Views on politics and current events

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Comments From The Blogosphere

I offer a compedium of remarks about yours truly and the NY Times article.

Men Not at Work -- A Symptom of Manhood in Crisis
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

This article from Monday's edition of The New York Times is a sign of deep cultural distress -- of men without any sense of shame for not working. In "Men Not Working, And Not Wanting Just Any Job," reporters Louis Uchitelle and David Leonhardt tell an amazing story…

The very fact that The New York Times finds this phenomenon to be of front-page interest tells us something. Such complacency -- matched to an idea that many jobs are just beneath consideration -- flies in the face of our cultural work ethic, such as it is.
For the Christian, of course, the issue is far deeper. We understand that men were made for work, and that a man's responsibility is to care and provide for his wife and family.

As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. [1 Timothy 5:8]

Thus, the Christian worldview sees work as a man's assignment -- an as a Gospel issue. One who fails in this responsibility by complacency and sloth does injury to the Gospel and the cause of Christ. Manhood and masculinity are in crisis, but those at the center of the crisis seem rather unconcerned. Or, at least not concerned to the point that they would take a job they consider beneath them.

Rev. Mohler is a Baptist minister, hence the obligatory quote from scripture, which proves I am not only in danger of losing my manhood, but quite Godless to boot.

Getting Serious about Our Own Security
Steven Muscatello
August 11, 2006

If America loses the war against Islamic fascism, we might well look back upon the story of an unemployed former steelworker in Rock Falls, Ill. as one of many ignored harbingers of our demise. We’d be better off though, to start paying attention now.

Alan Beggerow, 53, the above-mentioned steelworker, was the subject of a recent New York Times article on the growing number of men aged 30-55 electing not to work. We're not talking about a millionaire here. Beggerow, who after 30 years of steady factory work lost his job in 2001, has only $60,000 in savings. Still, he's not looking for work. And he's not alone. According to the Times, about "13 percent of American men [aged 30-55] are not working [and are not looking for work], up from 5 percent in the late 1960's." The Times figures that the difference works out to about 4 million more men not working today than in the 1960's. Wondering how these men will fare as they age, the Times posited three likely scenarios: "they may be forced back to work"; "they may fall into poverty"; "or they may be rescued by the government."

Let's remove the mystery:In choosing not to work despite lacking the financial means to do so, these men are clearly counting on government rescue. In fact, the Times reported that the "fastest growing source" of financial support for men choosing not to work is a "patchwork system of government support."

We shouldn't be surprised.

In America, we've spent the better part of the last century expanding the federal government and shrinking the sphere of individual responsibility. Thus, we have actually encouraged individuals to count on government rescue. Indeed, millions of Americans now view government as a third party entity, a sort of cracked open piƱata, not as an institution granted limited powers—not to mention funded—by individual citizens.

What, then, does this have to do with the war against Islamic fascism?

Consider that once a man abdicates his duty—indeed, sees no need—to provide for himself and his family financially, he will see even less need to defend—by force, political action or intellectual engagement—his country.

We’ve played the charade game for too long, believing that we could cavalierly weaken the will of individual citizens without it having a negative affect on the strength of the country as a whole. And now, after decades of this collective softening-around-the-belly, we come face-to-face with a mortal enemy.

Are we up for the challenge?

Not yet.

Success in the war against Islamic fascism depends on many things: military might, economic vitality, and public resolve come to mind first. These three factors, however, ultimately depend on the overall seriousness of individual American citizens. Serious countries budget to maintain a robust national defense; they find ways to grow their economies in wartime and they elect and support serious, sober-minded public officials. Serious countries win wars.

At the moment, however, we are a fundamentally unserious country. We see this lack of seriousness everywhere, it seems. Indeed, we see it in a May 2006 poll that found that over 60 percent of Americans aged 18-24 couldn’t find Iraq on a map of the Middle East. We see it in the way the media denounced President Bush’s private, off-the-cuff remarks to Tony Blair at the G-8 Summit last month, as though the style of dialogue, and not the content of conversation, was of consequence. Most glaringly, we see it in the way an entire political party has abandoned the world of serious, sober thought for the greener pastures of delusion (see Murtha, Jack; Dean, Howard; Lamont, Ned, et. al).

Now think of Islamic fascism. Really, do it for a minute or two. Is there anything about these perverted, quasi-religious lunatics that strikes you as unserious?

Didn’t think so.

Islamic fascists are deadly serious. They want to kill infidels and establish an Islamic caliphate, and they often sacrifice their very lives to do so.

In response, America needs a new birth of seriousness. We need to redevelop, like a runner training for a marathon, the mental toughness, physical stamina, emotional resolve—in short, the self-reliant confidence—necessary for victory. It starts with individual citizens like Mr. Beggerow, who could begin by getting a job.

Heaven's to Betsy, I'm not only Godless, but if we don't win the war on terror, it's all my fault!

