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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Employer as State

I had a weird experience in my current jobsearch.

I went on an interview. The office was filled with mostly empty cubicles. I mentioned it to the interviewer, another programmer, and he said "Yeah, they just fired a whole bunch of people."

Taking advantage of a deteriorating job market, the owner decided to fire everyone and replace them with cheaper labor.

I passed/aced the technical interview, and got to speak with the owner. He bragged "People in this job market are totally desperate! I have people with 10 years of experience begging for an unpaid internship, just so they can get back in the workforce." He said that he wasn't going to hire anyone directly, but require them to work a 1 month unpaid internship first.

A month later, he got back to me to interview me for a 2nd interview. He said "This job is unpaid. If I like your work, I'll hire you as a full-time employee." (presumably at a pittance salary) Nothing better to do, I agreed to the interview.

The next day, I thought about it some more, and realized "I'm a professional. I'm not working for a month for free. He's probably just using me for free labor. After a month, instead of hiring me, he could just find someone else to exploit. Besides, he's never going to pay me anything more than a pittance, even if I do get converted to an employee. I'm better off working on my blog instead. In his mind, I'll always be a pathetic loser who agreed to work for free. If he was serious, he would have offered me a decent rate, even for an introductory trial period."

I E-Mailed him and canceled the interview. Why I told my mother, her reaction was "OMFG!! Why did you do that? You were rude to him!!" My mother reacted as if I had punched a policeman. What is he going to do? Call other people and tell them not to hire me?

That indicated an aspect of pro-State brainwashing I hadn't noticed before. An employer is presumed to have the same level of authority as a State enforcer. His authority must be legitimate, because otherwise he wouldn't be in a position of power!

That specific job was in the financial industry. Even if I could write better software than his, I'd be wasting my time starting my own business, because I don't have contacts willing to purchase it.

My mother and the ***hole employer had the attitude that I should be grateful for the opportunity to suck his ****. I'm a professional, and should act like one.

In another interview story, I'm continuing my policy of refusing to take a technical test, if the headhunter/HR demands one. A programming test might be appropriate for an entry-level job, but I have 10+ years of experience! If you aren't going to spend the time interviewing me, then you're not serious about hiring someone good. Most of those technical tests have flaws anyway.

After several years taking every stupid technical test, I've concluded that technical tests are anti-correlated with good employers. Someone competent should spend a few minutes talking with you. A good programmer should be able to tell after a few minutes of conversation.

I had another weird interview experience. The interviewer scheduled a 1pm phone interview. At 1:05pm, he hadn't called yet, and I sent him a reminder E-Mail. He then called at 1:10pm. He said "I see you sent me an E-Mail." I said "You were late for the call. I thought you forgot and sent you a reminder." He retorted "How dare you accuse me of being late or forgetting! I'm terminating this interview!"

My reaction was "Fine, ***hole!", although I didn't say that. My mother asked "Why was your phone interview over so quickly?" I pointed out that the interviewer was a jerk and related the above story. My mother *SIDED WITH THE INTERVIEWER*. She automatically assumed I had done something wrong.

Before I'd attained enlightenment, I would have added this to my list of stupid human relation tricks. "Never point out to an authority figure that he is late!" However, the real problem is that the interviewer was a jerk. If it wasn't that, he would have found some other pretext to disqualify me, and I would have assumed I messed up some other human interaction subtlety.

My mother was trying to get me to question my own judgement. Instead of believing "The interviewer was a jerk!" (the truth), I would have believed "This is another human relation trick to memorize!"

I noticed that this is a common complaint for people with "high functioning autism" or "Asperger's syndrome". They say "Human interaction rules are so complicated! There's an infinite list of things I must do, and I can never learn all of them!" The problem is that the "high functioning autism" person sees the parasites in charge, and assumes they're the natural human leaders. The parasites make up pretexts for their actions, and the intelligent person is trying to see a pattern, when the real pattern is "This guy is a jerk!" The productive class assumes that the authority of the parasites is legitimate. Behavior by people such as my mother led me to believe that the authority of the parasites is legitimate.

