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What Constitutes "Work"?

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I am tired of people using the cop out "get a job" as though that is going to solve all life's problems for me. When it's more about keeping everyone moving and distracted while they screw us all. But what do I know.


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Okay, I know I wear out certain themes. Mainly the "homeless" theme gets tossed around too much, yeah... but it's needed. Sure, there are other voices out there standing up for us. "Street Spirit" does a good job. But these articles need writing. If not for now but maybe the future inhabitants of this planet, provided we haven't killed off the entire species through disease, famine, overcrowding, nuclear holocaust, pop music and killer "unmanned" drones first, need to read how we treated ourselves during the worst of times. While we are still here, though, I would like to discuss what constitutes "work."

The definition is broad, only people don't use it that way. In my nation, the United States (misnomer) of America, it means doing what you're told by someone you don't respect for not much cash that is going to be taxed by the people cracking the psychological (fear) whip that keeps everyone running in those tightly-formed circles, going nowhere, fast. And if you're not one of those cogs in that Fascist Tank, you're castigated as the Villain; the Antagonist. You are scapegoated. You are blamed for everything under the sun, from A.I.D.S. to Justin Bieber's continual "success" in this existence.

I ask this question because I observe who is "working" and who is pretending to work. And, by the way, compared to half the jobs I've had, most of what I see doesn't constitute work. It's a bunch of standing around, watching people. Take AT&T in Constitution Plaza for instance. There are approximately fifteen employees in that small space. Most of them are running around doing something, most of which does not look like work to me; I don't see them sweating much. And there "works" one guy in particular in that place who does more standing around, looking out in that plaza as though he's taking notes and reporting to someone, rather than doing anything remotely close to what constitutes as "work," at least from where I observe.

More like spying. Check "Little Eichmann" in Google and tell me what you find.

And if intelligence is a factor in obtaining work it's not showing that, in most cases. I'm not saying everyone working is not intelligent, but the way we're ('homeless') looked at for not participating, you would think that is a major consideration of the hiring and working factor and process. The reality, however, is nothing close to that. In fact, it helps if you aren't all that intelligent. This way "ignorance is bliss," truly. If you do not know you're being fleeced it makes the experience that much more tolerable to go through. If you do know you're being sheared, however, it makes the process long, arduous and painful. Few can handle this regular does of pain, while others use some sort of Jedi Mind Trick to get through their days.

Or they become raging alcoholics... more on that subject later in this piece, actually.

For me, if I did not respect my employer, for whatever reason, I could not work long for them. Especially if they started harassing me about some insecurity they were harboring from an ex wife or current lover, dragging it around like the Titanic's useless, confused anchor. I wouldn't put up with that behavior for too long. And the less you make the bigger chunk you have to take of that huge, festering, fly-covered sh*t sandwich. Which makes sense on some level. The more knowledge obtained the more cash comes. This way intelligence eventually receives reward. Only, you have to go to school. And if your aptitude is not classroom-friendly, you're screwed. I'm no dummy, but classrooms make me break out in hives. I can't sit still for too long while listening to someone else talk. I know, I'm bad. Hey, I'm Anti-Social, or haven't you f*cking noticed yet?

I prefer to live my life by my rules and learn on my own. Sure, it's taken a while... trauma does that sometimes. Set backs, I call 'em. A temporary lapse of balance. This is why so many of those kids are out there on those sidewalks. Even if we were to manage the homeless situation in this town, unless we address the psychological factors involved with those street kids (artists, a lot of them), a lot of them getting and holding onto work, in their current state, is not going to happen. And to believe so and express as much to them, while they're out there, is cold, callus and should be shouted down any time a bystander (like you or me) walks by and hears such nonsense.

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Like the late, great comedian Greg Giraldo put so well,

"We're in one of the richest countries in the world, an and the minimum wage is lower than it was thirty five years ago. There are homeless people everywhere. This homeless guy asked me for money the other day.

I was about to give it to him and then I thought he was going to use it on drugs or alcohol. And then I thought, that's what I'm going to use it on. Why am I judging this poor bastard.

"People love to judge homeless guys. Like if you give them money they're just going to waste it hes gonna waste the money. Well, he lives in a box, what do you want him to do? Save it up and buy a wall unit? Take a little run to the store for a throw rug and a CD rack? He's homeless. I walked behind this guy the other day. A homeless guy asked him for money. He looks right at the homeless guy and says why don't you go get a job you bum. People always say that to homeless guys like it's always that easy.

"This homeless guy was wearing his underwear outside his pants. Outside his pants. I'm guessing his resume isn't all up to date. I'm predicting some problems during the interview process. I'm pretty sure even McDonalds has a 'underwear-goes-inside-the-pants' policy. Not that they enforce it really strictly, but technically I'm sure it is on the books."

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And before any primate utters, "The guy was a 'comedian,' so what?!," Greg Giraldo attended Harvard Law School, and graduated, class of 1990. He chose comedian over attorney. Reportedly, his friends said, "He said, 'I have to do this for a living?' and chose stand-up comedy, instead." The guy was brilliant and will be missed.

