|Re: hiring servants||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Kay Argyle (argylemines.utah.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 15:29:32 -0700 (MST)|
Despite the long economics preamble, this does circle back around to cohousing. Honest. I agree you've got your own definition of "servant," Scott. By many criteria, so is a doctor a servant. Yet judging job status by vacation time, my brother's lifestyle (his letters are full of digitized slick-rock biking photos, and he reviews different scuba diving locations for a local store's website) would indicate a doctor gets a heck of a lot more vacation time than I do _and_ has the money to do something with it. If I pay somebody to deliver my letters, they're a servant, right? And of course piecework jobs are traditionally among the lowest paid (honestly, 33c?). I really should deliver my own letters so as not to degrade the US Postal Service. -- Of course, if I make this noble speech to our mail carrier, he's going to reflect that somebody told him the people living here were a little odd. ;) People of devalued classes (women, minorities, poor) aren't always given choices about their work. For many positions high status, or its markers, are a necessary qualification. Valuable jobs should be given to valuable persons. Sometimes, especially under the double whammy of being black _and_ poor, etc., it's the person judging themself (did I mention I work at a traditional female job?). It all boils down to POWER (as usual). Whether a worker is disrespected, demeaned, maltreated, depends on whether they have power in the relationship -- if they are valued, if they can go elsewhere. All jobs have two roles, worker and client. If you do a thing yourself rather than hiring, you occupy both. Where these split, a third role appears, the employer, handling the exchange between worker & client. The power balance shifts, based on factors like rare skills, collective bargaining, or a depressed economy. Power can be taken by the worker rather than given by the employer. As mentioned above, the person has to _believe_ they have choices. If you don't believe, opportunity can pound on the door, lean on the doorbell, tap on the glass, and bellow your name, but you won't hear it above the tv's fantasies about brand-name sports shoes. Or you're cowering in the back room, convinced it's trying to lure you out like a trolling angler fish. For most of a capitalist economy, worker, client, and employer are separate entities. The employer can side with either worker or client -- its inclination depends on whether it values/identifies with the client, like MacDonald's (customer is always right), or worker, like the IRS (burden of proof on taxpayer). For a servant (traditional sense), client and employer are combined. Hence the secondary meaning of lowliness. For self-employed professionals or craftsmen, the employer by definition is the worker -- and especially for valued services like medical care, frequently holds the power. So, to avoid unfairness to us "differently incomed" individuals, whether in hiring with dignity or not creating cohousing serfs -- Empower the worker. Some of the most satisfying work I've done was stuff that if I did it, it got done my way (look at the plate next time you eat at the common house, Scott -- I wanted Corelle, I researched and persuaded, and I _got_ Corelle. ;) Time will tell if I did too good a sales job on the woolly thyme for the path). Some of the least rewarding were jobs someone else decided needed doing, their way, and I couldn't get out of. That is a defining characteristic of servitude -- so build in an escape clause, even if it means allowing residents to buy out of work. And keep in mind (we've had this discussion before, too) that you can't always do it cheaper yourself. Kay Argyle Wasatch Cohousing
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