Explaining The Value Of Labor To Leftists Who Hate The Concept Of Work
Go to any social media feed today and you'll find an endless array of zennials entering adulthood who are discovering that they are indeed expected to work, struggle, sacrifice, and make their way up the ladder of life like 99% of all human beings. The next generation is finding out, slowly but surely, that they will not be YouTube celebrities or Instagram influencers or Big Tech executives; they will not be raking in easy money or be showered in gratification. Many of them have stacked up sizable college loan debts in exchange for degrees with minimal demand. Even if they have a legitimate goal they will have to work hard to achieve it.
Reality is hitting younger Americans like a freight train and they are enraged. In response, many of them are sadly turning to leftist movements like the “anti-work movement” and the “quiet quitting” movement in retaliation. While the Reddit born anti-work movement has slowly faded in the past six months, the overall agenda continues on in other forms.
There has been a rising narrative among young people regarding skilled labor vs unskilled labor. Their position? That there is no such thing as unskilled labor and that workers need to be handed a “living wage” no matter their level of contribution. Either that, or they need to stop working altogether while others pay their way. If they don't get what they want, they plan to burn the economy to the ground.
That kind of sentiment sounds like insanity to anyone that understands free markets (or reality), but to naive young adults with visions of immediate success, it might sound like wisdom. They have been tricked into thinking that the laws of supply and demand no longer apply to labor, but they do. Here are some questions any person should ask themselves when they stumble upon that internal existential crisis of career and future. Are you actually being “oppressed”, or are you being paid exactly what you are worth and it's making you feel inadequate?
How easy is it to replace you?
Do you work a job that many people can do? It's not that hard to figure this out quickly. Just look at the number of qualified people applying for the same job you have. If that number is high, then you might be easy to replace. If you flip burgers or run a cash register for a living, understand that you will have to offer something other than your time in order to secure higher pay and a better position. This is what is often referred to as “unskilled labor,” because almost anyone can do what you do.
How long does it take to train for your job?
Can a company train a new person for your job in two weeks, two months, two years or two decades? If the honest answer is two weeks, then you are not in a position to demand a living wage. Are you a surgeon or a fast food worker? One involves incredible levels of training time while the other involves none.
How much intelligence is required to do your job?
Brainpower is in short supply these days as public schools slowly erode academic standards in the name of “equity.” This means that truly intelligent people will be in high demand while the mediocre will be common and battling each other for lower wage work. Leftists want to change this dynamic by enforcing diversity quotas among employers, but all this will accomplish is companies collapsing sooner rather than later as they take on a bunch of brain-dead charity cases rather than the best people for the job.
By extension, there are many jobs that require expertise and expertise requires quick learning. There is no such thing as equality in terms of intelligence; some people are born with it and some people are not. It might not be fair but it is what it is, and smarter people are more likely to make more money as skilled labor.
How big a part does your labor play in the larger process?
Is your job to fill a basic position on an assembly line? Or, do you build the entire product yourself? Do you merely act as a mechanism in a larger process, or is the process impossible without you? Are you the farmer, or are you the strawberry picker? Are you an architect, a contractor, an electrician, a brick layer, or just the guy that cleans up the trash after the building is done? There are levels of importance to various jobs in the process of production. In other words not all labor is equal in accomplishing the end result, no matter what leftists claim.
How many people need to strike to make your job valuable?
Leftists often make the argument that without labor all other endeavors are meaningless. That is to say, without the labor of unskilled workers the efforts of business owners, inventors, engineers and managers can never come to fruition. That may be true, but only if the majority of unskilled workers strike at the same time.
Look at it this way: If you strike by yourself, is the company going to panic because you are integral to their operations? If a handful of your co-workers in the same field strike with you, is the company going to panic? Or, do thousands of people need to strike for your job to be worth a damn? If so, that's not a good sign in terms of your market value.
Pandemic Inflation And The Illusion Of Labor Shortages
One major contributor to the spread of the anti-work movement was the notion that labor is in short supply and therefore labor has more leverage. This is an oversimplification of the situation.
What has happened in the past few years is an inflationary deluge; over $8 trillion in covid helicopter money was dropped on the US economy in 2020/2021 alone through PPP loans and stimulus checks, not to mention unemployment checks and moratoriums on rent. This resulted in a wave of fiat cash hitting the economy all at once. The retail and service sector exploded with activity as people rushed out to spend, and this generated a need among businesses for more workers.
However, these conditions are a short lived symptom of stagflation, not a permanent trend. In fact, mass layoffs are already taking place in the tech sector and this is just the beginning. Covid dollars and the savings people stockpiled during the lockdowns have run out and high prices are still here. The anti-work movement was predicated on the assumption that demand would continue to outpace supply. It was a dumb assumption.
High employment numbers bought with inflation are not reliable nor sustainable. This is why it's absurd for Joe Biden and the White House to take credit for the supposed “jobs boom”; all those jobs will disappear as the helicopter cash dries up.
Labor Is About Survival
In the meantime, leftists seem to think they are above work more than they suggest they are misused by work. Have zennials been born into a time of hardship? Yes. Do they have less opportunities than their parents did decades ago? Probably. Is this unfair? No, there's no such thing.
We don't get to choose the prosperity of the times we are born into. Some generations are born into great crisis while others are born into great wealth. Those that are born into crisis have to work more, not less. In an era of inflation, this means being innovative and becoming a producer. That's a lot of effort to adapt to circumstances. The perpetually entitled are doomed.
This is perhaps the first generation in American history that argues they should not have to work at all or that their unskilled labor is just as valuable as the labor of a person with extensive merit and accomplishment. At bottom, the rules of survival do not care if you feel underappreciated or underpaid according to your concept of self worth. If you hate a job you can always quit that job, but you will always be paid according to the value you bring to the table. Only you determine that value.
In times like these, the individuals that work hardest to improve themselves and improve their productive value will survive while the individuals that sit around complaining all the time will not. This is true for people that work for a company as much as it is true for people that work for themselves.