This is something that goddamn well needs to be discussed. To judge from mainstream discussions of the job market, there is no such thing: there’s constant bellyaching about entitled employees and job applicants, but nothing about employers being unduly demanding and having inflated self-esteem. The problem is always that the kids these days aren’t willing to pay their dues, never that employers are self-important dickwads.
This is bullshit.
No, calling it bullshit is a charitable gloss. The apportionment of all blame to the applicant pool (read: Millennials) for the mismatch between the applicant pool’s skills and the qualifications for open positions isn’t merely erroneous. It is not some honest mistake or problem of perspective. What it is is the thorough corruption of the press corps, most thoroughly of the business press corps, by mendacious business interests. This corruption is accomplished partly through the bribery of journalists, editors, and publishers (think of this, if you will, as the Chicago model), and partly through subconscious appeals to their stupidity, shallowness, haughtiness, sheltered privilege, and laziness. The latter approach has the advantages of not having any financial costs for the influence-peddler and leaving a less damning paper trail, in the event that anybody actually gives enough of a damn to follow the paper trail. Whether the business interests doing the bribery see these as great advantages is debatable, since they’re obviously too sociopathic to be shamed out of engaging in systematic bribery. For most influence-peddlers, the two approaches are complementary. If anything, they’re probably less aware of their recourse to the latter approach than to the former, since the people they’re bribing are often too self-absorbed and naive to realize that they’re being pwned. It’s a grand circle jerk in which no one can imagine himself being a jerk, or that there’s even a circle and that he’s part of it.
This makes sense once the barely concealed industry standards of local news outlets are examined with any rigor. Keep in mind that these are not the journalistic standards you were taught in j-school or in All the President’s Men. One of the most important of these standards is the verbatim or near-verbatim repackaging of press releases as original copy. In newspapers, this is usually done by publishing under a “staff” byline. All anyone in the newsroom did was to reformat free copy for publication, so it stands to reason that no one wants the honor of his plagiarism. The Eureka Times-Standard, popularly known as the Sub-Standard, has a particularly strong affinity for this sort of “journalism.” On television, this repackaging takes the form of sending a camera crew and a dingbat reporter out to interview some group of dipshits, say, a mission group that just got back to San Diego from a vacation concern-trolling Central America’s hookers, and failing to offer any Opposing Viewpoints, say, from Costa Rican hookers who would like to see more gringo sex tourism, not less, and might not mind seeing some busybody missionaries deported to El Norte in chains. A prominent offender in the broadcast category is–wait for it–NBC San Diego.
Pathetically, and a bit confusingly, this free publicity for busybody church groups in exchange for free broadcast footage coexists with cohorts of journalists who get hard from the thought of their own false objectivity and scrape the bottom of the barrel in search of Opposing Viewpoints to contest the soundest arguments imaginable: “Capital punishment: let’s try not to execute the innocent” vs. “Capital punishment: never has an innocent person been executed in American history.” This is one of the ways that Ann Coulter and Nancy Grace ended up being invited into the national discourse instead of being local nuisances who routinely aspirate chardonnay and puke in the bushes in front of the tasting room before shambling back onto the wino tour bus. So these are not just local journalistic problems.
In a sensible country, Nancy Grace would be yelling at strangers on the plaza in front of the Five Points subway station, an equal among equals with amateur martial arts demonstrators and the guy sitting on a bench muttering “fucky fucky fucky.” The United States is not a sensible country.
Basically, any organization that has a PR department or an outside PR firm on retainer and is subtler in its bigotry than the Ku Klux Klan can feed PR content to news outlets and get it published verbatim under a nominally independent byline. At smaller outlets, this can usually be done for free. At national outlets, such as the New York Times, there’s apparently a fee, and a requirement that the propaganda be rewritten by in-house staff writers, but for this price the advertiser gets much wider exposure and stylistically superior propaganda. And yes, this is done through journalistic departments, not advertising departments. I can’t prove it, but it sure looks that way.
It’s corrupt as all hell.
