I was affrighted by Diane Stafford's November 18, 2003, article in The Kansas City Star about unemployed management professionals. It was captioned, 'The faces of long-term unemployment.' The photo on the cover of the business section loomed large: six white female victims and nineteen white male victims, all pushing fifty or beyond, in suitable business attire, apparently leaders of the jobless recovery - talk about prima facie evidence of race, age, gender and status discrimination!
Many employers today prefer beginners or persons with one or two years of experience instead of mature, more experienced persons. There are several reasons for this preference other than the death-fearing therefore age-hating youth-culture. Middle-aged professional managers are used to managing other people or being on top of things in their departments; they believe they deserve more money because of their greater experience if not their absolute seniority. But high technology allows corporate executives to dumb down and flatten out their companies, to get rid of older, more expensive workers, while giving themselves huge raises. Even when the management position is retained or restored, it is better to fill it with a cheaper, younger worker.
When terminated 'professionals' give up on finding a job in their usual 'profession' and apply for 'lesser' positions, they are of course told they are overqualified. Rejected even as burger flippers, they might begin to feel that they are not qualified to subsist except on charity and criminal proceeds - political philosophy teaches us that, if reasonable (lawful) means of survival are not available, then a man has a 'natural right' to survive by criminal means including theft and homicide.
After I read Ms. Stafford's terrifying article, I sent her a note, thanking her for one of the best depressing articles I had read in a long time. I said I might douse myself with gasoline on Main Street and torch myself with my resume to protest the fact that so many people whom I am somewhat similar to are being thrown away like so much white trash. She advised me not to do that, and referred me to faith-based job clubs. Praise the Lord! Especially for the kind of Christianity that does not make charity increasingly necessary.
I was encouraged by Ms. Stafford's concern. She does a good job in her capacity as the newspaper's human resources writer. She goes to the seminars, reads the current management books and journals, and she generously passes on snippets of what she has learned, usually in the form of positive suggestions which serve as reminders to those who have heard it all before. Besides networking, job-clubbing, resume-revising, and the like, chronically unemployed 'professionals' might stop whining and reinvent themselves, create their own jobs, become independent contractors and entrepreneurs instead of prostitutes and dope dealers. She knows that chronically unemployed people are somewhat cynical about the hypocritical hype that covers up the original sin of private capitalism, that it needs to create false shortages and keep a portion of the labor pool desperate in order to prosper. Once in awhile she alludes to the faults of the power elite, but she does not recommend radical social or political reforms.
No, Ms. Stafford, who never lies on her resume, is a cheerleader for the status quo, for neo-liberal capitalism, and that is as it should be, for she works for the established media whose function is to propagate that system. In any event, if you want to work and do not want to fight City Hall, her recommendations just might work for you.
I am not about to torch myself on Main Street. Yet the least I can do is to circulate this little article to rally others to protest the vicious discrimination against middle-aged, unemployed management professionals, most of whom, for some reason appertaining to karma or caste or racism happen to be white.