12/12/12

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Sunday, December 16, 2012 6:42 AM
12/12/12 questions and discussion

1-what do we want the future to look like?5
2-who can’t be forgiven?5
3-what is a fair price?6
4-should we begin to regiment the poor?2
5-when might euthanasia be appropriate?4
6-why did my bosses boss tell us that people don’t know how to work anymore?7

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why did my boss tell us that people don’t know how to work anymore?

Jon: I’ve never enjoyed work, but since a teen I've worked lots of menial kinds of jobs. I also vividly remember watching both parents go to work all my dependent years. This inclines me to think I "know" how to work even though, as I started with, I have never liked my jobs. My boss -- after some prodding -- told me that unlike his earlier days on the job, employees increasingly lack "work values": showing up, showing up on time, making a good effort in a day's work, etc. He attributed this to our increasingly entitlement based culture. Immigrants (the legal ones) coming from cultures with more relaxed notions of work, and citizens raised here to expect things will be given to them without their having earned them.
On the other extreme, parenthetically, is a phenomenon in Japan wherein it often happens that they quite literally work themselves to death. It's apparently the legacy of the efforts they made to come back from WWII devastation, except now they no longer need that kind of working. They have a word for it and support groups comprised of the surviving family members. They seem to have the opposite problem as do we, but it too is tragic.

Tor: I’ve been a teacher for 42 years, I never missed a class or an assignment. When I realized all people weren’t like this, I quit. So I started a company and told my employees they could work whenever they wanted but that all deadlines must be met. It was  a 24-hour a day thing. They preferred this. Utopia could be possible if one loves what one does. The Japanese are as close to machines as a human can be. People like me had trouble with this coming and going from the workplace. Art only works when he loves to (except for today). Discussing what one will do with one’s life is a new conversation. Labor used to just work, they had no real expectation of change. They were not taught to read. Sweat of one’s brow work means that work is not enjoyable. For a rich society like ours -- our poor are living at higher comfort levels than the middle classes in Africa. We’re not as good as ants or bees: slave relationships. The Indian Caste system is close to that. The Indians themselves are fairly happy with this. That’s sort of what bureaucracy is for. It leads to powerlessness. We have choices like never before. In Norway we abolished poverty by making health care and education free. There one is either working or in training for work. Our "internal blueprint" is key. Find it!

Diane: I’ve been a public school teacher for 30 years. For the last 3 days someone’s been watching me work in order to learn from me and to correct whatever it is I'm doing wrong. We’re trying to close the african american education gap. 

Jon: have they/you found a remedy?

Diane: Finland doesn’t do standardized testing. There education's more cooperative. To become a teacher one must apply/compete for a job. It’s an honored profession. All schools have similar financial resources. They have some of the challenges that we do. The training takes 7 years and teachers don’t teach 7 hours a day. Instead it's more like 4 classes a day. I don’t want to be angry but I see a waste of resources and money here.

Tor: Finland is lowest of the five scandinavian countries in per capita income. Their system is the same as what I had growing up in Norway. Norway is #2 after Singapore in productivity. Both are emphasizing adding value in education. You teach the same thing to large numbers of kids. But then the rest you must teach according to the students individual strengths. 

Jon: [to Diane] would you prefer teaching as they do in Finland?

Diane: I would love that!

Ben: people’s notions of work, what’s owed to people. My favorite rant is the sense of entitlement people can have. It goes something like Why should I have to work while you just sit there? But that’s kind of like saying “I’m suffering so you should too!.” If I have to work for a living so should you makes sense though. 

Mike: back in the early 70s I had a friend who was an engineer, up and coming. They said they’d like him to open up a new factory. They asked him to locate the new factory in the poorest part of St. Paul. He did, and hired people in the neighborhood to do the work. He found that a lot of them were making so much money they had decided they didn’t need to come in to work everyday. They were not interested in 40 hour weeks or overtime. After one year this factory was closed and reopened elsewhere.

Tor: economists call this the backward bending curve. For example, natives in Africa were paid more than money in order to get them to come back. They also received objects they desired.

Mike: this business was heavily into engineering. In retrospect they would have been better off with sociologists, anthropologists who studied the culture they were moving that business into to better tailor the operation to the community.

Art: I agree the reason people don’t know how to work is entitlement. Achievement and completion have fallen from favor. Some people are ambitious, some not.

Mavis: about Mike's/Tor's points: the work didn’t mean anything to those people. Money was not enough. It’s more than just doing a job, it’s having work that has meaning.

Tor: a challenge needs to be posed. American’s love a challenge. Parents who tell kids to make them proud often have better performing students.

Mavis: my daughter was in the Peace Corp in Africa. One African assistant said “you americans tell us to do our tests on our own. That doesn’t make any sense to us. Working together is how we work!”

Rachel: the way we’re raising kids we’re taking away the individual’s thought processes (not using calculators, for ex). Entitlement; there’s an idea one can do what one wants but no one tells them they will have to work hard to be able to do it. Going to school and graduating shouldn’t be considered enough to get a job.

Jon: I have felt entitled too. I assumed that just showing up and working hard would be enough. But if the skills aren't there -- in my case, commission sales -- working hard is unproductive. 
I once volunteered to help a boy scout troop we formed in a low income neighborhood. Early on we went through the kinds of recognition/accompli­shment one could earn: badges. The boys were very excited about these until I read the list of things they needed to do in order to earn the awards. As soon as I told them of this, they completely lost interest.

Tor: people don’t typically understand what an economy is and what it takes for it/for them to succeed.

Jon: where does this come from?

Tor: self esteem, the dominant behavior they find at home and in their communities.

Rachel: they see power in their disrespect for authority or other work norms.

Ben: it seems many countries can present a unified social conduct. Here it’s always been confusing. So many different ways of living and working.

Mike: Carlos Fuentes said we learn our ethics from people who have authority over us. 

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