I had to stop myself gritting my teeth in frustration when reading this article.
Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Melissa Anderson laid off all three full-time employees of her jewelry-making company, Silver Chest Creations in Burkesville, Ky. She tried to rehire one of them in September and another in January as business recovered, but they refused to come back, she says. “They’re not looking for work.”
Sierra Pacific Industries, which manufactures doors, windows, and millwork, is so desperate to fill openings that it’s offering hiring bonuses of up to $1,500 at its factories in California, Washington, and Wisconsin. In rural Northern California, the Red Bluff Job Training Center is trying to lure young people with extra-large pizzas in the hope that some who stop by can be persuaded to fill out a job application. “We’re trying to get inside their head and help them find employment. Businesses would be so eager to train them,” says Kathy Garcia, the business services and marketing manager. “There are absolutely no job seekers.”
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There’s some evidence for the conservative argument that generous unemployment benefits discourage people from seeking work. Anderson, the jewelry maker, says her ex-employees told her they preferred to stay unemployed—even though you’re not supposed to collect jobless benefits if you’re turning down work. The American Rescue Plan that Congress approved last month provides an extra $300 a week in jobless benefits through Sept. 6. “There still will be some people who say, ‘I’m glad to take my $300 to $400 a week and stay home, rather than go out and work and earn $500 a week,’” BTIG LLC analyst Peter Saleh, who covers the restaurant industry, told Bloomberg in March.
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Plus, some would-be workers may have lost their gumption. “I’m worried that after all this time that’s gone by, it’s going to be very hard for a lot of people to come back full time. It’s just asking an energy level that people haven’t had in a while,” says Garcia, the job counselor in California. She says a full-time job “used to be the gold standard,” but now employers are parceling out the work into part-time jobs to lure applicants.
Alienation from work is most common among the young. A Pew Research Center survey in October found that 53% of those ages 18 to 29 who are working remotely because of Covid said it was difficult for them to feel motivated to perform their duties. Only 20% of those 50 and older said the same.
On the social network Reddit, which skews young, a forum called r/antiwork has 264,000 members. It’s filled with comments such as: “You’re telling me I have to enslave myself to all these applications for hours on end, competing with my fellow man and woman, giving up my dignity just for a chance to enslave myself further so I don’t literally die? I’m not having it.” One Redditor posted a video of a home computer’s mouse that’s connected to a swiveling fan so it slides back and forth, making it appear the person is working.
There's more at the link.
Dare I say that the problem is, people today aren't raised with a work ethic? My father started us young. From the age that we were able to understand money and basic math, we had to earn our pocket money every week. He "paid" us five cents for every year of our age (which, back then, was actually worth something). Each of us had domestic chores to accomplish - mine were things like washing the dog, mowing the lawn (after removing canine land-mines), washing the car, and so on. I could earn extra by doing extra chores. Every time one of my chores wasn't done, or done satisfactorily, Dad would deduct a "fine" from my pocket-money. It didn't take long for me to figure out that if I wanted money, I had to earn it!
The same went for my higher education. My parents retired soon after I entered military service. Dad and Mom made it clear that while they would help where they could, they couldn't afford to pay my way through full-time university studies. No problem - I completed my university qualifications through correspondence studies, and paid for them out of my earnings. It took me ten years to complete my first degree (I was being called up periodically to fight a war, as well as working in the civilian world and dealing with major civil unrest, all of which were more than a little disrupting to my studies), but I got it in the end, followed by three more part-time and correspondence university qualifications. I daresay my lack of full-time college experience didn't do me any harm, and saved me a heck of a lot of money. I also learned the value of time management and hard work. If I didn't get them right, I didn't pass my assignments or exams. Failure can be a salutary lesson!
Thus, when I read comments like those above from unemployed people who don't want to go back to work, or Redditors who don't want to "[give] up my dignity just for a chance to enslave myself further" . . . I find them infuriating. How is it possible that these people have never learned the reality of employment? The Biblical standard is and remains, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food", and "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat". What makes these entitled idiots think that anything's changed? When their benefits run out, and employers who've tried (and failed) to get them to come back to work find them applying for jobs once more, why should they take them back when they've already demonstrated their contempt for the work ethic?
I don't know. Maybe I'm just out of touch with the modern generation . . . but I suspect I'm rather more in touch than they are with cold, hard economic reality.