Everything in its proper perspective. I hear others tell me all the time, "You're oversimplifying things a bit, don'tcha think? I mean, these issues are not that easy to solve. It's not that 'simple' or 'easy.'" No, but it was both "simple" and "easy" to get in this mess. Secondly, we're told that "if you get a 'job,' that everything will work itself out." That is basically what we hear out here from the unenlightened. You may disagree with that stance, but that is the stance of the Status Quo and those we are fighting against on a daily basis. So if I am oversimplifying things a bit, that's only because most of you are doing the same thing to us.

Life doesn't instantly get solved like Jeanie crossing her arms and blinking. Life is much more complicated than that, yeah, I know this. So do my "homeless" brothers and sisters, and it's also another reason people "give up." It's very easy to drive or walk past or sit in your living room miles away from the problem and pretend you know how easy it is to get up off this dirty mat, but you have no clue. And combine that with a corrupt system and greedy land developers behind your local government pushing their land-grabbing agendas allocating monies meant for one place to something else, never fixing the corruption at all levels of government, and you tell me you're going to make it out of this that easy?

Again, they ('Career Builder') wants to pay me $12.50 an hour to guard someone else's money. That's insulting. And this is part of the privatization of everything. If you're near downtown Berkeley you see those "EMT's" who are in training? They are going to make $10.00 an hour once training is over and this is because they aren't of the same qualification level as are regular EMT's. I put EMT's in quotation marks because they aren't EMT's. They're "EMS's." Or, "Emergency Medical Specialists," instead of "Emergency Medical Technicians." What's the difference? It's one word, really. Both mean the same, too. Only, one is being paid two-thirds less and doesn't have the same certification level.

This is your health at risk here, everyone. Next will be the police. Again, I found that if a "security" personnel has been working over one year at the same job, they only need take 30 extra hours of "security training" to carry a loaded weapon. Block By Block has been here a little over a year now. On their website reads, "Security," even though they are supposedly "Janitors." And I believe that loophole will be enough for them to turn their benign street cleaner routine into a danger to anyone with common sense and a conscience. This is yet another reason why I hammer SMS Holdings.

They are a company with union-busting ties, and this tells me they infiltrate wherever they go and undermine the union process. Using Block By Block as their Trojan Horse, they get in and start "cleaning up the neighborhood." And when it works, they gain more authority through the city's leaders, as they see it as "progress." Before you know it they're replacing police, as budget cuts slice deeper and deeper. Police unions need be worried. This is not a joke. This Corporation is here in Berkeley to bust this town and control the populous through fear-based propaganda and well-timed "community meetings." Pretty soon, the same police harassing street kids over tobacco products will be out here bumming a cigarette off them, because they'll be out of "work," too.

Would that make them a "bum"?

I consider what I do "work." I am on it, 16 hours a day, minimum. My mind is always working. Unlike when I had a "real 'job,'" where I would shut down the brain for most of the day, because of some mundane, mindless chore I would have to perform, like digging holes, or packing film in a cardboard advertisement, or flipping burgers, or whatever. I'm tired of seeing and hearing so much bullshit coming from so many frightened people that I have had enough. That is why I write this article. Little people fighting littl er people. Divide and conquer. Quit paying attention to what they are doing... the ones loading up their leer jets with fuel, our cash, mistresses (Yeah, these clowns are leaving their wives and families behind, too.)... never mind what they are doing, give that street kid a ticket for smoking a cigarette directly across the street where you can buy the damned things!?

Again, envision someone calling the police, complaining about the crack dealer on the corner of their block, crying for the police to do something about it, just to watch that same person sneak out of their house at 3AM and collect 30% from that same crack dealer, and then scurry back home before anyone sees them. That is the same principle being applied by making tobacco products "illegal in the 'commercial district,'" while selling this "deadly product," thereby taking tax revenue for that deadly product, making the city complicit in the sales and distribution of a toxic agent, and ticketing the citizens they are peddling this deadly product to, at the same time?

And why is it you can be an alcoholic and keep a job but if you're a regular Cannabis user you can't? For one thing, alcoholics tend to not show up to work after partying a bit too hard the evening prior. I know. I've done this. And so has every other person who drank too much the night before and had to work the next day. Professional Alcoholics, I'm not talking to you so pipe down.

But if one smokes too much the night before, the only thing that happens is they eat too much and crash, and the day following the man or woman gets up, most likely takes a rip from their bong, hookah, pipe or joint, gets in the shower, gets out of the shower, has coffee and grinds and goes to work. Meanwhile, the full-blown alcoholic doesn't show up or does show up but is late. And when the alcoholic works they're hovering somewhere around 46%, give or take 5%, making it dangerous for everyone working around him or her, including his or her own worthless, bulbous-nosed, beer-gutted ass. While the Hippie Lettuce Aficionado is over at his or her station, whistling and producing at a record level, not throwing up on anyone or anything.

But I digress.

Work... yeah, whatever.

-James Richard Armstrong II


I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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