Confucianism and Trade Imbalances

The enlightened dictatorship of money

China’s failed apprentice system – part 2

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This is a series of posts on why wages are lower than productivity in China.  The first part is here. The following is a rant delivered to me by a flight instructor in Beijing:

So, suppose somebody decides you’d be a good pilot – this happens when you’re about twelve.  You then moved to special pilots’ school, so it will be difficult or impossible to have a career doing anything else.  You will need to sign a contract with the airline that selected you, and you will have to pay back the cost of your education.

Now, once you graduate, you will go work for the airline.  For the first ten years or so, you will be in the copilot seat.  Your boss, the pilot, will sit to the left of you with a rolled up newspaper in hand.  Anytime you make a mistake, it is expected that he will bat you with the newspaper. That’s obviously not the best learning environment.

You’ve graduated to pilot status.  The airlines will fine you, personally, for even the smallest of mistakes, with the result that nobody touches the controls. (Many of the rules themselves are quite ridiculous – par for the course in China.) Pilots put the plane on autopilot as soon as they can after takeoff, so nobody ever really learns how to fly the thing.

So then, suppose you have put your time in, made it to the top of the hierarchy.  Maybe at that point, you want to move to another airline with higher pay, better conditions, or you simply don’t want to work for an airline anymore.  Guess what? The airline owns your pilot license.  You’re stuck!

What is it called when you are forced to work for someone else, with no opportunity to improve your own life?


Written by Maofucious

August 31, 2012 at 9:53 PM

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