Sunday, January 29, 2006


The historicists speak:
"Livery in the broad sense--that is, the payments of dependents in food, lodging, and clothing--continued well into the nineteenth century. Karl Marx's servant, Helene Demuth, was never given a regular wage, and she lived mainly off non-monetary 'gifts.' And the poorer you were, the more significant was livery as a crucial part of your income... ."
Is this practice really dead? I've known many people whose retail jobs require that they wear the company's clothes. Are there companies that allow employees to wear sample outfits on the sales floor?--I doubt it. I think that most of the employees are probably forced into the position of taking the employee discount and buying the clothes outright. Some of my friends who are simply withstanding their temporary employment with these companies have decribed this requirement as an excuse to load up on decent clothing at wholesale costs. I've also known a fair number of people who've blown their paychecks buying from the store for which they were working. The difference between these groups is mobility: for the upwardly mobile, buying a few clothes at employee discount represents an investment in the future. For the non-upwardly mobile, buying livery is a cruel imposition and a travesty of what livery used to mean in the old economy.

They keep saying that the service sector is America's future in a globalized economy...


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