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Paid by the Hour: The Value of Work

January 13, 2012

Yesterday, while I was working at the factory, we ran into an unusual circumstance.  The cutters for my machine needed sharpening, and the grinder had broken down.  Thus, we were left to find odd jobs that needed doing while we waited for maintenance to fix the grinder. 

Although the situation was abnormal, the sentiment I heard from one of my co-workers at that point was very normal.  His comment was, “Paid by the hour.”  Whenever something happens to impede progress, this sentiment comes to the surface and manifests itself in actions as well as words.  It is amazing how much time people can spend to do so little.

During World War II, the Nazis conducted an experiment that on the surface seemed very mild.  In one of their concentration camps (located in Italy I believe) they had a very large mound of dirt.  They forced the occupants of that camp to move the dirt by hand to another location not far away.  As soon as they finished moving it from point A to point B, they were forced to move it back to point A.  This was repeated endlessly.  At first there was little if any effect.  However as time wore on, this camp had a disproportionate number of people go “wire-crazy.”  That is, they would walk deliberately to the wire at the edge of the camp and start climbing, even tho they knew that they would be gunned down.

The conclusion of this experiment was that forcing people to do mindless work, or work without value, literally made them go crazy.  I believe that something similar has happened in our modern culture, and I think I can make a logical connection.

Every day we hear about school shootings, or workers shooting co-workers, or other examples of people who simply start killing for no apparent reason.  I think this is a direct result of our entertainment culture of today.

In modern America, we seem to live to play.  We work only for the paycheck, and that is often spent before it is received.  This hand to mouth existance can quickly seem to form a loop without any purpose.  Hense, work without value or “mindless” work.  Our welfare system, while necessary for some, also encourages some to stay home and do nothing.  This absence of meaningful work leads to all kinds of mischief.

School aged children and teens are under enormous pressure to conform and be accepted by their peers.  School and life have only one purpose, whether it be popularity, or sporting achievement, or scholastic excellence.  Take away this longed for goal, and life again become a drudgery with apparently no purpose.

The solution to this is to realize and communicate to others the true value of work.  There is value in work that goes far beyond a paycheck.  The setting of goals and the expending of energy and focus in attaining those goals are among the most fulfilling things we can do.  There is great value in doing a job we can be proud of no matter what we are doing.

About four months ago, I started a second job part-time.  I am attempting to improve the online presence of two related companies.  I am writing and or editing for two blogs, one about home improvement and flooring topics, and one about furniture related topics.  Just two weeks ago, I also started updating the websites for the two companies, The Decorating Center and Cooley’s Furniture.  This is a totally new line of work for me, but I am doing my very best to learn and improve as rapidly as possible.  Now, as I am reviewing what I have done so far, I have been thinking about the value of work.

My belief is that if we can instill in our children the value of an honest days work, we will greatly improve the future of our nation as a whole.  We will start a trend away from the welfare and social security programs that burden our country so greatly.  We will help to make our USA into the leading economy and leading producer for the entire world again.  Let us, therefore, strive toward that goal.

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