I recently discovered this meme containing Mike Rowe’s advice for (I would imagine) the young and the downtrodden. Many agree, as this is the kind of stuff one hears all the time. That hard work has value and being a hard worker is a virtue.
When it comes to the vast majority of work environments that I have come across, your hard work and physical input does not mean SHIT. You are a means to an end, that end being padding the bottom line. And often times if you begin to become a challenge to that bottom line (be it due to an injury and illness, or just a becoming a financial burden in the eyes of the organization), your gone.
Your past OR present productivity does not mean anything. If there is money to be saved by cutting costs, this is the route often taken without regard.
This is the story of American corporate growth! When it becomes cheaper to abandon the more expensive (but highly loyal) American workforce, companies do it at the drop of a hat.
And now that were getting into the age of robotics and increasingly self serviced economies, almost no current job is safe.
When it comes to a career, always keep your eyes open. Mike Rowe may feel that happiness comes out of areas outside of employment, but considering how much of a persons life if spent in employment (often times equal to, IF NOT MORE THAN, your time spent sleeping), it never hurts to keep looking for a way to better spend your existence. Time and effort put into a company should almost NEVER be seen as an investment.
Unfortunately many learn the hard way, after investing decades of time and energy.
I am not anti-work. I respect the views that anyone may have on the issue (in that I will not make a generalized statement like “All that think hard work is a virtue are busy idiots!”).
All I am saying is, do not delude yourself.
If your in a field of your choice that is a career, awesome. If your still in a job but you work for a company that cares for its workforce, also good. But if your in an environment where you are but a replaceable cog in the corporate machine, do not delude yourself into thinking your doing anything more than getting an often skimpy pay cheque. Your purpose is to make the company money. Sure, the company culture and external community culture may inflate the importance of hard labour, and all it can get you (or how important an asset you are to the company). But as cities like Detroit and Flint Michigan prove, this community loyalty is skin deep.
These communities did not collapse into suffering and poverty due to bad economic times hurting their main employer’s. These communities fell into critical neglect and despair because companies found a cheaper alternative.
Another reason why I am against this hard work is a virtue bullshit, is in its short sightedness.
The human race is notorious for its short sightedness. A big example (also from North America) is the Alberta oil sands, and how Canada (particularly Alberta) became far to reliant on it. To the point that when the oil prices bottomed out, so did the Alberta economy, and along with it the Canadian economy. Now the big roar out of Alberta is “What can Justin Trdeau do to help us out of this mess?”.
How about, economic diversification? Investment in clean and renewable electricity sources to sell to the US and other province’s?
As opposed to supporting a humanity destroying and notoriously cheap industry that is extremely susceptible to market fluctuation.
This is why I call Alberta Canada’s Texas. Manitoba may be Oklahoma, but at least were not TEXAS.
This whole hard work as a virtue is not good for anyone, if all factors are taken into account. There is the obvious argument (were doing all the dirty work for the financial elite whilst they toss us pennies!). But it goes deeper than that.
The typical spiel is work hard though life, enjoy old age, croak. Which is okay for an individual if it all works out.
However, this is assuming your job is secure. This does not take into account something like injury or job loss in later years of life.
I grew up in a home that was torn apart by a crippling injury (caused by my fathers hard work on account to picking up the slack from slow workers!). He was essentially put out with the trash by his employer and the compensation board, and has been in despair since. Or ask anyone that was fired or downsized in their later years as they approached retirement. They may be still physically capable, but being that close to retiring, many places won’t hire them.
Or how about those people that work hard all their life, only to not make it to retirement. They unknowingly end up getting the ultimate shaft by this philosophy. Though (I suppose fortunately) they will never know it.
And working hard blindly is not just detrimental on a personal level. The whole species will eventually pay the price.
On the meme, you see Mike Rowe covered in (I assume) coal dust, likely from working in a mine.
A lifetime of hard work in a mine has obvious hazards. From potential cave ins and gas build ups, to long term illnesses like Black lung. However, one must also consider that all that coal production leads to its burning. Which wrecks havoc with health near these coal fired plants, as well as adding to future climactic chaos.
When it comes to moving beyond things like coal or oil, often times to only factor considered is the most stupidly short sighted factor. The “You will put many people out of a job!” argument.
First off, if you hear an energy company spewing this, its a load of horseshit. The only reason they care about oil worker or coal minor jobs is profit. If there was a feasible and cheaper alternative, they would dump their workers in a heartbeat.
And second, jobs can be replaced. Diverse renewable energy sources can replace traditional sources of employment. Maybe even with less risk (you won’t get black lung from a wind turbine).
There is a movement that I came across a little while ago which has a motto that is simply “Work Smart, Not Hard”. And I like it.
At the individual level, if ones hard work is not in vein due to uncaring employers, it can often times shorten lifespans. This happening just when your expecting to have a break.
At a societal level, not much is accomplished. Indeed hard work drives the economy. But this isn’t helping anyone when most of the wealth stays at the top.
And when one takes the health of the entire human race into account (including the future), all of this blind hard work is asinine.
Not worth nearly the costs that one must factor in when one looks at the gains. One of those costs potentially being, the future of the human race.
I have to admit that though I say this, its difficult to incorporate this philosophy into day to day life. Some people tell me that I am one of (if not THE) hardest workers they have met. Something that is hilarious, given this piece.
But I guess one thing going for me, is sight. I am not unknowingly chasing a ridiculous or unattainable goal. Which will make an alternative easier to embrace.