Of course outfits like these will believe anything they’re told by Farm Bureau officials. It doesn’t matter that the Farm Bureau is a provably untrustworthy organization on matters of labor and immigration. All that matters is that it fields well-spoken media representatives with endearing stories from their own family farms and slick, well-rehearsed talking points. It doesn’t matter that the Farm Bureau is an authoritarian quasi-cartel. Journalists increasingly come from the upper-middle and upper classes, classes in which it is increasingly considered normal and appropriate to hire a de facto household staff of Latin American peasants under the table. It is considered perfectly acceptable in these classes to treat the help poorly but unconscionable to say an openly unkind thing about Latinos; much better to be backhanded in one’s praise of their work ethic. So when Farm Bureau officials stop by the newsroom with their own praise of the Latino work ethic, they’re received quite warmly. They practice the same hypocrisies, after all, just with more of a heartland twang. They don’t want to hire Americans to work their fields; the journalists’ parents didn’t want to hire Americans to babysit them or trim the hedges. The growers don’t want the vigorous enforcement of immigration and labor laws getting between them and a compliant workforce; the journalist likely doesn’t want the vigorous enforcement of immigration and labor laws getting between himself and the Guatemalan nanny he’s been boinking.
You can see, then, how sex tourism back home might look like a pretty good deal to a mamacita. Whitey can’t pretend that he’s in it for the edification of the working man in the Global South; he’s obviously in it for the pussy, and the mamacita is obviously in it for the money, but she’s doing business in her house, not his, so she sets the rules. Even if he’s an ugly American, it isn’t his own joint where he’s being obnoxious. It can’t take too many stories of emigrants being treated disingenuously or cruelly by bougie householders in the United States before Latin American women start figuring that it makes more sense to cater to visiting Americans who are unabashedly in their countries to motorboat a bitch. Actually, some of the stabler parts of Latin America crossed that threshold decades ago.
To look at it more conspiratorially, every Latin American woman who goes into the sex trades back home is one who isn’t available to clean hotel rooms in Arlington. I guess management will have to hire more Ethiopians, then, or, God forbid, black people whose families have been in Virginia since the 1620’s. Talk about local color. The first guy off the boat in my family didn’t land until 1699.
Few employers will admit that they don’t want to hire Americans, blacks especially, because such an admission would promptly get their asses sued by the sort of Americans who think of the civil courts as a “meal ticket.” I’m living next door to one right now: he gets $830 a month in SSI despite being 22 and able-bodied, “Indian money” from the Cherokee Nation, and has a million-dollar lawsuit pending against Kaiser-Permanente. I wouldn’t hire this guy, not after I saw him nearly start a brawl at the light rail station. The problem is that this sort of prejudice, which is well-deserved as it applies to individual bruisers and extortionists, gets applied with a broad brush to large swathes of the native-born, most aggressively and perniciously to native-born blacks.
This sort of prejudice is rampant. Ironically, it is probably grossly underlitigated. As it applies to native-born blacks, it is a major source of communal tension over the recruitment of foreign-born Latinos in the South. It is not, however, really a matter of race. Many of the same employers that discriminate against native-born blacks in favor of foreign-born Latinos would not be at all averse to discriminating against them in favor of Haitians. Haitians are heavily represented in menial jobs in Florida, including farm jobs offering some of the most abusive workplace conditions in the country; their relative absence in other states is mainly a function of Haiti’s small population and proximity to Florida.
What these employers are really don’t want is a workforce that asserts its own civil rights. I’m not referring just to Southern planters here; I have in mind business and household employers across the country who preferentially hire immigrants rather than Americans. “Take this job and shove it” isn’t technically a civil right, but it comes close. There is, after all, a constitutional amendment, the Thirteenth, forbidding employers to shove it back and compel disaffected employees to stay on the job. Objections to the hiring of native-born blacks consistently mention their excessive salary requests and demands for favorable terms of employment, as well as their poor work ethic. To any astute and honest listener, this sounds an awful lot like the antebellum planter’s complaints about recalcitrant slaves. These complaints aren’t without merit: there is clearly a disproportionately large portion of the native-born black working-age population that is marginally employable or completely unemployable; but there’s no way to complain about the assertiveness of native-born blacks compared to Latino immigrants without sounding like one is thrilled to have finally found a reliable source of loyal field niggers. There is no way to explain this preference without sounding like one is cross about the help getting uppity.
