Saturday, July 18, 2009

Working for the Combine

Chief BromdenI spent much of Tuesday afternoon at a job fair in a large city not far from where I live. I updated my résumé for the occasion, put on a coat and tie, joined a throng of other job-seekers, and browsed the display tables, talking to the recruiters.

Most of the employers represented at the fair were either agencies of the federal government or government contractors. Homeland Security (in the guise of the TSA) had a table, and there were military recruiters in uniform. Two large corporations — I’ll call them Major Defense Contractor 1 and Major Defense Contractor 2 — were hiring, and there were also several smaller companies that were subcontractors for MDC1 and MDC2.

I had some pleasant conversations with the recruiters for these different organizations. The companies were definitely looking for programmers, although not any with my particular skillset. And telecommuting was mostly not an option, since the majority of positions required a security clearance, and securing a remote connection — not to mention our house itself — would be problematic.

Even so, it was fun to talk geek-talk with other people in the field, and I got some tips about future opportunities that might be coming up.

However, I left the job fair with a weird feeling. Here we are, in the middle of a deep recession, and there are still a lot of job opportunities — with the federal government, or with companies doing business with the federal government. All those trillions of dollars are flowing out of Washington and trickling down to various agencies and contractors, paying the salaries of TSA airport guards and hiring Sybase programmers with security clearances.

Six or eight years ago the federal government wouldn’t have seemed so creepy. Despite the liberal orthodoxy that reigned then (and still reigns) in the federal bureaucracy, the fact that the Executive was in the hands of George Bush made the feds seem less like the enemy.

But now the entire government — the permanent bureaucracy, both houses of Congress, the Presidency (and soon the Supreme Court) — is in the hands of the socialist Left.

And what about the military? Aren’t they still reliably pro-American, patriotic, and traditional in their outlook?
- - - - - - - - -
Well, the members of the military I know certainly are. And I presume that the bulk of rank-and-file soldiers as well as the lower-level officers are still the same solid representatives of all that that’s best in America.

But the career generals in the Pentagon are another matter entirely. An ordinary soldier may well question whether Barack Hussein Obama is constitutionally eligible to be his Commander-in-Chief, but his superiors at the loftiest levels of the command structures are ready to squash any sign of this form of patriotic dissent.

At least half of the brass at the Pentagon are go-along-to-get-along people. They work for the Combine, just like the Secretary of Commerce, the Congressional staff on Capitol Hill, and all those GS-11s from Bethesda to Burke.

These are not people whom I inherently trust at this particular historical moment. After all, the Department of Homeland Security considers people like me — people who want to abolish the Fed, hate both Republicans and Democrats, and take the Second Amendment seriously — to be “right-wing extremists” and potential terrorists.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

These are boom times for paranoids.

The thrust of current events requires a conscious effort to avoid sliding into conspiracy theory. The recent actions of the federal behemoth are extremely paranoia-inducing, what with the gobbling up of private enterprise, the creation of trillions of dollars of imaginary money just to keep incompetent bankers in their plush corner offices, and the Obama blitzkrieg to socialize every important aspect of American life.

The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey features a mental patient named Chief Bromden. The Chief is a paranoid schizophrenic who views the entire social structure beyond the confines of his loony ward as “the Combine”, an all-powerful conglomerate composed of the government, corporations, and all the other large human collectives. Chief Bromden is aware that the Combine exists, but is helpless before it.

Now, I’m not a total paranoid — not yet — but there is a sort of Combine at work in our country today. It’s made up of the federal government and all its dependent entities, plus transnational corporations with no particular loyalty to any nation or people, and the permanent international bureaucracy represented by the UN, the EU, the World Bank, the IMF, and innumerable NGOs of all sorts.

The money and political control trickles down from these lofty places into virtually every nook and cranny in the United States. Major corporations, banking, insurance, state and local government, the school systems, charities — all of them are agents of the Combine to one degree or another, voluntarily or otherwise. I’m willing to bet that more than half of the population depends on this bureaucratic monster to at least some degree.

This is what gives me the creeps. Many years ago I worked for a couple of federal contractors, but for the last few decades I’ve managed to stay fairly independent. At the edges of official society, where small businesses and sole proprietorships are the norm, it’s still possible to achieve autonomy.

