A Liberal's Lament of Love's Labors

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A few years ago in an article in Slate, Miya Tokumitsu, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out the flaws and absurdity of the mantra “do what you love.” Dr. Tokumitsu traces the phrase’s origin from as far back as Confucius or currently with Oprah Winfrey, whichever you hold in higher esteem or whichever you consider to be a philosophical genius. It is your choice, whichever one makes you happy.  I remember hearing that he loved his job from a truck driver, who unapologetically loved driving trucks, being on the road, seeing the landscape, meeting the people. I would have short conversations with this driver while he was driving and he was enviously happy doing his job, driving trucks. Somehow, Dr. Tokumitsu thinks that DWYL is a malicious lie of the bourgeoisie foisted upon a gullible proletariat in a desperate search for happiness.

 

Dr. Tokumitsu claims, “DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment.” I knew those elitist scoundrels had that secret handshake that only they shared, and now that I’m writing an essay critical of Tokumitsu, the odds of my getting it are nil, but I thank Tokumitsu for confirming what I suspected for years. By the way, do they teach you the secret handshake at the elitist universities or at the secret meetings that the elites attend, or do they do it when they get their key to the country club? As for work being for the “noble self-betterment” what politician in America would not claim that their hard work was “all for the American people?” It was Bill Clinton who announced to the American people that “I have never worked harder on anything before in my life,” while comedian Bill Maher, who spent some time at the Clinton White House said that Clinton had plenty of free time. I agree wholeheartedly with Tokumitsu that the privileged elites claim what they characterize as “hard work” is part of their noblesse oblige, when it is, in fact, little more than self-gratifying carousing with their fellow egocentric elites.  Not to criticize country clubs too much, but I have known several mangers who claimed hours at the country club were work.

 

Tokumitsu continues: “Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.” Aren’t physical exams kind of repetitive and undistinguished for doctors, but they probably still love healing people? Isn’t writing code for computers (a high-paying job) repetitive? I can honestly say giving the same lecture to students is repetitive, but I’m not bored by doing it. While giving lectures to students might be repetitive, I know people (anecdotal evidence here) that would never deliver a lecture and would greatly prefer digging a ditch to standing in front of a bunch of students spouting facts.

 

C’mon Tokumitsu, just call it the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, we know you want to. Many workers everywhere would love to be the boss and repeatedly say that they would run the show a lot differently if they were in charge, except that once they understand what it is to be in charge, they would be remarkably similar to their boss. Some of them don’t want to be the boss, I know, I’ve worked with them, and have been one of them. Some of them, not all, I freely admit, love doing what they’re doing, despite Dr. Tokumitsu’s assertion. 

 

America has changed from a country led by wealthy well-heeled elites into a meritocracy where people with ordinary backgrounds, such as Barack Obama, who came from a divided family of meager means, can rise to the highest office in the land. Bill Clinton, also from a broken family with meager means attained the presidency as well. Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower were by no means from wealthy elitist families. The universal generalization that the wealthy elites have an absolute advantage over the rest of the American population is simply not true in twenty-first century America, and hasn’t been true for some time. John F. Kennedy was an Irish Catholic, who was also the first Catholic elected president. Unbeknownst to most people and rarely mentioned in American history books, the Irish in America were regularly discriminated against, given menial jobs and denied opportunities. While John F. Kennedy’s father was wealthy, his was not a family of generations of wealth, like, say, the Rockefellers.

 

The question as to whether the evolution of a country led by wealthy elites to the present meritocracy is beneficial remains to be seen; but judging by America’s recent decline in influence and wealth, a fact repeatedly harped upon by leaders such as Barack Obama, some would say it hasn’t turned out all that well. Barack Obama’s disparagement of American exceptionalism in numerous speeches belies the fact that he is himself a product of American exceptionalism and the meritocracy that it has progressed into. In societies too numerous to mention, Barack Obama would have never had a chance to make it to any executive position, let alone chief executive of a country. I’m guessing that’s why America still has people flocking from around the world to live here; at least in America you have a chance to do what you love. The swamp of specialized bureaucrats is still alive and flourishing in the branches of government that are not elected and are rarely held accountable for anything. What they love is their lack of productivity and generous pay and pensions paid for by normal, everyday taxpayers slaving away at things they hate doing.  

