Courage to Stand: On the work ethic

No, that’s not an endorsement, I just needed some art (and seriously, if you’re the kind of person who would be swayed by a blogger, get off my lawn). For readers of KBL, I did add a new category dedicated to books by or about potential 2012 candidates – that would be Down Goes Frazier 12. Anyway…

I’m reading Tim Pawlenty’s book Courage to Stand: An American Story right now. I’m about a fifth of the way into it on the Kindle, and rather than doing a full review upon completion, I think I’ll just write about it when he hits on a subject that strikes me.

As good a place as any is early on…

[Kindle’s don’t give page numbers, per se, they give Locations – this piece is concerned with 629-65]

…and he’s talking about work ethic. He writes:

After all, what value does money have if you don’t work for it? A gift is nice once in a while, but money and hard work went hand in hand in the South St. Paul of my youth. As far as I’m concerned, money and hard work are meant to go hand in hand. That sentiment forms the very root of capitalism. The very root of America, for that matter. I know there are people who have money in their pocket that they never had to work for. I know there are people who feel entitled to get paid whether they actually work or not, as if it’s the government’s job or simply someone else’s duty to provide for them. I just don’t understand way of thinking. If you don’t want to work hard and accomplish something every day, what’s the incentive for getting out of bed in the morning?

The passage includes a lot more, but that’s the root of it.

Whenever I read a politician’s book, I want to know their specific view of the ethic of work, its relation to capitalism, and how these concepts are an integral part not only of American society, but of any successful society. Pawlenty discusses the work ethic in the context of having had a paper route when he was a youngster, and how all his brothers had one as well.

One of the things that worries me about the future of our Republic is the almost taboo notion of young people working. I didn’t have my first formal job until I graduated from high school (my parents considered school my job, which was a complete joke), but I did everything from collecting aluminum cans to hauling hay and mowing lawns to make money, especially during the summer.

I’m no different than a lot of my friends the same age. I think it’s natural for each generation to bemoan the shoddy work ethic of the generation or two behind them, but it’s not even a matter of ethic anymore: I never see young people – especially under the age of 16 – working, period. Not bussing tables in restaurants, not mowing lawns, certainly not delivering papers (I live in a rural part of the country, so that could be a bias). It is fashionable now for schools to require a certain amount of volunteerism in order to get an honors diploma in high school, and this is something that burns me.

This country was built on a work ethic, and it was instilled long before the notion of Founding Fathers. As the “working age” increases each generation, more and more Americans are foregoing prime, productive years to either participate in the absurdity that is “required volunteerism” or are excluded from the workforce due to labor laws, parental involvement, etc.

When I was growing up – admittedly in a very conservative part of the country – service work, as it was called, was the responsibility of the church, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, and other entities not chained to the public schools. Within the schools, there were of course a variety of service and vocational organizations – 4H, FFA, FHA, FICA, FCA etc – but a student’s free time was theirs, and many chose to work.

Of the things that I despise about modern Democrats is the notion of “public service,” a term they (and yes, some GOPers) use to describe of sucking on the big, fat public titty that is Government Work. It is not a public service they are performing, it is highway robbery. Government workers, individually, did not create this situation, but they prolong it by aspiring above everything else to work for the State.

As people enter college these days, I don’t know how any of them – beyond those thoroughly influenced by Ayn Rand, the family business, etc – even consider private sector work. It’s for chumps, if you look at it from the bottom up. If you work for the State, you don’t pay for your benefits, you retire after an absurd amount of time put in, your pays is $3 for every $2 you could comparably make in the private sector, and then – the greatest reason of all – the guarantee of employment.

I return to my first maxim: Work like you’re not guaranteed a job, and avoid people who avoid working.

If this maxim were drilled into young Americans and they were deprogrammed from the propaganda of “public service,” both the country and the individual would be better off.

I’m glad to see Pawlenty addressing work ethic so early in the book. I’m the type of person who thinks everyone should learn Francisco D’Anaconia’s “Money Speech” by the time they’re fifteen, so I’m certainly a radical for capitalism. Still, at the very least, young people should have the value of work demonstrated and explained to them during childhood so they can experience it by the time they’re in their early teens.

Back to the book…


About godsowncrunk
I'm King B, the originator of the Jellywhite lyrical style and god's own crunk.

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