February 6th, 2014

The new liberal line about jobs and work

In order to justify the latest Obamacare news, the party line is that growing unemployment as a result of Obamacare would be good because it frees people from the drudgery of jobs:

An editorial in the Times celebrates the projected decline in work as “a liberating result of the law. . . . Workers . . . will no longer need to feel locked into a job they don’t like because they need insurance for themselves or their families.”

Given the high deductibles and narrow networks that make ObamaCare policies unattractive, we wonder if the CBO’s estimate might not turn out to be on the high side. And here’s another puzzlement: Working for pay is supposed to be liberating for women because it frees them from dependency on men. How can one square that with this new claim that dependence on the government is liberating because it allows people not to work?

Well, consistency is not the point. Work is liberating when it suits the party agenda, senseless drudgery when it does not.

Of course, it would be naive to say that work is not sometimes tiresome labor. Some of our laws—setting the number of hours, or amount of time devoted to breaks—are designed to reduce some of its more onerous elements. Much work is intrinsically boring. But whose duty is it to relieve people of that, and who will pay for that relief? The need for health insurance is just one thing that might keep a person “locked into a job they don’t like because they need” something or other. Is the new goal to redesign the world so that everyone loves his/her work? Good luck with it.

Now might be a good time for a quote from none other than Martin Luther King Jr.:

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

King was a preacher, after all. And this is an ideal that most people (including me) may not be able to reach. But it’s an attitude that life satisfaction comes from what we bring to it, and that there is dignity to work well done.

26 Responses to “The new liberal line about jobs and work”

  1. Matt_SE Says:

    Apart from whether the CBO’s numbers are real, one other problem was their attempt to interpret people’s motivations for not working.

    Hence, we get all this debate about if the individual will decide to do X, Y or Z.

    What about reduction of hours or total jobs not based on employee decisions? What about the layoffs? What about reducing employee hours?

    In the end, arguing motivations is like arguing “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” The only thing that matters is the end numbers…everything else is distraction.

  2. expat Says:

    These people live in a bubble in which most families could give up half their income and still have enough to lead a decent life. Sure they may have to sacrifice fancy vacations, luxury cars, and designer clothes for their kids, but they would still have more than the average family. Many of the expenses for this group come from status expectations–you have to serve the right wines to guests and wear a different dress to each gallery exhibit. Few normal people think like Pelosi and her ilk who want the state to support their kids who can then paint and write poetry.

  3. Nick Says:

    The idea of “job lock” is that people will stay in a particular job rather than risk losing benefits. Getting rid of job lock would be good for the economy. What the CBO is describing is an economic incentive against work, which is a different thing entirely. The person will take a job that pays less, or cut back on his hours, or leave the job market entirely.

  4. Matt_SE Says:

    “Job lock” is itself a function of the poor economy. If employers were desperate to fill job positions, they would all offer benefits.
    Instead, there is a glut of non-workers and employers cut benefits because they can.

    This is due in large part to the economic policies of Democrats.

  5. parker Says:

    It is very sad and frustrating the way this train wreck is spiraling out of control, but a part of me finds it amusing. I hope more and more people come to realize the messiah really is an empty chair. The ever changing rosy projections of the joys of obamacare should be embarrassing for these pointy headed MSM drones, but instead they come up with ever more ridiculous explanations for how we should all praise dear leader for saving us from a life of drudgery. DC projections are always garbage in garbage out. The CBO can only use the numbers it is given, that is why CBO forecasts are inevitably wrong. If the CBO forecasts 2 million jobs will be negatively impacted, you can double or even triple that number to get a more reasonable number.

  6. Ann Says:

    “Is the new goal to redesign the world so that everyone loves his/her work?”

    Maybe not redesign the world to bring it about, but hasn’t the goal of striving to love one’s work pretty much permeated the ethos of the modern West, and on the part of conservatives as well as liberals, for quite a while now? I really can’t remember any time during my lifetime that MLK’s words about accepting one’s lot but being the best at it encapsulated the prevailing goal. It was, rather, always strive to improve your lot in life, and a large part of that was to get closer to doing what you loved rather than just picking up a paycheck.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    Of course we should strive to find work we love.

    But in the meantime, the idea is to strive to do the best we can at the work we’re doing now, while we’re still doing it. And also, that some jobs are going to be less intrinsically rewarding than others.

