06 October 2011

“Too Hard”

I wonder if there is any way to get Americans to shed their lazy mindset:

Another Times article published this week, however, challenges the idea of “perfect substitutes” advanced by the NBER study and paints an alternate picture of the economic reasoning behind Alabama’s legislation. John Harold, a Colorado farmer profiled by the Times, tried to hire some unemployed Americans to work on his ranch and paid them a wage of $10.50 an hour, like the migrant workers he usually employs from the federal H-2A program (Colorado’s regular minimum wage is $7.36). The American workers quit, citing the labor as too hard – something that didn’t happen with the Mexican laborers Harold traditionally used. [Emphasis added.]

I’m sure there are plenty of socio-cultural reasons why Americans view this sort of manual labor as too tedious for them.  Americans are, by and large, a rather soft people, at least these days.  Personally, I blame video games for a good part of this* (all of the psychological rewards of work with none of the sweat!).

But, I’m guessing that the social safety net plays a role in this as well.  How many people would quit their jobs at the ranch if they knew that there was no guarantee of money if they quit (i.e. no welfare)?  I’m guessing that number would be a little bit lower.  It’s easy to quit because the work’s too demanding when you can live off of welfare until you find an opening at Target.  It’s not so easy when quitting means that you lose your house and go hungry.

Since it’s hard to tell how big a role state and federal social safety net programs have played in all this, it’s correspondingly difficult to figure how much blame the respective governments bear for this current mindset.  At any rate, though, I think it’s safe to say that the government has certainly been complicit in sowing the seeds to America’s destruction.

* I kid, I kid.

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