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A Kernel Of Truth: The Onion On Trickle-Up Economics

SAN DIEGO—Following seven straight years of long hours at the office and sacrificed weekends and holidays, all of account manager Sam Hemstead’s hard work and single-minded devotion to Pinnacle Automotive Insurance has finally paid off for CEO Charles Pardahee, Pardahee said Friday.

Beneath the many layers of The Onion‘s satirical journalism, there often lies a kernel of truth. (Do onions have kernels? Maybe mutated Monsanto onions. Just go with it.)

Continuing this month’s theme of a systemic look at the Second Precept of Buddhist ethics (not taking what is not freely given), and building off of Kenji’s piece yesterday, on how happiness doesn’t mean the absence of exploitation, I just had to share this piece. Cracked me up — in that slightly queasy, all-too-familiar kinda way.

I used to write for a huge marketing firm that traded on a quirky brand of comedy to peddle coupons sold by the group. The company gained all this fame and buzz because of its ‘talented team of artists’ writing the copy, and raked in half a billion dollars in revenue. Meanwhile, although we freelance writers were grateful to have creative jobs, the infrastructure set out for us was a mess.  The extra time spent navigating it, just to get assignments, meant that most of us were earning half of what we were told to expect (paid by the piece, no matter how long the piece took us to complete), stressing out and wasting time glued to a computer screen.

But I guess it’s all worth it, if it makes the company successful!

“There were definitely some nights I’d lie awake in bed and wonder, ‘Is Sam absolutely killing himself day in and day out for nothing?'” Pardahee told reporters while driving to his weekend home in a recently purchased 2012 BMW luxury sedan. “But Sam just put his head down and never looked back, and this year his blood, sweat, and tears have proven profitable to the tune of a 15 percent larger bonus for myself.”

“It just goes to show that if you’re really passionate and dedicated, eventually it all comes back around to your superiors,” Pardahee continued.

You can keep reading over at The Onion.  I’d also be interested to hear folks’ experiences with the differences between exploitation, as a type of institutionalized theft, and when we willingly sacrifice for a group or a cause we believe in, generously giving without expecting things in return.  How do you live that balance in your work life and volunteer life?

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