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Do Chinese white collar employees lead inferior lives to farmers?
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14:03, September 08, 2009

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A survey report on the lives of white collar employees in east China shows that 80 percent of white collar employees in Shanghai feel that their lives are inferior to those of farmers; 58 percent are envious of farmers who work from dawn until dusk; 53 percent believe that because farmers are free from radiation and traffic pollution their lives are better; 43 percent hope that they can have three regular meals a day like farmers.

The white collar employees only saw the poetic side of the lives of farmers working from dawn until dusk, and simply ignored the realistic side of farmers' "laborious work in the fields."They are only aware that farmers are "free from radiation and traffic pollution", and do not know that things commonplace to them, such as a stable income, comfortable work environment and good quality of living, are not available to the overwhelming majority of ordinary farmers.

Such selective comparison is like boasting of a type of "happy pain" than complaining. The strongest and most direct evidence shows that no white collar employees have ever actually insisted on trying to be farmers, excluding phony farmers who grow plants and eat rustic meals in the countryside during festivals and holidays. Instead, numerous migrant rural workers have flooded into urban areas, aspiring to be "urban residents" at the lowest level. They has become the most eye-catching feature of this era.

Nevertheless, generally speaking, it is not entirely unreasonable that 80 percent of white collar employees feel that their lives are inferior to those of farmers and the realistic living difficulties they face are not fully due to the groundless sentimentalism of the petty bourgeoisie.

For example, three meals a day is the most basic need of people, but the survey results show that "50 percent of white collars do not have breakfast, and 56 percent of white collar employees cannot ensure a regular lunch time, which is clearly unacceptable to the public.

Another example shows that 15 percent of white collar employees prefer not to see doctors when they are ill. Given the reality of high medical care and medicine costs, the data will undoubtedly cause the public to remember similar experiences. All these indicate that there is also a dark side beneath the flashy image of white collar employees. Therefore, who would still assert that white collar employees have no right to complain?

In fact, white collar employees used the comparison to farmers to relieve depression. Their mistake lies in only that they unkindly compared themselves to farmers living in more difficult situations, yet the message they send is a very realistic sentiment in society.

The reason behind the irregular three meals a day lies in the inequality of relations between employees and employers as well as a lack of protection of the rights and interests of workers. The situation of employees failing to see a doctor when they are ill calls for the establishment of a sounder social security system. The reason why white collar employees are envious of farmers who are free from radiation and traffic pollution lies in the sense of survival crisis they painfully experienced.

It is easy to see that what white collar employees expressed is not just a complaint about their identities, but also the sense of powerlessness felt by everyone in a society featuring a universal lack of a sense of equality, regularity and order.

There is a difference between individuals, so complaints themselves are not frightening, these complaints can even indicate the drive for outstanding professionals to move upward and that society is constantly improving. One decade ago, there was a popular story about how a rural student made painstaking efforts for 18 years in order to simply secure a white collar job.

It was a bitter and inspiring story at the time. However, the current hot topic has directly focused on the straight distinction between "the rich and poor second generations."In such context, we have to painfully admit that in terms of only professional nature, there is no essential distinction between white collar employees and farmers.

By People's Daily Online

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