What is the strange allure of these home improvement shows? HGTV is my “default” TV station now. It’s what I put on when I’m cooking dinner, want something playing in the background, or have half an hour to relax. I’m not much of a handyman, and have no plans to move any time soon, but I keep watching shows about people fixing and buying houses, and I’m not the only one.
Maybe it’s the self-made elbow-grease appeal of these reality-show stars. Nicole Curtis would be inspiring in any era, but in these no-can-do twilight years of Hospice America, she’s a super-hero. All these shows are full of people busting hump, taking a lot of guff from the homeowners and buyers they work for, and ultimately reaping the rewards of a job well done. Are we growing… nostalgic for a culture in which that kind of story is not only celebrated, but expected as the norm?
Judge me on my work. If we were in the market for a backup national motto, we could do a lot worse. If we fully embraced that as our creed, 80 percent of our social problems would vanish almost overnight. I keep saying voluntary employment is not only the most powerful force for “assimilation” – not just for those who immigrate to America, but those who are born here – but it might just be the only one that really works. Judge me by my work, and you are showing the full measure of respect for my freedom and dignity. Judge me by my work, and what is left of racism or sexism but a puff of foul air?
I wrote at length about my reservations with minimum wage increases yesterday, and received numerous responses along the lines of, “What’s wrong with sacrificing 500,000 or a million lousy jobs, if the average national income bumps up X number of dollars?” Obamanomics – which, as anyone who hasn’t been in an ideological coma for the past five years has noticed, is always wrong – stipulates that all that extra income will be spent, causing jobs to appear, which will erase the short-term job losses. Even if that doesn’t happen, why not choose a smaller workforce with better pay over a larger workforce with too many people who slave away for peanuts?
I can’t begin to describe how wrong-headed, indeed monstrous, that line of thinking is. Once again, we must ask: why not kick the minimum wage up to $50 an hour, at which point just about everyone would indeed get a raise? We’d lose 10 million jobs or whatever, but all that sweet new mandated income would swiftly be spent, and most of the jobs would come back. As for those who remain frozen out of the shrunken workforce, well, we’ll have more income to tax for welfare benefits. They’ll be free from “job lock” for a lifetime, and all the jobs left will be “good” jobs.
What maddening folly, and how perilous are these days when a people weakened by years of Obamanomics might be willing to swallow more of the poison as a cure. Remember the days when liberals almost universally described safety-net programs as extremely temporary measures, intended to tide people over between job opportunities? That’s out of style. Now they’re trying to spin a permanently dwindling workforce, filled with people who are effectively locked out employment for years, as a good thing. Make it a million smaller and give all the low-income folks another three bucks an hour! Happy days will be here again!
What we really need are more chances. That’s what a larger workforce means, even if it comes at the expense of lower minimum wages. I was unemployed for the better part of a year once, in my early twenties, and it drove me mad, even though there was food on the table. I spent my waking hours searching for someone who would take a chance on me by giving me a job, and eventually found one. I wanted nothing more than the chance to prove I was worth the opening wage, followed by the chance to prove I was worth more.
Who are these people to sit in judgment over us and say no, these millions don’t need a chance, they just need subsidized housing and government cheese? These millions can live on the dole until something falls in their laps. What an insult to the dignity of the American people, and what a foolishly unsustainable way to model an economy. The fading clients of a dying Hospice America won’t be launching many home-rehab projects, building mighty works, creating better lives for their families, or seeking partners for the pursuit of opportunity. And you most certainly will not be permitted to judge them by their work.