong and one didn’t need a college degree to become an operator or technician in a production plant. In fact, there were some with whom I worked who didn’t even have a high school diploma.
I didn’t consider myself un-trainable and some of the people without high school diplomas were outright sharp as knives in the areas necessary to be successful production workers.
The first step was to go to a manufacturing facility and fill out a fairly simple application. At Dow Chemical, a mechanical ability test was given and I - I have no idea how - passed it. I was hired.
Let’s back up just a bit. I quit school and now needed money to support myself. I got married just as I was applying at Dow and had, at least, one more person to support. I needed the job because I needed the paycheck and whatever “benefits” Dow offered. At that time, they offered quite a few and those “benefits” were solid. I needed Dow, or some other company, to hire me because I needed to begin to make money.
I do know some people who graduated from college with engineering degrees. In those cases, Dow, or other companies, did look at their accomplishments. Whereas I showed up to fill out the application, to take the test and even for the interview in fairly decent looking jeans and a neat T-shirt, Dow invited the college grads out to dinner. I’m sure that there was an application that these engineer wannabes handed to Dow, but it had a different name. It was called a résumé. When Dow met with the grads, the grads probably wore suits and ties if they were men or wore clothes that they thought would impress the Dow representatives if they were women. Actually, in both cases, they tried to look as professional as possible.
Nonetheless, these college grads wanted one of the companies with whom they met to hire them. Why? For the same reason I wanted to be hired. They also needed money to support themselves and any other dependents they had. I’m sure that companies like Dow sweetened deals with these grads if they thought that a particular potential employee would add value to the company. However, in the end, the grads needed Dow much more than Dow needed the grads. In this way, they weren’t much different than those of us without a college degree. We needed money and Dow had it.
Whether it’s with a manufacturing company, a bank or investment company, a construction company or any other type of employer, those who talked to these companies about the possibility of being hired needed to be hired.
One of the requirements was that there had to be a place for any of us who applied for jobs. There had to be an opening. Even back then, companies didn’t just hire people out of some philanthropic urge. The company needed to fill a slot.
Now the contrast. There was going to be an opening that needed to be filled in 2009. Every American should have at least known that. The twenty-second amendment to The Constitution of The United States limited the number of full terms to two that a president could serve. George W. Bush was finishing up his second term in 2008 and, in January of 2009, there was going to be an opening. Nominally, anyone could apply for the job. Of course, if one had name recognition and at least some political or high level leadership experience, it helped. That’s what the word “nominally” means in this case. It takes a certain number of signatures on a petition to even qualify to be on the ballot in all of the states. The number is so great that most of us could never be on any ballots. So, we’re already narrowing the possibilities of applicants based upon name recognition and on experience.
It’s possible that, in some cases, those of us who applied for jobs knew someone who already worked at the places at which we applied and, to that extent, we may have had some name recognition. When we filled out our applications or handed in our résumés, whatever appropriate experience we had became known to those who were hiring.
Here’s where it changes a bit. I don’t know of anyone, with or without a college degree, who got their job by paying those that were doing the hiring. I’m not saying it never happens. Corruption is one of the biggest reasons why pure communism or pure libertarianism could never work. If people are left to their own devices, many will do whatever it takes to beat out a person who is competing for the same position. Too many people are too corrupt to trust self regulation. But I digress.
The change, as it manifested itself in 2008, and had already manifested itself before that, is that the person who we hired as president in November of 2008 ultimately paid - someone - $700 million to get the job. Barack Obama paid $700 million so that we would hire him to do a job that pays $400,000 a year. Again, no one I know ever paid anyone to get a job. They needed the job so that they could get paid and support themselves. I certainly don’t know anyone who paid 95% more than what the job pays. If I did my math right, that’s what Obama paid to get the job.
All other applicants for that same job, those who lost, paid similar quantities of money.
This year, that job is becoming open again. It opens every four years, but the person holding it can be rehired after having it for four years. President Obama wants to keep his job for the full two terms. However, this time, he’s running against a man who is said to be worth over $200 million. Mitt Romney asked people, most of whom are going to either hire him or not hire him, for money to help him get his job. Romney has asked his future bosses for money to help him wrestle the job from Obama and they’ve obliged him by giving him $87 million thus far. Let’s review. A man worth $200 million asked his potential bosses for money and they gave him $87 million to facilitate his getting a job that pays $400,000 a year.
