America: Land Of The (Working For) Free

Posted by Kris E. Benson

are there no workhouses?

Yesterday we brought you the depressing story of a man who had worked for McDonald’s for twenty years and was still getting paid minimum wage. Now, of course, there is an argument to be made that it was kind of his fault that he was still getting paid minimum wage after all those years. Instead of continuing to work for McDonald’s, he should have gone to that one place where they just GIVE OUT JOBS to black men who don’t have college degrees — jobs that pay a living wage and have benefits and opportunities for upward mobility. Ha ha, just kidding, there is no Job Handing Out Place, not for black men or for anyone else, but there are places where you can BEG to work for FREE, and get a job where you work for FREE, but only if you are INCREDIBLY LUCKY and have NO LIFE and demonstrate COMPLETE FEALTY to your “employer,” only then will you get to work for free. See, doesn’t the guy working for McDonald’s for 20 years look like a genius now? This really puts things into perspective. Anyway, more about a fantastic opportunity to work for free:

Dalkey Archive is a prestigious small press that publishes poetry, as well as works of contemporary and classic works of fiction. And if you’re very, very lucky, and have no life, and don’t talk back, and are practically perfect in EVERY WAY, they will give you a job working for free. And if you REALLY REALLY deserve it, after an unspecified probationary period they might — MIGHT — just promote you to paid work. No guarantees though, OK?

Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.

Working for free is the new normal, didn’t you know? No really, it’s the new normal. From an article in Fortune magazine, wayyy back in 2011:

With nearly 14 million unemployed workers in America, many have gotten so desperate that they’re willing to work for free. While some businesses are wary of the legal risks and supervision such an arrangement might require, companies that have used free workers say it can pay off when done right. “People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please,  they’re going to be creative,” says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of  Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup….”Ten years from now, this is going to be the norm,” she says.

Maybe it IS the new norm ALREADY.  There are roughly 20 paid Reddit employees running a company that may be worth as much as $100 million or more . Wikipedia has 35 paid employees and the rest work for free as “moderators.” HuffPo has a small core staff of paid workers and the rest write for free. Pinterest has 19 paid employees and the rest of its content is generated for free by users. Tumblr has 18 paid employees, like Pinterest and Reddit, its content is generated for free by users.

So if you’re REALLY REALLY lucky, you can aspire to one day work for free, or if you’re EVEN LUCKIER, maybe you are doing it ALREADY!

[Salon]

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