However, I have to take care of my family, and times are tough. If government-related jobs are the only jobs available, I may have to fill out the 47 pages of forms, pick up my chain-badge photo ID with the embedded chip, and go to work for the Combine.

It’s a sobering thought.

20 comments:

Dymphna said...

Ummm...I don't think so.

Somewhere in those 47 pages of forms, they will ask you about your internet experience. When you say "Gates of Vienna" they will drop your application down a dark hole. I just hope they don't drop kick you after it.

Nah, let's go with Plan B. Produce clerk.

Or Plan C. Substitute teacher when they're all out sick with swine flu.

Or Plan D. Move in with relatives (just kidding!)

I keep telling ya, BB, ya shoulda married rich. You just couldn't resist dumplings; they were your downfall.

Robert Marchenoir said...

Good luck, Baron. I keep thinking that somehow, in the future, society will discover it needs us old farts.

After all, when we'll be the only ones left who'll be able to spell, read and write, maybe they'll beg us for some help ?

I entertain a fantasy that, at some point, we'll morph into a natural aristocracy, like monks in the Middle-Ages, and that we'll be able to charge fortunes just reading or writing for the sake of the masses, who will have become totally illiterate by then, judging by present trends.

Chechar said...

Europe—and now the U.S., alas!—is certainly committing cultural suicide. Most ironically, Islam comes to us as a rescuing hand in Kesley’s fruit cake hospital. When the state of affairs turns really nasty in forthcoming Europe, the West's current group fantasy (search for the term "group fantasy" here) will start to collapse. There’s no question about it. Before the current paradigm shifts Westerners have to endure repentance, penitence, and atonement for their self-hate sins.

Oh how I wish I could see those times…

TB said...

"God damnit chief, you fooled them all"
My favorit movie. A classic.
Good luck with the job Baron.

Evan said...

It gets worse from here, once the government begins in earnest to destroy the health-care system.

Note that government employees are doing relatively well these days. The government is still hiring even in many of the most depressed regions of the country, and a fair number of unionized government employees are getting raises even in this climate.

Cugel said...

Good-bye republic, hello Byzantium.

Or, in different projection:

Paulvilles the new Monte Cassinos of literacy, but secular in this modern age.

Afonso Henriques said...

Good luck with that Baron!

... but I really don't see what all that fuzz is about working for the government.
Be the inverse-Gramscian guy or so...

You will be only one more bird in the band. If it's not you, someone will take your place and the band will continue to perform as it wills.

bewick said...

think you are alone?
I happen to have been (now happily retired) a UK freelance Management Consultant. NOT IT but I frequently was dragged into such because I was actually better than the home-grown people.

The government introduced a new tax move called IR35 (don't ask) which was particularly targetted at IT freelancers. I suffered as a result because companies were fearful of the potential costs of employing ANY freelancer. (IR35 is draconian but I was actually exempt but couldn't convince the Blue Chip companies)
Net result? Well there are thousands of perfectly able, and cheap, freelancers out of work. The "big 5" on the other hand are importing Indians to fulfill the needs (and at great profit) with total Government backing and visas. The big 5 have established their total predominance.
An American company - EDS - amazingly served on the BRITISH Government Committee which delivered IR35. Self-serving? You tell me but you bet.
Doubt me? Well have a look on Shout99.com - the UK freelancers' site.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I ran smack into IR35 when I was doing that sort of work - I've since given up - and I know exactly what you mean. It make freelancing nearly impossible and it was claimed to close a "loophole". Brown thinks any money an earner keeps is a "loophole" in the tax system.

Anyway I hear they've quietly scrapped it now. IR35 isn't being policed any more. It's costing them more money than it brought in and now they're feeling the pinch they've stopped the audits.

Watching Eagle said...

Well, Baron, if what you say is true about the military brass, it is yet another obstacle to Zenster's theory. Two other things of interest: Yesterday, I heard the Leftists (democrats) where wanting to open a probe into a Bush administration program. The program considered targeting Al Qaeda LEADERs for assination. (The plan was never implemented).

