Human Infrastructure & the Future of the Industrial Work Place (part 3)

In the previous article, part 2, we began to ask who the American Industrial Worker is, and we began to define the socio-economic arguments that define the administrative vs. the common sense industrial worker class.

Who are these people? They run the spectrum and I will tell you without a doubt in the United States we are loosing the most productive, talented and skilled industrial managers and workers at a pace I have never seen in my career. The hubris of policy makers and lobbyists is that they believe these people are replaceable, I beg to differ and here is why. There are first, second and third order effects, what we are seeing is the beginning of a very frightening collapse and structural upheaval, which I’m afraid even the current leadership in the industrial sector is not ready for, it is a (pardon me N.N. Taleb) foreseeable event for the 2% who know and a Black Swan event for the majority.

(above) hydrotest of a pipeline

I’d like to give you dear reader an example of what I speak of. We have a candidate with impeccable credentials, worked overseas and managed multinational overseas operations, he now hot shots (contracted material expediting using a 2 ton truck). He has audited for major projects overseas and here in the United States, in any reasonable environment, this industrial worker would be a hot commodity, so why isn’t he?

Forgive me but lets start with point #5 generational differences. Much of the generation in middle management within multinational companies, I’m sorry to say it, are out of touch with the realities of what is going on globally.

(above) Bill Lumbergh from Mike Judge’s “Office Space”

An explanation from one of these middle managers or policy mangers might read something like this:

Information gaps remain, particularly in developing robust methodologies for: 1) making intersectoral comparisons across the wide range of infrastructure services; 2) crafting more diverse policies about the public-private balance in infrastructure investment, depending on the nature of”public goods” characteristics for various types of infrastructure services, or even across activities for the same service (for example, power transmission versus distribution); and 3) taking issues of political economy into account, such as the vested interests of those with large financial interests in infrastructure.

What I am getting at is that we have administrative wonks using what worked for over 50 years to solve the present, and it isn’t working, it is in fact creating additional structural challenges. Quality isn’t cheap, “Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Fast, cheap and good … pick two words to live by. “ (Tom Waits)

(above) the Singer and Songwriter Tom Waits

Look, I’m sorry, you cannot pay people 1992 rates for 2021 work and you need to tell your clients. You are dealing with a workforce that understands George Carlin when he said, “Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most, their government took them away, and rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year, the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter. You see how silly that is? Yeah. Sooner or later, the people in this country are going to realize the government does not give a fuck about them. The government doesn’t care about you or your children or your rights or your welfare or your safety. It simply doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.”

What do you do with a workforce that you cannot twist the truth on or in the industrial worker’s language, “you can’t bullshit.” Whether they know it or not, that is what the administrative world is dealing with, and whether they face that reality is another thing altogether.

(above) The independent and self sufficient American Industrial Worker

These are realistic people, but don’t mess with them, they’ve had enough. They have had enough of the soft language of the “administrative parasites” that feed off their skills, their labor and in some person’s view, their freedom. When a worker is faced with being absent from the home for months at a time vs. weeks at a time, that is a terrible choice either way and as you may assume its the work rate that determines the length of that absence. It doesn’t help that often, people see the slim percentage (maybe a bit more) buying brand new trucks, RVs and motorcycles and then complaining about the work rate, that’s a fair criticism but I guarantee you that isn’t the majority of the industrial workforce. That is an ugly picture, but that is the picture that so many industrial workers have of the recruitment industry, and that is often what the recruiter sees in the industrial worker. Whether its factual or not. So what do I tell my friends in “Human Resources”, I tell them that they can’t find the right workers because they are swimming in the kiddie pool, if you want sharks you don’t look in the pool, you look in the Ocean where the sharks swim. These men and women in the industrial work force don’t pull punches and they don’t take prisoners. One of my favorite groups are the Navajo industrial workers when lead by one of their respected older managers, they will literally leave the job en masse at a critical juncture if the client tries act in a dishonorable manner. That’s the American industrial worker and if you think these men and women are just a number, please get out there and speak with a foreman or a supervisor on a job site. That is right, you need to see things for yourself. Its the reason PMs and CMs are such high demand, companies need people in the field with experience and know how, real leadership not a remote worker dictating a job with an AutoCAD drawing on their screen.

(above) The American comedian George Carlin

If you want to understand the common sense of the American industrial worker, there’s no better way than to hear the comedy of George Carlin, his comedy highlights the common sense and often hilarious insight of the generation that built much of what you will find in America today.

“Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.

That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fucking place! It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in the big club.”

(above) quotation from the performance of George Carlin

Next week we shall conclude this article, but in the mean time I’d like to highlight some current events which really should frighten anyone who understands how truly fragile our civilization is at this current moment.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

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Agile Quality International

I am an industrial worker, I hold certificates and have worked across the nation.