Fuck Suburban Propane

I currently rent a tank from Suburban Propane. Because it’s a rented tank, I must also buy the propane from that supplier.

They’re changing me around $5.00/gallon. Current market price is about $1.50/gallon (I’ve checked). So I’m being charged over three times the market rate. Avarice, anyone?

On top of the $3.50/gallon price premium, I’m of course charged a yearly tank rental fee (even though the tank should be free, given what a cash cow monopoly pricing is for them).

Add it all up, figure in my average consumption, and I can expect the new tank to pay for itself in under 2 years, and possibly after a single year. So it’s basically a no-brainer.

When I called Suburban up to begin arrangements to terminate my tank lease, they of course mention their far cheaper rate for customer-owned tanks, as if I’m going to reward them for their past extreme greed. Fat chance of that.

The only worry is my current apparent inability to find an even remotely compatible employer. My superstitious side worries about jinxing things in favor of being compelled to relocate to someplace more affordable in the near future. That is merely a superstition, of course, but it still gnaws at me.

Breadwinners and Stress

This is totally not a surprise. The Google indexing of my site is broken (something that a newly-created sitemap will hopefully soon fix) but I once wrote that the capitalist system exploits families by holding children hostage so as to blackmail their parents. You may want to quit that awful job, but it won’t just affect you; it will make your wife and children suffer as well.

Why wouldn’t breadwinners suffer stress under such a situation?

Why Recruiters Are Useless

Those who most need help finding employment are those new in the market for a particular line of work, either as a result of recently graduating from school or a mid-life career change. But recruiters are hired at the behest of* the employer, and candidates with no experience are common as dirt, meaning employers need no special help in finding same. The candidates employers need help finding are those with specific, specialized experience.

But recruiters lack that experience, too, which seriously limits their ability to judge and match candidates with positions. Moreover, the positions being recruited for tend to pay better than the job of recruiting for them, so this state of affairs is inevitable. Thus if you’re an experienced candidate, recruiters are still of little or no help; they’ll just pester you with false lead after false lead.

I speak from experience here, having at one time been a freshly-minted CS graduate and now being a senior-level programmer. It went from recruiters being uninterested in me to me being uninterested in the (inevitably mismatched) opportuinities recruiters pestered me about.

Given that, is it any surprise that the low road dominates in the recruiting industry? Why seek people with any knowledge at all to recruit in a field? Just hire the cheapest workers in India you can find, even if they can barely speak coherent English.† They’re fated to do a bad job anyhow, so why even try? After all, doing a good job isn’t the point. Your business model is based on both candidate and employer making an unwise decision (i.e. to use you), not on providing value to either.

This leaves out the recruiters hired by busy employers whose staffing departments are themselves understaffed, of course. But when sleaze dominates an industry, the odds aren’t good. So if I see a recruiting agency’s name on a job listing, I pass. And when one cold calls me and leaves a voice mail, I just delete the message.

* Note I did not write “paid by”. That is because they are not. To claim otherwise is to state what I call the Recruiter Lie. Does anyone think employers have an unlimited orchard of money trees to harvest for paying wages and salaries? Of course not! They budget those costs, and the cost for paying recruiters ultimately comes out of the same pot for paying wages and salaries. One will come at the expense of the other.

† Which, given they are the cheapest, will be the case; competent English speakers will seek more honorable and better-paying work.

Sleazy Recruiting Agency: KRG Tech

I’m not going to much blame the specific claimed recruiter (Arun Kumar), because I strongly suspect he might not be an actual person. These slime are running address and phone number harvesting bots and ever since yesterday have been repeatedly spamming and robo-calling me about a job I am at best minimally qualified for.

Gotta love the mangled English, too. Realize that there’s plenty of well-educated people in India and Pakistan who have no difficulty using proper English grammar, and who thanks to the low standard of living in either country can be hired for a song compared to Western salaries. But of course if you’re a total sleaze outfit you can hire someone less educated in English for a song compared to them, so that’s what you’ll do.