It seems like there's an infinite list of "human realation tricks" because the parasites behave randomly. This makes sure that intelligent people are always on edge and easily manipulated. The parasite leads the productive worker into believing that they did something wrong, rather than identifying the parasite as a jerk. When two sane people interact, you don't have to always be worried "I'll say the wrong thing and offend someone and then they won't want to see me anymore!"

For this reason, I don't worry that my regular readers will get offended if I say something wrong. If you want to never be offended, watch the Propaganda Channel (CNN). You should evaluate all my ideas independently. You shouldn't say "**** you, FSK, I'm leaving!" if I do something you don't like.


robert30062 said...

Life will always involve a certain level of confusion and uncertainty; the world will always give you a liberal helping of negative energy from day to day. I realized that the best way to combat this is by developing patience and trying my best to be the starting point of new, positive energy and be an absorbing buffer for negative energy. I feel that morally this is the right thing to do but, the functional purposes should be obvious as well. You're a really smart guy FSK and I like you and your blog a lot, but you are very black and white sometimes and that, along with your arrogance, is destined to create only two types of reactions from people which are to completely support and agree with everything you do or hate you. I can already tell you've encountered this, even without reading your blog comments, by your paranoia about people saying "f**k you FSK! I'm leaving!". The difference with me is that I refuse to exist as your supporter on either extreme of the black and white spectrum you unwittingly create for those around you. I honestly do feel the way I do about the observations I just made and hope you can see the well-intentioned, constructive nature of them, I still like and respect you a lot and would never say "f**k you FSK! I'm leaving!". It's morally and functionally superior to accept people as best you can and be patient, then it's up to you to take the next step and ensure that your convictions aren't compromised by doing so and who knows, maybe if you've become someone's friend they will be more inclined to take your points of view seriously. The French have a proverbial saying in the form of a rhetorical question: You know what they call a leader with no followers? Just a guy taking a walk.

Your Friend,


Anonymous said...


This is what is said implicitly by every
capitalist, every industrialist, every business owner, every
employer who demands the labor power of the workers they

Look, my workers, I have some capital which by itself
cannot produce anything, because a dead thing cannot produce
anything. I have nothing productive without labor.

As it goes, I cannot benefit from consuming it
unproductively, since having consumed it, I would be left
with nothing. But thanks to the social and political
institutions which rule over us and are all in my favor, in
the existing economy my capital is supposed to be a producer
as well:

it earns me interest.

From whom this interest must be taken - and it must be
from someone, since in reality by itself it produces
absolutely nothing - this does not concern you. It is enough
for you to know that it renders interest. Alone this
interest is insufficient to cover my expenses. I am not an
ordinary man as you. I cannot be, nor do I want to be,
content with little. I want to live, to inhabit a beautiful
house, to eat and drink well, to ride in a carriage, to
maintain a good appearance, in short, to have all the good
things in life. I also want to give a good education to my
children, to make them into gentlemen, and send them away to
study, and afterwards, having become much more educated than
you, they can dominate you one day as I dominate you today.
And as education alone is not enough, I want to give them a
grand inheritance, so that divided between them they will be
left almost as rich as I. Consequently, besides all the good
things in life I want to give myself, I also want to
increase my capital. How will I achieve this goal? Armed
with this capital I propose to exploit you, and I propose
that you permit me to exploit you. You will work and I will
collect and appropriate and sell for my own behalf the
product of your labor, without giving you more than a
portion which is absolutely necessary to keep you from dying
of hunger today, so that at the end of tomorrow you will
still work for me in the same conditions; and when you have
been exhausted, I will throw you out, and replace you with
others. Know it well, I will pay you a salary as small, and
impose on you a working day as long, working conditions as
severe, as despotic, as harsh as possible; not from
wickedness - not from a motive of hatred towards you, nor an
intent to do you harm - but from the love of wealth and to
get rich quick; because the less I pay you and the more you
work, the more I will gain."
This is what is said implicitly
by every capitalist, every industrialist, every business
owner, every employer who demands the labor power of the
workers they hire.