 

Dr. Tokumitsu is dead-on correct saying: “Yet with the vast majority of workers effectively invisible to elites busy in their lovable occupations, how can it be surprising that the heavy strains faced by today’s workers—abysmal wages, massive child care costs, etc.—barely register as political issues even among the liberal faction of the ruling class?” There is no doubt that the political class, (aka ruling class) be they Republican or Democrat, are in the pockets of the wealthy elite, and have been for some time. That the political class of America can ignore their unhappy minimum-wage constituencies is a failure of American democracy, but it would be foolish to suggest that Americans can vote themselves high-paying jobs that they will love. The recently displaced millions of working-class Americans voted in Donald Trump because he was an outsider and they were sick of the political class who promised things that they never delivered.

 

We can’t make a nation, let alone a world, where everyone loves their job, but there is no harm in advising people to seek a job they love, or at least enjoy. I have had conversations with people who worked for McDonald’s, the epitome of low-paying service sector jobs that now dominate the American economy, that loved their jobs. Firms like Google and Apple and others are competing to be the best place to work, trying to acquire talent that they insist is becoming scarce. There are firms that want you to love your job, and there are citizens that love repetitive menial jobs, believe it or not. I realize my evidence is anecdotal; truck drivers and McDonald’s employees, but Tokumitsu offers no empirical evidence to support the disparagement of DWYL.

 

Dr. Tokumitsu continues: “Do what you love disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class.” While that is somewhat true, access to education for a career and a climb up the socioeconomic ladder in America has greatly expanded, and the American population is more educated now than it has ever been. Doing things for personal reward, like writing essays, doesn’t always result in wealth, but ideally, as Adam Smith said in The Wealth of Nations each of us seeking our best brings out the best in the economy. Many Americans have said that they aren’t rich but they’re happy, and you might want to ask some of the recent lottery winners if money is the secret to happiness.

 

Dr. Tokumitsu closes with: “In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the most perfect ideological tool of capitalism. If we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.” Finding something you love doing and making money doing it has become an insidious capitalist plot. Of course, it took someone from an elite Ivy-League school to tell us that, thank you very much. What’s next? Is the frequently-used expression “living the dream” going to be revealed as a motto foisted upon us by greedy, racially preferred, politically connected, egocentric elites of the upper socioeconomic order, you know, those people with secret handshakes and secret societies who care nothing about the working-class dogs whose sweat makes their lives so delightful? I’m pretty sure that the people who dreamed up DWYL didn’t intend for it to become a shibboleth for the ruthlessly exploited working class. I’m also pretty sure that extrapolating an innocuous phrase intended to help people search for meaning in their work into a socioeconomic war cry is classic Ivy-League rationalizing that we’ve all been, once again, duped by the capitalist conspirators who continuously exploit the working class. I must commend Dr. Tokumitsu for the exceptional ability to read more evil than found in a Tom Clancy novel into a four-word phrase.

 

I’m all for fair compensation and humane schedules. I just hope that as a society we don’t make schedules so humane that when we have a heart attack at 2 AM we don’t have anyone at a hospital who is willing to help us. Some people like working nights, and there are a lot of emergency room workers who love, even crave, the excitement and challenges. As for compensation, allowing boards of directors, rather than shareholders, to determine their pay has resulted in horrifically disproportionate corporate pay scales, and the boards who have been challenged by shareholders to stop this asked the regulators (that political/ruling class we spoke of) to stop the shareholders from restricting their compensation. There is an incredibly pervasive incestuous relationship between regulators and the socioeconomic elites that run corporate America, but disparaging DWYL is so far of the mark you might as well shoot for Saturn.

