The Some of Us
‘Yeah yeah oh hey now little water boy
‘Get your butt up offa the ground
‘Pick up that bucket of water son
‘Bring that bucket around
‘Lord if you don’t like your job
‘Then lay that bucket down’
Blue Yodel #8, by Jimmie Rodgers
Thanks for staying tuned…
Our subject is real work…and why people aren’t so keen on it anymore.
And finally, the dots are coming together.
Of course, people are quitting their jobs…the average Main Street worker has gotten a raise of only 32 US cents per hour over the last half-century. And now, adjusted for inflation, his earnings are going down.
Of course, they want to join the elite — that’s where the money and status are. And, of course, the Elite Establishment has become a parasitic burden — its ranks are padded with semi-competent managers, malingerers, and hangers-on…overproud, overpowerful, and overpaid.
Of course, prices are rising — the Fed is printing money. And, of course, Wall Street and its clients — the elite — have gotten rich; that’s where the bulk of the new money went.
Of course, growth is slowing, and the US empire is in decline…its upper classes have been corrupted by power and wealth. And its working classes — despised and ripped off by their ‘betters’ — are putting down their trowels and climbing down from the truck cabs.
The some of us
Let’s look at this more closely.
It was the ‘culture of work’ that made the US such a powerhouse.
During the Second World War, German prisoners of war in the US were often given the opportunity to work on farms. After the war was over, some elected to stay. One explained it:
‘Here, I can work as much as I want.’
But now…it seems fewer people like to work.
You’ll recall our explanation for the decline of the US. Every society has its elites. The government is never ‘all of us’. It’s some of us. There are those who govern and those who are misgoverned. Naturally, ambitious people aim for the cushy, front-row seats.
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‘If you keep getting grades like that’, mothers warn their children, ‘you’ll end up like your father, laying bricks’.
Masonry is an honourable profession. It adds to the real wealth of the world. Anyone can do it. But doing it well requires real skill, something you typically learn on the job. You begin as a helper or ‘mud (mortar) boy’ or ‘hod (a wooden device used to carry bricks on a job site) carrier’. Then, you fill in here and there. And when the boss stops slapping your hand, you can call yourself a mason.
But the young man of today has other opportunities. And thanks to the federal government, he has an astonishing amount of rope to hang himself.
Instead of getting paid to learn carpentry, masonry, hospitality, baking, or any one of dozens of useful trades, a young man takes out student loans and gets a degree in ‘management’ or ‘communications’ or ‘administration’. Then, he can take his place among the people who work without getting their clothes dirty — schlepping in an air-conditioned office to keep up with student debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, auto debt, and the US national debt. He may never be among the real elite…or ever join the real ‘deciders’, but he can still hold his head up…and feel good about himself. His mother will be proud of him.
Besides, as a society becomes more regulated and controlled, more and more wannabe elites are needed to ‘manage’ it. While the number of students and teachers may remain steady, for example, the number of ‘educators’ or ‘administrators’ goes up. It’s not enough to teach readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic; children also need to be indoctrinated with the elite catechism — that is, that they, the elite, should control the economy, the political structure, and the social and cultural rules of civil society. Anti-racism trainers are required…and experts to explain the need to switch to electric cars…and ‘economists’ who can keep a straight face.
So, too, are more butts needed in the seats of the medical industry. Again, while the quantity of doctors and nurses may be relatively stable (many imported from Pakistan or India), somebody has to tell them how to treat their patients. And far more middle muddlers are needed to master the intricate paperwork and arcane rules of Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare, into which nearly half the population is currently enrolled.
The CDC has to keep track of who is vaccinated and who is not. The Small Business Administration must know who got PPP loans (a good bet — a high percentage went to the elite). The SEC must charge someone with insider trading. The FBI must arrest criminals…and frame its political targets. The CIA must provide ‘intelligence’ to justify more ‘defence’ spending.
And so, the wheels turn, but more and more slowly. Middle-management gums them up. Even superfluous parts must be greased, tended, connected to crankshafts and flywheels. Some cold and stationary, like a rusty DeSoto…others hot, young and in motion, but for no apparent reason; in the crankcase…in the transmission…more gears to turn…more parts to be oiled…
But none of them provide any motive force. No forward motion. No propulsion. They are ‘free riders’ in the economy, which must be paid…whose medical needs must be met…whose retirements must be financed…
…and who vote for candidates who swear to God that they will never let interest rates go up.
More to come…
Next week, we’ll look at the non-elite…the common man. If he doesn’t work, how does he support himself? Has he been corrupted too? And in his idleness, does he get depressed?
For The Daily Reckoning Australia
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