Forget ‘slow pay.’ How about ‘no pay?’

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Help Wanted: Are you a self-starter, a go-getter, someone who takes care of business and, to paraphrase Bachman-Turner Overdrive, loves to work for nothing all day?

Are you young, eager, over-educated, underemployed, desperate to gain a toe-hold in the wonderful world of work? Are you at the end of your rope?

If this sounds like you, then look no further. We at The Ritual Abuse Corporation – one of the largest private employment agencies in the world – want to meet you. Our inboxes are on fire thanks the steadily rising number of our clients who are searching for someone just like you; someone who will fill a short-term, unpaid internship and whistle a happy tune whilst doing it. “Thank you mother,” you’ll croon, “may I have another?”

You must have heard about this. It’s all the rage in the post-apocalyptic, financially melted global economy.

According to an article a in the Daily Mail, out of the UK, a couple years back, “Firms across the country are increasingly relying on unpaid interns in a bid to cut costs in a tough economic climate, according to a new study. Bosses in the design and digital industry expect more work for less money, leading to fewer permanent staff members and more unpaid interns, according to think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, which carried out a survey of 500 agency workers.”

More recently, Susan Adams, a staff writer at Forbes, observed, “As the ranks of the unemployed have swelled and the surplus of jobless college students and grads has grown, increasing numbers of people young and old have been signing on for unpaid internships, wanting to make contacts and accumulate résumé lines that can help them get paying work.”

Indeed, it’s a win-win for everybody – a joyful alliance between probity and exigency. Think of the opportunities that await you.

As an unpaid intern, everything is within your job description. On any given day, you might find yourself slinging coffee. When your bosses (a group which comprises just about everyone else in the organization) spill said coffee, you’ll be dispatched to clean up the mess. Think of the contacts you’ll make. Imagine the résumé lines you’ll be able to accumulate.

Of course, your employer also benefits from not having to book your wages and benefits (because, officially, there are none). That means it gets to keep its hard-earned cash in the bank where it’s been sitting for years.

That’s important, especially when you consider the natural oder of the universe, neatly summarized in a CNN Money piece late last year: “Just four years after the worst shock to the economy since the Great Depression, U.S. corporate profits are stronger than ever. In the third quarter, corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6 per cent from a year ago. . .That took after-tax profits to their greatest percentage of GDP in history. But the record profits come at the same time that workers’ wages have fallen to their lowest-ever share of GDP. ‘That’s how it works,’ said Robert Brusca, economist with FAO Research in New York, who said there is a natural tension between profits and the cost of labor. ‘If one gets bigger, the other gets smaller.’”

Still, you shouldn’t delay hitching up for the next available unpaid tour of duty. Storm clouds are gathering and pretty soon it may begin to rain on everyone’s parade. Consider one recent headline.

“Two former interns have filed complaints with government against Bell Mobility, alleging the telecom giant broke labour laws by not paying them for work they did for the company,” CBC News reported in June. ‘It felt like I was sitting in an office as an employee, doing regular work. It didn’t feel like a sort of training program,’ said Jainna Patel, 24, who was an unpaid intern with Bell for five weeks last year. ‘They just squeezed out of you every hour they could get and never showed any intent of paying.’”

In fact, that sounds very much like another species of unpaid labour that even we, at The Ritual Abuse Corporation, would never condone: entrepreneurship.

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