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Give Us Dignity

I saw in the news that Jeff Bezos and Amazon have filed a patent on a wristband that can be used by employers to track employees. But he’s not the first in this endeavor. There already exists a microchip implant that can be injected under the skin of employees to track them and monitor their movements, as well as others things we surely have not been told. Nor will we be.

However sinister these things are, America failed to see the hand writing on the wall quite some time ago I’d like to talk today about the worth of human dignity and compassion. Neither of these things is compatible with the American workplace environment of today, nor with the market, nor with capitalism. See, what amounts to indentured servitude in the workplace didn’t just manifest one day, unbeknownst to anyone it was arriving. A series of causes and conditions led up to it.

As Buddhism teaches, nothing just “happens”. A series of causes and conditions leads up to it. This leaf falls from a tree because autumn arrived and the wind blew. The leaf didn’t just say in the middle of summer, “Gosh, I think right now is the right time to fall from the tree and, therefore, I shall do so.” This is a very short explanation of the dynamic, but it should suffice.

I would think the camel’s nose under the tent began with the 1980s “War On Drugs” and the ability of employers to require drug testing before hiring. People defended this saying, “Well, would you want someone high on drugs flying the plane you’re on?!” Cute, but it doesn’t cut the mustard. There were no major airline accidents that could be attributed to drug use.

Two major airline accidents in the late 1970s were caused by these things: Tenerife Air Disaster, caused by a pilot disobeying orders from the control tower. Chicago O’Hare DC-10 Crash, caused by defective parts and maintenance error. Those were two of the biggest as far as fatalities. Neither caused by drugs. There simply was no “smoking gun” to justify drug testing en masse. And besides all of that, to what end do retail store and supermarket employees need to be drug tested? They’re not making life-and-death decisions like a pilot.

But drug testing accomplished two things. First, it helped the government turn casual drug users into unemployed pariahs and outcasts. It basically created an instant population of people cast out from being able to make a living and, I note, directly contributed to homelessness. Second, it gave employers a wide latitude to police and monitor the private lives of employees.

For that matter, it allowed both government and employers to circumvent the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Yes, one’s bodily fluids are property as odd as it sounds to point that out. Another thing. Being required to urinate into a cup while being watched is humiliating and dehumanizing. To be forced to submit to such humiliations denies the dignity every human being ought to be afforded. Click To Tweet

Now it is standard procedure for virtually every employer to require drug testing, despite the fact that some decades after it being implemented is when pilots drunk or high were discovered in cockpits. And they passed drug tests! Obviously, the entire premise behind drug testing is flawed, but as I have demonstrated, the purpose never was public safety. It was designed to deny employment to people otherwise employable, and to assert more control over peoples personal lives by employers and the government. But it didn’t end there.

It is quite common now that employers can insist sick employees come to work or be fired. This has been going on for years now. While Americans read about “Typhoid Mary” and are aghast that someone with an infectious disease would remain at work preparing food for people to eat, they don’t realize that this is now company policy across America.

In fact, here in Arizona, the biggest opponent of a proposed law mandating employee sick days is the restaurant trade association! They say giving employees sick days will hurt the restaurant industry. Imagine that, if you will. They just said that someone with the flu preparing your sandwich is a very good idea and an astute business decision. I have heard of nurses required to come to work sick or be fired, as well as nursing home staff.

Let me digress a moment to point something out. After the 9/11 attacks, the government whipped up paranoia by suggesting Al Qaida could field a biological weapon within the United States. I can prove that this was a complete lie. If terrorists possessed a biological weapon in the form of an infectious, communicable disease, we’d all be dead right now. How and why? Because the Patient Zeroes who first caught the disease would have been forced to come to work sick, where they would have spread the disease to others.

They, in turn, would come to work sick. Meanwhile, the lack of a public health care system would mean no chance for the disease to be caught early. People sick would be going to work, not to the doctor. By the time it was suspected of being a biological weapons attack, it would be too late. Where is the respect for human dignity and compassion to let human beings convalesce while sick? No one is saying the employer has to come make them chicken soup and hot tea. But to just give the simple compassion of not threatening someone’s living because they are sick. No one chooses to be sick, nor have they any control over being sick.

It’s one of the things we live with in these physical bodies and anyone who denies that is a fool. But to insist people come to work who are vomiting or have diarrhea is an outrage against the decency America claims to uphold. There were POW camps in World War Two that had systems for prisoners to go to an infirmary while sick. Are we to believe that American corporations treat employees worse than prisoners of war? Yes, we can believe that because it is true.

Employers can insist that parents of sick children come to work. They can fire employees who refuse. Employers can set work paces to speeds whereby no one has time to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Let’s get one thing straight here. The economy exists to serve humanity. Humanity does not exist to serve the economy. But that is exactly how employers see their employees. As nothing more than troublesome cogs in the machine that prints them money for which their voracious appetite is never appeased. When we live in a country that places the economy over humanity, we’re not far from engineered famines being used to eliminate “surplus population”. I daresay mass layoffs and downsizing are engineered famines.

Lastly, let’s talk about those tracking systems mentioned earlier. These are merely the next logical step after one has forced people to urinate into cups to get hired and then denied them the human right to be sick while sick. Of course employers will want to know when employees use the bathroom and how often. But more importantly, where they are and go after work.

For implanted microchips, employees can be tracked anywhere on the planet. It could probably be discovered who went to a union meeting so they can be fired. But the biggest problem here is this: The lack of human dignity. The wristband and implant assert company ownership of the employee. In a sense, they become “company property” because, look, here’s the proof in the company equipment tag on the employee.

A human body must remain inviolate and autonomous. No one has the right to demand another person insert something into their bodies or wear what amounts to a dog collar as a condition of employment. In fact, it should be illegal. Let me repeat—no one has the right to demand another human being put something into their bodies. We are on a collision course with far more evil things coming to pass. The causes and conditions are here right now.

Employers are working towards, and have accomplished in some cases, a type of indentured servitude whereby employees are free only on paper. Indeed, the Bill of Rights spells out freedoms, but employers themselves will tell you the Bill of Rights does not apply on company property. The United States government will tell you that, too. Not to mention the government itself routinely violates the Bill of Rights whenever it wishes to do so. But with employers, they can require employees to give up not only those freedoms, but human rights themselves, as a condition of employment.

Need to go to the bathroom? Too bad, it’s not break time. Thirsty? Too bad, wait for lunch time. Sick? Too bad, get in here or get fired. Want to keep this job? You have to get this microchip implant. All of these things are wrong. Not just wrong, but evil. An evil mind thinks things such as that are good ideas. Good minds do not deny compassion to human beings.

We are witnessing the death of human dignity and compassion. People are treated as commodities and company property it can do whatever it wishes with and treat however it pleases. So long as these things are considered “good business decisions” and treated as normal, it will get worse. Employers will soon be able to dictate where employees can shop, which can be enforced via microchip implant tracking. Employers could very easily dictate where employees could worship and where to associate—and with whom.

Now, these things have all happened in the past here, as a matter of fact, and the Bill of Rights did not prevent it. It was called “the company store” in mining towns and so forth. But returning to the past also means we returning to and foundering in a miasma of ignorance. Except now it can be enforced absolutely through technology which makes ultimate control possible. What vivid imaginations of an Orwellian world is no longer so vivid nor is it imaginary, it’s happening right before us. #GiveUsDignity 

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Jack Perry
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Jack Perry

Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.
Jack Perry
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