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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

No More Human Resources

Ever since the change most companies went through from "personnel" departments or "employment" departments to "human resources" departments, we have seen the commodification of human beings. Now employees aren't people, there are a resource - just like boxes of copy machine paper, toilet paper, and pens. The result has been that people are treated like a disposable diaper, thrown away with as little thought as discarding a used piece of kleenex. Clearly, we have all come to devalue humanity.

Of course, what gets the press is the violence in our inner cities, where gang members destroy each others' lives and the lives of their families because violence has become a common, and profoundly ineffective, rite of passage in our neighborhoods. The violence that takes place in our corporate boardrooms is just as deadly, because it sees people - human beings, for heaven's sake - as having no more value than a case of copy paper. The difference is that the copy paper won't likely be thrown away as if it was a piece of paper, and the human being will.

I had the occasion to meet a young man the other day who was on his way home from loading trucks at UPS. Every night, he loads three of those brown trucks you see in your neighborhood. Then he has two and a half hours to get home, get something to eat, catch his breath, and go to his other job as a driver's helper with UPS for another six hours. When I asked him when he sleeps, he laughed. With  his two jobs he can afford an apartment in the barrio that he shares with a roommate to make ends meet. Why? Because our companies, even the "good" ones like UPS that offer better than average pay and insurance benefits, don't pay a living wage. Workers are just "resources" that you buy for the lowest price you can, place at physically demanding jobs, and let go when they physically can't perform the back breaking work they do.

Tell me again how those gang bangers don't value human life.