 

 

Capitalism never said that you must love your work, but all of the citizens free to pursue happiness is considerably better, and at least they have the chance to love their work, than the government telling us what we must do. Characterizing DWYL as a capitalist ideological tool makes the most off-the-wall conspiracy theorist look like a genius. I must admit that I am now doing something that I love, but I had to do a lot of things that I didn’t love to make it to this point. If I’m doing something I love, whether the capitalists are exploiting me or not is irrelevant. I suggest that Dr. Tokumitsu read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmilalyi, who has scientifically examined the satisfaction and happiness of people who do everything from major surgery to collecting herbs from mountainsides, and they all share common characteristics that I won’t elaborate on here.  Dr. Tokumitsu insists that only the wealthy elite love their jobs, or even have lovable jobs, and that is patently false, at least from my experience. Perhaps making allegations of a bourgeois conspiracy foisted upon the proletariat is what makes Dr. Tokumitsu happy. As for the job you’re sure that you’ll love, remember the French saying: “Be careful what you pray for, God might give it to you.”-

Comments

Tamara Wilhite Added Nov 16, 2017 - 10:22pm
I like Mike Rowe's statement in a PragerU interview. He interviewed many people who found that doing something they were good at and doing it well made them happy, even if they'd fallen in love with pumping others' poo. Being useful, valued, productive, well paid made them happy.
Leroy Added Nov 17, 2017 - 5:54am
Interesting article, Jeff.  I have to agree with Tamara.
 
I don't think the wealthy and the elite are working the labor of love any more than the rest of us.  Reflecting back on my childhood, the men who came from a long line of wealth or even a family of newly acquired wealth almost always became doctors or lawyers (generally lawyers).  All good girls from good families married doctors and lawyers.  They generally entered the noble profession of teaching. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any exceptions.  It is a labor of family expectations.  I can't imagine the pressure of being a lawyer, chasing ambulances and helping the guilty escape justice, or, worse yet, becoming a money-grubbing legislator.  It takes a special person to love that.
 
But, if we look at the universities, students are encouraged to educate themselves in what they love.  Oh, how many worthless degrees are issued every year!  And the debt?  It should be criminal.  Are they able to do what they love in the end?  Few get the chance professionally.  If you love to write, welcome to WB, but don't expect to be paid.  And, if you are able to do what you love, they will eventually beat it out of you. 
 
Some are wealthy enough to do what they want.  Most continue to pursue the almighty dollar.  And, wealth doesn't buy you happiness.  I am reminded of the poem, "Richard Cory" by EA Robinson:
 
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
 
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
 
And he was richyes, richer than a king
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
 
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 17, 2017 - 6:07am
Thanks Tamara. Yes, Mike Rowe's TV show "Dirty Jobs" has a lot of disgusting jobs that people seem to enjoy.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 17, 2017 - 6:11am
Thanks Leroy. Money can't buy happiness. Look at all the celebrities who kill themselves, some of them slowly with drugs.
Leroy Added Nov 17, 2017 - 6:42am
"Money can't buy happiness."
 
Maybe not, but I would like to give it a try.
George N Romey Added Nov 17, 2017 - 7:26am
A good article. The rich are able to follow their passion and dreams. Yes they might work very hard at it but they are doing so out of choice. Moreover for the super rich like George Bush they can fail and easily move on.
 
Increasingly for the rest of us we just hope for a decent job that pays the bills, something becoming more scarce if you are under 30 or over 50 in the job market.
 