Leftists are up in arms that we would DARE think of "taking out" Osama or his lieutenants!! Let that sink in.

Meanwhile, concerning the 40 leaders to "take out," according to Zenster's idea, Zenster might be interested to know that a number of those on his list have "legal issues" with MME governments. (Jordan, KSA, Egypt, etc. are pleading for western governments to 'give us these criminals, please!')-- The list includes Mullah Krekar, Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza al Masri, and Yasser al Siri, to name just a few.

However, the Western legal system firmly refuses to extradite these alleged criminals, even though they are fomenting Jihad in the West. Why? Here's the snooty Leftist answer-- We simply can't let these people be extradited, because their "HUMAN RIGHTS" might be violated. They say that with a straight face!!

We are in trouble.

Baron Bodissey said...

Watching Eagle --

We are indeed in trouble.

One thing that Zenster fails to take into account is that the upper layer of the military brass is (generally speaking) part of the political class, and bends in the direction of the prevailing ideological winds in Washington.

What I said about the top officers at the Pentagon -- that about 50% are ready to capitulate to PC/MC and the pussification of America -- is based on inside-the-Beltway scuttlebutt. But I'm not an expert; I'm not in the military, and live nowhere near the Pentagon, so don't take what I say as fact. It's just what I heard.

Afonso Henriques said...

Watching Eagle,

in fact, the last documentary (most recent) I saw about Iran was on the BBC and was already post-2009 protests.

The documentary focused some atention on the killing of innocent civilians by Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic based in Europe through bombings.
They portrayed Iranians as victims of terrorism and it seems that there are indeed some grave incidents that happen with the tacit support of "our" governments.

As I've said: The problem is that European, white, leftist blood.

Chechar said...

Ditto: that is absolutely the problem: these whites are as funny in the head as Kesley's hospital.

laine said...

What about the huge number of "Nurse Ratcheds", the leftists who are going to enforce a totalitarian control over us "for our own good" including cultural lobotomy?

We are truly in the Cuckoo's Nest now with the congressional crazies running the asylum.

thll said...

Many moons ago I used to work for the British state. It made me into what I am now, a British state hating anti-liberal anti-PC anti-Muslim nationalist!

Now I do a much lower profile job that I can forget about during the time I'm not there and focus my energies on what really matters, my family. I may be poorer but I'm one hell of a lot more content.

Have you thought about becoming a mail man Baron? OK I guess the money's not all that good, but the pressure won't be there and when you're 'doing your round' you'll have plenty of time to think about GoV, and there are the health benefits too...

Chechar said...

Presently I am unemployed too. It doesn't cease to shock me that precisely mankind's benefactors are being marginalized in the brave new world...

PRCalDude said...

Baron,

I'm in your same boat and have already decided ahead of time that I won't be working for any arm of the government, including defense contractors.

Happily, you'll be overlooked anyway for lacking dark enough skin.

The Left loves displays of force and violence, so any work you do for a Leftist government will be a participation in that.

PRCalDude said...

We are indeed in trouble.

One thing that Zenster fails to take into account is that the upper layer of the military brass is (generally speaking) part of the political class, and bends in the direction of the prevailing ideological winds in Washington.


I'd actually say it starts at about the O4 level, once the automatic promotions stop.

There is so little diversity of thought amongst the officers that it's truly suffocating. But they have families to support, and making more money and advancing their careers means saying the right things.

PRCalDude said...

The government introduced a new tax move called IR35 (don't ask) which was particularly targetted at IT freelancers. I suffered as a result because companies were fearful of the potential costs of employing ANY freelancer. (IR35 is draconian but I was actually exempt but couldn't convince the Blue Chip companies)
Net result? Well there are thousands of perfectly able, and cheap, freelancers out of work. The "big 5" on the other hand are importing Indians to fulfill the needs (and at great profit) with total Government backing and visas. The big 5 have established their total predominance.
An American company - EDS - amazingly served on the BRITISH Government Committee which delivered IR35. Self-serving? You tell me but you bet.


This will just serve to push more people into the black market. Have you ever tried to work for cash or barter?

I hear the UK hell's angels are hiring. I had one of them on my site about a week ago. LOL.

PRCalDude said...

bump