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Why your job is not as hateful as it seems

The worst jobs are in slaughterhouses. U.S. academic Timothy Pachirat spent six months working undercover in a Midwestern abattoir that killed a cow every 12 seconds. That’s too fast. Massive animals cannot be stunned, shot, skinned and dissected at that rate without workers suffering hideous damage.

In the book, naturally titled Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight, Pachirat did a lot of jobs, the worst (though it wasn’t) on the liver line, eventually hanging 100,000 of the biggest bovine gland. Dip rag, wring, clean hooks, pull 25-lb. “reddish-brown bean” off one hook, impale elsewhere, repeat. Do this for 10 hours in a deafening freezing room wearing many layers of stained clothing into which water seeps.

The biggest social story of our time is not new media, or immigration, or even money. It is what we do for money. It’s work, the biggest part of most people’s lives, and it’s changing rapidly. Work appears to be getting more snarled at all levels below the 1 per cent. Being a guilt-ridden obsessive, I…

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