  8. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Well, I love my work – as a writer, and publisher – in which I maintain a Tiny Bidness where I am my own boss, and my morning commute is a short stagger to the desk in the corner of the master-bedroom. I freelance at a couple of other writing gigs, and meet clients and potential clients at a mutually-agreed-upon coffee shop. Yes, it is a Tiny Bidness, and probably will never get much bigger (as well as being underwritten by a military pension.) But being able to set my own hours and days, after decades of keeping someone else’s schedule – that is absolutely golden to me. The woman who founded the Tiny Bidness, and took me in as partner, once told me that she went into business for herself because after a number of years, she just couldn’t endure working for someone else any more. (She is a night-owl … up at 3PM and works through the wee hours, hitting the sack around dawn.) I don’t think I could endure the corporate grind any more either – the independence is worth the relatively small paychecks.

    I was talking to my younger brother today – also a freelance, but a graphic artist – and he confessed that he had made the most horrible blunder in that one of his end customers had actually asked if he wanted to work for the customer’s company full-time. My brother was at a loss for an answer… he actually doesn’t. He does very well at the free-lancing, and it lets him be home for his children, while his wife goes off to work as a school administrator. What he has suits him – and his little company and mine have a nice client list.

    Another freelance writer (Sarah Hoyt, maybe?) once remarked that it was best to have a big list of little clients, rather than a little list of big clients – since the loss of one of the big clients could very possibly sink the business entirely. Loosing one or two little clients would be no biggie.

    It is amazing to me, sometimes – how something always turns up, most often out of the blue without any warning. There is a distinct need – and lo, suddenly a new client comes walking through the door.

  9. CV Says:


    I also had a successful freelance writing and editing business which was perfect for me when my kids were small. I enjoyed the freedom but honestly couldn’t have done it if it was our family’s primary source of income. I had a steady flow of work but always worried about depending too much on my larger contracts, which always eventually dried up for one reason or another. My husband’s salary enabled me to freelance for as long as I did, and when tuition bills started mounting I returned to work full-time (for a former client) and I thank my lucky stars that it all worked out.

    The MLK quotes remind me of a similar sentiment usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

    “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

  10. CV Says:

    Also wanted to mention that any job, no matter how much it fits your “dream job” description, has its share of drudgery. I love the creative work I do for a living, but I don’t love the petty office politics, bumper to bumper traffic (even though it’s fairly short commute at 20 minutes), the cost of downtown parking, my boss’ irritating personality, etc. As a friend of mine once said, ‘they don’t call it work for nothing!’

  11. davisbr Says:

    Ah …an excuse to quote an appropriate lyric!

    Mac Macanally “Its My Job …link to Youtube [HD].

    In the middle of late last night,
    I was sittin’ on a curb
    I didn’t know what about,
    But I was feeling quite disturbed
    A street sweeper came whistlin’ by -
    He was bouncin’ every step -
    It seemed strange how good he felt …
    So I asked him while he swept:

    He said “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
    And that’s enough reason to go for me
    It’s my job to be better than the rest
    And that makes the day for me”

    The full lyrics are here.

    I like the section about the writer’s uncle, the “self-made millionaire” who answers – when asked why he seems “kind of sad” –

    …in my contract there’s a clause

    That says “It’s my job to worried half to death
    And that’s the thing people respect in me
    It’s a job but without it I’d be less
    Than what I expect from me”

    The Jimmy Buffett version is probably the more well known version of the song (performance from 1981, when JB still had a full head of hair …only 480p though).

  12. Don Carlos Says:

    “Love” is a word way too much bandied about and ill-used. As in “Love your work”. That thought is a load of crap. Suitable work, well done, yields a sense of satisfaction, enough satisfaction to get back in the saddle again the next day, and the day after…. Yup, one might have a baddie, but one knows that satisfaction will return after the transient badness, and one sticks with it.

    Would most of us happily marrieds buy into the idea of “Love your work as you love your spouse”? I think not.

    The value of accuracy in word usage is increasingly important because of the Left’s constant re-definitions and Doublespeak.

  13. blert Says:

    One of the not so subtle cultural twists caused by open ended immigration: natives are educated to believe that they are too good to work in real jobs.

    The problem is that for many, doing real work is their natural calling. Not everyone is cut out to be a rocket scientist.

    So America is cursed with elites with fake ideas — and fake elites — too embarrassed to hold a career that fits.

  14. waitforit Says:

    Ahh, that old (did we call it Protestant) work ethic. I knew a doctor. He was my landlord. He had been a doctor some years ago. Now, he was my landlord and the landlord of about 30 other properties he had purchased during his doctor tenure. I surmise he became a maintenance man due to the high cost of hiring maintenance men so he decided to just do it himself. And do it he did at 80 plus year of age including tarring a roof, changing out old cast iron plumbing with consummate skill, jacking up a floor and leveling it and many other things.