From: ArunKumar <arun.r@krgtech.com>
To: xxxxx@xxx.com
Subject: Arun KRG Tech - Full Time (Permanent) - .NET Developer/Support - Redmond, WA
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:38:46 -0700

Hi,                        

Greetings!! We KRG Technologies star partner of HCL America recruiting for
.NET Developer/Support - Redmond, WA. If you are interested with the below
job description kindly share your updated resume, comfortable rate with tax
term to  <mailto:arun.r@krgtech.com> arun.r@krgtech.com or call us to 661
367 8000 ext. 207. Also Please share this requirement to your friends, who
are looking for job change.

Sleazy Recruiter Earns a Poison-Pen Response

Normally I don’t send harshly-worded responses to recruiter spam, but this guy just begged for it. He’s been spamming me over and over again. He’s from an insurance agency, of course.

Holy hell, are you ever one clueless sleazy dirtbag of a recruiter.

Can’t you understand plain English?? To wit, the disclaimer that appears with my online résumé:

This résumé is being posted strictly for the purpose of soliciting responses related to employment opportunities in the field of software development. In particular, neither insurance sales [emhasis added] nor systems administration are software development.

I would not work for your company even if it were the last employer on Earth.

Moreover, I am going to tell all of my friends to avoid purchasing insurance from your firm.


Hello David ,
My name is Ron Ellwanger with Colonial and I have tried reaching out to you in the past but we have not been able to connect. I am still interested in speaking with you about the benefit consultant and account manager positions in your area. (we may be able to talk about management as well depending on openings)
We are rapidly growing with the business 2 business market especially with the recent changes in health care reform. We are helping more people than ever before.
If you are still looking for a position, I would like for us to set up a time to chat over the phone.
If interested, please send me an email and we will set up a time to chat.
Thanks,
Ron Ellwanger
Colonial Benefits
425-336-0256

 

The NYT Amazon Article

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past week, it’s here. Basically, it’s nothing I don’t already know.

I actually applied for a few Amazon jobs once, and got phone-screened. It was clear from the phone screen it was basically the sort of place described in the article, and that was the end of my interest in working there.

Moreover, I live in Seattle and work in the high-tech field (when not between jobs, as presently). As such, I’ve had the chance to meet many ex-Amazon employees. They’ve all described it as basically the sort of place the NYT described.

There’s been some talk that like it or not, this makes Amazon the workplace of the future. Maybe. First, nothing is set in stone. Many people hate workplaces like that. It’s therefore likely that persisting in treating people that way will produce some sort of blowback.

Maybe it will be legal, via the political system (stricter overtime and leave laws). Maybe it will be via private actors legally exerting their pressure (e.g. worker choosing to organize a union). Maybe it will involve illegal but nonviolent actions, like sick-outs, blockades, or sabotage. Maybe it will be both violent and illegal (a workplace shooting or three). Maybe one or more of the above.

Second, the more it happens, and the more unstoppable it at first appears, the more it will radicalize people, because the more it will prove the old claim that capitalism cannot be reformed and naturally wants to revert to its sweatshop ways. I.e., the longer the blowback takes to appear, and the more frustrated it initially is, the more likely it is to become vigorous and militant.

Requiring people to give up their lives for a company that doesn’t much care about them and is set on mercilessly weeding them out is fundamentally inhuman and degrades the worth of the individual. It is at variance with centuries of post-Enlightenment progress in the other direction, towards greater valuation of individual worth.

Amazon should, in other words, expect resistance.

Pondering a New Feature: Sleazy Recruiters

I’m seriously pondering adding a new category and recurring feature for sleazy recruiters to this blog. It would be restricted to obviously sleazy recruiters. Even though my experience indicates it’s generally a sleazy crowd, an individual recruiter would have to demonstrate actual sleaze to be listed.

