Monday, 26 November 2018

A bit of a ramble

I don't really have much directly to say about Brexit today. I should but I don't. I will post on those lines when I have a clearer picture of what is happening. Today I just have an incoherent ramble touching on a number of themes to which you can ascribe your own meaning. I'm in an odd mood.

When I was made redundant from Airbus I felt a sense of great relief. I was glad it was over. I always knew there would come a point where my usefulness would end and that my uselessness would be noticed, and I had a well of anxiety wondering when the axe would fall. By the time it happened, though it was most certainly a lucrative and cosy deal, I didn't really care. Once the worst has already happened, there isn't much else to worry about.

The reason I lost my passion for the place was ultimately down to the bureaucracy. I am a problem solver and the only time I'm really at my best is when I am tasked with bringing order to chaos. This is a great irony in my life because I am a horrendously disorganised, chaotic and ill-disciplined person. Yet, for some reason, if your department or company is a mess, I will fix it. When given the freedom I do not fail.

In the end though, my improvements were gradually sabotaged as corporate governance got wind of them. They cited data security risks and conformity problems. As far as the codified standards go they were probably right but at no point was there any risk assessment as to the likelihood of a breach or whether the material passing between servers was in any way commercially sensitive.

As it happens the data was generic schemas, all of which are already available to China and are issued to aircraft operators so the need for military grade security is really just the self-serving interests of those who create the standards. Nothing in it was that important. If it was they wouldn't let a pleb like me near it and there's scant chance it would have given Boeing a competitive advantage because they are every bit as bureaucratic and leaden as Airbus.

Toward the end of my assignment with Airbus I increasingly found myself in meetings of no value with highly paid middle to upper management discussing quotas on server storage space and FTP protocols, none of which necessitated the involvement of qualified aerospace engineers. This was bicycle shed syndrome writ large. A total waste of my time and talent.

But this isn't unusual. I experienced roughly the same at Scottish and Southern Energy. The only value from that experience was pumping an energy trader for information on all the horrors of the wind turbine scam. But this is where I run into problems. My brain can't cope with it.

As a rule I always get fired from corporate postings. HBOS, SSE, Atkins Global etc. I don't just get fired. I get marched off the premises on the order of the very high-ups. It's a reputation I take some pride in. When I piss them off, I REALLY piss them off. My departure from Airbus was the only fond and equitable departure I have ever known. Probably more to do with my long service. Another career first.

What it comes down to is that every corporate in interview continually asserts their uniqueness. They ask me why I want to work for their company and I am expected to reel off a list of reasons why I find their dull enterprises more distinctive than the next. I don't honestly see a difference. One bureaucracy is much the same as the next. The methods and tools may vary slightly but it always comes back to bicycle shed syndrome and normal human psychology.

There are some cultural variations. A Scottish or Yorkshire corporate will be run much the same as a Victorian mill, seeking to control employees down to what they do on a weekend, right through to the aerospace/defence sector which is so laid back that it's astonishing anything gets done at all. If you want anything done after 1pm on a Friday you're shit out of luck because there's no-one there to ask.

The reason I'm telling you all this is that I present myself as an expert on bureaucracy. Most people only work for a handful of companies in their lifetime, but I've done most types in all sectors of all sizes. From a dismal direct marketing company in Ross on Wye to the largest asset management firm in the world. The one universal truth about all of them is that they are all subject to the same petty enforcement of conformity.

If the system worked at all people like me would be screened out and blacklisted. But it doesn't work and a shark like me exploits the vulnerabilities of their weak and broken system. They say the UK has a skills shortage but it really doesn't. We have a crisis of recruitment competence.

Just the other day I had a recruiter call me to say he had a job I might be interested in. He was vague about the details so I asked him what skills the job wa demanding. He said it was a developer role. Ok, fine, but developer could mean anything from full stack application developer to app designer to database developer. He tried to bullshit me saying "I can see that you have a long career as a developer" meaning that he had read neither the job description or my CV. He'd basically done fuzzy matching by scanning for keywords and it was clear he knew nothing at all about the development discipline.

This is far from out of the ordinary. This is the new normal which is why I just as readily hang up on recruitment agents as I do double glazing salesman. It is never productive to indulge them and go through the motions unless they state off the bat that they have a role that exactly matches my experience. This is why I am sceptical at reports that the UK has a skills shortage. I think the talent is out there but corporates can't find it precisely because they do outsource recruitment to quarterwit recruiters who use intellectually subnormal screeners. Either that or nineteen year old interns with the IQ of a haddock.

This is a symptom of the WTO-EU influence. We insist on services liberalisation and the outsourcing of government contracts globally. That means bogus shell companies like Serco and G4S and other preferred bidders can submit their bids for government contracts, largely because they do have all of the bureaucratic conformity bases covered. They won't recruit for a project until they have actually won the contracts. This system I know all too well. The consequence of this is JIT recruitment where recruiters not only look to recruit from within the free movement area, but also globally. There is no corporate longevity. Just a brand.

One thing I noted about the CAD section of Airbus was that the technicians were largely Indian and Indonesian. The less technical but well paid jobs were reserved for a particular class of well groomed graduates who care not for aviation (as was once a prerequisite to realising the dream of flight) but simply want to maintain a projected lifestyle and drive a Mercedes on the lag on a low interest rate. The credit score goes to those most able to conform - and to those with the credit rating go the spoils of conformity.

