Here’s a good column from the August 2, 2009, New York Times by economist Paul Krugman. It’s on the latest excesses of some of the more rapacious of our major banks:
to which one smart commentator responded thus:
August 3rd, 2009
“Fascinating read Prof. Krugman. Why do we allow this happen? I understand it is hard to write a good enough law to stop it, but they should at least try. It is unfathomable that they don’t.
In his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude La Boetie says: “For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him…” (The quote is too long to continue it here but it continues in an interesting discussion on Pandalous on voluntary servitude of hostesses).
I think the reason we allow this to happen is we feel weak. Each person alone is weak. We see the hugeness of what we are facing, but not the hugeness of all of us together. We get upset, but we feel powerless in face of such prowess.”
Mr. O’Conner’s answer probably goes a long way toward answering a question I put to a friend recently:
“Having lived a more normal life than me, what do you think of Thoreau’s famous saying,
‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation’?
I believe I see signs of that desperation in many of the people imprisoned with me in that big state office building downtown. Many of them/us do unimaginably boring clerical duties. In addition, the place is run like a prison camp. You are never consulted as they move you around physically, and in terms of administrative placement, at will. And they do so often, and for no good reason beyond mere whim.
Few of the workers ever resist these arbitrary changes. It is the oddest thing! We have civil service status and so are not easily fired, yet we all consent to be treated like emotionless tools. I am tentatively guessing that this incongruity is due to the fact that this is the deep South, where most people have never worked in a union setting, with a shop steward to complain to, etc. In addition, this is a very poor state, and these jobs are oppressive but fairly secure.
So the cubicle dwellers only know one model of employment — strictly a paternalistic one, requiring unquestioning obedience from employees, especially low-level ones like me.
But I’ve seen attorneys who work there treated in essentially the same way!
The convention of daily interaction is that the boss speaks to you respectfully, but it is exclusively at his discretion whether, beyond how he speaks to you, he takes any pains to consider what you need or want.
And this is America, the self-proclaimed land of individualism and “freedom”. The irony is immense.
Since I normally want things just the way I like them, I am constantly becoming miserable over this extraordinary supine employee behavior.
I wonder if things are different in a small office/organization?”
I didn’t get any answer from my friend. I suspect the answer is too obvious to need stating. But I’m a bit dense about things like this. Can anyone out there give me a bit of clarification?
Is it, “I have to work to live, so I have to put up with a certain amount of shit.”?
Is it, “Hey, stop being a mope! That’s just the way life is.”?
What other reasons are there, folks?