Obama, who already has the job because, in 2008, he paid - someone - $700 million for the job that pays $400,000 per year, has asked his bosses, yes, those who are already his bosses, for more money to keep his job and they’ve come through so far with $87 million, as well.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I could have gotten any job I wanted with the Dow Chemical Company in 1972 if I gave them $87 million dollars up front. However, first of all, they, my future bosses, would not have given me the $87 million to give back to them. Secondly, I’m not sure that anyone, college grad or not, would even make $87 million working for Dow or any other company during the span of his or her career.
Of course, here’s a reality check. What I, or anyone else who applied for a job with Dow, could do for the entire nation would be almost nothing. These two men are competing so that when we, the hiring team, meet in November, we hire the right person, the person who can do the most for the nation. In an article I wrote some time ago entitle “Fighting for their Country?”, I tried to make it clear that a nation or a country is simply an autonomous piece of land and those who inhabit it. That’s what a country is as far as I’m concerned. I even gave some examples of what Dictionary.com considered a “country”. Yes, being president of The Formerly United States of America can be a daunting job. However, anyone who wants the job still has to convince those of us who are doing the hiring that he or she will help protect and defend The Constitution of the country - the land and those - all of those - who occupy that land. And, admittedly, it is through the media that the applicants share their “résumés” with us and, through those “résumés”, we should be able to determine which of the two candidates is most qualified.
Herein lies another sticking point. I don’t know of anyone who filled out an application or handed in a résumé who asked those doing the hiring for a little extra time to research and learn all of the mistakes, sins, controversies, etc., in which their competitors were involved and which, in the researching candidates’ opinion, would disqualify the competitors. The applications and/or résumés contained information about the applicants by which those applicants spoke about themselves and the reason they were qualified for the job. No, I was not given time to research one of my competitors so that I could write on my application, “John Doe beats his wife regularly.” I was hired based upon my qualifications, not the disqualifications of others that I could bring to the attention of the hiring team. I was not, and I believe most others were not, able to write about our competitors and obfuscate the entire process. If I lied about what I did or where I worked, those doing the hiring were responsible for finding that out.
To compare applying for a job to running for president of The FUSA may be a stretch, but I don’t believe it’s really that much of a stretch.
Candidates should not have to raise billions of dollars to place ads on television which talk more about their opponents’ faults than about their own qualifications. In that way, applying for any job should be similar. “Why should I hire you?” should be the question that is answered, not “Why shouldn’t I hire your competitor?”
We all blame the ridiculous Citizens United v The FEC decision made in 2010 for this outrageous process and, yes, it was a Corporatocratic driven, bought and paid for decision which was the natural culmination of similar decisions made throughout the years since The Southern Pacific Railroad v Santa Clara County in 1886. However, just because someone is given an unethical tool with which to work doesn’t mean that she or he has to use it. It would show character and courage to, not only speak out against the decision as Obama did during one of his State of the Union speeches, but it would show true courage and character if Obama and Romney, and other presidential candidates - there are others, you know - all agreed to turn their backs on this buying of the job of president and run on their own records, not sling mud at their opponents.
Finally, this has all been about the presidential election. However, the buying of jobs has infested all of politics. If one is running for a national seat, one is raising and spending money and speaking more against her or his opponent than trying to convince the hiring team - us - that he or she is the most qualified for the job. It’s even happening at the state level. Just take a look at the Wisconsin recall fiasco.
Ultimately, running for office is asking voters, the hiring team, as it were, to hire you because you would do the things that would make their lives better and make the town, the city, the county, the state or the country better. Running for office shouldn’t be much different than applying for any other job.
There are some solutions, of course.
1. Overturn Citizens United and any other previous rulings that led us to this buying of jobs.
2. Force all candidates to get whatever money they will need to run for office from a public supply. I know, I know, there’s that terrible Socialism again because it may cost some money, otherwise known as revenue, anathema to Grover Norquist. We must not forget that Grover Norquist was never crowned king of America. Besides, some socialist activities aren’t terrible and, if you look at the word, those activities are done with the betterment of society in mind.
3. Severely shorten the time for campaigning. The campaign is not the time for candidates to build name recognition. If no one knows who they are before a six month campaign starts, then they’re not qualified. Empower the FEC to disqualify anyone who tries to weasel more time for his or her campaign than is legally allowed.
4. I know some will say this is merely more government bureaucracy, but create a government, non-partisan (if that’s even possible anymore) FactCheck.org type department. If a candidate is engaging in blatant, outright lying, either about his or her opponent or even about himself or herself, disqualify that candidate.
5. Get rid of that worthless Electoral College. One person, one vote. No gathering of unknown “representatives” of the votes, not the voters, but the votes, in December, after America has hired its candidate.
“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” - Peter T. McIntyre