And if you’re a Dixieland apologist chomping at the bit to protest that this isn’t really about race because it’s about the free market or the honor of work or some shit, sit the fuck down and shut your damn mouth. I’m serious. Your ancestors screwed the pooch on race relations for all of us by buying people who had been brought to the Americas in chains and then holding them and their families in bondage for centuries, and you, their privileged descendant, are not going to dig anyone out of the hole they dug by running your goddamn pie trap in defense of economic arrangements descended, sometimes barely so, from race-based chattel slavery.
These slippery, disingenuous defenses of the Southern plantation system and its latter-day descendants are like a fucking whack-a-mole game. In my less charitable moments, I’m of a mind to have the soft-handed dandies promoting these iniquities hog-tied and gagged with rags, Charles Cullen-style. Cullen, George Zimmerman’s fellow creepy-ass cracker (check out his 60 Minutes interview: heeeeeeeeeeby jeeby), was merely yelling at a judge when the bailiffs did him thus; Dixie’s disingenuous apologists do far, far worse than that.
At least the twatwaffles who fly the Confederate Battle Flag and the 1960 version of Old Glory side by side are ridiculous enough not to do the math, fifty minus the more-than-zero secessionist states equaling something less than fifty; there’s no way that any reasonable person would take them seriously on policy matters. It’s much more pernicious to have think-tank types publishing backhanded attacks on the weakness of the North by way of praising the Southern martial spirit and all that Southern soldiers and officers have done in defense of the United States. We Yankees are obviously expected to show them the deference we’d show to any feudal militia running a neo-Cavalier protection racket. On second thought, fuck y’all. And nice job using that martial spirit to wage WAR ON THE UNITED STATES ARMY AND NAVY FOR FOUR YEARS. Wow Such Patriotic. This spirit lives on in the form of “right-to-work” agitation, this “right” being one that the aristocracy cherished on behalf of its slaves and sharecroppers, on the basis that it’s perfectly honorable for individual states, generally in the South, to trash labor protections on behalf of the entire country and preside over a race to the bottom. This defense of the “right” to work often goes hand-in-hand with the defense of other people’s right not to receive public assistance, including the federally funded kinds.
As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that while leftists with disingenuous or contradictory positions at least try to pay homage to the truth by offering some kind of rationalization or excuse, reactionaries just make all kinds of crazy shit up and run with it. This is an understandably useful style of thought and argument for people who pride themselves on their states’ American patriotism and also on their states’ historic cleaving of the country by means of armed sedition against the United States and its military. And the smarter ones, as I said, don’t fly the cracker banner next to Old Glory. Even the dimwitted ones never fly the Stars and Bars, the Confederate political flag, probably because that one calls to mind the unpopular and dysfunctional presidency of Jefferson Davis, not the very popular Yankee-ass-whuppin’ of Robert E. Lee and the boys. Nobody on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line gives a shit about the Stars and Bars, but Oh, Southern Cross, I really am a-fixin’ to go home and start a-mixin’…. It’s just that the savvy ones, the ones who aren’t flying the cracker banner in the form of a chintzy rug hanging from the front porch of the trailer where they bludgeon feral cats to death (dude was from Michigan), don’t show those colors in mixed company, because it’s bad for business. It calls to mind the South’s history of using a violent warrior class to suppress a peasant underclass by any means necessary.
