February 16th, 2008


Why I hate the phrase "human resources"

First off, the similarity to the phrase "human chattel" is striking and unsettling. The word "resources" indicates that humans are like a seam of coal to be strip-mined, or at best a forest to be maintained for sustained output. The sole purpose of this word in the context is to dehumanize the human. Humans are not resources. Anything else, up to and perhaps including dolphins, but not humans. Humans are your co-equal. Or at least you are honor-bound to pretend that they are.

Workers are actually trading partners, same as suppliers and customers. They are selling you their labor, manual or otherwise. In that regard, a supplier is every bit as much a human resource as a laborer. It matters not whether you buy copper ore, a truckload of stainless steel knives, or a certain amount of labor. In each case you have negotiated a price with a fellow human who is your co-equal. They are both equally human resources and you are a human resource to them, a source of money in that case. Likewise a customer is equally a human resource, and you to them. The viewpoint in which other humans are objects and you exist on some imaginary higher level like a god... it just means you are insane.

Yes, people who use the word "human resources" without feeling dirty are insane at best, criminal at worst. I am sure they don't think so. The slave owners were good men too, some of them founders of the world's so far greatest nation. The guys who extracted precious metals from the teeth of gassed Jews were no doubt good people too, probably went to church on Sunday and doted on their kids. Human resources, taken to its logical conclusion.

What's wrong with the good old word "worker"? If they didn't work, you probably wouldn't pay them.
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I couldn't have said this better myself, but I still try

"To say mysticism is about experience is like saying a car is about fossil fuels. Sure, you need gasoline to make the thing go, but the point is to get somewhere, not to just sit around and groove on the noise that the engine makes."
Carl McColman, With apologies to Nirvana…

Hmm, perhaps even I would buy a car if it went like vrrOOOMMMM, vrrOOOMMMM ...