I believe money does buy happiness for those that want to be happy. Ask someone would you rather be off to an amazing beach vacation flying first class or at home trying to get your mortgage lender not to start foreclosure proceedings.
Leroy Added Nov 17, 2017 - 8:16am
I see factory workers who seem to be content with their jobs.  The do the same thing day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute.  They clock in at the appointed hour.  They work their prescribed hours, then they go home.  It would drive me insane.  I suppose it is less stressful and with time you become numb to it.  You do your time and when you clock out from work, you clock out your mind as well.  You can forget about the factory until the next day. 
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 8:32am
We forget that work really is only as good as its social benefit and that the benefits to individuals are for the most part completely arbitrary in regard to social value.
 
Look at sports. The individuals who work in professional sports make astonishing amounts of money for playing games that amount to nothing. What that truck driver does is much more valuable. 
 
There's a simple way to prove this. If you took away all professional sports right now the world would go on without a hick up. If you took away all the truck drivers we'd be totally screwed.
 
And perhaps the psychological problems of professional athletes results from a subconscious understanding of the worthliness of their work. And perhaps the truck drivers contentment comes from his understanding of his vital function in keeping the river of commerce flowing. Maybe the money men have the same problem, behind all the wealth and privilege they're just glamourized social parasites.
George N Romey Added Nov 17, 2017 - 8:46am
The money men used to be the boring people funding the wheels of business. Starting in the 1980s for a variety of reasons they began to achieve superstar status. We as a society also began to put more value on being rich. I’m not sure this genie will ever be put back in the bottle, at least for the foreseeable future.
 
There was a time when the ordinary was celebrated in this country. Ward Clever had a boring office job, June a housewife. By today’s standards on something like LinkedIn they’d be total losers.
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 8:47am
And I had a long talk with a rich, preppy kid about how society doles out positions of privilege, jobs that pay well, but help little.
 
He was obviously impressed with my intelligence and asked me where I went to school, state school, he went Ivy League. I asked him how I'd get a job in his firm and he flat out told me I wouldn't.
 
"We hire Ivy League almost exclusively. Not because the applicants from non Ivy League schools don't have the qualifications, but because there's so much they don't know about how to fit in. The first question we ask ourselves isn't is this the most qualified person. It's is this person I would want to spend eight hours a day with. And the truth is we don't like spending time with people who don't get it already."
 
"Unless they have other redeeming features such as being nice to look at, or amusing. Being liked counts when you're trying to get your foot in the door."
 
So much for all our myths about living in a meritocracy. Thanks Jeff 
George N Romey Added Nov 17, 2017 - 9:53am
Mark you are so right. Actually Wall Street years back was a place a tough kid from Queens or the Bronx could live a dream. Today only the scum from Ivy League schools are let in.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 17, 2017 - 11:38am
I have a copy of Mike Rowe's "S.W.E.A.T. Pledge" on my office wall - I am certain that the Left has no idea or appreciation for it:
 
“The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge”
(Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo)
 1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.
 2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.
3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
 4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
 5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.
 6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.
 7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.
 8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.
 9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.
 10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
 12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
 On my honor, I hereby affirm the above statements to be an accurate summation of my personal worldview. I promise to live by them.
 Signed_______________________________________ Dated____________________
 
Mike Haluska Added Nov 17, 2017 - 11:43am
Items 9 through 12 will surely be unfathomable to those in the Democratic Party - the party that once was the "party for working people" and has deteriorated under the leadership of the "Progressives" into the "PARTY FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO WORK".
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:29pm
Mike Haluska, right on
and I am democrat who agrees one hundred percent with your pledge
 
I live by that code too
 
I just don't believe that our social values that reward entertainment above tangible enterprise will lead us out of a coming mess.
 
I don't think it's a republican or democrat issue, I don't think it's a liberal or conservative issue, I think it's a character issue. I respect any one who makes their way in this world another day without willful action in the abuse of another or making this world less beautiful.
 
We all fail, and when we fail we should be allowed, since the alternative creates incentive not to learn from mistakes, the best teacher I've met. And I rejoice in the success of those who struggle to achieve their dreams admirably.
 
