December 21 - December 27, 1995


Working It Out

To the Editor,
Ted Rall thinks we should work a lot less and get paid considerably more ("Quit Your Job," Tucson Weekly, December 7). He believes work is depressing, boring, stupid and a sell-out. His advice is to quit our jobs and start over "doing something we believe in."

Sounds good to me!

But, Ted, what are you going to do when your unemployment runs out and you realize you have very little in common with Charles Schulz and Garry Trudeau?

Maybe you should write another whiny, complaining article about the low pay scale for cartoonists, dopey magazine and newspaper editors and the high cost of living in New York City. I'm sure the Tucson Weekly will be happy to publish it.
--Douglas R. Holm

To the Editor,
Regarding Ted Rall's article "Quit Your Job" (Tucson Weekly, December 7): I began reading with a small degree of skepticism and a large degree of interest. There is no doubt that much of what he says is true, though the reasons behind it may be more complex than he represents. There isn't enough work to go around; a lot of my friends are unemployed; many of those who are employed dislike their jobs and don't have enough to do to fill eight hours a day, five days a week; and it is horribly depressing to think of spending two-thirds of your life doing something you find both unpleasant and shameful.

And when he went on to say that it's up to the individual to seize control of his life, stop waiting for the government to fix everything and just plain get on with the things that really matter, I felt I'd found a kindred soul.

In fact, I was so busy agreeing with his view that all it would take is for the guys at the top to stop being so damned piggy, that I was completely blindsided by his calmly mentioning--in the same paragraph detailing all his enthusiasm for self-motivation and the good old "can-do, get-to-it" spirit--that he has filed for unemployment.

Did I miss something?

I am forced to wonder if paragraph headings like "Work is for Suckers," "Money for Nothing" and "The Payoff" are intentionally ironic. Does Mr. Rall plan to continue living off the government (i.e., me and my fellow taxpayers) until he becomes self-supporting as a cartoonist? Doing what satisfies your soul is admirable, and I like to consider myself an artist as well, but I don't see why the government should pay me to pursue my dream.
--Jane Zastuary

To the Editor,
I read Ted Rall's article "Work is a Sham" (Tucson Weekly, December 7) with interest. Although unevenly written and childish in tone, Rall has brought to the common conversation one of the more compelling social issues of this decade.

With the steady disappearance of the corporation and the equally steady loss of permanent, full-time jobs, millions of American workers are as disillusioned and as angry as Rall. This distress is fueling an active dialogue that challenges the basic definition of work in our society. What Rall doesn't consider, and what is clear to those of us who attempt to analyze this phenomenon, is the deficiency of the definition itself.

Work as punishment is specifically mentioned in the first chapters of the Bible. Work was God's reproof for the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This definition, and countless others, became accepted as absolute and as such, guided two thousand years of uncritical thinking. Using this idea as a point of departure, it is easy to understand the morbidity of the American work place: If work is punishment, clearly people will not willingly do it; if they are unwilling, they must be coerced; once initially coerced, an atmosphere of fear and domination must be created; this atmosphere is fundamentally pathological, which leads to the rabid disaffection of workers like Ted Rall.

Americans hate their jobs. This simple statement resounds so powerfully through our culture that it is in effect a self-evident proposition. But it doesn't have to be that way. Organizational models that include as an essential element the idea that work is punishment are increasingly discredited. IBM and General Motors and all the large corporations that have been created in Western civilization in the past 100 years are dying of a self-imposed disease process.

We can do better. Other models of human endeavor can be easily found. Athletes and artists regularly exert their full powers, and in these efforts provide an alternative definition of work. Our point of departure must begin here: Individual human beings are capable of astounding accomplishments; most people most of the time want and need to do good work; most people most of the time want and need to be part of humanely successful organizations. Most people begin even the most prosaic job with enthusiasm and desire to do well. That this positive attitude so quickly erodes is not the fault of the worker but of the organization that consciously or unconsciously builds its value structure on the idea of work as punishment.

By expressing his discontentment, Rall helps sustain a dialogue that reflect the need to address the issue. It is a dialogue that will live only through participation. The many disaffected workers in Tucson must correct their acquiescent attitudes. That is our only hope.
--Halan Lantzer

Fortress Mentality

To the Editor,
I happened not to read The Skinny item "Anal Retentive Ranch," which prompted the letter from Roger H. Contreras, Esquire (Mailbag, Tucson Weekly, December 7), but Continental Ranch has been on my mind for quite a while.

One day, having taken a wrong turn on the way to Animal Control to rescue my runaway dog, I rounded a curve and BAM! I was visually assaulted by a vast sea of overblown, ticky-tacky, tract houses, looking unreal as if painted as a movie backdrop, but in fact blasted and bladed into the landscape, obliterating acres of native plants and animal homes.

I felt like I'd run my truck up a utility pole and taken the steering column through my sternum. I wanted to vomit, to weep, and most of all to walk up to one of those thousands of identical doors, knock on it and find out who was in there. Did these people know what the developers had to destroy so they could have that house? Did they care? I was afraid to take that risk, so I never found out.

Then I read the Contreras letter and learned that the person behind one of those doors says he has neither respect nor tolerance for anyone who fits into certain categories, one of which is non-residents of Continental Ranch. He says we non-residents should mind our own business and stop being offensive to him and his neighbors.

I actually agree with Contreras that the people who signed that covenant thing when they moved in should have read it first. I support the right of the individual to restrict him or herself as much as he or she wants. I even share Contreras' fear of the clutter and confusion exemplified by weed-choked yards, rusty cars on blocks and blowing trash.

But it's wrong to rape the desert so you can buy a quick tranquillity fix. I intend to say that loudly and often, and I hope that by speaking out I can offend those who buy into Continental Ranch or any of the similar abominations erected by the greed machines on all sides of town half as much as their hideous constructions offend me. After all, if I succeed, all these fortress dwellers have to do is crank up the drawbridge, tune the boob tube to some blatherer whose line they like, turn up the volume and forget about us whiners down here. What the hell can I do?
--Kim Mathews

Got something to say? Click here to write to Mailbag!
General Tucson Weekly Mailboxes
Tucson Weekly Staff Mailboxes
DesertNet Staff Mailboxes

Contents  Page Back  Last Week  Current Week  Next Week  Page Forward  QuickMap

December 21 - December 27, 1995

Weekly Wire    © 1995-97 Tucson Weekly . Info Booth