America: Land Of The (Working For) Free

  let them eat internships

are there no workhouses?Yesterday we brought you the depressing story of a man who had worked for McDonald’s for twenty years and was still getting paid minimum wage. Now, of course, there is an argument to be made that it was kind of his fault that he was still getting paid minimum wage after all those years. Instead of continuing to work for McDonald’s, he should have gone to that one place where they just GIVE OUT JOBS to black men who don’t have college degrees — jobs that pay a living wage and have benefits and opportunities for upward mobility. Ha ha, just kidding, there is no Job Handing Out Place, not for black men or for anyone else, but there are places where you can BEG to work for FREE, and get a job where you work for FREE, but only if you are INCREDIBLY LUCKY and have NO LIFE and demonstrate COMPLETE FEALTY to your “employer,” only then will you get to work for free. See, doesn’t the guy working for McDonald’s for 20 years look like a genius now? This really puts things into perspective. Anyway, more about a fantastic opportunity to work for free:

Dalkey Archive is a prestigious small press that publishes poetry, as well as works of contemporary and classic works of fiction. And if you’re very, very lucky, and have no life, and don’t talk back, and are practically perfect in EVERY WAY, they will give you a job working for free. And if you REALLY REALLY deserve it, after an unspecified probationary period they might — MIGHT — just promote you to paid work. No guarantees though, OK?

Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.

Working for free is the new normal, didn’t you know? No really, it’s the new normal. From an article in Fortune magazine, wayyy back in 2011:

With nearly 14 million unemployed workers in America, many have gotten so desperate that they’re willing to work for free. While some businesses are wary of the legal risks and supervision such an arrangement might require, companies that have used free workers say it can pay off when done right. “People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please, they’re going to be creative,” says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup….”Ten years from now, this is going to be the norm,” she says.

Maybe it IS the new norm ALREADY.  There are roughly 20 paid Reddit employees running a company that may be worth as much as $100 million or more . Wikipedia has 35 paid employees and the rest work for free as “moderators.” HuffPo has a small core staff of paid workers and the rest write for free. Pinterest has 19 paid employees and the rest of its content is generated for free by users. Tumblr has 18 paid employees, like Pinterest and Reddit, its content is generated for free by users.

So if you’re REALLY REALLY lucky, you can aspire to one day work for free, or if you’re EVEN LUCKIER, maybe you are doing it ALREADY!

[Salon]

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About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson

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112 comments

    1. Tommmcatt_Again

      It's a necessary skill in our economy, which rewards sociopaths with high paying jobs and leaves anyone with scruples in middle management. This is called a "merit-based" system. Since we don't have unions in most professions we should get used to it.

  1. Oblios_Cap

    It's a plot to get people to be so desperate they'll join one of the armed services. Those trade wars aren't going to fight themselves now, are they?

  2. Botlrokit

    As a writer for Wonkette, I haven't seen a damn dime.

    To be fair, my submissions are only here in the Comments, but STILL…

    1. NellCote71

      No snark. I know a freelance writer who fancies herself a "columnist" for HuffPo because she has posted comments and replies to articles written by someone else.

      By that standard, I am a columnist for Wonkette AND HuffPo and am a former columnist for Gawker and Jezebel until their comment section got just too ridiculous to deal with. I am a future columnist for the New York Times, once I cough up the online subscription fee. Also, I am a writer for several smaller papers in my home state.

  3. HRH_Maddie

    Please, go easy on us today. I've got so much rage and sadness cooking right now that I am nearing a breaking point. Today should be a day of reflection, and ponies and Thanksgiving recipes.

  4. noodlesalad

    This sucks and all but I think every post for the rest of the day should be a call for Obama to fucking stand up and say something about guns. Obama saying something WOULD be a departure from politics as normal. Standing there and saying "today isn't the day" IS fucking politics as normal. Because it's never the fucking day, even when there are 18 dead children.

