Crybaby business owners only have themselves to blame

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, June 28, 2012 13:08 EDT
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As we wait to see if the Supreme Court is going to overturn the already insufficient health care reform we were able to get past the “OH MY GOD THE GOVERNMENT WANTS ME TO SHARE MY HOSPITAL WITH *THOSE* PEOPLE” brigade, enjoy getting your blood pressure cranked up by reading this sympathetic portrait of business owners who can’t find employees to their exacting standards, with the implication therefore that high unemployment is the fault of American workers for sucking. (Via Atrios.) What’s amazing is even though the writer, Darren Dahl, does his level best to make this a story implying that the workers are failing the owners, the owners come across as cheapskates and assholes all the same. It takes a beyond-Aaron Sorkin level of assholery to still seem like an asshole when a journalist is framing you as a martyr. 

The complaints of the executives, as far as I can tell:

1) They can’t find people who have the training to do the jobs they’re hiring for. If these were white collar professions, of course, the solution would be to offer the training themselves, but since this is a blatant war on the working class, they’re convinced that people who already don’t have a lot of money should take out massive loans to get the training elsewhere in order to secure one of these blue collar jobs that don’t pay enough to cover life expenses plus the massive debt they just entailed. Whose fault? Business owners, for being too cheap to offer the training themselves.

2) The owners complain that if they do spend the money on training (which they clearly think is your duty), their employees will just eventually leave them and go somewhere else. Compare this to white collar professions, where part of the package employers sell to their employees is that they’ll improve their skill set so that they can eventually polish their resume and get a better job either within the company or outside of it. Whose fault? Business owners, for treating their employees like property instead of people who they have a relationship with that needs maintaining. 

3) Drew Greenblatt might be my favorite. He owns a factory and is looking to hire machine operators. You feel a little sympathy with him—the machines may require a basic level of skills students should get in high school, in terms of working with basic tools, but aren’t getting—but then he busts out this:

“My operators are in constant contact with our customers, so they need to be able to articulate through e-mail,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “But you’d be surprised at how many people can’t do that. I can’t have them e-mailing Boeing or Pfizer if their grammar is terrible.”

In other words, he wants them to work two separate jobs with two different skill sets, but only pay them for one job. 

Again, white collar jobs are far less likely to demand workers who can be all things to all people, so the owners can weep into their Cheerios that they can’t find good people. For instance, white collar workplaces don’t expect the knowledge professionals to be the same as their communications team. Greenblatt wants someone who can email with customers? Fucking hire someone who knows how to do that. I know it seems like it’s an easy skill, but it’s actually not, and it’s unsurprising that it rarely comes in the same package as someone who developed skills as a machine operator. Whose fault? Drew Greenblatt, for being too cheap to hire a communications assistant with a customer service background to handle customer communications. 

What comes across loud and clear in this article is that a lot of business owners so miserly and so contemptuous of working class people that they would rather have their businesses fail than offer their workers a a reasonable amount of training, an ability for growth on the job, or the right to only work one job for one salary. It’s not that the American workers aren’t good enough, though it is worth noting that all these people could probably get more of what they wanted if they didn’t keep voting for Republicans who are trying to underfund our public school system. It’s that the owners are so committed to class warfare that they will burn everything to the ground before they bother to give workers a fair shake. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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