We are insulated from nation-wide trends, at least partially. When the financial crisis of 2008 began, northern Minnesota felt it but only to a very small degree. As employees became unemployed on each coast of the nation, our local employers made working ever easier by offering more benefits and higher salaries. It’s time to talk about work.
First off, we are spoiled. A job has gone from something that provided money so your family could eat to something that is supposed to define your life. When I got a job, I just wanted some kind of income so I could show a bank that I was a safe bet so they would loan me money to farm. I never expected my job to frame the course of my life or increase my self-esteem. I feel ashamed for people who need a daily pat on the back for the effort that they are already paid to make. Here’s the news; a job is for money. You make your life worthwhile through family, faith, education and the stuff you do after you leave work. It is not your employers responsibility to help you find deeper meaning to life or to put stickers on your helmet for each touchdown. If you are paid to do something, you are a professional. Professionals do their work because they get paid not because they like what they are doing. If you have trouble getting fired up for your job then please remember that employment is how you get warm food to eat.
Of course, not everyone needs a job to get warm food. When I was a teenager, farming was circling the drain due to the farm crisis. I could not stay on the farm so I needed to find a job. There was little or nothing in the want ads and so I ended up signing up for the National Guard. Today, there are pages of good jobs, and they don’t involve stuffing envelopes at home. If you are able to work, then get a job and quit leaning on the rest of us.
My old friend Lloyd told me about a farmer who once lived a half mile from me who did not have the use of his legs. He would pull himself up a tractor and even sit in a calf barn and pitch manure. That last sentence proves two points; no work is “below” you and our standard for not working once was a lot higher than the low mark it is today. I see able-bodied people who have the mental capacity to form a plan to shoplift from our local stores but who then claim they lack either mental or physical abilities to work. I ain’t buyin’ it.
If you want to tell me of situations where some sort of social net was truly needed then you just go ahead and save it. I know some help can often be justified and have no quarrel with that situation. I just don’t like people who can do at least entry level work but who are either too lazy or too arrogant to perform the task. I recently saw starting pay was nine dollars at one local restaurant and I only made a few bucks more than that in the last decade. I made it so don’t throw the “living-wage” catch phrase into this mix. If your living doesn’t fit the wage then change your style of living. Taxpayers are not responsible to support the lifestyle you choose, you are responsible.
If you truly want fulfillment, you will have to offer your services for free. Benefits, charity work and benevolence societies offer tasks that will fill your heart instead of your pocketbook. These tasks will help frame your life as you accept responsibility for each task. That should help your self-worth. Finally, if your job is so great that you would work for free then count your blessings quietly; the rest of us will go to work because of our love for our family and responsibility to our fellow man. Now back to work.