I have been surprised by the anger and disgust expressed by so many at the workers (and their unions) for their role in the current state of the American auto industry [...] how all kinds of people---conservatives and liberals---have such a visceral, angry response to the idea of the [...] lazy, do-nothing UAW member sitting in a room doing cross word puzzles instead of working on the line, collecting $70 an hour salaries with better health and retirement benefits than the CEOs of the company.
[...] I think this ugly response to a mythology perpetuated about blue-collar workers is particularly shameful because so many American white-collar workers in both the public and private sectors are incredibly lazy themselves. God forbid a factory worker should step away from her job twisting the tops on the toothpaste tubes for a minute, but just because someone has a Bachelor's degree that apparently entitles them to dick around on the internet all day with impunity.
I once wrote (somewhat in jest), "Thank goodness almost every office worker in America has virtually unfettered access to the internet. Imagine what would happen to our economy if employers started taking away internet privileges and people were forced to actually work. The sound of crickets would reign at fark, digg, and reddit. Entire fantasy football teams would stand around on their virtual sidelines with nothing to do. Projects would get done way earlier than they needed to be. Soon there wouldn't be enough work to go around. Bureaucracies would actually become efficient. Massive layoffs would follow. The entire American economy is balanced precariously on the fact that the average American office worker spends only about 20 percent of his or her time actually working." This is corporate America's dirty little secret. Anyone who's ever worked in an office environment knows that it is at least somewhat true. Add to all that internet time the Sisyphusian piles of meaningless paperwork, unproductive conversations with coworkers, endless meetings, pointless conferences and worthless training seminars, and I think there's enough fodder for a stereotype of the lazy, do-nothing middle-class white-collar office worker who may not have a union to protect him, but who hardly deserves his salary. Where is the animus towards this mythical being?
The thing is, he's not a myth. He is real, and right now he is spitting on the men and women who still make things in America because they dared to believe they could be just like him.
Read the whole thing.
Also, here is Jim's previous post on the auto companies, complete with some of his amazing, eerie and haunting photos of Detroit. More of those can be found here.
Hell, I just spent an hour gazing at photos and reading fascinating tales of the Detroit Book Depository—they're going in the blogroll.
Photo © Sweet Juniper Media, Inc.