It takes an overbearing sense of entitlement for an aristocracy to expect a peasantry to uncomplainingly bust ass on its behalf while its soft-handed members devote their lives to “Society” wankery and the authoritarian machinery of apartheid. This entitlement turned out to be a well-founded one for several hundred years, but it was still an entitlement. To a disturbing extent, it still is an entitlement. When Cliven Bundy spoke of the ill effects of welfare on the Negro, Whitey’s brother by another mother, what he really meant was the ill effects of public assistance on an agricultural overclass that is consequently denied its old birthright to force black people to do its farm work. When he said that the Negro was better off with the work ethic imparted by slavery than he is with the sit-on-the-stoop ethic of life in the projects of modern-day Las Vegas, what he really meant was that the former arrangement was more amenable to planters like himself. Notice that instead of volunteering his own ass for a chain gang, he orchestrated armed sedition against federal rangers for the purpose of continuing to squat on public land. Ironically, cattle ranching was the trade taken up by a group of German abolitionists in Texas who were desperate to avoid the labor demands of cotton farming, which necessitated slavery to be competitive, but Bundy Badger don’t care. He’s just another asshat who’s well served by feudal arrangements in a weak state, wishes to further weaken the state in pursuit of his feudal ambitions, and self-importantly decides that what’s good for him is also good for the black lower classes. He’s just projecting because he’s sore about his inferiors suckling at the public tit while he stages an armed land grab.
The assumption that there will always be and should always be a reserve workforce of Latin American peasants, many of them not authorized to work in the United States, also requires an overbearing sense of entitlement. It’s predicated on the assumptions that one should trash the local community by shutting Americans out of work opportunities and rampantly violate labor laws, as well as the assumption that one’s own precious snowflake children will not and should not have to do such work (“Should Americans pick crops? George says no! ‘Cause no one but a Mexican would stoop so low….) and an ever-less-supportable faith in the reproductive moxie of the Mexican peasantry. Yes, the Central American basket cases are still extremely fertile, but they’re less populous combined than Mexico is on its own. Plenty of Americans believe crazy shit about the Canadian health care system being more broken than their own country’s, so it’s no surprise that they’d miss the news about Mexico’s birthrate falling towards the replacement level and its economy growing by leaps and bounds.
If these trends hold out, they’ll be a very salutary development for the planter class and the haute bourgeoisie. Even more salutary would be the expansion of these trends throughout Central America. If Mexico were brought up to the socioeconomic standards of New England, the proximity of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala would still be a national security threat to the United States. Nobody in the United States except the moneyed and sheltered is well served by having that level of sheer disorder, poverty, and violence in the neighborhood. Of course, we, the people. don’t set foreign policy pertaining to these countries, as we are not United Fruit.
The upper classes in the United States fully deserve to suffer from constraints on the wetback supply. (Don’t worry; they say much, much worse things about Mexicans than I do.) Constraints on the native-born labor supply are cool, too. If you’re in the job market, like I so often am, don’t think for a second that recourse to public assistance doesn’t make your job hunt easier by making the applicant pool less hungry. The overclass has reasons for wanting us to resent public assistance beneficiaries, and none of them are good. The way the job market is currently structured, there’s a massive oversupply of labor. Notwithstanding the serious misallocations that simultaneously cause important work to go undone, one of the surest ways to fix this imbalance is to reduce the labor supply, and a very effective way to reduce the labor supply is to provide robust public assistance. This is why many in the starve-the-beast crowd aren’t so much pissed off about the fiscal effects of public assistance as they are about the minor comfort and stability that it provides to people who would otherwise be falling on their faces, abjectly beseeching their betters for work in a fully Dickensian hellscape. Hand the same amounts of money to Lockheed-Martin, and you’ll notice that quite a bit of the noise dies down. That missing noise is from the people who were concern-trolling the national debt.
Enough of the poors being grateful to the “job creators” for bestowing the gift of job on unworthy recipients like ourselves. It’s high time that the business lobby stopped misappropriating language formerly used to describe the gods in order to aggrandize itself and started showing some gratitude that it can get anyone to show up for work. Because if you expect fully trained conifer cone harvesters to fall into your lap and get preemptively butthurt on Craigslist at the prospect of untrained applicants replying to your help-wanted ad, you’re a bumptious, entitled prick. Me? I’m grateful when I can land consistent part-time work. So no, I, as an applicant, am not the problem. Nor is most of the applicant pool. We’re too meek for our own good, or for the country’s.
If you still have a problem with us, maybe because we haven’t completed the extensive training that you won’t provide or fund, allow me to pair a cheese with your White Whine. It should pair nicely with a salty manchego fuck yourself.