Examples would include:

  • Misrepresenting a job to me (in the rare case where I follow up and am in a position to learn this),
  • Misrepresenting me to an employer (again in the rare case when I follow up),
  • Spamming me about a job that in no way relates to my experience,
  • Spamming me about systems administration jobs in reference to résumés which explicitly rule such things out (as some of mine do).
  • Spamming me about jobs that are not in the Seattle area, despite all of my résumés indicating I am not willing to relocate.

I’m still pondering it, but leaning towards actually doing it. I plan on naming names, both firms and the people at them who spam me. So long as I report accurately, this is not libel (which has to be both false and disparaging, mere disparagement does not count).

Because, if you don’t want people to make disparaging speech about your business, you shouldn’t act in ways which, if accurately reported, harm it.

The Castle Built on Sand Starts Crumbling

Trying to make a capitalist corporation treat workers ethically and humanely is like trying to build a castle on sand. Even if you manage to erect the castle, it’s doomed to not last very long. Even if you find an astoundingly exceptional CEO who’s both supremely dedicated to treating people well and to negotiating the obstacles to doing same that the authoritarianism of the capitalist workplace presents, no CEO lasts forever. Odds are, the next one simply won’t be so exceptional.

It’s now become crystal-clear to me that the latter has now happened at my employer. As such, I’m certain to not last there much longer. Maybe I’ll leave, maybe they’ll tell me to leave. Maybe I’ll last another day, maybe I’ll last another month or two. Those details are unclear. What is clear is that I won’t be there much longer.

It’s not a surprise that it eventually happened. Going in, I wasn’t sure if everything really was as good as it sounded from the outside. When I found that it basically was, and that I’d really enjoy working there as a result, the “castle built upon the sand” insight was, due to my personal history and my ideological beliefs, pretty much axiomatic.

The surprise is that it all happened so suddenly, within a week. In hindsight I can now see how the problems have been building for some time: individuals whose personal values are antithetical to the founders’ unique values have been hired and promoted to management roles, and those values are now no longer being honored in large parts of the organization.

End the Euro

Some basic points:

  1. Yes, there was irresponsible borrowing and spending on the part of past Greek governments, which ran up a huge deficit which caused the current crisis.
  2. It takes two to tango: Irresponsible borrowing is not possible without irresponsible lending. Part of the responsibility of lending money is doing the due diligence necessary to minimize the chance of lending it to a party who won’t be able to pay it back.
  3. Greeks has suffered greatly for their past government’s role in creating the current crisis. There’s an actual depression going on there. The unemployment rate is 25%, and public sector services like health care are collapsing.
  4. The capitalist class is suffering very little for their role in creating the current crisis.
  5. If the Euro didn’t exist, currency devaluation would have stopped this crisis from getting to the current point. There still would have been unpleasant repercussions from the significant devaluation of the drachma, but they would have been less severe and more equitably shared between the Greeks and the banks.
  6. Therefore the existence the Eurozone is responsible for turning a merely unpleasant crisis into a severe one.
  7. If Greece stays in the Eurozone, there will be further unpleasant consequences. Austerity and the associated austerity-created depression will continue.
  8. If Greece exits the Eurozone it will also cause further unpleasant consequences. Greeks will lose a big chunk of their wealth as Euro assets get converted into devalued drachma ones. But, the devalued drachma will make Greek exports and vacations cheap for foreigners, which will stimulate the Greek economy and end the depression. The humiliating status quo of having Greece’s domestic policy dictated from abroad by the “troika” will end.

Therefore it’s best for Greece to exit the Eurozone. Ditto for Spain, for basically the same reasons.

The Eurozone was a mistake. It created a tightly unified currency without a tightly unified governance structure, which spanned a region with significant cultural and economic differences. Such a thing was pretty much fated to collapse. Let it shrink to the point where it only contains the most affluent and developed European countries. Or let it gradually disappear entirely; the choice is up to the Europeans.

As difficult as the process is, it’s better to let it begin now than to dig the hole deeper and make the inevitable more difficult in the future.