What I'm saying is that I love ya Mike. You don't have to change for me. You're a good man.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:34pm
Love can be expressed in many different ways, both legally and illegally!  Stay legal and ethical!
Dave Volek Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:42pm
Mike
Thanks for that SWEAT pledge. I'm going to print it off for my teenage son.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:53pm
America has changed from a country led by wealthy well-heeled elites into a meritocracy where people with ordinary backgrounds, such as Barack Obama, who came from a divided family of meager means, can rise to the highest office in the land
 
Well not exactly true.  Obama and Clinton were both Ivy League graduates. Kennedy another Ivy League graduate, and extremely wealthy thanks to Joe, who was well connected as an ambassador.
 
I think the country is run by the  rich and the powerful.  People that go to Ivy League schools can get connected into the world of power.  There are other ways  in, of course. 
 
So no, it isnt just the Rockerfellers and their  decedents that run the country, but it is the rich and powerful.  It is possible for people to join the club, and more possible here than some other places.
 
 
Dave Volek Added Nov 17, 2017 - 12:58pm
Very good article. I would like to take this concept one step and divide working citizens into four groups:
 
1) Bourgeoisie who like their occupation.
2) Bourgeoisie who don't like their occupation.
3) Proletariat who like their occupation.
4) Proletariat who don't like their occupation.
 
I have encountered people in Group #2. They don't like their work even though many others would be happy to be in their position. The #2's cannot leave their occupation for alternative employment usually means in a less favorable financial situation. 
 
A survey done by Canadian Broadcasting Corp a few years back determined that only 17% of Canadians are fulfilled by our occupations. The rest of us would sooner be earning a living doing something else. The DWYL movement is not really based in any economic reality.
 
Unfortunately, I too bought into this movement to some extent. Had I been a little more practical and realized I wasn't going to get my dream career, I would be in a much different place.
 
And I have a few people in my life that are still too deep in DWYL.
George N Romey Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:02pm
Bill you are correct the rich have always run the show.  However, the ability to cross economic classes, or social mobility has gotten much harder since I was younger.  I grew up in a typical 1970s growing suburbia.  In the area it was mostly middle class and upper middle class with pockets of what would be the 1% and on the other spectrum the lower middle class.  Most went to the same public schools.  Sons of corporate chiefs planned sports along with sons of ditch diggers. Yet we never thought about class differences. Sure some kids had much nicer homes and parents with nicer cars (and they with a brand new car on their 16th birthday) but it never determined friendships or adversaries.
 
In fact I would bet that some of those from the lower middle class in my high school ultimately did as well as those from the upper middle class or 1%.  However, 1977 and 1981 the years I graduated high school and college, respectively are drastic from today.  Today you wouldn't see a kid from a hedge fund manager playing football with a kid from a plumber.
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:15pm
Hey Dave,
 
I think the idea of a dream career is problematic, since it is to such a large extent out of your control and knowledge that you don't truly possess. No one knows if their idea of a dream career might become a nightmare once they're in it.
 
In this society we place too much emphasis on job as worth, in my opinion. It makes many feel loserly just because they're where they think they should be. Times would be better spent becoming a better person then there's a good chance that all of your dreams will find you.
 
And I'm going to say it again, I have my dream job right now. When I tell people this, many think I'm crazy because I'm not making any money and I have no authority. But I have the best situation of anyone I know.
 
And I have faith in my ability to continue in this work for a long time to come.
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:22pm
Sorry for the typo, it should have been, feel loserly for not being where they think they should be.
 
