Get A Job! The Myth of Labor

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About Susan Beaver

Susan Beaver graduated from Reed College with a BA in Chemistry in 2006 and has been idly applying her hard-earned skills in chemical and literary deconstruction to everything she can get her hands on ever since. She lives in Portland, Oregon with a roommate and an epic collection of DVDs.

Comments

  1. I have issues with both the myth of labor and on a broader level with the myth of career. The idea of your job representing who you are, that makes me nervous. Look at Detroit, where auto workers have been squeezed out. Many of them tied their worth/independence into their blue collar identity, which is now being destroyed by wonderfully greedy companies moving jobs overseas to bump up their stock prices briefly so some suits can increase their investment gains.

    In some ways, the very idea of expressing oneself through a job is questionable. I learned a lot from my dad, including work ethic, honesty, and strategy. But we had no conversations about emotional intelligence, pursuing passions, how to be joyful. Those are much more tangible, and are the foundation for doing well beyond the narrow scope of traditional, blue collar labor (or any other color collar work too).

  2. Peter von Maidenberg says:

    I would quarrel – if only rhetorically – with your view of emotions, passions and joy as tangibles. In the culture of work, productivity, and success, they are very much intangibles, and to the extent that we have to live in and by that culture, it will restrain us from their full and honest pursuit.

    • That’s a fair criticism – in the work world I think you’re right that emotions/passions/joys aren’t particularly measurable (or important, at least to the bottom line). But that’s from the employer’s perspective. I guess what I’m suggesting is that employees don’t have to look at it that way, and employers don’t have to be stuck completely in that idea either. Perhaps we can’t marry our self worth with our work worth, but I bristle a little at the idea that an employer, because they pay me X amount of money, can dictate anything in relation to my personal values….because, for example, the music I create is the most tangible part of my life.

      • Peter von Maidenberg says:

        All solid points Joe. Still, our work-worth is our social worth, and that in turn holds overwhelming power over out self-worth. I personally don’t work full-time,m and know that the costs of opting out go far beyond the financial.

      • Peter von Maidenberg says:

        All solid points Joe. Still, our work-worth is our social worth, and that in turn holds overwhelming power over out self-worth. I personally don’t work full-time, and know that the costs of opting out go far beyond the financial.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    The piece started off with a reference to welfare. Problem is, if there aren’t enough jobs to be taxed to pay for welfare, we won’t be able to afford welfare.
    There are plenty of blue-collar jobs, but, as is pointed out, many fewer low-skill blue collar jobs. Had a conversation with a plumbing/heating guy a couple of years ago. He said he and his daughter ride both western and dressage. My family runs to Infantry, so I don’t know much about horses, but does this guy need two sets of horses? In addition to tack and land and vet bills and costumes?
    His is not the job of the high school dropout getting hired to finesse illfitting fenders with a padded mallet. Or, as one of my brother’s friends did, sell booze to the shop floor–getting paid by Chrysler–with the proceeds going to the union bosses.
    Not everybody is smart enough to become a master plumber/etc. Or have the personal characteristics to make a job of it, or even be the boss of the company.
    OTOH, if you can’t support yourself, somebody else has to. That person may wish you could support yourself, which is why we usually think it’s a good idea for an adult to have a job.

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