Thursday, August 04, 2011

Blue Collar Prejudice

* Posted previously and I thought maybe it needed saying again...

I bet you're thinking, 'What???' Let's take a look at this like it might actually exist.

Name a television entertainment program with a blue collar male that is something other than a dolt, an "Archie Bunker." Or try to find one where such a character isn't based around sloth and irresponsibility. I can think of 2 programs, "Made In America" and "Dirty Jobs" both of which are "reality TV." Regarding sloth and irresponsibility, productivity has increased virtually every year for 20 years. Workers today are getting more done in a work day than in the "good ole days."

Here's some reality to go with TV mindlessness, over a 20yr period most blue collar job wages have remained static or declined. Yes, working harder and better and making less. In that same period corporate profits have increased over 700%. Working for the same employer for an extended period is increasingly unlikely. Blue collar jobs are relentlessly dangerous and harmful to health, lower income health problems are frequently blamed on poor lifestyle choices, the reality is that the nature of the work is frequently the base problem.

A large percentage of skilled blue collar workers require a 2 income household to keep a family of 4 above the poverty line. This is not about extra income to buy expensive toys, this is about reliably keeping a roof, food, and transportation and these people are one health problem from disaster, if they have health insurance (unlikely) they face deductibles nearing 1/2 year wages which is very nearly pointless to have.

Blue collar workers face increasing employment competition with illegal hires. This competition takes two forms, one is direct hiring competition and the other is wage depression. This competition is largely ignored in any debate regarding illegal workers. The divorce between blue collar workers and their fellow citizens is increasingly evident. Debates arise concerning product pricing at market and the legality of the employees producing the product, statements are made to the effect that produce prices would skyrocket if legal hiring were in place, which ignores the fundamental fact that labor is one of the smallest portions of a product's price at market and that the associated costs of illegal employment far exceed the savings of illegal hiring. The educated "progressive" elements commiserate with the plight of illegal aliens and ignore the steady depredation on legal blue collar families. Apparently the ignorant buffoons of TV land are unworthy of concern.

No doubt voting patterns have influenced this trend. There is an apparent disregard of their own economic interest by blue collar voters as they have trended Republican. While this conflict in interest is obvious, many of its roots are not. There has been no evident economic policy benefiting blue collar over the last 20 years and that period is not all Republican. It is not difficult to see blue collar workers regarding their economic best interests as a hopeless case and voting some other interest that feels close to home. When a person has very little, perceived assaults on the few things they do hold are taken very seriously. One of the side effects of the gun control debate was to tell the blue collar worker that he is too ignorant and too irresponsible and too criminally inclined to own a firearm. His "betters" disapproved of the gun owning lifestyle. Accurate? Possibly not, politically potent? You bet.

These people trade their time and their bodies for income, they work long hard hours and get little for it. Little pay, little respect. Many jobs that 30 years ago were held in high esteem are now little regarded. It is not as though the work has changed, it is the point of view that has changed. Maybe it's time to give it a re-think. Maybe it's time to look around and see the things produced with the hands and backs of your fellows and give some regard to their value, all those paper assets and banknotes are derived from those things.


Anonymous said...

I have worked as a cook for the last 22 years and my wife is tech support for an internet company. Neither one of us are college educated. We own our own home and are doing well. Both of us enjoy our occupations and inspite of not going to college are very intelligent people. You wouldnt believe the prejudice we encounter at times from some people. I have heard comments from coworkers and others including cops that I must be doing something illegal or running a drug house because of the home we own and nice cars we drive. It is a shame people think like this and restuarant employees can be quite cruel at times. My name is John Lewis and I am from Glen Lyon P.A.

Chuck Butcher said...

Stupidity doesn't seem to be education limited. Thanks John.

Padmanaban said...

Job trend has changed nowadays as most of them are looking for high paying jobs. There are lots of job openings since many companies are in need of smart employers with adequate knowledge

Chuck Butcher said...

Quite the time lag here and I offer not a thing as a solution - that would be politics and this is faux sociology.

Bpaul said...

Hey Chuck, grabbed this for my Facebook page. I went over to "the dark side" and basically blog for friends and relatives now.

Just wanted you to know I'm still around.


Josef said...

like your post. but it is not for me((((