Saturday, October 22, 2005

American Attitude Problem: "Positive Thinking"

EHRENREICH: There is a tremendous American theme about positive thinking. We have a hard time dealing with truly bad news and discouraging information. Throughout my experience trying to get a white-collar job, I was encouraged to think positively. You are supposed to see your job loss as some great break, your chance to move on to something bigger and better. The reality is that 70 percent of people who lose their jobs and do get rehired, are rehired at a lower pay. But to criticize the system, or to be negative is considered "un-American."

It was a similar attitude that drove me crazy when I was dealing with breast cancer. Despite study after study showing there was no correlation, everyone kept telling me that my outcome would be better if I had a better attitude.

What's so offensive about that insistence, whether in relation to illness or job loss, is the implication that the victim is at fault. If you don't get better or you don't find a better job, then there must be something wrong with your attitude. The government (or the doctor, or the employer) doesn't have to take responsibility for providing for you, because if you aren't doing well, it's your fault. And of course it's an outlook that's enormously satisfying for those on top, because it implies they deserve to be there because of their winning attitudes.

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Interview continues at link above with the author who went undercover to work in the world of white collar downsizing ( Bait & Switch) and also for blue collar minimum wage servitude (Nickel & Dimed).


At 12:17 AM, Blogger dharma33 said...

I'm positive. I'm positive I can't break into the white collar world. not even as a secretary. I've tried even to get a position as a drugstore manager(a working manager at that) to no avail. Maybe...through the world of telemarketing but who wants to go that route? I have a closetful of corporate clothes for that 'look' for interviews, have donned the 'I'm your company man attitude' and I'm back where I started, the dental lab. Attitude is nothing when you are pushing 40, female and have no connections.

At 12:20 AM, Blogger dharma33 said...

then again... do I really want to? All that sucking up and donning the image in the mirror every morning, and pursuing the American dream and all the commercialism and absence of personal values that ensues...NOT!!


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