Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Dignity of Manual Labor

I wrote a letter in my previous blog to the Orlando Sentinel regarding the issues with Europe.  In that letter I elaborated on how much I think their problem is that they no longer MAKE anything.  I wrote the letter in frustrated reaction to the French election of a Socialist to their presidency.  But another issue lies between the lines.  Western people feel they are too good to work hard, especially to work hard at manual labor.

It is a well known fact by any business owner that good help is very hard to find.  To get people to actually do manual labor is impossible.  Much of our nation's food would not be harvested if it was up to Americans.  I would wager there is a similar situation in Europe with immigrants from Eastern Europe or northern Africa and the middle east.  The white Europeans wouldn't dare dirty their hands with manual labor but they are more than happy to sit on their asses and collect money from the government.  They have no dignity.

Just over 2 years ago I left a job at a palm farm here in Florida.  I was one of 3 sales reps, while we also had about a dozen field works that tended to the palms.  They also loaded and unloaded trucks.  The Mexican men and women were the hardest working people I've ever seen.  Why?  I don't  believe it's because they are Mexican, I believe it's because they appreciated what they got in return.  Money to buy food and shelter and enough to send to family back in Mexico.  They worked hard because they appreciated the work.  They may be poor, but they support their family and they certainly maintained their dignity.

My wife is from Cuba, as I have mentioned in this blog before.  She has a friend who came from Cuba about 8 years ago.  She immigrated from Cuba with a masters degree in Education.  When she got here, of course, she couldn't just start working as a teacher because of various regulations.  So she worked as a maid for nearly 4 years.  Why would an educated woman work as a maid?  Because she had no other choice.  Now she works as a teacher full time and she certainly has maintained her dignity.

In the superb movie Cinderella Man, one of the most compelling scenes to me was when the protagonist is fighting for the "privilege" of working on a loading dock in New York City.  There were dozens of men nearly begging for a job as was typical during the Great Depression.  Though I would hate to see such a serious economic situation ever again, I must say it was almost refreshing to see people appreciate the idea of work, any work, so very much.  They were begging for a job, but they were also holding on to their dignity.  The dignity that comes from at least "trying" to support yourself.

Such a serious situation is nowhere near existent in today's Great Recession.   The unemployed must understand that there IS work to be done out there, there's plenty of work to do.'s often dirtier and/or hard manual labor.  Pride must be swallowed and if they have to start picking turnips to survive then they better start picking turnips.  We all need to get out of the cart and start pushing.  Once society is set up with the vast majority of people actually producing some thing or service,  then you will see a huge improvement in all the economies of the US and Europe.

In conclusion, our American and Western European societies need to get off our collective thrones and start making things, we need to start doing things to earn money.  Citizens must provide a service to society even if it is hard manual labor.   We no longer have the luxury of letting the unemployed go on forever more because certain jobs are beneath them.  Everyone should be directed to work, no matter what the work.  Anything else is a patronizing disgrace that implies people aren't responsible for themselves and that maybe they just aren't capable.  It is robbing them of their dignity.

In My Humble Opinion.....

Chuck Marshall