Psycho Phil - DRINK MORE BEER!
Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job
I’ll admit I was a bit dumbstruck when I read this article. I don’t get the mindset of these men at all. They are perfectly capable of working and producing an income but since they feel that whatever job that can find at the moment is ‘beneath’ them, they are instead content to slack off, do nothing productive and leech off their wives and taxpayers. All while steaming headfirst into bankrupty. I could never even imagine doing something like this. I wouldn’t able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning.

Hell, I’ve even been there many years ago. I could have just sat on my ass an collected unemployment, but instead I took the only job I could find at time. It was part time at a Software Etc store and it payed less than what an unemployment check would have. But it was a job. A year later and I was the manager of the Software Etc store in the Inner Harbor Galleria. And by that time the job paid more than an unemployment check. A hell of a lot more.

Get off your ass, get a job and work. Do something. Hell, plant a garden and open a roadside stand. Maybe with some actual hard work you could build that up into a full-fledged business. But I guess its just easier to sit on your butt and wait for the cushy job to come knocking on your door.

Edit: Apparently this article is making the rounds in the blogs.

I'm certainly going to take this to heart, from someone whose byline on their blog is DRINK MORE BEER! Although that's not bad advice I suppose if you like beer.

Someone else may already have ranted about this July 31, 2006 NY Times article: Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job..

ROCK FALLS, Ill. — Alan Beggerow has stopped looking for work. Laid off as a steelworker at 48, he taught math for a while at a community college. But when that ended, he could not find a job that, in his view, was neither demeaning nor underpaid...

The article goes on to describe Mr. Beggerow’s life of leisure, copious reading, practicing piano, writing bad novels, and sleeping 9-plus hours a day. See, he has come to value how much his free time means to him, and doesn’t want to give it up.

This pisses me off on a lot of levels. I’ve known a couple of guys who have done this — one is my asshole brother-in-law; the other is a guy who owned a small computer-networking business with his wife. Both of them — though skilled and educated — decided that they just didn’t want to work. My brother-in-law claimed that he just couldn’t find a job that was good enough for him (actually he didn’t even look; he didn’t want to work); the computer guy just got “tired” of running his own business, but “didn’t like” working for other people because he didn’t get enough “respect”, so stopped working altogether.

Both of these men shared two commonalities.

First, while they wouldn’t consider taking a job they considered beneath their dignity, it was quite all right to have their wives work at low-level, low-paying jobs to pay the bills and get medical insurance. My sister worked the night shift at Wal-mart for several years, while the other guy’s wife has worked a series of retail sales jobs to make ends meet.

Second, both men are rabid Republicans, resentful of paying taxes, constantly bitching about all the lazy bums on “welfare” and sucking up public money. Of course, the reason those people were poor is just because they are lazy and don’t want to work.

WTF? Now, I know my brother-in-law sucked up every bit of unemployment he could get, lying about his efforts at looking for work. His other method of getting money was stealing the inheritances from family members — manipulating his wet-brained father into signing property over before his death, and not distributing the remainder of the estate between himself and his brother (the parents died intestate) until the brother just gave up. How does stealing from your parents and your only sibling make you a better person than someone who applies for and receives government assistance to get ahead?

Which leads to the other tidbit in the NY Times article that really pissed me off:

But the fastest growing source of help is a patchwork system of government support, the main one being federal disability insurance, which is financed by Social Security payroll taxes…

So, we have skilled men, who could work if they wanted to but, since the work available is “too demeaning”, during their prime earning years prefer to suck off their wives and their relatives, deplete their retirement savings so they will be dependent upon public programs in their old age, and apply for and receive disability payments — disability payments financed by the payroll taxes of the rest of us chumps who do work, including payroll taxes of the working poor whom they castigate as being morally inferior.

And if they are like the two men I know, they bitch about how the system is going to hell in a handbasket, how a white man just can’t make it with all those Mexicans and women taking all the good jobs, so that they are entitled to cheat and game the system. They take absolutely no responsibility for improving either their own situations, or the situation of other workers.

Hey, pal! How do you know my novels are bad? You ever read one? This post is from a 'liberal' blogger. Well, whatever he wants to call himself.

August 02, 2006
Not "I Can't Pay The Rent" ADVICE GODDESS
"I don't feel like paying the rent," or rather, doing what it takes to pay the rent. Louis Uchitelle and David Leonhardt write in The New York Times of men I'll call "The New Lazies" -- men who are out of work, but turning down jobs they feel are "beneath them," and sometimes going on "disability."

Hmmm, disability must sound like a magic, bottomless pot of money to these people, but perhaps they could urge their fallow minds into use and recognize that this means their lives are being financed by their fellow taxpayers. Here's an excerpt from the story:

These are men? I've had a number of jobs I didn't want or like. I worked as a mover at an all-girls moving company (and I am NOT strong of arm) and I worked as a chicken (in a chicken suit, handing out flyers). You do what you need to do to support yourself. Well, you do if you're me, and apparently, I'm something of an idiot with my outmoded ideas against going on the dole.

Whatever you say, oh humble ADVICE GODDESS.

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