I have been desperately seeking gainful employment, which I define as conforming to the conditions of article seven in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, since the dot-com crash in 2001. I have done everything everybody says to do. I have put myself on job boards, applied for countless positions, networked, sought informational interviews, had my résumé professionally written, returned to school, finished a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D.
It is, at this point, crystal clear that on those exceedingly rare occasions I even get an interview, it is so hiring managers or committees can claim to have interviewed somebody besides their pre-selected candidate. I am not interested in participating in any more such charades.
Through all of it, I receive zero feedback that would enable me to see how to, if it is even possible, adjust what I am doing. I have occasionally received critiques of my professionally-written résumé from other companies that want money to professionally write my résumé—when it seems quite apparent that the money I spent having my résumé professionally written in the first place was entirely wasted. These critiques have failed to adequately address my situation and are therefore even less compelling than that offered by my first professional résumé writer.
My Ph.D. is in Human Science and I have a lot to offer but what I find is a system that seeks any excuse it can find to not even consider me, whether it be my age, an uneven employment history (I’ve been struggling to find work for a long time), my miserably failed attempt to change careers, my poverty (expressed as a credit rating, which is not helped by my student loan debt), and who knows what all else. Nothing I do makes any difference: I am being systematically excluded from the job market and I need a job hunt process that works for me. The standard bullshit doesn’t work and I am beyond fed up with it.
What I am not
I am clearly not a marketer or salesperson of any kind. If I were, I would have managed to sell my way into a job by now. This also means that any attempt I make at entrepreneurship is doomed to failure—this requires sales ability and my Ph.D. is sufficiently amorphous that it is unclear what, exactly, I would be “selling.” It also means I can’t just write a book: Yes, I can write the book, but authors are now required to market their work and I can’t do that. Finally, it means I cannot successfully seek grants to pay for scholarly work.
I am not really a high technology person. Yes, I started out of college the first time as a computer programmer in the late 1970s. But I burned out on programming by 1985 and I’ve now bounced out of this industry and landed hard three times; the last, with the dot-com crash, seemingly irreparably. I have found increasingly that the latest developments baffle me, and not in a good way. I am not intrigued, but irritated. I just want things to work and my patience is blown with arrogant assholes who don’t take responsibility for their shit. A lot of change seems to be change for change’s sake: It does not appear to me that anyone is even asking users if we want these changes rammed down our throats or what changes would suit us better; instead, we have change simply because arrogant assholes think it’s cool.
I am also not impressed with big data (mining) or artificial
intelligence idiocy. These appear 1) to confound even utterly spurious correlation with causation, 2) to substitute superficial quantitative data for the much harder work of rich understanding, and 3) to do both on a massive scale. Results will be stupid and almost certainly will be catastrophic. Quantitative results need to be treated much more often as questions rather than answers; high technology has little capacity to do this, but worse, shows little curiosity in doing this.
I also will not be involved in anything unethical. That means, at least in part:
- No deception of any kind. Deception includes both lying and the withholding of relevant information. It undermines personal autonomy. I understand this to include all forms of sales and marketing, public relations, and propaganda.
- Research and inquiry must protect participants and ensure that they benefit as well. This includes fairness, informed consent, voluntary participation, confidentiality, and anonymization. I will respect both individual and group rights.
- In general, I oppose structural (denying important rights, such as to adequate food, shelter, and health care, but also including self-actualization) and physical violence against human and non-human animals:
- I reject the neoliberal devaluation, particularization, and essentialization of human beings as economic units of production compelled to compete with other human beings on conditions (such as the cost of living, environmental regulation, and labor regulation) over which they have little or no control. I will seek to undermine employers who revel in their freedom to abuse commodified human or non-human beings. Such abuse includes low pay, poor working conditions, and the exploitation of non-human animals.
- Max Weber saw capitalism—but his point applies to any market system of exchange—as inherently privileging whomever has the greater power to say no, that is, the rich. The benefits and handicaps that follow from each act of exchange, each transaction, are cumulative; hence, economic systems of exchange inherently function to widen social inequality. I have personal experience with these effects. I abhor them. I will seek to undermine this ideology at every opportunity.
I need to live but I also need to be able to live with myself. At this point, after so many years of failure, I am not clear even on what jobs I should be seeking.
What I should be
The presumption that attends a Ph.D., a research degree accrediting its bearer as a “producer” of knowledge, is that I should be in academia, conducting research/inquiry, teaching classes. Alas, under neoliberalism this has become considerably more difficult. As I wrote earlier on a page that is now off line,
Unfortunately, under neoliberalism, higher education has largely gone the other way [from preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship]: We layer quantitative metrics on top of quantitative metrics in the name of “accountability;” we see the word “entrepreneurship,” a word that should never be used in the context of education, emblazoned across Ivy League university web sites as they promote their job training programs; academic departments retreat from funding cuts by reinforcing the high walls around their intellectual silos; positivism (or post-positivism, if you insist) ascends not on its own merit but in an emphasis on a naïve view of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); all while low-paid adjuncts enable ever richer university administrations. As Christian Smith puts it, “[t]he manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings . . . that,” he writes, “I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.” Smith and I share an ideal of what the university is supposed to be. He laments “our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.” But given a choice he has and I seem not to, (I’m pretty sure he and) I would be nowhere else.
