Re: What is our art?

Subject: Re: What is our art?
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 11:29:01 -0800 (PST)

"Kelley" wrote...

> The STC or some other org, I don't care, could be like the old waitress
> agency/unions. These were basically agencies that did what recruiters do,
> but they used the monies for training. They guaranteed each member to
> employers and represented waitresses as a group, demanding reasonable pay.
> Additionally, union dues were a way of pooling money to provide relief
> during hard times, whether individual or collective (due to "market
> discipline").

This was tried. It was called the Soviet Union and it didn't work out real
well. There is this thing called GREED. And as Gordon Gekko reminds us: greed
is good.

Unions + technology = baaaad.

> In his book, _JobShift_ (quite popular in the early nineties), William
> Bridges argued that freelancers were the trend of the future for _most_ of
> us. As such, there were many positive reasons why this would be a Good
> Thing. But, there were downsides because going it alone doesn't protect you
> from the vagaries of the market (the paddle of market discipline). To deal
> with thatr, Bridges suggested that we really ought to lose the disdain for
> unions and think of more creative ways to handle the "discipline of the
> market" other than to just sigh and say, "Well, market forces at work, what
> can you do?" Someone chastized others for taking jobs at low wages. Hardly
> productive, but inevitable because the process encourages us to blame one
> another for something that isn't entirely in or control, not as individuals
> at any rate.

The free market where competition is the chief motivator is the only way to
ensure a drive to excellence. If you attempt to remove competition from the
equation prices will go up and quality goes down. This isn't Andrew ranting,
its basic economics.

> Instead of some agency making a profit, other techwriters would operate and
> maintain the union.

Free of charge? Do you like to work for free? I don't.

That means you have to pay those people that maintain it, and they'll need an
office, and a fax machine, and a T1 connection to the Internet, and a luncheon
every 3rd Wednesday with the STC Warlord...all that stuff costs money. Who will
pay for it?

Hence the problem with unions. Either people donate their time (which many
won't or can't) or they too must charge members. Which is really no different
from an agency taking a margin.

> With modern technology, it doesn't have to look like
> the top-down hierarchy model of older unions at all. And, the nice thing
> about other techwriters running this union-agency is that they're working
> in _techwriter's_ interests, not the agency's, and they're negotiating with
> employers' with a good, working understanding of what the jobs entail,
> skill levels, etc.

There are already agencies that specialize in tech writers. And they
(hopefully) make a profit while serving the tech writing community. Many list
members here run tech writing agencies.

> I understand the dangers posed by such organizations, particularly
> listening to the occasional derogatory murmurings about the STC, but it
> seems a fair sight more reasonable an approach than to hook your fate to
> the vagaries of a market that will boost you up when the tide is high and
> dash you on the shoals when it recedes.

"Market vagaries" are exactly what motivates and keeps our economy running. Its
a dog eat dog world. People are generally self-serving and greedy. And attempts
to engineer out these very universal animal instincts may be one for the
utopian philosophers, but they don't work so well in reality.

The free market generally (not always) rewards hard work, determination, and
intelligence while it punishes complacency, laziness, and ignorance.
Historically, unions have not been very good at seeing that the most qualified
rise to the top - where they deserve to be. Unions tend to reward loyalty and
term of duty - which are not always good indications of a person's
capabilities. Just because you have done tech writing for 10 years, doesn't
mean you're good at it.

The most skilled and most dedicated should and must be honored and rewarded for
their achievements. Otherwise, the morons will lead and you know what happens
when morons lead...

Andrew Plato

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