    Sorry, I'm just so fucking upset about this. Back to the whiskey.

    1. HRH_Maddie

      AMEN. Even though Jay ‘Today Is Not That Day’ Carney already came out and told us there would be no profiles in courage on the subject.

      1. noodlesalad

        Now it looks like he's going on TV at 3:15. Fingers crossed that he says something other than prayers, etc. etc.

        Bring back the assault weapons ban, including extended clips. Bring back closing the gun show loophole. Make congress do something. 30,000 people were killed last year by guns. Jesus.

    2. SnarkoMarx

      I know how you feel. I live about 40 miles from where the shooting happend in CT. I'm at work and people are walking around looking like they're in shock. Those poor little babies.

    3. red_kira

      Yes yes yes I could not agree with you more. If I hear one more mealy-mouthed fair and balanced "it depends on how you parse the second amendment" piece of CRAP lame ass statement today I am going to… to…

      Well, probably just drink more whiskey.

  5. Mittens Howell, III

    I work for Wonkette for free.

    They made me put a sign up in my own bathroom: "Employess must wash cheeto dust off hands before returning to work"

    Bastards.

      1. HistoriCat

        That's why I stick to a strict "post while naked" rule. Although the emails I keep getting at the office are getting tiresome.

        1. Toomush_Infer

          Hmmm…I've always wanted to be a Zoroastrian, but really never could take the time to find out what it is….too busy plowing that poetry field for free…

  6. Jason

    Patrick Moore (whose picture you used) died earlier this week. He was an astronomer and television presenter.

      1. sullivanst

        And loveable enough that I still couldn't bring myself to dislike him despite his xenophobia.

        Also, influenced Brian May (yes, that Brian May) to go back to school and finish his PhD in Astrophysics.

  7. Goonemeritus

    Well at least this is the case of the rich sticking it to the kids of the rich for a change. I know it still sucks and it should be illegal but I felt way worse for Mr. Tyree Johnson.

  8. actor212

    there are places where you can BEG to work for FREE, and get a job where you work for FREE, but only if you are INCREDIBLY LUCKY and have NO LIFE and demonstrate COMPLETE FEALTY to your “employer,”

    So, Wonkette?

    1. memzilla

      I'm getting paid the same amount of munniez from Editrix as I got paid from Ken Layne, and I'm only using half of my rapier-like wit!

  9. dr_giraud

    From the hugest multinational corporate octopus to tiniest nonprofit academic press in Champaign fucking Illinois, fuck-the-worker is the golden rule, and the grifting never ends.

  10. poorgradstudent

    Holy crap, who drew up those rules for that publisher's probationary period? A Roald Dahl villain?

  11. Mittaplasia

    Soooo, when an employer has someone who will work for free, that isn't soshalism because freedom? Help me out, here, people.

    1. memzilla

      Why? Would it take you fourteen minutes to find your hat and coat?

      Oh… bathroom break and sabotage. Got it.

        1. memzilla

          I figured one minute to give the unsolicited advice and get canned, and was wondering why you needed the remaning fourteen.

          I myself would offer not only unsolicited advice — like, "You should go f**k yourself," but also unsolicited questions, like "Why don't you take a flying f**k at a rolling doughnut?," etc.

  12. mbobier

    “People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary…" Lady, do you hear yourself when you say these things?

  13. Beowoof

    You have fellate the employer who won't pay you? Well that is the republican dream, mostly old white republican men, and they will want to return the favor. So I guess you are going to get something. Sorry girls these guys know what they like.

  14. E_Tx_Pines

    I suggest we all send polite e-mails to Mr. O'brien in the style of classic literary characters:

    "Please sir, may I put another shovel full of coal in the stove?"

    1. PopeEdgardo

      o.brien@dalkeyarchive.com

      Dear Mr. O'Brien,

      It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Eat shit and die. (Resume, writing sample and references to follow. Don't be alarmed at the ticking sound emanating from the package.)

