Posted by: bkivey | 12 February 2010

Workin’ for a living

Looking around the TV landscape, one sees a marked contrast between what sells on the air and what is coming out of D.C. and statehouses around the country. A great number of ‘reality’ TV shows depict people doing hard manual labor under adverse condtitions including fishing in the Bering Sea, logging in locations from Washington to Maine, driving trucks in the far north, cleaning up trash in New Orleans, towing cars in Chicago, and rousting out varmints in Louisiana. None of the work is glamorous and all of it looks like stuff that most people wouldn’t want to do. 

But people do go out every day and do hard, uncomfortable work not only for the obvious reasons of putting food on the table and a roof over their head but because people by and large want to work. Business owners want to hire more people, because to do so indicates that the business is succeeding. Any business owner that has to lay off employees or close a business takes it personally. Contrary to the belief of some folks, business owners are not greedy, self-centered devils but are in fact the most socially-conscious people on the planet. You can wave signs and ‘Save the Whales’ all you want but that does nothing to improve the lives of your fellows, whereas the person who hires a few people to cut down some trees has materially improved the lives of the people they hire, in addition to providing products and jobs that other people need. And the trees will grow back.

Calvin Coolidge once said that “The business of America is business.” I would say that one can judge the maturity of a person by the way they view business. For those who never grew out of adolescence anyone who owns or operates a business is by definition ‘The Man’ and only interested in personal enrichment at the expense of ‘the worker’. This is the attitude that permeates the current administration in D.C. and many state capitols, not understanding that the reality is exactly reversed. Business owners and operators understand that their success is entirely dependent on the people they employee. It is understandable that those in government don’t understand this because government agencies are not accountable to that harshest of mistresses, the market. It is less forgivable that the same people don’t understand that they don’t know what they don’t know, especially since they same people often consider themselves to be intellectually superior to the the guy employeeing a couple of sanitation workers.

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