Monday, May 12, 2008

Lazy Americans And Their Jobs

I saw this on Glenn Beck today... thought it was amusing.

I guess the New York Sun or some newspaper like that reported on one of their pages that they are having problems finding people to pick cherries because the governor won't let them import workers from Mexico and Jamaica...

On the same page, right next to the complaints about the lack of workers to help them pick fruit, there is an article saying that teenagers are having trouble finding work this summer.

Hmmm... what's wrong with this picture?

Why can't the teenagers pick fruit? Are they too good for that job?

I was talking to my grandma on the phone yesterday for Mother's day, and she was talking about how there are tons of immigrants (whether illegal or not I don't know, probably a lot of them are illegal) that have moved up to Washington State to pick brush and shuck oysters. My dad did that job when he was younger, as did my great-grandpa and grandma back in the days.

So where is the disconnect here? Are teenagers to lazy... or to good... to pick fruit in New York? Or brush in Washington state?

I'm not sure what is the answer. Perhaps the teenagers do find themselves too good to pick fruit and brush, or perhaps the job seekers are not looking in the same place that the employers are advertising.

Take brush picking. I lived in Washington state for many years, but I'm not sure where I would go to find a job like that... if they would even hire me nowadays because I speak English and have a US birth certificate. Do they advertise in the newspaper or on places like How do the teenagers find out that there are jobs to be had?

Where are the cherry farmers advertising their jobs?

I know in Arizona there used to be a lot of employers that would hire illegal immigrants. They can't any more because if they get caught they will lose their business license. But back in the days, many of these jobs would send trucks out to specific street corners where the illegal immigrants would hang out and wait to be hired for the day. I'm not sure if white, English speaking teenagers would have been welcomed there.

In Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina, many construction workers flocked to the state to work on rebuilding the city. Until they were all fired so the construction companies could hire illegal immigrants instead. I know someone that this happened to.

So I'm not sure whether the cherry picker shortage is the fault of the teenagers who don't know that there are jobs to be had out on the farms, or if the fault is of the farmers who don't want to hire them.

But I will say this: people should learn how to work hard. It's what made this country great. I remember reading an article a year or so ago where businesses felt like they had to cater to the new twenty-somethings, who would not even bat an eyelash at quitting their jobs if they didn't like the working conditions, hours, or other aspects about the job. Not sure if that still holds true today, with fewer jobs to go around.

I graduated from the University of Southern California. I've had some cool jobs, like working as a movie extra one year. I've had some less than prestigious jobs as well. One summer in college I worked at McDonald's. I've had high-paying, "important" jobs, like being the anti-terrorism officer at the Navy base in Naples.

A couple of years ago, I took a job as a teacher at Kindercare, making less than 1/5th of the pay that I had received at my job in the Navy. It was the right job at the time, because it allowed me to keep tabs on my young daughter. I blended in fairly well, but my life was not the typical day care worker's. Most people would not like to take an 80% pay cut to care for other people's children with a college degree.

My dh took a 50% pay cut for a while to go stock shelves at Wal-Mart at night. He's a college student, and he needed a night job so he could go to school during the day. You do what you have to do, even if it involves doing hard work, or working at night. He has since found a better paying evening job.

Many successful Americans learned to work hard doing jobs that many would consider "beneath them". 60 Minutes did an interview with Clarence Thomas where he talked about having to work hard as a kid. Wasn't it Abraham Lincoln that split rails? George Washington was an everyday guy in an earlier American war before he became a great war hero in the American Revolution. Chris Gardener, from the Pursuit of Happyness, spent a year taking care of his son while homeless in order to graduate.

There may be easier ways to do things, but sometimes you have to work very hard for a while to get what you need to get done. And if the fruit pickers need workers and the teenagers need jobs, perhaps some people need to work hard for a while.

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