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Thursday, October 17, 2013
The World Has Gone Mad : Exploitation Around the Corner
This has been a difficult week for many people, and our family has been no exception. I have often said that I usually deal well with most types of adversity, but I am not nearly so graceful when something befalls one of my kids, or they are mistreated in some way. Then, I can be rather difficult. I can also write a scathing letter on occasion. I don't intervene on much very often because I don't think it's kind to cause people to lose their jobs, and because kindness and setting the example of kindness, as a general rule, is important to me.
One of my sons is a professional sculptor. His degree is in sculpture and extended media. He makes one-of-a-kind pieces of sculptural furniture, one of which sits in the collection of Travis Pastrana and his wife Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana. This week he learned that a Chinese company has been reproducing and marketing one of his chairs without permission, using his company's name, the name of the one-of-a-kind chair, and actually using the picture my son took and uses on his website of the chair, on their own website ! Of course, they have no authorization and are in violation of copyright law. My son, who has a lot of medical needs and bills cannot afford to have his work ripped off. However, Chinese companies do this all the time, and it can be difficult to sue and stop them. However, this week, we have needed to retain an attorney for this.
Secondly, one of my sons has a computer lab, teaching assistant, and tutoring position at his college. He was not initially paid because funding was slow to come through, but he was encouraged to hang in there and set up the lab over the Summer without pay. Recently, he was told that all the funds for such positions had been given to other students and therefore he would not be paid. He told them that he would like to continue in the position, if the college and the advisor to the lab would provide a reference for him so that he would gain valuable references for a future job after graduation. Today, the Dean of something or another has decided that our son's providing 32 hours a week of working in the computer lab constitutes an internship, and that he should pay them. In point of fact, we are already paying them to educate him. Since when does one pay for an internship ? Tomorrow he will tell them that we absolutely cannot pay for him to work for them, and that such an arrangement is exploitive.
When I was a young adult, violation of a copyright, plagiarism, or something similar was a serious crime and worse hurt your reputation. International violations were even worse. When I was in college, we were paid, perhaps a paltry sum, for work study, but we didn't exploit students into working for us, and then put the bite on them for more money when they perform a service for us. No wonder a lot of young people don't have much respect for a lot of the institutions that my generation held dear. Too many people do business in terms of what they believe they can "get away with". (Yes, I know that I ended that sentence with a preposition, which is bad English usage for an author, but I wanted it to sound conversational rather than high brow, so cut me some slack)
I work hard to stay out of my sons and daughter's private business so that they learn to navigate the work- a- day and personal world with the same or better skill than I do. However, this is one of those days when I would like to receive permission from them to rip someone a perfectly new one. Watch yourselves out there. People are making it up as they go along.