Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romnification, or, the rebirth of the Taylor plan

Time was, back in the day, there was a movement towards Scientific Management known as Taylorism.   When a factory or other operation was Taylorized, clerks in labcoats holding clipboard and stopwatch, known as “time-and-motion men”, would scurry about the floor, taking notes.  Eventually, the workflow would be rearranged, rationalized, and optimized.   The ambience of the workplace was captured in such contemporary films as “Modern Times” (with Charlie Chaplin) and “A Nous la Liberté”.

I'm the operator  of my pocket-calculator

Not knocking efficiency by any means;  but that kind  comes at a price.   And the spiritual and economic costs to labor are very nicely laid-out in this morning’s article by Steven Pearlstein, in the Washington Post:

The essayist takes as his starting-point  the recent case of a town that outsourced its lifeguarding to a private-company, which fired a lifeguard for rushing to the aid of a drowning man -- drowning outside their paid-for A.O.R. -- and goes on to examine the cog-in-a-machine logic of such rationalized plans.

As the term “Taylorism” has dropped out of currency, let us welcome back its re-birth by giving it a nice new name:


otherwise known as “the Bain of our existence”.

Congratulations!  Your firm has been chosen for rationalisation by Bain Capital

Firefighting, back in the day, like lifeguarding in the case discussed in the Post, used likewise to be a private affair.  The unfettered market -- free enterprise in action.  Anyone could freely choose to sign up and pay the fire company, or freely abstain.  If you were not on their customer list, and your house caught fire, the company would rush engines to your dwelling… so as to hose down the houses of the adjoining customers, protecting them while your own house burned to the ground.  In this manner, the citizens were free from government interference.
And now we’re heading back in that direction, under the rubric of Privatization.  If you think that’s swell, then you know who to vote for.

Hey cartoonists, an idea for free :  Handsome Mitt Romney, high in a lifeguard chair, looking tanned and fit, whistling and looking the other way while American workers drown.

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Your role in the new economy:  a user's manual

 [Update 9 Aug 2012] Dana Milbank on Romney's Bain Games
"Like Bain, Tiny Tower nods to corporate responsibility: You improve your efficiency if you place bitizens in their “dream jobs.” But savvy players have discovered that you generate more tower bux if you fire people from their dream jobs and evict them from the tower after their birthdays pass."

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