Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Modern Workplace and How It Relates to Marriage

Men are expected to "provide". It isn't just traditionalists like Dr. Laura who say this. Most women seek out and marry men they think do, or will, earn more than they do, even if they claim to be liberated, feminist, independent. Notice Oprah's lack of legal marriage. It would he difficult for her to attract a man who earns more than her.

In order to pay for a family, men generally need stable, well-paying jobs that provide a reasonable level of security. However, our economy has changed.

A microcosm of that is reflected in an industry in which some of my friends work. In this industry, most people got a job and kept that job for their entire career. Sure, there was the occasional cutbacks and departures because of personality clashes, which often meant people would get a similar job elsewhere and that job would last until retirement. A shift in corporate management changed that. Everyone was put under what has usually been a single-project contract, and it became very common for people to be sent packing at the end of the contract. Interns are brought in each semester, then dismissed. Just about everyone in the industry now spends time unemployed and goes from employer to employer. Not only that, but when they are working they're often having to spend several months at a time on the other side of the world. Almost everyone I know in that industry is divorced or never bothered to marry.

Did you know that, sometimes, when you pull up to a drive-through fast food joint, the person you're talking with while placing your order is in a call center?

Everyone is familiar with the concept of call centers now being in India (and many other places around the world). Did you know that, for many years now, law firms in the USA have been sending work to India to be done overnight? Why would a law firm hire an American paralegal when they can get someone in India to do the same work for less money and handle things overnight, while the stateside employees are asleep? Instead of waiting for a paralegal to handle something the next day, it can already be done when they come in the next day.

The Trump Administration and certain other governments may or may not temporarily halt a global shift, but big business is not going to stop pushing to relocate or grow production where it is less expensive (Mexico, China, India, etc.), especially when doing so helps the people in those countries earn enough to be new customers. The brutal truth is that they can stand to lose some American consumers (people who do not have the income to buy their goods and services due to under- or unemployment) if they gain more foreign consumers.

Then there's automation. As robots and other machines become less expensive and labor becomes more expensive, more labor is going to be replaced by automation. Sure, some people want to deal with a live, present human being, but that's a shrinking, aging percentage of the population. Kids coming up today are used to dealing with software and hardware, screens and electronic voices.

Count on anything that can be automated being automated. And what can be automated is increasing. With the rise of e-commerce, there was an increase in need for delivery truck drivers. However, it won't be long before trucks can "drive themselves" and rolling and flying drones literally deliver items to doorsteps.

A lot of people use Uber and Lyft these days, which are using live drivers, but what happens when people can instantly summon a driverless vehicle to get them from here to there, and this is so reliable more and more people opt not to own an automobile? And they run very efficiently, many of them on electrical charges? What do you think that's going to do to things like car dealerships, gas stations, service centers, parts stores, car washes, car rental agencies, parking attendants and valets, the DMV, insurance companies, and buses?

And remember that person taking your order at the drive-through from a call center? As you've probably seen, fast food places are starting to allow people to place orders interfacing with a screen. How long will it be before you can quickly order and receive your fast food without any human being (other than you) involved in the ordering, final preparation, and delivery?

It isn't just entry level fast food workers, since those aren't really the jobs we're talking about. How many human managers will be needed in fully-automated facilities?

Utility workers used to go from property to property reading meters (water, gas, electricity). Now there are "smart meters" that are checked from the utility facility.

How often do you work from home? If you don't ever work from home, you probably know a lot of people who do. If someone can do all or almost all of their job from remote, then there's a good chance it could be done in some other country, where labor can be paid less because the cost of living is lower.

Workplaces are changing. Corporate culture is changing. Big government and big business cause each other. Smaller businesses, run by present families, are replaced by big corporations owned by shareholders who don't know you; they just want a return on their investment, and as a result, they want layoffs and they want their facilities moved to less expensive locations.

It's increasingly rare for someone to get a job right out of school and work for the same employer in the same general area for their entire career.

As such, even if someone picks a line of work they think has a future, and one that won't be shipped overseas, they can expect that they will have to change employers, change locations, and even change their career fields at least once in their post-education working life. The students of today should be told how to prepare for this and to expect it.

Then there's the reality of the sexes. Despite what people who make a living off of activism would have us believe, women have full access and, often, presence, in today's workplace. Yes, the dirty and dangerous jobs are still overwhelmingly male, but offices and warehouses and so many workplaces are full of women, including as bosses. How many career jobs involve a reliable "9 to 5", Monday through Friday schedule? In order to get and keep a well-paying job, not only do people have to be willing to switch employers and relocate, most people have to be willing to work extra days, long days, odd hours, and go on business trips, go to office parties and "volunteer" events, and "happy hours" and other socializing and networking events. These things are all in mixed company. How well does that work for family life? If a husband, especially a father, is working on the weekend, coming home late from happy hours, and going on business trips with women he sees more than his wife, how long is he going to be married?

A successful career and a successful marriage are things increasingly at odds.

Unless he's going to be dependent, a man needs a successful career for survival and to have any decent quality of life. He doesn't, however, need to be married, and having a successful career is more likely if he doesn't marry.

Based on these realities, a man should:

1) Avoid marriage.
2) Save up, and maintain, a liquid fund large enough to cover all of his expenses for a year.
3) Be prepared financially, emotionally, and any other way to switch jobs or his entire line of work.

UPDATE - I can't stress enough how much how much these two things are realities of modern workplaces:

1) Men and women working together day in and day out.
2) Communicating with coworkers even while away from the the office and during off-hours.

This means, for example, a married man may be texting a female coworker when he and his family are waiting for something.

Plenty of people who don't have to deal with the modern workplace AND supporting a spouse and minor children these days might say, "He shouldn't be texting coworkers during family time!"

Well in an ideal world, sure. But a lot of work gets down outside or work hours. A man who refuses to play along is going to be at a disadvantage. And again, someone might say, "Oh well... he should put his family before his career."

And that sounds good... until some of the same people start badmouthing the guy for not being a good provider for his family.

It's increasingly a no-win situation. Don't place the game to begin with. An unmarried, child-free man can text when he wants.

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