I like sister's new mantra. Everywhere I go there I am. Now she is someone all of you could respect. She's really rich, a hard worker, and humble about it, in the way says, I've got mine, where's yours? That was her old mantra.
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:27pm
Jeff,
"Bill Maher, who spent some time at the Clinton White House said that Clinton had plenty of free time."
I just don't believe that; between servicing Monica, Gennifer, Maria, Belinda, Naomi, Dolly and the rest I think Bill would have struggled to find time to eat a sandwich, let alone be president.

but as you say Tokumitsu is really only rephrasing the ideas of Karl Marx on the class struggle. White its true the wealthy elites have always run things, we should remind people where we can that wide as the gap between rich and poor may be in free societies, nowhere has that gap even been wider than it was between the workers and the 'party elite' in communist and socialist states.
Bill Kamps Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:32pm
George, true.  However, if by some means one is able to get to Harvard, Stanford, or Yale, as Obama did, you could still crack the halls of power.  Its not exactly that you have to be born into it, but the odds are certainly against you.  Middle class people do still go to Ivy League schools, just not a lot of them. 
 
While there was more mixing of kids at the high school level, when you were that age, there were still very few people in power that went to state universities, even then.  The separation happened at the university level then, now it happens earlier with private schools.
 
The rich  and powerful always have run things, and there is some shifting about as  to who those people are.  It is not a completely closed group, just difficult to get into.
Dave Volek Added Nov 17, 2017 - 1:45pm
Mark
When many people retire, they are often lost for a few years. So much of their identity was based on their jobs that it takes a few years to used to the new reality.
 
If I had independent means, I would have no troubles retiring. I have lots of little life project I would like to do. 
Mike Haluska Added Nov 17, 2017 - 2:17pm
mark henry -
Thanks for the encouraging post!  I got your back, brother.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 17, 2017 - 2:19pm
Dave - I think that if your son has the intellect and courage to question things like his Dad does he'll do just fine in life.
Dave Volek Added Nov 17, 2017 - 2:55pm
Thanks Mike
I'm not too sure my son has those traits of intellect and courage in him yet. But it's good for him to hear the same things from other people as what his father has been telling time.
SWEAT is a great teaching tool.
 
 
 
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 9:11pm
If I be a man of means it means means means little.
 
All over the world the rich play at life and the rest work to help the rich play. This is the reality of human existence. It's why we all want to be rich. She is a beautiful woman, how much does she cost?
 
The rich buy what they desire and if the party isn't selling, they sometimes make offers that can't be refused, because they don't think what they desire should have the right to refuse. How many millionaires have been put to death in this country on the last twenty years? How many millionaires have murdered people?
 
The rules are different for the rich. Do you know why? They write the rules.
 
Only an idiot believes the ideals of the constitution were ever meant to become law. We are not created equal. The rich are created on diets of Kobe beef, caviar, and champagne. The men who wrote those words and ratified them were all wealthy land owners, and their reason for starting a revolution wasn't to free the masses from servitude, it was to to protect their own wealth from going to the crown. And behind every law that exists in this nation is the right of the wealthy to live outside the law.
 
That's the whole world too.
mark henry smith Added Nov 17, 2017 - 9:21pm
But, as Mike has repeatedly pointed out, here in the US a person with ambition and intelligence can rise up from humble beginnings to make a name for themselves. We still are the land of opportunity. We are still a place where individual initiative matters.
 
