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Viking ZX

Author of Science-Fiction and Fantasy novels! Oh, and some fanfiction from time to time.

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OP-ED: A Matter of No Consequence · 9:03pm July 29th

Warning: This is not a happy post.

Wow. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen a post like this one on the site, hasn’t it? But hey, Starforge‘s draft is now complete, so we can see stuff like this again. My mind feels free.

So, what are we talking about today? Well, to start with, I bounced between quite a few titles when I was thinking on this one. “America: Land of No Free.” “Freedom from Responsibility.” “Land of Freedom from Accountability.”

Among others. I think you get the picture. And a few of you are probably wondering what this is going to be about. Well … if you’re making guesses, there’s a good chance you’re on the right track. So I’ll dive in.

When I was young and being raised, one of the things that was constantly taught and reinforced, everywhere from my parents to (some of) my education was the concept that “actions have consequences.” It’s a basic principle of life: You’re free to choose (or should be) but you cannot choose the consequences. This leads to a sense of accountability and responsibility, a sort of social construct along the longs of “for every action, there will be an equal and opposite reaction.” For example, if you work a job, working harder at said job—producing better quality work, spending more time at it, more effort—should come with the reaction of greater reward for the additional work. One plus one equals two, so one plus two should equal three.

Here’s the problem: Should. Because as those of us that have worked in the United States can attest, rare is the job where working harder sees any sort of reward for your efforts. More often than not, what happens instead is punishment via cutting. “Oh, you were able to do that job in three hours when it takes everyone else five? We’ve assigned you additional work to fill out that five hours. No, we’re still paying you the same as everyone else. Whine about it and you’ll lose your job.”

It’s a problem of consequence. Do your job well, and you’ll receive no reward for doing such. In fact, you’ll be punished. Do your job poorly, but not poorly enough to be punished? You’ll trundle along. Why risk working hard or even average when you'll only suffer for it?

But this is just an appendage, a symptom really, of the greater problem at the root, of something that affects the entire United States. I would contend it’s the cause of the current sexual assaults problems in so many video-game companies (Activison-Blizzard is facing a lawsuit right now over, among other things, management sexually harassing and employee so badly she committed suicide, all of which was covered up), complete lack of ethics shown by food companies (Tyson Meats is currently appealing a lawsuit over their management forcing employees to work during Covid-19 lockdowns and then management making bets on how many employees would die in each department), and the source of the cruelty evidenced by shipping companies (such as one shipping warehouse forcing employees to work around the body of an employee who had suffered a heart-attack from heat exhaustion).

All of these? There’s a common root cause among them. It’s the same cause that allows CEOs, Board Members, and managers to be pulling down incomes that let them buy a new house a year while the employees right under them work 70 hours a week and yet have to be on state welfare because they’re paid so little. It’s the same cause that allows for forty employees to have twenty managers, most of which just sit in an empty office and talk with the “good old boys club” while two of those employees do all their work on top of their own because said manager doesn’t actually know how … he’s just good friends with the manager above him and that’s why he has the job. It’s the same cause that allows for a manager to run a division into the ground through manglement, ruining a company and destroying hundreds of jobs … only for that same manager to receive a bonus for their “hard work” and go on to do the same thing at another company.

No. Consequences. No accountability. No responsibility.

Why? Because these people have convinced others that they deserve to be above consequences, dangling in front of them the carrot of “If you let me do it, one day you might be able to do it too.”

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Comments ( 7 )

I saw a lot of this in my current company over the last five years. Primarily, it involved regular layoffs, roughly once every six months. A lot of guys I knew who were essentially experts at their jobs were booted, and it got so bad that eventually there were certain processes for which we literally have no experts, but we still offer them as products. We haven't had another layoff in... a little over a year now, I think? But I imagine that's only because we've reached a point of "skeleton crew". Heck, Many of my SMEs can't get to my documents because they're trying to do the work of five people as it is. There haven't been any raises in two years, and in the latest company-wide announcement they said they'd offer them as soon as they "figure out how to pay the cost". Hmm... I wonder how much the guys on top make in a month...

No reward for hard labor. If you got your tasks done early, you’d simply be assigned other tasks. If you worked hard and upped the quality of work, there was no reward. There was no raise. There was no praise. Instead, there was “Well then do this here now.”

This reminds me of a temp job I took for an accounting firm helping them get caught up for Tax Season.

I'd been hired on through a temp agency to work for a week, helping the firm scan and sort their backlog of paperwork. I showed up starting Monday, cleared their backlog single-handedly by Wednesday, and was called by the temp agency and told not to come back right before work on Thursday. When I asked the agency why, they said my erstwhile boss claimed that I'd "asked too many questions". (Which was a load of bull, unless you count "What else do you need taken care of?" as too many questions.) That event left me with some long-term damage, where I'd been afraid to ask any questions at new jobs.

So yeah, my boss got what she wanted, faster than she'd expected, and rewarded me by shorting me my paycheck and leaving a possible black mark on my record. Scumbucket.

(I may still be more than a little bitter about this, all these years later.)

As it was, as it is, as it ever shall be. In this world, might makes right. They believe they will face no consequences because none who have the power desire to make them face consequences, and those who have the power do not fear consequences themselves. They do not fear you. You lack the capability to make them fear you. "You'd need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons."


From Sandy Hook to London tower
From Jaffa to Japan,
They can take who have the power
They may keep who can.

This is the law of Heaven and Hell
Stupendous and divine
The highest, holiest law of all
That governs “mine and thine.”

The law it is of Sun and Star,
Of President and Pope —
It is “the prisoner at the bar”
The gallows and the rope.

It is the lawyer and his fee;
The shearer and his sheep —
The eagle soaring swift and free;
The dreadnaught on the deep.

It is the Bond; it is the Loan —
The profit and the loss —
The usurer on his Bullion Throne —
The Idol of the Cross.

It is the Goth; it is the Hun —
The tyrant and his prey,
And flame and saber, club and gun;
O, taxes that we pay!

It is the law of all the climes,
And all the things to be;
And all the bold tremendous times
That you and I shall see.

From Sandy Hook to London tower,
From Greenland to Japan —
They will take who have the Power
And they may keep who can.”

— Redbeard’s Review

Seirs #4 · July 30th · · ·

I’ve seen way to much of this in various forms. Though I have been pulling out the popcorn as one major local offender is getting a bit of being held accountable lately. I only hope when all is said and done things don’t devolve to more of the same...

If you give a company an inch, they'll take a mile. It reminds me of the things we were taught about the late 1800s in school, the Gilded Age of Rockefeller and Carnegie. Everything looks shiny and new, but is really just a turd painted gold. An industrial revolution built on the backs of sweatshop laborers being paid pennies for 80 hour weeks. A time of plenty, but everyone is starving.

Such is life when the workers have no power. Unionization is pretty much the only tool we have, and yet we refuse to use it. I want to maintain hope for the future, but it gets a little harder every day.

Here's an interesting thing that happened recently:

Company Town Hall, July 2021: "It's going to cost X amount of money to give all our employees raises. We have to figure out how to pay for it."

Company Town Hall, August 2021: "Shows a graph depicting >>>X net income for the last three quarters."

I can just hear the meeting in the board room:

CEO: "Are you sure we want to show them direct evidence that we can afford their raises?"

CFO: "It's not like they actually remember what we said last month. Just stick to the script and don't let the topic come up. We'll be fine."

The disconnect from reality has just gotten so bad, and continues to worsen because no one holds these people accountable anymore.

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