On Working

-This post is dedicated to all the blue collar men and women out there who sweat for their money. Nothin’ beats an ice cold beer after a long day’s grind.

-In our age of constant layoffs, outsourcing, automation, and offshoring of jobs, a corporate-centered view of work is taking over. People are seen as secondary, and it is getting harder and more strenuous to even find a decent paying job without going through 15 hoops and kissing 15 sets of cheeks (and not the ones on your face…). So, since our corporate and political overlords seem to have forgotten that there are some solid, non economic reasons why a good chunk of the public should be working, here is a small list to remind them.

  1. It is people who buy stuff, especially in America. This one is perplexing to me: If you automate, offshore, and otherwise disappear so many jobs that the true unemployment rate starts approaching 33 to 50 percent  (if you include people not looking for work) and you force a large percentage of the populous to either retrain at their own expense or drop out of the labor market, then who is going to have the money to buy your stuff? The global market is huge, yes, but if people over here can’t afford your products, then how will you be able to sell your services in the world’s largest market? The rich can only buy and store so much. Hopefully, this will never actually become an issue, but it is food for thought.
  2. We still live in a capitalist system. In other words, somehow, some way, some folks still have to work to eat. We do not yet have Star Trek replicators such that infinite stuff can be made. Until this changes, enough people still need to be able to have job opportunities that pay enough to feed them and their dependents. The welfare state isn’t a viable option, either, as at some point debt must be repaid. Look at how pension debt is bankrupting Chicago, and look at how that city is dying. People need to be involved enough in the production of resources that they can be able to enjoy some of them, without theft, graft, or government aid.
  3. Work keeps people busy. This point is particularly important for males, especially between the ages of about 15 and 39, as they tend to cause most the violence. It is much harder for them to do things like steal, kill, or loot, because there are only 24 hours in a day, and if you can get them engaged in their work, that limits their opportunities for mayhem by at least 8 hours.
  4. Work gives people something to lose. This can be a very good thing, as it keeps people from acting in more reckless fashion. A good paying job will make someone think twice before they go commit a crime, as they realize that the risk of getting caught and being jailed/fined and possibly fired just might outweigh the reward of the crime. Generally speaking, having a bunch of people with nothing to lose isn’t a good idea.
  5. Working improves social cohesion. In general, to work a job, you have to have some standards. You have to be at least somewhat predictable and consistent, you have to have some social skills, decent grooming, and ability to give and take orders and work in a team, and you just in general have to reign yourself in. Also, working forces you to interact with people you might not otherwise ever meet. Since you can’t just curse out and attack the people you interact with while working too much or you won’t be working very long, work does a decent job in stitching communities together. This has many benefits of easing tensions somewhat, building people’s social skills, and keeping societies from getting to fragmented. America could use more jobs right now, as this would help ease the tensions we are wracked with.
  6. Working builds skill. Even the crappiest minimum-wage burger-flipping or roofing gig builds up some marketable skills in workers (even if they’re miserable while this happens). Learning to deal with difficult people and situations is certainly not a minus, and it makes other jobs much easier to do. The effects are particularly good on younger workers, as they have it the roughest as newcomers in the labor market.
  7. Finally, working gives people a sense of pride and accomplishment, and a chance for advancement. This is often overlooked, as most people don’t enjoy working, but in general, people take a base level of pride in being able to go out and make their own money and earn their own keep. There is something to be said about one who can pull his own weight. Jobs can also get people in the door for better opportunities and promote advancement, even if the jobs is dead-end. Even the crappy jobs provide workers with incentive to strive for better, if only so they don’t have to work said crappy jobs ever again. The alternative, welfare/aid programs, provide no such incentives, and though they seem to be the main source of income for more and more Americans, they do not help move them out of poverty or give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.

So, to all you corporate big-wigs busy outsourcing everything, keep in mind that it’s not just about the money; it’s also social fabric you’re ripping up. Peace.

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