Jerry Ash: The Disruptive Professor

Business, Labor Lose in Hostile Economy

See Ode to an Employee — #1 below

I would not be surprised if your story is similar to that of the employee in my ode because the bonds between employer and employee have so eroded over the last several decades that job security is a thing of the past for most workers. And turnover is a given for most companies.

Employers have no commitment to their employees and employees have no commitment to their employers.

Workers have always been booked as liabilities on the corporate spreadsheet. But as greed has increased over the recent decades, employees have lost most of their benefits.

Now they pay for them! Wages have stagnated or decreased while the cost of living has soared. Corporate employers say they can’t afford it because of market forces, but in most cases it is purely for the purpose of enhancing “shareholder benefit” or corporate profit.

It’s called the middle class squeeze.

But it really squeezes us all.

These shareholders and even the corporate hierarchy have no more loyalty to the corporation than its employees. The major investors play in the Wall Street casino, moving their money around; on the average, a little over thirty days. They could care less about the companies they invest in or the people who work there.

Executives are focused on fattening their wallets. They’re not expecting to move up; they’re expecting to move on. That’s the only way to advance a career these days.

It’s all about the money.

Capitalism and the economy as we know it is a hostile world for all the players but it’s most harmful for those who have the least to lose yet the most critical in terms of their livelihoods.

Back to the employee in my ode . . . who is probably you or someone you know. Research shows that more than one-third of all workers these days are dependent on part or full time work through employment agencies, not directly with the company. Some forecasters predict that by 2020 fully half of those at work will actually be receiving their paycheck from an employment agency.

Thus the divide between employee and employer widens.

Worse, the employee has become a commodity, bought and sold by an intermediary who makes the profit while the employee does the work! Legalized human trafficking!

As you would expect, the employee is not only insecure, he or she cares little about the work and views his or her employment as just a job, nothing more. Few have dreams of climbing a career ladder. Even fewer give any thought to innovation that might help the company and themselves be more successful. Forget the gold watch . . . if you’re old enough to know what that means.

The loss of human and intellectual capital is enormous under these conditions. Equally bad for the worker and the company.

Penny wise and pound foolish.

The old command and control, business model is unsustainable under the current economic conditions. The system is in chaos from top to bottom and no one seems to know what to do about it or has the courage to break the mold.

We can’t wait. We’ll have to take it in our own hands. And we can.

I’m working on the next Ode to an Employee but instead of addressing it to an employee it will be to an ex-employee . . . an Ode to an Indie Entrepreneur. You’ll see.

Ode to an Employee — #1

He made the right choices / Went to a good school
Chose hospitality / Because it was cool
Travelled with his dad / Stayed at fine places
And all the employees  / Wore very happy faces
What fun it would be / Working in hospitality
His first job was great / But it turned to misery
He tried to keep a happy face / Hard to do at such pace
Then in mid-career / He got the pink slip
Though the place had done well / Under his stewardship
All would be replaced  / By temp agency personnel
And the loyal workers / Could just go to hell
An unemployment check / Was his only choice
But then he listened / To his inner voice
You have too much talent  / Do it different next time
Own your own work / And control the climb.


Another word for “ode” is “song,” a lyrical poem meant to be sung. Odes provide great lyrics for folk songs, Americana and jazz.

It’s usually written in praise of another person, place or thing and expresses a strong feeling of love or respect.

Charlie Angus, a member of the Canadian Parliament who is also lead musician with the Grievous Angels, has written a theme song for my upcoming book MoJo: Getting on the Right Side. Now I’m thinking . . . .

Wanted: Another songwriter who can write the music and record Ode to an Employee for use on my NotMyEconomics website and beyond. Maybe do the sequel: Ode to an (ex-employee) Indie Entrepreneur!

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Not My EconomicsBusiness, Labor Lose in Hostile Economy