Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The American Labor Force: What happened to it?

Do your duty in all things. you cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
Robert E. Lee

If you haven't seen this commercial yet, it is a good one. I like it because it honors the heart of the American worker and the values that once made America the greatest industrialized nation in the world. I grew up in a family of blue collar working men and women. I am proud to say that my family worked long hot hours in the cotton mills of Richmond county, paved many of the states roads, driven diesel locomotives, landscaped yards and protected our nation in times of war and peace. Throughout my life I watched these men and women work long hours to provide the needs and in most cases the modest wants of the children. I never thought that I would see the day that these types of jobs would be scorned by society as being beneath the average persons idea of a good job.

It seems that most people want to impress others as well as themselves with job titles and over exaggerated job descriptions that paint a loftier picture than the actual requirements of the job itself. Last year before we went to get Laurel I was working for a guy that had lots of NCSU sports memorabilia scattered around his house. He was a single guy and you could tell that he had seen hard work in his time. When I naively asked him when he graduated from State he said "Well, I'm one of the losers in life that never went to college, I've just worked my whole life" I didn't know what to say, where did he get the idea that not going to college makes you a loser? Has labor become so stigmatized that a man who maintains the water system in a small town is no longer able to wake up and feel good about himself? What a shame.

Later in the conversation I was telling him about Martha and I adopting Laurel and he said "wait a minute, I put some money in a donation jar at the hardware store, is that you guys?" I said "yes" and thanked him for his generosity. He simply said "glad to do it", yet he thinks that he is a loser for not going to school. He's a hero in more ways than he knows.

To end this I will say to all of you that work at the thankless jobs that lack the options of policies that allow you to shirk your duty and pass the buck, be proud of what you do, YOU are the strength of America, and I am glad to count myself as one of you.