Last week I received an email from an old college friend. In the course of her message she described her current work environment. Like a lot of people, she is very busy these days. She reported working 12 and 14 hour days. However, she was not complaining. In fact, she said that she enjoyed the "special project" work because it provided a respite from the daily mundane tasks, which, as most anyone would agree, can serve to sap the energy and initiative right out of most any productive worker.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that my college friend's circumstance is pretty much the norm in corporate offices across this country. And if this, in fact, the case, it only serves to increase my anger over comments I heard on NPR last week. I am pretty sure it was the Diane Reem [sp] show. Reem as interviewing a man named Grover (something-or-other); I cannot recall his last name, but he was either an economist or perhaps speaking for the Bush Administration, certainly in defense of it. In any case, this man stated that workers in the current economy were not working longer hours but rather they were working more efficiently etc. He insisted upon this view, despite several callers, people directly from the workforce of which this Grover seems almost entirely out of touch with, who argued otherwise. He flatly and calmly brushed aside people who had lost their jobs after 10 or more years and after a year or more of searching still have not found an equivalent replacement job.
The Grover (whatever-his-name-was) went on to suggest that textile mill works in Massachusetts were better off after their mills had been closed down because now they were in a position to retrain and re-educate themselves and obtain better, more fulfilling jobs. I fully admit to have never stepped foot in the state of Massachusetts much in a textile mill town, and my only knowledge of such places comes from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo, but my guess is going to be that with the mills gone there are not all that many "better, more fulfilling" jobs within the immediate vicinity that on can be retrained and re-educated to obtain. Also, it seems presumptuous of this Grover person to assume that the people who work in these mills aren't satisfied with their working lives. I have no doubt that some of mill-workers in fact do not like, and even hate, their jobs, but then I have met people who have, supposedly, much more fulfilling positions who did not like, and even hate, their jobs. Also, I had a grandfather who worked in the West Virginia coal mines, an incredible difficult and dangerous workplace, for several decades, and by all my mother's accounts he did enjoy his work.
The fact is, not everyone "loves their job" as an annoying ex-boss of mine did, and proclaimed so often it made me want vomit, but most everyone needs to work. Most people do not, as Grover (whoever-he-was) said, "...choose to enter the labor force." They have to. The only choice is which job to take. But now, with the economy wounded and slow to recover, if at all, the creation of new jobs almost non-existent (some estimated that almost 150k jobs would be added in December, but, in fact, only 1,000 jobs were added; and some 300,000 gave up the search for a new job), and more and more existing jobs being eliminated or simply shipped overseas, workers don't even have that choice anymore.
There is good news, though. Because unemployed people across this country still have at least one choice. And that choice will be made at the ballot box.
Give em hell!