Of Credit Reports, Urine Tests, Polygraphs, and Class Warfare
(Gambanreiði Statement has always been concerned with economic democracy, without which, political democracy is but an empty slogan. From time to time, issues come up, often in readers' personal experiences, which highlight the real state of Western culture, quite different from the slogans of "opportunity," "justice," "due process," and "equality under law." Plutocracy and corporate rule are the rule of law at present.)
There we were. It was a small, bare, industrial kind of room in a run-down warehouse. The new owner, whose ad I'd answered, faxing her a resum�, was telling me how she planned to improve this old complex. Her manager would, of course, need to be someone proven not to have a criminal record, since peoples' possessions are stored there.
That assertion did not trouble me. It was logical, although a former felon in one of the many victimless crimes available might be no more dishonest than the average person, I mused to myself. Next she asked my permission to do a credit check. I calmly explained to her that she might as well not bother, if this was a criterion for employment. I'd recently moved to a distant state, had been unable to restart my business here, a move which had cost a good 30% more than U-Haul had quoted. I told her that until the date of the move, in 11/99, my credit had been fine, but that since then, I'd gone through a consumer credit counseling service in order to reduce my monthly payments to creditors. I explained to her that I could have just walked away from the debts, and was advised to do so by a lawyer, but that I wanted to pay these off and would pay every penny.
She responded that this was 'a policy' and that it wouldn't be fair to make an exception for one employee. I then realized that it was not about character. On the way to pick my kid up to school, I thought, analytically, about what was really being said and not said. Were this a test of character or gumption, it might make someone pass that I want to leave off receiving a disability payment. When totally disabled with chronic, incurable ailments, I only wanted to work for her and had been working for the past ten years, voluntarily, in the face of a very painful, disabling condition. Now, to be sure, I did not work the same number of hours or for the same rate of pay as before the condition emerged, but I did choose work.
It would be fair to inquire into my financial management ability if that were what the job involved, like jobs in banking or finance. If it were a mark of money management skill, she might notice that all the debt was either in payment of medical expenses, medicines, or to buy supplies with which to operate my one man show of a business, not buying stereos, flashy clothes or gadgets. She might realize, were she to question what the report contained, and were I there to answer, that some of the debts, in my name are not really mine. One is for a car, on which I cosigned for my 17-year-old daughter, her cell phone, and the house, which my divorce decree requires my former wife to pay on since she chooses to remain in it. In character with the opaque people, the master class, you are not there to answer the questions, nor to help interpret the data, so the interpretation is made by someone who has only a fraction of the facts needed to really interpret it. Again, this is proof, like the spurious polygraph and urine tests, that facts are not at issue- the process at work is intimidation, like the Navy physicians who were suspended after being accused of opiate abuse, when each had merely eaten poppy-seed buns the day of the test.
Waiting in line with the other cars, I mulled over what she was really after, and what the ritual of a credit report really meant. After all, Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, had several platinum cards and perfect credit. Operating his drug empire with and for the CIA from Panama, the former army officer, turned Presidente, had no criminal record either. He had perfect credit, as do many well-heeled arsonists, confidence men, and drug dealers with whom I used to rub shoulders as an insurance investigator. We used the credit report in order to see if the claimant might have had a financial motive for the crime (loss) in what is called a "cause and origin" report. So very often the credit had nothing to do with the perpetrator's behavior. All it said was that he had money and enough of it to pay his debts.
Going through her motives one at a time, by process of elimination, it suddenly hit me. The purpose of a credit report is the same as that of an employee drug screen. It is to reduce the person to a powerless heap. It is, along with NAFTA and GATT, merely another ploy, along with the lie detector test, to dehumanize the worker, to establish the underdogs (the examined) and the top dogs (the examiners). It is merely a form of class warfare, as are the other programs whose acronyms appear above, just another front, like banning the speech of someone with embarrassing truths to tell, or with whom you (or a political/ economic machine) disagree as "hate speech." It is just another tooth in the gears which grind people up and spit them out as powerless automatons.
