Influential executive producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder) receives the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award and gives an incredibly moving speech. Full transcript on Medium.
“Woman after woman. Each one running and each one crashing. And everyone falling. How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?”
“The cold fact that is right now automation does replace workers and redistributes wealth to the wealthy. The replaced workers often end up unemployed or with worse jobs and conditions than they had before. There may be a breaching point in time when automation makes surplus and we replace a working society with a post scarcity utopia (if ever such a thing can exist), however that is many years from now. In the mean time real people will lose their jobs, their houses, their healthcare, their pensions. They will struggle to make ends meet, to feed their children. There will be real pain during such a technological transition and expansion of automation. The short term of transition will last years, decades perhaps.
The Industrial Revolution took 60+ years to grow a new society, and it did not include redistribution of wealth and breaking strongly entrenched cultural paradigms which both would be necessary for a post scarcity society to bring proper resources to all people and guarantee basic living conditions. Those who own the means of production will feed on the profits from automation and they will be loathe to render those goods and gains to distribute amongst the dispersed jobless “freed from labor” masses.
Again, such a revolution of automation will last long enough to ruin lives. … Automation is only used when it cuts costs and reduces the labor needed to maximize profit. An automation system that is more expensive to build and maintain than workers is never used to “free workers from labor and give them more time for better activities”. Don’t delude yourself. Automation is only used for expanding profit and eliminating labor costs. … If automation was really about freeing human potential it would be relieving those workers of their labors as well instead of just ousting the jobs that pay living wages in first world settings. So less workers will be employed, and those that will be employed around automation will be specialty jobs requiring higher degrees of training and experience. They will be beyond the reach of the people who are generally replaced by such systems. There is the cost of retraining/college, and the time lost. People who have families to feed and mortgages to pay cannot simply spend the time unpaid taking college classes, they will have to find new work instead of adapting their skills to the changing jobs landscape. That time/money for training is a luxury many do not have.”
Image is a production still from the movie Metropolis
“Then — after he’d rocketed up his profitability, and because he needed to attract many more workers — he famously increased his daily wage rate from $2.34 to $5. That was a 114% raise in the wage he paid … after an 800% increase in worker productivity. (How generous!) Then he used the $5 wage as a viscous competitive weapon, to steal the best workers from competitors and other busineses everywhere while firing masses of his own workers. Then he subjected his own new work force to Ford Inc.’s infamous “Sociological Department”, an internal secret police force that he created to scrutinize and spy on every aspect their lives. Not just their work records — efficiency, attendance, attitude towards unions, etc. — but everything, religion, family, personal behavior, the works. Anyone who didn’t pass muster was summarily fired. The $5 wage is what let him keep that iron grip on every aspect of his workers lives. They couldn’t get that pay anywhere else so they endured. For a while, until GM and others matched the assembly line. Then Ford near destroyed his own company with his viscous union-busting and attempts to keep his workers down (see: Battle of the Overpass ), blew his huge market share, and handed the industry to GM. And … from this we now get the story of the $5 wage as “Fordism”, Henry generously doubling his workers’ wages so they could afford to buy the cars they made for him. And others following his precedent being the key to American economic success back in those good old days. LOL! 🙂 My gosh, people will believe anything. But this doesn’t even pass the Urban Legend test of at least seeming plausible. Look at the arthmetic: When workers spend maybe 10% of their pay on car-buying how the heck could Henry have made money by increasing their pay so they could buy his cars??? That 10% of what he paid would have had to cover more than 100% of what he paid! And people believe this nonsense??? Henry Ford was the worst union-busting, labor-exploiting SOB of his generation in the entire auto industry, by far. Maybe the worst in all industry. He nearly destroyed his own company with his obsessive, brutal attempts to keep labor down. But now he’s a hero to the left! “Fordism” made America great. If only labor could get Henry back! 🙂 Anybody who cites this tripe of “Fordism” as generosity to labor, “named after Henry Ford”, that was the key to, well, anything good, disqualifies himself from being taken seriously. Period. So much for this being a “definitive piece” on anything. The real lesson about workers wages from Henry Ford: You want higher wages for workers? Increase their productivity. Then even if their boss is a labor-exploiting SOB like Henry Ford, they’ll get higher wages.”
“When I clean a room after one patient is discharged or transferred and prepare it for the next patient, I treat it as if my own mom or brother is going to stay there. Odds are if you happen to find yourself in one of the areas I’m responsible for, you are already having a bad day. I will not be the reason you notice a stain on your pillow case, an odd hair on your TV remote, or evidence that someone used this shower before you. That’s the last fucking thing someone needs to deal with after hearing the word ‘inoperable’. … Granted, I don’t make it a point to bring up my job’s details or brag about anything when I’m around my friends who have gone on to more respected professions such as accountants or even doctors themselves. Yet, I find pride in my work and I view myself as a person who can hopefully provide a little bit of normalcy and comfort to someone who desperately needs it. Nothing feels better than when everything is clean and organized at home, right? So if I’m the guy that has to do some undesirable task that allows you to have that feeling when you are anywhere but home, so be it. Anything to make someone feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation is worth it to me. Basically, what I’m getting at is… Do what you do, rock it, don’t look down on yourself or your position compared to others. If you end up cleaning toilets, be the best damn toilet cleaner there is. Same thing for any other job that’s not highly regarded. You put yourself in that position based on your many choices in life, so you might as well own it and be great at it. What would be worse than being told you are bad at doing a “bad” job? I see so many people in my department develop a poor attitude and allow it to effect their work and their life as a whole and it bothers me. When I was a young kid I was drawing myself as a firefighter, astronaut, and professional football player like every other boy in class when the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up….but I ended up a janitor. Fuck it, I save lives by cleaning things. No one needs to go to school for twelve years to understand how great a properly made bed feels, especially when you are sick. Have perspective in life and be proud of what you do. Even if you end up at a job that might not require hard work to obtain, doesn’t mean you can’t work hard once you are there. It is what it is and you are who you are.”
Commenter on Metafter: “Why are all newspaper comments turning into Free Republic?
If you buy into the idea that anyone can make it in the US with HARD WORK and GUMPTION and BOOTSTRAPS, that turns poverty into a moral issue and the poor can be safely judged as inferior human beings because if they wanted to not be poor and hungry, they should just get jobs and work their way up and stop having kids and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
And if you think that way, you have a massive media apparatus reinforcing the narrative because the political and aristocratic classes derive a tremendous benefit from the various lower classes tearing at each other over scraps rather than eyeing the guys at the top who have a LOT more to fight over.”