Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prefatory Comments

   After my wildly dynamic narrative about the development of Quark Chromodynamics based upon a reading of a book by Andrew Pickering which was scornful of that history--and my narrative (De-Constructing Quarks) reflected that scornful tone--I decided to turn my narrative attention to the problem of market economics.  The festering concern in everybody's mind about "How did my world turn this bad, if I wasn't the one who did it?"  Or worse--"Why am I getting blamed for the economic downturn which represents billions of dollars when I barely clear 30K a year?"

    With the sudden wave of layoffs, foreclosures, rising gas prices, and shutdowns, people are being forced into a situation where wisdom dictates that people need to get paid in order to spend money, and people need to be employed in order to continue to get paid--in order to continue having money.  But their bosses continue to decide that such wisdom is somebody else's problem.  I recently told a friend of mine that, "The very same things that companies are doing to become more efficient, competitive, and successful in the market are also the things which make them heartless, inhumane and anti-consumerist."  The description of Facebook's revenue base is a widely scattered phenomenon which we have accepted as an appropriate facet of corporate reality.  But did we have any choice?  The behavioral expectations of our employers and braggart cheering of our Human Resources departments encourage the mob mentality--not of "Us against Them," but faithlessly encourage the spirit of appreciating that "Being one of us is a beautiful thing, because we get to offer charity to those who belong to the class of 'Them'."  Of course, it doesn't seem to bother anyone that more than half of the readers of those announcement are employees who already know that they are soon to be in the class of 'Them.'  Many corporate employers are expending lots of energy boasting about their "social Responsibility" programs, advertising them to short-term employees who will soon be unemployed.  Meanwhile, those who retain their jobs are being asked to confront a continuing string of thoughtless and counter-productive changes to their jobs as Change Management teams try to find new and inventive ways to reduce cost without increasing revenues.

    In a similar display of market coercion and humility-driven market changes, I see the obvious indicators of an "Employer's market," in which hiring power has been advantaged by the prospective employer, not the job-seeker.  Skirts are getting shorter, necklines are plunging, and suits are getting more formal.  I look at the madding crowds in the downtown streets and ask myself, "How is sexploitation a viable aspect of employment?  Why do we waste so much energy primping and preening aspects of our persons which have nothing to do with our jobs?"

    It is precisely such an outlook which led me to portray the Director of Accounting's workplace  in "Dissing Economics" as an environment in which it is acceptable to ask a woman to take her blouse off--precisely because it is an inhuman and sexist environment.  As much as guys would like to exist in such a place, even we will admit that the distracting factor of such behavior is not worth the expensive lawsuits which would result.  Besides that, the number of women who would work in such an environment is very small, and even those who would willingly support such a corporate environment would most likely be unqualified for the jobs they are hired to do.  It provokes a piece of wisdom which I would like to attribute to Dr. Wraxtiorre:  "When the criteria for employment are unrelated to the qualifications required for the job, expect incompetence."  If that sounds too far-fetched, consider this:  When the techniques of advertising a product or service are unrelated to the qualities of that product or service, or unrelated to the consumer's needs for that product or service, then the validity of customer satisfaction becomes random.  The same logic should apply to journalistic reportage, or political dialogue and debates.  When the content of your discussion is unrelated to the message being discussed, then distrust is necessarily involved in your agenda.

     So, if you find the environment portrayed in this narrative offensive and sexist, then please be offended--but not at the author.  However, don't be afraid to wear your offense like a pair of glasses, and observe the world with those glasses.  I once read somewhere that a book which doesn't shake its readers to their very foundations isn't worth reading.  If that is true, then this narrative is worth reading.


This article (along with "Dissing Economics" and "De-Constructing Quarks") appears in my new book, Appearing to Study Particle Physics, which is currently available at in hardback and paperback!