Friday :: Sep 1, 2006

Employing Fears


by pessimist

All this week, every employee at my real-world job had to go to a presentation which described for us in detail exactly how we are to think and act while on the job. This management practice isn't in itself anything new, or of great interest, to those who don't work there.

But what came afterwards should be of interest, for it may happen to you. We all had to sign a statement full of legalese which stated that we fully understood the expectations and that we would comply with them. Now I'm no lawyer by any means, but this statement smacks of being a tool to use to terminate an employee - which in a union shop, means the key to breaking seniority when the predicted tighter economic conditions arrive.

Imagine my surprise when I read about the San Bernardino County [CA] employees undergoing a similar 'training':

Ham With A Hammer [subscription]
CASSIE MACDUFF, Press-Enterprise
August 31, 2006

I'd heard horror stories about [San Bernardino] County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer's Service FIRST training: that he ridiculed county employees and threatened them with firing if they didn't get with his program -- or simply weren't attentive enough to his presentation.

When I attended one of his customer-service training sessions Tuesday, I found the stories are true. An employee who was caught paying less than full attention got a sharp warning: "One more time: If I don't see your eyes up here, you're gone."

Gulp. Gone, as in gone from the meeting? Or gone from the county's payroll? This was a public humiliation. But Uffer got his point across: Make a wrong move and he will "jack you up," to use his favorite phrase.

Put this in the context of Bu$hCo's recent 'Islamofascist=Nazi' speeches. One has to wonder whether the Corporate Presidency isn't taking a page from the Book of Corporofascist Management Techniques, using these speeches to instill the concept of how a 'patriotic' American is to think and act, except that each citizen isn't (yet!) required afterward to sign a statement legally opening the door to rendition if compliance with these directives isn't satisfactory to Bu$hCo.

The parallels aren't ending (at least for me) at that. It appears that the corporate management world is borrowing from the national government as well.

Bu$hco rules through fear, and the more secure members of the Captive Corporate Media are willing to say so. Keith Olberman has been saying it for a while, but the message is getting out beyond Media Center. Jim Boswell, citizen of Mountain Home, AR, wrote Bush Administration rules through fear to the The Baxter Bulletin.

It isn't just the little people who are beginning to see the dimming of the light. John Dean, in his latest book, Conservatives Without Conscience, writes:

[C]onservativism has morphed into an authoritarian movement - one that blends the ideologies of the political neoconservatives with the social conservatism of the religious right.

FindLaw reviewer Elaine Cassel takes over:

Traditional conservatives, Dean contends, were not on a social mission, or on a quest to imbue our government with Christianity, in violation of the Establishment Clause. But modern conservatives often are.

Consider Florida Republican senatorial candidate (and Secretary of State overseeing the 2000 presidential elections in Florida) Katherine Harris, who said in a recent interview, that her goal was to return "Christ" to government. A vote against Christians (like herself) is, she said, a vote "for sin."

Harris is just one of many so-called Christians serving in Congress who are on a mission to destroy the separation of church and state. They want to legislate morality and have no objection to interfering in private lives. Their dogmas aren't conservative; they are authoritarian.

As would be the beliefs of the bosses. We all have had bosses whose personalities fit these characteristics:

As Dean concludes, virtually all of this Administration's leaders are authoritarian personalities -- opposed to equality, devoted to personal power, intimidating, bullying, amoral, dishonest, mean-spirited, militant, and nationalistic.

Dean devotes the last part of his book to the Bush Administration's politics of fear. Aside from Nixon, who exploited fear and paranoia, Dean notes that no other modern president has ruled by fear.

These methods were in evidence this week as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld give bombastic speeches accusing those who are against their policies as aiding the "enemy" in the "global war on terrorism." Rumsfeld aligned critics with those who wanted to "appease" Hitler. "Rumsfeld Assails Critics of War Policy," "Bush Team Casts Foes as Defeatists," and other headlines (these from The Washington Post) in the media carried the same message.

And the fear tactics have only just begun. Rove plans a crescendo up to the fifth anniversary of September 11, and then a major fear-driven get-out-the-vote campaign for the November 7 elections.

These tactics worked in 2002 and 2004. Will they succeed in 2006?
Will Americans be smarter, think more critically in the upcoming election? Will they examine the flawed logic and false premises of the claims that to be against any Bush policy, from the war in Iraq, to tax cuts for the rich, to privatization of social security, is to be un-American?

Voters won't get any help from the media, as Dean notes. And why does the press remain silent? Dean has an answer--because fear sells, and the media is in the retail business.

This is why workers aren't to expect any help from the government when they as employees are abused with fear of loss of job if they aren't completely compliant with the wishes of a supervisor. Just like the media, the government is currently owned by the same corporate interests who are abusing them. Such corporate interests, chafed raw by having to comply with 'girly-man' political correctness, revel in the unabashed expression of dishonest personal power, amoral intimidation, and mean-spirited bullying they see as their due as they purge their ranks of the undesirables (read: those who oppose, are unproductive, uncooperative, or non-submissive) through these means.

What does this say about their effectiveness as managers? What would be the result on their companies if they succeed in realizing Cassie MacDuff's conclusions?

I still question Uffer's "love me or hate me" posture. I don't think you win employees' loyalty by inspiring fear. It might make people submit to you, but they'll resent it. [It] is a little too Soviet-blocish for me.

Elaine Cassel echoes a similar theme aimed not at the workplace, but at the nation as a whole:

Those of us terrorized by this Administration's authoritarian tactics can send a "strong message" of our own on November 7. We can, with our votes, say no to authoritarianism and fear.

Whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we can reclaim our right to be governed by positive values, law, and reason-- traits of true conservatism, and traits of true Americanism.


As Dave Lindorff writes in the The Baltimore Chronicle:

Let's get real: There is no "war" on terror,
just a war on the American people
and on our Constitution.

And we know who the enemies of America are: Not some bunch of loony fanatics in turbans, but rather people in hand-tailored $6,000 suits in Washington, eager to turn a two-centuries-old experiment in democracy into a one-party police state.

I wrote the other day about the GOC(CA)Rs I work with beginning to question whether Bu$hCo was good for America. We have to keep that momentum going. Talk this up when your otherwise oblivious coworkers begin to discuss how bad things are in spite of all the 'good' news - and see if they aren't already tuned in to WHO bears the responsibility.

IF your bosses will allow it.

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pessimist :: 10:02 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!