Let's Go Serfin' Now, Everybody's Learnin' How

America has had a lot of "So it's come to this..." moments over the past decade and the headline from this Fortune article gives us year another one:

Unpaid jobs: The new normal?

Yes, America, we've reached a point where our major business publications are asking whether it will soon become "normal" to work for absolutely no compensation whatsoever. The article itself is a tragically hilarious exposé of corporate greedheads who feel all tingly when they think about growing rich off of free labor. Just look at this:

"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 that provides Web-based interior design services. "From a cost savings perspective, to get something off the ground, it's huge. Especially if you're a small business."

In the last three years, Fallis has used about 50 unpaid interns for duties in marketing, editorial, advertising, sales, account management and public relations. She's convinced it's the wave of the future in human resources. "Ten years from now, this is going to be the norm," she says.

OK, so pick your jaw up off the floor and take a look at that first sentence again:

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

Well, yes. People who work for no money can't afford to buy food and are generally hungrier.

"...so they're going to outperform, they're going to try to please, they're going to be creative..."

"...this one guy, who redesigned my entire website for a bag of Doritos last week, I got him to literally lick my boot. He actually licked it! I thought that only happened in the movies!"

Like others who have used unpaid labor, Remote Stylist's Kelly Fallis recommends beginning with a very specific job description and conducting a thorough hiring process to screen out people who aren't going to give their all for nothing.

Candidates who respond to Fallis' postings on Craigslist and Facebook must fill out a detailed email questionnaire and undergo two rounds of phone interviews and three in-person interviews.

I can only imagine what these grueling tests consist of. My quess: Fallis has her two Doberman Pinschers take a ginormous dump on a silver plate. She then instructs job candidates to eat it. Those who swallow their pride (and a whole lot else!) will get the job. Those who refuse? BUH-BYE!

Those who join Remote Stylist, whether they are students or out-of-work 20- or 30-somethings, must agree to a four-month run and sign a hiring contract. She asks interns to commit 30 hours a week; she has been burned in the past by people who were trying to juggle a paid job with their commitment to Remote Stylist.

When you commit to Remote Stylist, you commit to living on the roof of a Taco Bell and to feeding only on pigeons and rats who get caught in the nearby heating ducts. Everything else must be sacrificed.

John Lovejoy, managing director of multimedia fundraising company Nomadic Nation, received 300 responses for an editor position and 700 cameraman applications after only one week of advertising a project to drive from Germany to Cambodia in plastic cars. Not only were the positions unpaid, but successful candidates had to pay their own expenses. One editor and two cameramen ended up quitting before the end of the trek due to rough conditions and 16-hour workdays. In retrospect, Lovejoy says, "I would screen a little bit better and make sure they understood that this wasn't a vacation."

Very true. Lots of people get paid while they're on vacations, after all.

This, then, is the Grand Future our corporate masters have in mind for the American worker: A bunch of poor suckers so desperate for any kind of work that they'll agree to be modern-day serfs. And luckily for them, the GOP has decided to adopt their strategy by telling Americans that we should be willing to take massive pay cuts so that our corporate masters will deign to hire us again. Something tells me this won't go over well in Real America once they figure out what's really up.

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