Daily Archives: October 7th, 2007

De-Skilling America’s Labor Force

From Counter Punch :

If there were any lingering doubts about Corporate America’s contempt for working men and women, the on-going attempt to replace people with robots should put those doubts to rest. Clearly, a company that prefers a “mechanical man” to a functioning human being is trying to tell us something.

A recent announcement by Big Three automakers that they plan to invest a billion dollars over the next decade in the development of robotics reminded me of a remark made by an HR representative of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, some years ago.

Off-handedly, he suggested that we might be surprised at what kind of workforce would, hypothetically, “scare” a management team. For example, it wouldn’t be a lazy, belligerent or even militantly pro-union workforce. Those types, he assured us, could be “fixed” (his term). No, the scariest workforce would be a conspicuously talented one.

Why? Because talent is expensive. Talent is leverage. And while there is obviously a profound upside to having valuable workers, there is, paradoxically, a built-in downside: Management is now dependent upon a variable it can’t control.

Typically, people with “careers” are interested in advancement, recognition, self-realization, etc. Ambition is recognized as a virtue and is encouraged. Conversely, people with “jobs” tend to focus on wages and benefits. But because wages and benefits constitute overhead, ambition among the “gravy-and-french fry crowd” (witty management-speak) is not only discouraged, it often needs to be “fixed.”

Accordingly, management has embraced a strategy called “de-skilling,” the systematic dumbing-down of jobs into easily mastered tasks. De-skilling is to virtuosity what Agent Orange is to foliage. While its primary goal is to improve efficiency through standardization, it’s also a means of “neutralizing” a workforce.

I’ve witnessed this myself up close and personal. This is not exclusive in the auto industry, this is the mantra of Corporate America. Period.

The author makes a point that the goal of corporatocracy is to dumb down all labor and to automate whenever possible, to McDonaldize what’s left of America’s manufacturing base. I remember hearing a news item back in 2005 where economists in Bu$hco’s employ wanted to include “hamburger making” at fast food restaurants in the “manufactured goods” category of the quarterly GDP reports. I don’t recall if they got their way or not, it was hushed up after that.

Globalization is sweeping through the planet like wild-fire, consuming nations and leaving smoldering husks in their wake. The World Bank, Federal Reserve and the IMF are reaping more manna than any tyranny in the history (in this cycle) of the world.

What are they going to do when the victim is totally bled out?

Original Article