  15. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    This is a brilliant move by Conservatives. If you don't pay your workers, there will be no money to fund the government, and it will colapse leaving nothing but the perfrect Randian state in its rubble.

    I expect to see ALAC pushing its Right to No Pay legislation in the next year.

  16. shelwood46

    You are on call 24/7, during which time you cannot take any calls or surf the net, ever? And speak only when spoken to, write shit that lives up to impossible standards, and most likely beg for potty breaks? Plus, no pay? Where do I sign up?

  17. BlueStateLibel

    An economy based on workers working for free – boy, that'll jump-start the old economic engine, sounds about as good as Trickle-On.

  18. Toomush_Infer

    Hey, I've been working for myself for years – not only don't I get paid, but my boss is an asshole! …(wanting to get that off my chest for some time, hope he doesn't read Wonkette)…

  19. fuflans

    they get funding and have donors and are a 501(c)3. in other words a not-for-fucking-profit.

    NPOs don't get to be assholes.

    i said this earlier but we should direct today's libtard rage at Dalkey Archive.

  20. NinjaCat_Baba

    Work for free, wow! I'm free out of the country to another where I am finally working and paid a living, middle-class salary of that nation. A that is not paid in points given for writing a comment for Wonkette. Finally, my post-graduate education has finally paid off.

    1. Roger_of_Arabia

      I can't imagine ever working in America again. In the Middle East they love Americans cause even us lazy ones feel guilty that we are expected to work so little for so much pay.

  21. Fuck Toad

    "People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary"

    Yes, literally, because they do not have "money" to buy "food", because their boss is a "sociopath" who will be put in the "stocks" come the revolution.

    ETA: Also, employing people to do productive work for free in a for-profit enterprise is a violation of US labor law. So this Kelly Fallis sociopath has just admitted to running a criminal enterprise (50 unpaid interns!).

    The best part of that article is this subhead: "The challenges of hiring and managing modern day serfs"

  22. Jukesgrrl

    I don't know a single person who has gotten a job in NYC or DC immediately after college who hasn't been financially subsidized by parents. And that's not a recent situation. It's been true for more than 20 years.

    So, of course, only young people with parents of means can ever hope to work their way up the rungs of America's most influential ladders. And when THEY become managers they will expect free interns at the very least. Not only government, but industries like publishing and television, are incredibly dependent on free labor.

    The university system has become equally guilty. Salaries for the non-tenured aren't livable incomes. I have a bi-lingual PhD friend who is a nationally recognized expert on existential French poetry and after years of teaching still has to have a summer job with her city's Parks Dept. to support her child.

    Sorry for the lack of snark, but like many of you I'm not in the mood.

    1. Roger_of_Arabia

      I noticed that hidden advantage for the privileged class when I was in law school in DC. We poor had to work menial jobs on campus while the rich kids got resume building internships.

  23. Isyaignert

    This work for free BS has been going on forever in the form of working through lunch every day, taking work home, thinking about work when you're trying to fap, etc.

  24. Spider-Jerk

    Fine print in the employment contract also gives the employer (can you still call them that if they can have you work almost 24-7 and don't pay you a dime?) all rights to your vital organs.

  25. ttommyunger

    I've never had much but always worked. I took whatever I could find when out of work, believing the best time to find a good job was when you were working. I aways thought first prize was the job but when I got fed up usually found a way to get the pricks to fire me, just because I've never had enough practice at quitting to get good at it and because I knew the prospect made them queasy. I've had some good bosses, but frankly, most were either incompetent, crooked indolent or worn out. I'd hate to think about being in the work force in today's environment.

  26. Roger_of_Arabia

    I feel bad. I just got a job offer that pays $85k a year plus $5k signing bonus, free housing, utilities, car, health insurance, 30 days vacation and over 15 days a year holidays, and I'll work less than 30 hours a week. The only catch is it's in Saudi Arabia. America is only an idea that used to be.

Comments are closed.