We hear a lot of talk from politicians about values…but do we truly value work and the people who do it? Labor Day seems like a good time to think about that question, especially in a time where our elites seem more out of touch and contemptuous of working people than at any time since the French Revolution.
Companies should pay employees as generously as they can, because good workers have worth. This is why you should always be skeptical of any politician who claims to “care” about workers, but also wants to raise taxes, both on workers and businesses. When taxes are high, it’s a sign that the government disrespects the worker by believing that what it will do with their salary is better than what the person who earned it will do. When we see employees as having worth, we see their work as valuable. That’s the value of work. I believe YOU are valuable and therefore what you DO has value.
A lot of politicians don’t understand that a job is more than just a way to put bread on the table. From man’s beginnings as recorded in the book of Genesis, we were hard-wired for labor. God told us to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow. It’s natural for us to want to prove our value by producing.
From the time we are children, we imitate our parents in their work. It’s part of our DNA to want to be grown up, and one sure way to feel grown up is to work. That’s why the loss of a job is far, far more than an economic setback. It’s de-humanizing to want to be productive and not be able. There is pride and dignity in sitting down to a meal that your work provided.
The CDC studied suicide rates since 1928 and found that they mirrored the economy. Suicides took a big uptick during the Great Depression. They plunged during World War II, and spiked again in the recessions of the mid-70’s and early 80’s. Suicides dropped to their lowest levels ever in the year 2000, when the tech boom dropped unemployment to just 4 percent. But after the dot-com bubble burst, America's suicide rate began steadily climbing. Recently, because of the endless shutdowns forcing people to stop working, we saw a new spike in suicides.
It’s a stark reminder that employment is more than an economic issue. Good jobs and rewarding labor save lives by making us feel that we're valued and needed. A government handout might provide bare sustenance, but it doesn’t feed the soul. It only demoralizes us.