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Mike Brenner <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 09:00:29 -0500
text/plain (83 lines)
Jerry > That is, from where I sit, outrageous. We are programmers and writers,
      > not slaves. They do not own us and it is ridiculous for employers
      > to assume they can control our nights and weekends and vacations.

This is the opinion of someone who is one of the slaves, not one of
their owners. From the slave owner's point of view, it is not ridiculous.
From the slave owner's point of view the slave is an object of property
not a human being, and is therefore merely a means of production. Everything
produced is claimed by the owner.

The problem is one of vocabulary. You live in Europe,
where slavery has not been practiced in 1500 years. In America we are
still in the process of overthrowing institutions of slavery; at least
we have the vocabularly to recognize the sins of that slavery.

When you have a constitution that guarantees you rights, but the exercise
of those rights loses you your life, liberty, or wealth, then you really
dont have those rights. When the government, your employers, or
miscellaneous corporations have more rights than the individual (for
example, when the police arrest indiviuals for stealing from a
corporation, but do not arrest the corporation for stealing from an
individual), then you are a slave. When employers assert rights over
your product, beyone what they pay for, you are a slave.

Most people assume that the word slavery applies to minority groups,
but in America it applies also to the majority of wage earners, and
more particularly to engineering and scientific workers.

  > A job is not indentured servitude; employers get away with this
  > because we let them get away with it.

In a vacuous sense this is true, but it is not clear that if all
employees formed a giant union, that the slavery would stop. Unions
so far have not asserted any freedom for their empolyees in America,
but rather have espoused the even greater slavery of servitude to
longevity at the job and servitude to intolerance of non-Union workers.
The problem is that the Union leaders are more interested in their
own power than the liberty of the workers.

  > I'd have to be pretty desperate for a job to sign away my rights to
  > do whatever I please after hours, as I long as I do not compete with
  > my employer.

In the United States, the economy is just beginning to recover
from the Great Depression of the 1990s, and some high paying
engineering jobs are opening up. But looking at the period
from 1990 through 1997, the average high-paid engineer did not have
an option to change jobs without a significant drop in pay. In
addition, millions of engineers and scientists in the United States
were laid off during that period. Typically they did not go
unemployed, but on the average, they accepted less pay at a
different job.

  > They had some nerve to
  > demand this from me. I figured it was boilerplate and they would
  > agree to cross it out.
  > Surprise! The bureaucrats refused to accept the change. I walked away.
  > Oddly, this brilliant company explained that if I were a _company_
  > instead of an individual, they would allow the company to keep its
  > other clients' names confidential. Bizarre. Truly bizarre.
  > You'd recognize the name of the company, but my lips are sealed.:-)

Why do you think this is bizarre? It is much more common than
you think. The Harvard School of Businees teaches a class in
which is recommended that all businesses make it their first
priority to have all engineers sign away all their rights.
Europeans might remember from historical legends that the United
States was a freedom-loving bunch who rebelled from European
rule over imposition of taxes. That has not been true in my
lifetime: the citizens of the United States have repeatedly
voted for parties and laws that raise their taxes year after year
after year. It is only bizarre from a rational point of view.

The employer-slave relationship is as irrational as the
politician-voter relationship. The ancient philosophers
had better ideas (let everyone become enlightened so such
slave relationships are not necessary anymore). They say that
if the entire human race meditated for 60 seconds, all at the
same time, in silence, and listened to their inner voice,
then the world would be transformed into the Age of Aquarius.
Then our work would all become more meaninful and we would
experience true liberty and peace.