Thursday, December 30, 2010

Labor Department Cracks Down on Unpaid Internships

According to this article, the Labor Department is going after people who can't even be bothered to pay someone minimum wage for their work!


I personally don't like the tone of how the article is written myself.  IMHO, it comes off a bit, "those dastardly feds are going to misunderstand your good intentions if you aren't careful, you poor, poor struggling businessman who only wanted to help that sorry unemployed person gain some valuable experience in their field!"

Yes, because a for-profit business who refuses to pay any sort of wage really does have a heart of gold.  Even Ebenezer Scrooge paid Bob Cratchit something for the work he did.  After all, we were treated to a scene where Bob went to the butcher's and used the meager wages he had to buy the sorriest goose to bring home to his family for Christmas dinner.  Imagine this scene in 2010 where Bob Cratchit doesn't even have the moth-eaten 5 bob note to buy dinner with!

Hooray for cracking down on this mess!  As bad as unemployment is at the moment, you can't tell me that a chunk of it comes from employers who are sponging off of free labor.

And this is where their arguments about entitlements fail miserably.  They all say that they want people to get up off of it and find a paying job because people should take care of themselves.  Yet, here they are, helping to create a system where they get free labor while the government and charitable organizations pick up the cost of that person's salary and health care.

It's not like that person working for free in that office can march on over to the unemployment office and tell them to stop their benefits because they are making a grand total of zero dollars working for Scum & Lord, P.C.  It's not like this person can walk into a clinic for a minor cold instead of wasting space in an emergency room where they will be treated for free.

Yet, those people doing a lot of the bitching and moaning don't want to put their money where their mouths are.  If you think that a person should be rewarded for getting up at 5am every morning and slogging through traffic to help you turn a profit as opposed to getting food stamps and welfare, then you should actually realize that utopia by paying that person a wage and providing them with health insurance.  You can't expect people to work for free and then shake your finger at them for having the nerve to find a way to pay for groceries and utilities.  People aren't robots that live on air.  Unless they are planning on living in a shack in the woods like the unabomber and foraging for berries, then they will need money.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Film School Inflates the Numbers

While a degree from just about any film school around the country can be considered as ranking alongside degrees in Renaissance literature as being one of those "No shit?  You seriously can't find a job in your field?" learning pursuits, there are some schools out there who haven't yet figured out that they don't need to artificially inflate their employment stats.

Take this from tidbit about the Los Angles Film School and the Los Angeles Recording School.  They got students to take jobs with The Guitar Center and Apple and got them to fib in their surveys about these jobs being "relevant" to their degree:

It's not just the University of Phoenix, baby!

First of all, I don't know why this school needed to lie about their stats.  Surely, there are plenty of burnouts, sheltered 18 year olds, and manic-depressives who woke up yesterday morning and decided that it makes complete sense to throw $20,000 at something that calls itself a "film school."

And when you think about it, should these people be fingered for doing something that many accredited universities also engage in?  And I don't mean "inflating the numbers."   What I mean is, creating a charade that someone in New York is going to look at a resume of a potential production team member and say, "Hmm....filmed two episodes of a television show set in a dorm for public access television....but wait, film school at the University of Iowa? And a bachelor of science in this field to boot?  Why hell!  Let's bring in young Ted and let him direct the next 'Spider-Man' sequel!  And good thing he didn't go to that stupid Los Angeles School of Film.  Those extra classes in gender studies that he used to fill the 120 hour requirement means that he's going to be extra-sensitive to gender stereotyping in the script.  We trust that he will avoid turning the Arabs in this story into one-dimensional stereotypes.  I mean...Thank God this guy applied!  Could you imagine the alternative?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blockbuster Syndrome

You may remember shopping here:

Do you notice anything odd about this picture?

Look closely.  Through the window.  What do you see?

If you said, "there are people inside that store!" then drive down to the local Sonic and purchase yourself a sundae in celebration, because you are right!