    Yes, a doctor to a property owner to a maintenance man driving a old caddy filled with buckets and jars of washers and tools boxes and with nothing else than focus and intelligence and a work ethic kept alive and alive.

  15. waitforit Says:

    Him. That’s what I want to be. Going down the list is relative. Engagement seems to eliminate pride.

  16. cbdenver Says:

    The idea of getting your healthcare through your job is a holdover from WWII when wage controls prohibited employers from luring employees to their company by offering a higher wage. So they offered benefits instead to get around wage controls. After the war, the tax benefits to companies to provide paid benefits were continued, locking in the practice of employer-paid healthcare benefits.

    It would be a good thing if health insurance was decoupled from employment so that individual people could get the same tax benefits by purchasing their own plans outside of their employment. That way people would not need to stay at their job or risk losing their health insurance.

    This is not what Obamacare does, however. What Obamacare does is make employer sponsored healthcare more expensive. Lower wage employees find it cheaper to just quit working and get subsidized Obamacare. Subsidized by those who are still working and paying taxes. So Obamacare provides an economic incentive for workers to stop working. After all, who wants to go to work every day when take-home pay is decreased by the increased deductions for healthcare? If I were in that position, I would not want to continue working for peanuts, either.

  17. waitforit Says:

    Satan. Soros. Obama.

    Get it. See it. Get it.

    Kidding. C’mon.

    Let’s laugh these assholes out of office.

  18. waitforit Says:

    We are so evil. All of us.
    Present company excepted.
    Har har har, har har har, oh shush.
    The world needs corrected.
    An if it cannot be us
    We’ll make sure it’s ended.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    You know what else don’t need jobs?

    Zombies and livestock.

  20. waitforit Says:

    In Detroit the Chicago man (white progressive) said, I sure as shit don’t know what I’m doing here. Yeah, you do, the zombie (democrat black man) replied. You got here quick for the slaughter. The Chicago man threw his head to the side. What the hell? Zombie put his head down and began to moo like a cow and laughed and said, you know where you are baby, you’re in the jungle baby. Zombie or cow, don’t matter now.


  21. waitforit Says:

    President Impostor



    Obama spoke and millions swooned. Did they swoon for him or for themselves? Do his songs, today, sound as convincing as yesterday. No. No one plays them.

    Obama is a liar, a no talent masquerading as a caring human. We need to flush him, or more correctly, flush what he believes in so strongly and will never give up.

    I think that’s the real distinction that is easily forgotten, myself more than anyone, that it is easily managed to get caught in the socialist web.

  22. southpaw Says:

    In order for me to get into the profession I love, I had to work like hell at jobs I hated, while supporting a family and going to college. I did those jobs the best I possibly could anyway.
    But I’m not exceptional in any way. You just have to be willing to put in the effort to get what you want. That’s not a difficult concept.
    But I guess in the new Obama America, you can just keep working and quitting jobs you don’t like, and be a happy idiot because Obama has blessed you with expensive health insurance that you’re forced to pay for. Or not work at all, because it’s a lot of stress and drudgery that somebody else have to do.
    Obama is like a fatal cultural disease. I hope is gone before he kills this country.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left is AIDS. Obama is just one HIV virus. AIDS doesn’t go away even if a single virus infected body dies.

  24. Zachriel Says:

    neo-neocon: the party line is that growing unemployment as a result of Obamacare would be good

    The CBO projects a supply-side decrease in workers, not a loss of available jobs. The net result will be a decrease in unemployment.

    CBO: The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor

  25. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, the unemployment (and underemployment—people working fewer hours) is projected to be mostly a result of the decision of the person involved rather than the employer, in order to qualify for subsidies and the like. If you read this post of mine on that subject and others, that’s made fairly clear. The question is whether to characterize this development as good or bad, and good or bad for whom. The other question (which I deal with in that other post as well) is how much weight to give what the CBO says at all; I submit not much, because their track record on these prognostications is hardly exemplary. But I’m discussing the discussions about their prognostications here, more than the predictions themselves.

    Also, however, there is the fact that some small businesses are reducing people’s hours, and the number of people hired, without it being a choice of the people involved, in order to get in under the Obamacare rules about full or part time, and number of employees (over 50 or under).

    Obamacare’s effects are really only beginning to be seen and evaluated.

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    I wonder if Z here is the same one that thought he was saving the bureaucrats in Britain from American power.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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