Just to show you the level of hostility that the Obama administration has towards transparency; here’s the story of a former State Department whistle blower and his persecution by the institution he gave so much of his life to. Peter Van Buren wrote a book about the United States’s involvement in Iraq back in 2012. The book was part of the powerful The American Empire Project series which features works by authors such as Noam Chomsky, Andrew Bacevich and the late Chalmers Johnson. After the book was published the State Department forced Mr. Van Buren out of his job and also tried to take away his pension.
As Van Buren contested the suspension of his pension payments from the government, the reality he was presented with led him to seek temporary employment to make ends meet.
As he writes in The Nation.
My skill set was pretty specific to my old job. The market was tough in the Washington, DC area for someone with a suspended security clearance. Nobody with a salaried job to offer seemed interested in an old guy, and I needed some money. All the signs pointed one way—toward the retail economy and a minimum wage job.
He ended up working for a big box store that he likes to call “Bullseye,” but I think it’s a safe bet to say that he’s really referring to Target Corp. Van Buren’s insight into the environment that surrounds a McJob is as informative as it is depressing.
You had to pay attention, but not too much. Believe it or not, that turns out to be an acquired skill, even for a former pasty government bureaucrat like me. Spend enough time in the retail minimum wage economy and it’ll be trained into you for life, but for a newcomer, it proved a remarkably slow process. Take the initiative, get slapped down. Break a rule, be told you’re paid to follow the rules. Don’t forget who’s the boss. (It’s never you.) It all becomes who you are.
From my own personal experience I can tell you that these jobs will suck your soul right out of your body.
As Van Buren states:
I’d see employees rushing in early, terrified, to stand by the time clock so as not to be late. One of my fellow workers broke down in tears when she accidentally dropped something, afraid she’d be fired on the spot. And what a lousy way to live that is, your only incentive for doing good work being the desperate need to hang onto a job guaranteed to make you hate yourself for another day. Nobody cared about the work, only keeping the job. That was how management set things up.
He goes on to talk about the poverty wages earned, the meager hours allotted and the multiple McJobs held by people to compensate for the low wages that all of these corporations pay. All the while the top executives of these corporations earn millions.
In the end, there’s no way someone is going to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps from doing this sort of work. Ultimately, Peter Van Buren won his battle over his pension with the State Department and was able to leave this McJob and retire.