Monday, August 11, 2014

The Easy Cure for American Psychosis and Mental Disorders

Twenty percent of Americans with moderate to severe mental disorders, nearly half of those suffering from explosive reaction syndrome, and another 5 percent with borderline personality disorder or psychosis - who when pushed to the limit blow up, kill fellow workers, or go berserk in other ways. As reported in one SciAm piece, after a survey of American workers, "half of the surveyed workers  confessed that they were reaching a breaking point after which they would not be able to accommodate the deluge of data."  These were workers in assorted information fields.

Meanwhile, the ugly stats concerning Americans' lack of time for relaxed vacations casts a grim shadow that connects with the above:

- Over  $150 b "left on the table" each year in terms of unused vacation days

- 577 million unused vacation days each year

- 55 percent of vacation days that are taken always occur with office work taken along

WHY are Americans doing this for the capitalist one or one-half or 0.001 percent? So the high fliers can eat even more foie gras and enjoy 18 holes on St. Kitts every month, as their wives lavish in rose wine wraps every day? Of course, most workers will cite "fear" as the prime reason, meaning that if they take those days then they may likely return to find themselves without a job, never mind they might get ill from the added stress.

But the other unspoken reason, or let's say less spoken reason, is that the capitalist elites have brainwashed their workers into believing that vacation down time (REAL down time) is for wimps and pussies. So, we don't take them, or if we do, make sure to drag along our smart phones with tons of office work. This plays directly into the hands of the managers and CEOS - most of whom are proven sociopaths or psychotics - but why should they care if they can make workers psychotic too? And each instance of a worker going bonkers is used as justification to replace workers with machines, or dispatch their jobs to India, or China.

Meanwhile, Terry Hartig, an environmental psychologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, has done a study in Sweden where anti-depressant prescriptions were tabulated monthly between 1993 and 2005, and compared the frequency with work periods and vacations. (In Sweden, at least 5 weeks or 35 days of paid vacation time are mandated each year - accounting for why these citizens live longer and spend less on health care than Americans.)  Hartig and associates found (Surprise, surprise!) that the more vacation days consumed the more the prescription numbers dropped - and exponentially! This was true for both men and women and for workers as well as retirees. There were also far fewer instances of workers losing it even while at work.(Relaxed workers who were ticked off by fellow employees "usually smiled rather than flipped the bird.")

As noted in the SciAm article:

"Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self."

In contrast to the European Union, which mandates 20 days of paid vacation (the Netherlands has 26), the U.S. has no federal laws guaranteeing paid time off, sick leave or even breaks for national holidays. This is disgusting! Even more so that  a survey by Harris Interactive found that, at the end of 2012, Americans had an average of nine unused vacation days. And in several surveys Americans admitted that they obsessively check and respond to e-mails from their colleagues or feel obliged to get some work done in between occasional swims, and going on a sightseeing junket.

Can you say 'lab rats' trapped in an invisible cage by their employers - getting rich off of these pawns?

Recall here that according to surplus value theory proposed by Karl Marx in his work, Kapital, if the labor value sold as a product or service is L, and V is the labor value embodied in the production of the item or service then the surplus value S is:

S = L - V

If an employee then earns $36,000 a year for generating a service or whatever other labor, and yields 6.2 days of his vacation time to the Boss Man, this translates to roughly $150 per working day assuming 20 such days per month. Then 6.2 days given up per year on average amounts to $930.

Then, by this reckoning V is the yearly paid labor or $36,000 and S is the unpaid labor or $930 per year. . The amount of labor expropriated per year is therefore equal to $930. Now, add in possible employee extra costs of $1,000 - say for health care or unpaid sick days - and you have $1,930 of labor exploited (this is assuming of course, the worker wouldn't have fallen ill had he taken his days and not been stressed out - leaving his immune system prey to flu, or other serious illness, even a stroke or heart condition. Of course in the latter cases the additional worker costs would be much greater!)

Meanwhile, the rate of surplus value per year, or the rate of yearly exploitation is:

S/V = ($1,930)/ ($36,000) = 0.053

In other words, the company or Boss Man is extracting 5.3% more work per year out of his forlorn employee than that employee is being remunerated.

And we won't even tabulate the additional psychiatric interventions or prescription drug (anti-depressant) costs because Mr. American refuses to take his allotted vacation days but insists on being a dumb drone instead while Boss Man laughs his ass off (see captioned cartoon above). (We also won't add in the costs in jail time, to his family, in going berserk at work!)

It's time Americans cease allowing their greedy capitalist employers to eke out over 5% per year of surplus value from their hides. Get your 'commie' caps on, then read Marx' Kapital, and join the 'Occupy That Vacation" movement! NO MORE FREE LABOR TO THE 1%!

Yes, it's great that MongoDB honcho Max Schireson is taking time off now to spend with his family - but no one should go ape shit over it or break their hands clapping. I mean, the guy is hundreds of times wealthier than most of his employees so can afford it. Hell, he probably profited handsomely from unused vacation days by his workers to enhance that yearly (S/V) exploitation rate.

What we need is most average American workers putting their feet down and saying 'NO More!' But given the degree most are infected by the Calvinist work meme, I doubt things will ever change. Most Americans would rather remain half-sick, mentally unstable worker drones than seize that precious commodity of time to anchor their lives and families.  So expect many more to come apart at the seams in the years ahead!


butimar said...

Sadly, average American, average Western is so sold to capitalist dream, got a tragic habit of underestimating simple humane needs/joys, running after hopeless masturbation of consuming... accordingly going nuts. main key on a well developed marketing strategy is well read consumer profile. we're well read, and targeted professionally. nothing surprising.

Copernicus said...

Actually, I think that the more well read we are the less likely we will fall for stupid marketing ploys and PR. This follows from Neil Postman's take in his book, 'The Disappearance of Childhood'-wherein he observed it is precisely the literary culture and emphasis on reading (as opposed to visual imagery - such as on the tube, or net) that distinguishes the adult from the child.

The literary person, well read - including philosophy- disparages and rejects consumer profiles and even games those who attempt to use them.

Would that more citizens would do this as opposed to allowing themselves to become rats on the work-spend treadmill!