HolyCoast: Don't Be Nostalgic for the Factory Jobs of the Past

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Be Nostalgic for the Factory Jobs of the Past

Michael Barone reminds us of what it was really like when America "made stuff":
I don't know how many times I've seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable retirement.

As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal nostalgiacs. Which is that people hated those jobs.

The assembly-line work was boring and repetitive. That's because management imbibed Frederick W. Taylor's theories that workers were stupid and could not be trusted with any initiative.

It was also because the thousands of pages of work rules in United Auto Workers contract, which forbade assembly-line speedups, also barred any initiative or flexible response.
Does that really sound like something to which you'd want your kid to aspire? No, it's mind-numbing work. Who wants to work somewhere where you're nothing but a repetitive motion machine that needs bathroom breaks?

We've got to break the nostalgia for this stuff and recognize that it's not 1955 Detroit anymore.

Read the rest of the piece - lots of good stuff.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

I read and article by a guy who was watching autoworkers, and wondered if they were fully awake. So he stepped into the path of one, and the worker walked into him and then around him, following the car down the line. And he did it again, same result. Third time, the worker walked into him, looked at him, and asked why he was standing in his way.

Conclusion/hypothesis: the worker put himself into a zombie-like automaton mental state to preserve his sanity while working.

As best I recollect.