Doing a job on America’s work ethic
Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
The words are as true today as they were when first uttered by Confucius, Mark Twain, or some anonymous adage author too pleased with his occupation to remember to take credit.
Alas, they also appear to be among the most serious casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic or, perhaps, the changing values of a new generation of Americans.
Millions of workers only now are beginning to come off pandemic furloughs — not rapidly enough for some, too rapidly for others.
Never forget that, in June and July of last summer, during the depths of pandemic paranoia, we were averaging no more than one or two cases a week while school was out and everyone was outdoors.
With only a third of Marion County fully vaccinated, we’re nowhere near the so-called herd immunity that might prevent a huge uptick in cases, just as happened last year, when school resumed in August and people began spending more time indoors in October and November.
The world can’t take another winter of isolated discontent after a summer of false hope. Despite a lull in cases, every resident needs to do his or her patriotic duty and prevent our nation’s and the world’s economies from succumbing yet again to an army of microbes who originated, like vampires, in bats.
Anti-vaccination folks stress how getting a shot is a matter of personal choice. We agree. Choose to help others or to wallow in scientific disbelief.
Either way, we’d like to hold them to their “personal responsibility” argument and require that, should COVID come roaring back, the only ones who will qualify for new dollops of government largess heaped upon pandemic victims will be those who took enough personal responsibility to get vaccinated.
Alas, that’s not going to get entertainment venues and churches back to pre-pandemic capacities or untangle pandemic-snarled supply lines that continue to strangle businesses and keep their workers idle.
Even worse, we appear to have fallen victim to an even more insidious disease — one that is slowly but surely proving fatal to the long-vaunted work ethic of Americans, even the especially vaunted work ethic of rural, middle American regions such as ours.
Despite millions of workers nationwide still being idled by the pandemic, jobs are becoming almost impossible to fill. “Help wanted” signs have replaced “Masks required” signs at seemingly every business, and the lines of workers willing to fill those jobs are far shorter than the dwindling lines of residents seeking vaccination.
Some blame government benefits. A relative recently disclosed that she was receiving from the government roughly twice her normal pay while on pandemic furlough. Car dealers, boat sellers, and other big-ticket retailers noted a huge uptick in sales after lump-sum government benefit checks were mailed.
Many people desperately needed — and still need — such assistance, but great numbers who nevertheless receive the aid do not. For them, extra time and cash at home has made them rethink whether loving their job was such a good idea.
Years ago, businesses in Marion County existed — as many do now — mainly on a shoestring. Mom and pop places were literally that, often with junior helping out. Yet, if you think back several decades, you’ll recall that six-day workweeks were common, businesses often were open from dawn until well after dusk, even without modern labor-saving devices, staffing often was at a bare minimum, and few if any people were citing quality of life as a reason to change any of that.
No one complained because this was how you achieved the American dream — with hard work, hopefully in a job you love. Whether it was slinging hash, digging ditches, detasseling corn, or writing editorials, people felt they were making important contributions that not only someday would get them ahead but also would help others in the community in their daily lives.
Whether that spirit died with increased corporate ownership, government bureaucracy, pandemic generosity, or some post-modern desire to always expect more for less, the effect has been the same.
Those who buck the trend — and are still quite a few them — rightfully are concerned by friends and neighbors who go through the motions of working, keep irregular hours, work only when they have to, and otherwise clearly haven’t found jobs they love, just jobs that means to some materialistic end.
As Fathers Day approaches, we challenge everyone to think not of our own lives but of the lives of our fathers and more specifically of the lives of the communities our fathers dutifully served.
Is modern society merely suckling at a legacy they created and their children are now depleting? The question is not so much whether we have lives better than our parents’ lives, but whether we will be leaving behind as good a community for our children as they left for theirs.
— ERIC MEYER