I love my country. It's not perfect and I don't believe we have the mechanisms in place to deal with a coming storm, but if I had to pick any place in the world that I think will get its act together in time to address perilous conditions, I would  choose to be here in the good ole US of A.
George N Romey Added Nov 18, 2017 - 8:50am
Mark is very correct about the rich. They live by another they set of rules. A few outsiders are let in but very few.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 18, 2017 - 7:15pm
The rich have power, no doubt. They hang in their own circles, but then, if you or I wanted to socialize with them, we would need the country club membership or a reserved seat at some of the more expensive venues. Besides, our '08 Honda won't make much of an impression in their driveways  compared with their '17 Porsches.
It is exactly true that  as Mike has repeatedly pointed out, here in the US a person with ambition and intelligence can rise up from humble beginnings to make a name for themselves. I have a high school and college friend that is quite wealthy, and he certainly didn't come from a wealthy family, he's "nouveau riche."  The most reassuring thing about people like the Rockefellers is that most of the dynastic families dilute their wealth until the well runs dry in about 3 generations; not always, but a lot of the time. Anderson Cooper, the journalist, is from a wealthy bloodline, but was told quite early in his life the money was all gone.
In a democracy like ours, if they are represented honestly, the poor have a say in policy. Considering that in the last presidential election, less than 60% of the public voted, they must not care, or they are of the opinion that their vote doesn't count. When the public doesn't care, the lawmakers do whatever they please. Certainly, there are people that the public does not want in office, and I would include HRC in that catagory.
Leroy Added Nov 19, 2017 - 5:33pm
Today, I stumbled across Mike Rowe's video that Tamara mentioned.  Here's a link to Don't Follow Your Passion.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 19, 2017 - 8:43pm
Great link, Leroy!  Mike Rowe has certainly spent more than his share of time experiencing jobs that few would be passionate about.
Mike Rowe was at one time an opera singer, and you don’t see him singing.  I like his take on it, and yes thanks Leroy, for the link, it is, indeed valuable.  You might find that you like something a lot more than you think you would if you just tried it. I was once told by one of my evaluators not to think that my students shared my passion for history.  Not that I shouldn’t  have the passion, just realize that the students might not. That certainly does not mean I don’t have passion for history. Mike is right that if your degree doesn’t get you where you want to go, then by all means, seek alternatives. I have what I call the "two-year rule" meaning that if you get the degree and spend two years without much luck in the job market, consider your options. I wish someone would have given me the "two year rule" a long time ago. I actually had an interviewer make fun of that rule. Since it was an interview, I didn't unleash my skills of debate and reasoning to defend my position. I won't offer my opinion of the interviewer, but suffice to say it was not flattering.
 
What I will say also about Mike’s speech is that many employers do not understand how certain degrees might offer up skills that they could use, but they just pass the candidate, or applicant, right over.  The problem-solving skills that my first degree gave me have proven quite valuable, and more valuable than people with more specialized degrees in solving the problems of the business. The same goes for teaching. 
A lot of degrees go unappreciated, and the “skills gap” that Mike mentions might not be as big if some employers recognized the skills that some lesser-valued degrees give a person. My business-school graduate bosses were often clueless as to how to solve problems, but they were very skilled at taking credit for efforts, (in this case solutions) that I devised.  It might have been a team effort, but a lot of the time they just piled the problems on me and went away, only to return and take credit for things which they had no effort in achieving. The old "we killed a bear, poppa shot it" story.
George N Romey Added Nov 20, 2017 - 9:22am
I tell young particularly men think about the trades that are in demand not just college. Let me tell you, you might need a shower as soon as you get home. But from my white collar work I needed a shower many times to clean away that skin crawling feeling from all the scummy characters I’ve endured in the “professional” world.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 20, 2017 - 12:45pm
A great and thoughtful article. Easy to add a like to this one.
 
Some work to live, and others live to work. Those who live to work are the ones who have found their passion. I would wager that the majority of folks work to live. Within that limitation, people have to decide whether they want to be happy, or are content in being miserable. That is, even with a menial job, if you are oppressed by management or your co-workers, you will hate your job. On the other hand, if you are able to add to the atmosphere of a workplace so that the human relationships are good, then chances are you will enjoy your job. Some of it does relate to your choice as a worker.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 20, 2017 - 6:46pm
Yes George, had I gone into a trade, I would have a lot more money right now. I would have started flipping houses like my father did. Between my father and my uncles, they could build anything, and like Mike Rowe says, without a blueprint.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 20, 2017 - 6:52pm
Thanks Even. I like my work. When I am working, time just flies by. I will recommend, again, the book Flow, the psychology of ultimate experience. After reading it, I understood what a great job was, and it isn't sitting by watching the clock.