I'm waiting for the day these people finally teeter into bankruptcy and never emerge. 

And it will happen. 

Yeah, I know that almost all businesses will one day cease to be due to the passage of time, but Blockbuster will cease to exist long before the demand for movie rentals ceases to exist.

I think of Blockbuster the same way I think of AT&T and Dell.  Blockbuster had a product everybody wanted, and grew to need.  But they didn't win by being the first to rent videos.  They did it by seeing what local video stores were doing, and created a monstrosity that was guaranteed to kill off the existing competition.

And how could the local stores compete?  Why, Blockbuster had 50 copies of "Drop Dead Fred" on the shelves!  You were practically guaranteed that you would find the movie you wanted, because, if they didn't have "Drop Dead Fred," then they had "Ishtar" and "Soap Dish" that you had thought about watching, but now had an excuse to pick up a copy because you were already in the store. 
However, as the patrons began to use Blockbuster, they began to discover a few annoying things about it. 

"Ted promised to drop off the movie last night, but left it in his car and Blockbuster is charging me an arm and a leg in late fees."

"I swear I dropped this movie off, but Blockbuster says that it is missing and now they're charging me a lost tape fee."

On top of that, they had the disappearing deals.

"If you come to the store and we don't have 'Three Kings,' we will give you a free rental of that movie!"

"No more late fees!"

They made these deals sound permanent, but it wasn't long until they quietly disappeared and left perplexed renters standing at the counters wondering "what happened?"

Maybe it was legitimate protectionism that Blockbuster was engaged in, but it became a bit of a hydra.  It wasn't quite as bad as AT&T, who would suddenly do away with a long distance plan that you signed up for 3 months ago, notify you of this on page 7 of your bill, and start charging you the flat 10 cent per minute rate so that you would be surprised with a large bill the following month.  Nevertheless, Blockbuster started to amass the bad will of the public in the same way that school yard bullies can beat you up for your lunch money:  you were forced by law to attend school, and so it meant your choices at recess were to either hide in the bathroom the entire period and have no friends and be laughed at as the weirdo who hid in the bathroom the entire recess period, or you can take your chances in trying to use the playground equipment. 

Blockbuster knew how to seclude themselves off in the Ivory Tower and beat back the barbarian hordes.

Then, one magical day, Netflix arrived.

There were no late fees!  The prices were reasonable!  I can ask for a movie and actually get it instead of playing roulette with what is on the shelves!


They aren't complete bastards!

Netflix, combined with Redbox, were like the barbarian tribes who steamrolled over Rome in its last days.  Blockbuster was worried about combining forces with those up and comers called Radio Shack because they got it in their head that their customers actually want to shop for a $300-$1,000 piece of technology while picking up a copy of "In Her Shoes" for date night, and have only the teeny tiny selection buried in the back of a video store to choose from.

Sadly, there were not enough hoarders and bipolar impulse buyers to keep that venture going, so it folded.  Netflix pushed forward and looked ahead to what people would be doing within a few years, and their business grew.  Soon, people were freed of the schoolyard and finally had somewhere else to go.

And why do I mention that?

It's because its what happened to the legal profession.

Legalzoom and form books helped kill off a lot of our business because it was a monopoly.  Even if people don't understand where the money is going, they see that they're written a check with money that could have paid bills or bought a car and watched as some burnout who hadn't returned their calls over the last month, roll into court and put on a half-assed display.

And maybe its the system in general that wears the attorney down.  Day after day of craziness.  Sometimes, the legal system can be a bit Dickensian in how it dispenses justice.  So, even if the attorney had the best intentions and things still turned out shitty just because of other factors, it still plants the seed in people's minds as to why they are paying us to do anything.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Free Labor

Do you need a job upon graduation? Internships and Networking are the answer. And don't forget perseverence. You'll finally be marketable by the time you finish that 11th internship.

PBS Does a Story on Underemployment

Per PBS Newshour, half of college graduates under age 25 are working in a job that requires a college degree.