Anonymous said...

i think you did the correct thing in telling that bozo that you weren't going to work for free. you were likely on the verge of getting *ripped off*.

now of course there is going to be a "vulgar libertarian" (usually pro-state, even if only mildly) response to that. "you agreed to work for free for a month, and your boss said you were lousy, so he fired you. you agreed to the terms! he runs the place!" maybe he was being "honest" about how it works, maybe he was looking to abuse people. there's no way to read someone's mind and see what their true intentions are, but i wouldn't have even bothered thinking about it. his actual words were enough. the guy laid off his whole work force in a bad economy. he's looking to save money. what a great scam! i'd take a risk that that's what he was up to and not even bothered. and you're right, you'd probably make a pittance if you did get hired.

Sphairon said...

Intriguing post, FSK. However, I conclude from your writings about "Asperger's syndrome" and "high functioning autism" that you agree with the general notion about these conditions being sicknesses?

If not, sorry for misinterpreting you.

If yes, I really think that's just an excuse for making introverted, thoughtful people feel bad about themselves. Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? It tries to categorize your personality according to social attitude, perceiving functions, judging functions and "lifestyle preferences". There are 16 possible categories. I scored Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging (INTJ), a minority personality that seems to border on "high functioning autism" according to several descriptions. The most common types are extroverted, authority-oriented, but rather insecure personalities. This is considered "normal", I guess, because it's most common (up to 40% of the population at least).

But is it good? Myers-Briggs reaffirmed a previous suspicion of mine that pseudo-conditions like "Asperger's syndrome" are really just rare character traits that are by no means "bad" or "sick", but, quite to the contrary, turn out to be pretty helpful.

fritz said...

I like your story FSK. looking for a good or acceptable job is often an ordeal. And I think your approach can be commended. What I see here is that you are up front. What you are trying to relay is who you and what you have to offer.

And what you are doing is stopping you from winding up back in the fire. And stopping your self from dealing with a messed up employer.

I want you to feel good about telling an interviewer to f*** himself. before you are really done interviewing I want you to say it for real. Dam it feels good, just don't let your mother hear it.

I think if you could work from home it would be awesome for you. You could be a private contractor and get paid for each project you complete. Try selling your skills to people who would hire you on a per project basis.

Enough of telling you what you should do. Good job of telling these people whats up. And good luck in the job hunt.

Some times you just have to suck it up and get a crappy job. Just remember what your objective is and focus on its achievement.

I would like to see you make a living writing some web pages.


Anonymous said...


Good call on not working for free.

I think you're being too dismissive about not taking tests. Yes, they can be stupid. But often quite innocent. Just because you worked for 10 years doesn't imply anything about your ability in this market. Plenty of parasites hide out in big companies can't program. Some people are just looking for ways of identifying the parasite before they suck the blood out of the company.

The third guy was touchy. But he didn't ask why you sent the email. You shouldn't have responded that way unless he had. When he said "Looks like you sent an email" you should have just said "Yes, I did." If you are resolved not to work with touchy people then IMO don't bother looking for work. Kids are taught to have pseudo-self esteem at public school and have none, and probably at least 90% of the culture is full of touchy people with no genuine self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

I can think of few things more anti-social than expecting another person to work for you without compensation.

Anonymous said...

You definitely did the right thing, not taking that job, and formed the right conclusion, that interviewer WAS a jerk.

As long as blogging is more productive for you, I also agree.

I completely disagree with the comment about 'positive energy' above. This idea of blowing off all the 'negative energy' one receives and starting over with a clean slate reminds me of the 'love your enemies' myth propogated by Christians. It's bullshit to me.

Your comments on Asperger's syndrome, and high functioning autism, are absolute gold. Specifically where you mention that an Asperger-er notices that people's verbal messages do not match their emotional messages, and chooses to ignore all emotional messages. That is ****ing gold...seriously.

I would love to see more posts from you in this area, as well as what you mentioned on this topic in Reader Mail 87.

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