Even when I graduated, “Manpower” was the largest employer in the country. The only work I could find out of college were temp positions and menial labor with no benefits. I only had one job with benefits and a union and it lasted only 2 years. Solid working class jobs are hard to find. The only middle class must be the professional class of doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Temp agencies treat their employees like disposable garbage. The “clients” will complain about any little thing about you and you get let off the job and the agency does not send you out again. I had a permanent menial job and it was slow so I took a temp job so I could survive until work picked up again. When it was time to go back to my regular job and quit the temp job the lady there was angry and acted like I had to stay on the temp job–like she owned me. Bull. I had told them from the beginning I would be going back to my regular job. The regular job didn’t last long either and after that there was a long painful slide into poverty, more temp jobs, moving “home”, moving out, getting fired again and becoming homeless. Why bother with “college”? I should have enjoyed my young years and not spent 4 years in “college” then pounding the pavement for work I would never get. Everything is temp to hire. Or temp to temp. I always felt like an inferior person at a temp “job”.
When we think of the phrase “the American dream,” we think about a belief that everyone has a fair chance to better themselves, to get a free education, to land a job that provides them the means to be self-supporting and live in a good home. Behind the phrase is an assumption of fairness and opportunity, of earning good wages for your work and knowing you can take care of yourself, your family, and your old age.
That “dream” is slipping away. To understand why, read this important essay-review by economist Robert Kuttner in the “Néw York Review of Books.” It is a review of two books that helps explain the profound transformation of work in our time.
One of the books is by David Weil: “The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad For So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It.” The other is by Eileen…
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