The recruitment trend here is opting either for foreigners who come in at the lowest price or white middle class men who largely please the unconscious biases of overpaid HR people. This is ultimately why we don't see investment in apprenticeships and training - because business hires on spec and free movement is an indirect corporate subsidy. No need to train and develop the natives. Just pay sufficient taxes to make sure the progressives can run their welfare farms and preach their faux concern for the working class.

What depresses me is that these are the motions I must go through to land a job that I know eventually I will be rejected from simply because I do not slot in easily to the barren corporate landscape and the longevity of any posting is dependent on whether I give a shit if they succeed or not. Airbus obviously worked because of by fascination with aviation.

Every now and then I am able to land a plumb job on a decent rate and if I could conform a little better I could do this my whole life - making a tidy living but using a tenth of my ability. Family men have to stomach it but it would probably drive me to suicide. I've already seen too much and I don't fit in because I cannot fake sincerity. If I'm working with a bunch of miserable drongos I tend to project a field of poisonous resentment. In respect of that I am pretty much unemployable. It's really only when I have a supervisor who is similarly cynical do I have a chance of surviving in the corporate domain.

Most people get around this by starting their own business. My auntie Cilla, who is similarly rebellious, was fired from every job she ever had but eventually cut out a living as a tattoo artist and made her name as one of the best in the business. And that's no BS either. She really is good. Me though, I am no businessman. I tried to go independent but found key clients to be control freaks, unwilling to listen to my qualified advice and singularly reluctant to pay their bills on time. One client threatened to sue me because I "lost all her icons" when she'd basically logged into the wrong account. As you can imagine I don't have the patience and I do not allow anybody to speak to me the way she did.

I would be a great deal more successful commercially if I was just a little bit more normal. But I'm not. I am very probably on the Aspergers scale and that much is apparent to anyone who's met me. This is why I do not suffer the idiocy of politicians and it is why hacks, policy wonks and other luminaries go out of their way to pretend I don't exist. I am, therefore, at a loss as to how I can apply myself in such a way that I can pay my bills. This is why I rely on your generous donations. I use this blog to outline my thinking in the hope that you gain some use from it.

The point of this post, though, (if there is one) is that I have seen the light. I have seen how bureaucracy stifles innovation and progress first hand. The standards we talk about in theory facilitate trade but in reality, for most businesses they are fruitless expense - and the victory of the EU was to impose its order on Europe - that everything should be stamped, sanctioned, numbered and approved before it can be allowed. And that is why the West has lost its fundamental dynamism and why social mobility has ground to a halt. The whole system serves to defend the inherent inefficiency and kill off individualism.

The theory of international trade that I myself preach is ultimately a micromanagers charter which is not in any way compatible with normal human existence we find in Africa which is why the EU is such a massive deterrent to African trade. They don't have the means or expertise to conform and they don't want to either - which is a massive opportunity for China and it's why we are losing so much influence and business to them.

So in this (temporary) moment of self-reflection I feel that any move toward a Brexit deal that somehow protects jobs and trade is really only a temporary fix which cannot arrest the decline trend. Eventually Europe is going to have to reinvent to compete. When businesses move out of the UK there is only a fifty-fifty chance they will move to somewhere in the EU. Chances are they will clear off completely to China. Europe is an experiment in affording ourselves luxuries and entitlements to which we are not owed - with absolutely predictable results.

Now on a slight tangent, that will only really seem relevant to regular readers who have followed my thinking, not only is there an economic dysfunction, there is also a deeply rooted societal dysfunction. Today I learned that the number of boys being treated in hospital for eating disorders is at a record high. In the last seven years, the number of boys going into hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales has nearly doubled from 235 in 2010 to 466 in 2018 - coinciding with the news that a school in Brighton (quelle surprise!) has 40 children who don't identify with their gender.

Everywhere I look I see signals of a decadent, morally bankrupt society where the excesses of what we call liberalism point to a very serious Romanesque decline where we invent ever more elaborate means to excuse what is very clearly a disturbing development in the social life of the country. The economic model, Taylorised to the point of oblivion, combined with a collapse of morality and social mobility has created a morass to which there is no solution - even if we had a politics capable of recognising, let alone addressing the problems.

Combined with the rise of censoriousness and polarisation of politics, and the debasement of the media, there is no possibility of coherent debate and I really feel that nothing short of a fundamental political reset can arrest the decline. Between you and me, I think the West is finished. Some would say deservedly so.

Of course all my rambling has to be reconciled with the real world and I must come to terms with the fact that I am just evolutionary ballast - which I can deal with since all the married men I know are utterly bored and miserable - but when you have a society where men are robbed of their status you can't be at all surprised when the whole thing falls to pieces, women marry the state and men don't take up their responsibility. Since the war we've had generations of fatherless children and state paternalism and here we are. A broken society where men are turning themselves into cosmetically enhanced eunuchs.

Meanwhile, my social media is regularly punctuated with the news of yet another suicide of a friend. Sometimes close, sometimes peripheral - but I do seem to be losing too many people to entirely avoidable circumstances, all of which relate to the isolation and loneliness of modern regulated society. I might contemplate it myself were it not for the fact that too many arseholes would take satisfaction from it.

So the point, you ask? Yeah, I don't really have one. It's why I entitled this post "a bit of a ramble". You either see a point or you don't. It's no skin off my nose either way. What passes for normal service will resume tomorrow. Maybe. 

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