It is an act of self-congratulation by the owner / investor caste, the origins of whose money, whether from the death of a spouse, inheritance, overpriced goods from Third World sweatshops, or even the successful business arsonist, is never examined. They are seldom the value-creators of Ayn Rand's fictions.
The very act of asking implies (actually buys) a specious moral prerogative. That's the nature of power: it is not reciprocal. It is a stature more often purchased than earned. The investigations have nothing to do with the slogans of 'character' or 'responsibility.' If it were, the employer would be held to the same standard in the transaction, like a "Truth in Hiring Act." Of course, they are opaque. It is their divine right of money and power to see through the rest of us. Lacking truth in hiring, thousands are sent into dangerous positions and situations every year. The employee urinates into a cup in a gesture of self-abasement so that the company checks for victimless crimes. The director, manager, or board member, his amphetamine or crack-soaked blood and urine unchecked, can threaten the livelihood of thousands with one wrong turn of the company yacht.
Millions are classified as "professional" or "managerial," when, in fact they are tightly supervised drones, so that they can be worked in excess of 40 hours a week without additional pay as "on salary." No lie detector or credit report detects whether or not your job will still be there because the bosses' boss over inflated the stock value. Dishonest employees may cost on a small scale. The manipulators and traders, of which Ivan Boesky and Charles Keating were but the tip of the iceberg, were the robber barons of this century, who made off with the jobs of hundreds of thousands of employees. These were paper maneuvers, which created no value for anyone, and only redistributed wealth upward toward the speculator, a human cost on the largest scale.
So, the checking is just an act of subjugation, like the ritual mountings which alpha wolves use to establish pack status. Marx and Engels predicted class warfare from below. They were wrong. The corporate farm which brings in a new crop of pickers under a Mexican labor-contract, to replace the workers who just organized a union, is waging class warfare from above. So are all the procedures designed to remove all risk from the world by testing one's inferiors. In the slave markets of West Africa, the traders did a similar test. They displayed the human cargo, naked, so that the investors' caste, who financed, insure, or owned the ships could make certain that no defective 'goods' were to be imported.
If that's all in the past, then a productive, healthy workplace gets back to reciprocity. I trade my productive, conscientious labor for your fair rate and conditions. I represent that I can do certain things, which I can do. You represent that the job involves this set of activities, pays that wage, and that it is a set number of hours per week, which it is.
I wish I'd thought all this out succinctly at the time of the job interview, but we all know that hindsight is 20/20. If I had done so, I would have said to the owner, "I don't know whether you'll succeed in turning around these derelict storage spaces. I don't have enough information on you to know whether, if it is successful, you will plow the right amount of capital back into it to assure its success and not gamble the venture away as Jim Walters Resources management did by investing profits into junk bonds in 1988-90. I wasn't an employee, just a contractor, but I saw thousands lose their jobs. There are at least as many ways employers can cheat or misrepresent themselves to employees as the other way around."
"If you want a credit report on me, since I'm taking just as much a chance of tying up my livelihood on you as you are by employing me, I'd like an operating statement on your venture, and a reference on the last venture you managed. If there is openness, let it be on both parts. Then we can both take a chance, or, if this offends you, we can each take a chance on other prospects."
The Gambanreiði Statement,
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We encourage you to benefit from and copy this work. Please remember that we are not universalists and do not believe that the principles contained herein would be of benefit to "all mankind." We trust the ingenuity and resourcefulness of other peoples to come up with their own evolutionary strategies. Ours assumes self-control, limiting one's consumption of natural resources and production of offspring, not overrunning and exhausting the earth, and other ethics of a distinctly North European flavor. This work should certainly be shared with other North Europeans. All we ask is this: if you copy this work, have the honor to use it whole, as this is more representative of the greater body of spiritual writings from which it is excerpted and will avoid the taking of parts out of context.