In 2015, Saybrook University began “teaching out” (closing down) its Human Science program. I completed the program later that year, formally graduating early the next. But with the siloization of the social sciences, and the apparent absence of any other human science program in academia, there is little to no opportunity for a transdisciplinary (or, as I prefer it, post-disciplinary) scholar such as myself to find even an adjunct position.
It might help if I had published more than my dissertation, but scholarly work takes time, resources, and the marketing ability to write a successful grant proposal. I am poor. I need funding I can’t get. In this way, academia excludes me. That this is the case crushes me.
What I am
I am highly educated, a critical theorist, a vegetarian ecofeminist (vegan and anarchist), a systems theorist, a qualitative researcher, and a writer. My Ph.D. is in Human Science. My dissertation critically examined conservative attitudes on unauthorized migration. I have survived (barely) on the underbelly of capitalism for decades and am not a fan: I see both economic and political authority as extremely problematic. I care a great deal about the environment and about social, economic, and environmental justice.
And politically, it has to be said that over a period spanning decades, I’ve heard a lot of promises—a lot of hot air and a lot of crocodile tears—from politicians about jobs. I’ve heard that bullshit and I’ve heard that bullshit. And for all of it, I still don’t have a job. I’m not interested in promises. I want a real job. Now.
- Ph.D., Human Science, January 2016, Saybrook University, San Francisco
- M.A., Speech Communication, June 2009, California State University, East Bay, Hayward
- B.A., Mass Communication, Dec. 2005, California State University, East Bay, Hayward
- A.A., Business Data Processing, 1979, American River College, Sacramento
Writing and Teaching: I am a capable writer and college-level teacher with a focus on making difficult information easy to understand:
- California State University, East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, CA 94542 (June 2007 – June 2009)
Taught public speaking classes, which included assigning, reviewing and grading student essays. Supervised tutors in the communication lab from April 2007 – June 2008.
- Linuxcare, 650 Townsend St., Ste. 120, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Nov. 1999 – Feb. 2001)
Worked as a technical writer, preparing user support materials, as well as system certification and solution validation reports.
Driver Supervision: I am an experienced driver and dispatcher and know how to work with drivers and perform back office work supporting drivers:
- American Airport Shuttle, 120 Willow St., San Francisco, CA 94109, (October 2000 – June 2003)
Worked as a dispatcher, answering phones, entering orders, assigning routes, coordinating via radio with drivers for airport shuttle service and taxi service.
- Radio Cab, 49C Industrial Way, Greenbrae, CA 94904 (May 1994 – August 1997)
Tech literacy: My background includes computer programming and operation.
- San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco CA (September 1986 – December 1990)
Worked graveyard shift, running nightly batch jobs. I developed new system monitoring programs, and worked with field maintenance personnel to ensure proper system operation.
- Quinn Company, 10273 S. Golden State Hwy, Selma, CA (December 1981 – May 1985)
Business applications programmer for Caterpillar Tractor. Maintained existing and developed new or replacement programs as needed.
- Electronic Data Systems, Reno, NV(August 1980 – December 1981)
Sole systems analyst/programmer on contract to U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Nevada State Office.
Driving: I have extensive experience as a driver and understand the support systems drivers need.
- Uber, 1455 Market St #400, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Dec. 2016 – June 2019)
- Lyft, 185 Berry St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Sept. 2016 – present)
- Emerald City, 10811 Russet St., Oakland, CA 94603 (Jan. 2018 – Oct. 2018)
- Top Shelf Medicinal, 414 Lesser, Oakland, CA 94601 (Apr. 2017 – Dec. 2017)
- Yellow Checker Cab, 1880 S. 7th St., San Jose CA 95112 (May 2005 – September 2006)
- North Bay Cooperative Taxi, 301 Irwin St., San Rafael CA 94901 (May 2001- November 2001)
- Luxor Cab, 2230 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco, CA 94124 (Dec. 1997 – Dec. 1999)
- Sausalito Cab, 3000 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 (Aug. 1997 – Dec. 1997)
- Radio Cab, 49C Industrial Dr., Greenbrae, CA 94904 (May 1994 – Aug. 1997)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 16, 1966, United Nations, General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cescr.aspx↩
- Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (New York: Vintage, 1999).↩
- Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds., Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008).↩
- David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002)↩
- Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129; see also David Benfell, “The fallacy of ‘free’ trade is more than a fallacy of ‘free’ trade,” Not Housebroken, June 28, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/06/28/the-fallacy-of-free-trade-is-more-than-a-fallacy-of-free-trade/; David Benfell, “They must pay,” Not Housebroken, February 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/02/21/they-must-pay/↩
- My father was physically abusive toward me and verbally abusive toward my mother. In addition, I was bullied by fellow school children and I have suffered economic deprivation throughout nearly all of my adult life.↩
- Martha C. Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2011).↩
- Christian Smith, “Higher Education Is Drowning in BS,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2018, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Higher-Education-Is-Drowning/242195↩
- Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008); Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., The Landscape of Qualitative Research, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008); Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008); Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds., Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008); Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition (New York: Continuum, 2006); Raymond A. Morrow with David D. Brown, Critical Theory and Methodology (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994).↩
- Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.↩
- Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (New York: Anchor, 1996); Joanna Macy, Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: the Dharma of Natural Systems (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1995).↩
- Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, 4th ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2011); Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, eds., Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008).↩
- David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).↩