What Work is Worth (and our worship of money)


I’ve recently connected with a man named Tripp Babbitt on LinkedIn.  Tripp is a columnist, blogger, and speaker.  His blog is entitled “Tripp Babbitt’s Blog: The No Tool Zone“.  In it, he covers a range of topics related to business productivity, organizational structure, efficiency, and the like.  As I browsed the site, I was drawn to one post in particular – “Labor Day Reflection“.  Tripp reflects on Labor Days past and present –

     The first Labor day in the US was celebrated September 5, 1882.  A “Workingmen’s Holiday” as it was called.

Living in Indianapolis, you run into Labor Unions that have slowly but progressively disappeared.  Sure, you still have the Teacher’s Unions and many others but workers in Unions represent about 11.8% of all wage and salary workers.  This number has dropped over the years.

Babbitt goes on to concede that unions have been targeted for blame of late and this blame has spilled over to the average worker.  He admits that he grew up with such bias and that he went to college to “be better than that“.

Then, Babbitt comes to the realization – “However, when you look at the engine that makes things run it is truly more the workers.”   I applaud him for this recognition.

He also identifies the tragic irony of who shoulders most of the blame when negotiations break down.  He writes –

The salaries these folks [CEOs] command and the disparity to workers has come under increasing scrutiny.  The ratio was 24-1 and now is a whopping 243 -1 according to a 2010 survey.  The fact is that such disparity is sometimes deserved, but more often it is not.  Yet, unions and the worker have come under more scrutiny than CEOs, unless of course… you break the law.

While I would contend that such disparity is never deserved, my primary question is – “How have we gotten to this point and where do we go from here?”  The problem is multi-faceted, but I think one key factor is our attitude toward wealth.  Not just the attitude of those who are wealthy, but also those who deep-down want to be.  Consider ….

– The time, money, and energy spent by people of modest (and less than modest) means on get-rich schemes such as the lottery, gambling, pyramid plans, and frivilous lawsuits.

– The frenzied following of outrageously rich athletes, entertainers, and technological wizards.

– The blank check we write to the military-industrial complex in the name of having a “strong defense” instead of having a “lean, mean fighting machine” that would cost the tax payer much less.

It seems to me if we are going to make any headway honoring common laborers and promoting an honest day’s work, we have to get over our worship of money – not just what others have, but what we wish we had too.

more on work… “Good Work, God’s Work

(image of Linkedin logo from Shekhar_Sahu, some rights reserved)

3 thoughts on “What Work is Worth (and our worship of money)

  1. I think a huge problem, especially in the US, is the worship of the “job creator” and the acceptance of the job creator’s unquestioned entitlement to the extraction of as much of the success (money). Once you have a collective, a union, and the numbers are debated, and the “common worker” (for lack of a better word) sees where the value is created…
    I actually wrote a silly sonett about this (http://wp.me/s2HqAO-values).

    • I would agree that many, if not most, on the “political right” worships the alleged “job creator” (though I know many millionaires who use their tax deductions to consume goods rather than create jobs). Also, we need to ask, “Where are the jobs created?” and “Do the jobs pay a living wage?” I would nonetheless still contend that the “common worker” (most of my family and friends, by the way) contributes to their own self-destruction by mistaking “value” with “money” and desiring “riches” over a “meaningful life”. Hence, those “job creators” who have the most money can more easily manipulate the masses by false promises and pie-in-the-sky favors.

      I really enjoyed your sonnet, by the way. Thank you for posting it.

      • Thanks! I wrote it while angry…(I write most blog posts while angry, I think).
        I completely agree. It’s a complex problem, and so much of their rhetoric is void and only seems logical if one looks no further than the very surface of things.
        Money (and the ensuing consumption) these days is thought to be synonymous with success, value and happiness by very many people, and until one gets of the merry-go-round it all seems true, or at least it seems to make sense.
        Trustworthy and smart people need to step forward and point out that we’re looking at the shadows on the wall, I think. It’s time.

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