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  Friday August 29th, 2014    

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Labor’s cost and reward (09/21/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
As I write, it’s a glorious, sunny Labor Day weekend, a breath of fresh air! Just to take leisure time to sit outside and to absorb all the lush greens, poignant scents of flowers, high-pitched crescendos of children at play, the melody of a finch, and a transfixing, fluid sky - this is living! This is God’s labor of love.

The history of labor can probably be reduced to one sentiment – Oof-dah!

The job force in the U.S. has changed dramatically since the end of WW II in 1945, when an industrial era provided hardworking blue collars with a means to make a decent living. There was pride in good workmanship. Today it’s volume and dollars!

White-collar, corporate business gradually became more and more prominent, the catalyst for multimillionaires common today. In Steve Gaines’ brilliantly chronicled “The Sky’s the Limit,” his detailed accounts of passion, privilege, and property in Manhattan gives the reader a firsthand peek into one of the most exclusive and extravagant enclaves in the world, including names!

Gaines is frank, if not vindictive, concerning the 76 million baby boomers of the 1980s, that he describes as, “the hungriest, most powerful generation in history,” who “had turned all the idealism and pacifism of the 1960s inside out into naked ambition and greed.” He shells out a wealth of information, including the stringent, ridiculous scrutiny potential apartment and condo buyers and renters must endure from the building’s “co-op board” in order to reside in their building - but for having a JC Penney charge card, being in a second marriage, or because they had worn the wrong thing for the interview? Oof-dah!

Intriguing is the jump from 12 billionaires in America in 1982 to 262 billionaires by 2003, with 48 in New York City. “By 2001, according to one analysis, there was a total of 9.8 million millionaire households,” Gaines writes.

It seems ironic that the world of business has reached such lofty proportions in such a short time- span! What has been lost is the greater irony, however. Extreme personal greed has evolved to cutthroat and unscrupulous tactics in business dealings, and the enormous sacrifice of integrity and scruples. Oof-dah!

Apologies to the many men and women who do uphold moral principles and perform their jobs honestly and diligently, often at the cost of a livable income or the loss of a struggling business.

I read a magazine article, which I’ve misplaced, that speaks unkindly of the recent influx of college graduates finding their ways into corporate offices. Many have somehow assumed the notion of entitlement earned due to college degrees, expecting to start high on the corporate ladder with a lofty wage, and to perform only the tasks they feel they have been educated for.

Though one sees young people working at fast-food places and with construction crews, many of them feel that beginning with menial labor is beneath them. If they aren’t working at all during and after college, who’s paying their way?

“Hi, Mom and Dad! I’m gonna hang out here at home for a couple of years while I hold out for that plush front office with the six-figure wage, a month’s paid vacation, my own company sports car, and the Lonnie Anderson secretary.” Oof-dah!

Now that I’ve depressed everybody, I realize that commemorating Labor Day isn’t meant to be a somber event. Red, white and the blues don’t get it! There’s a great deal to be thankful for here in the USA!

Apart from the ambition to make more money so we can buy more things, it does us all good to get away for some rest and reflecting or to share quality time with our loved ones, and to wallow in the beauty surrounding us.

Those times are priceless! They are prayers…not asking for something but in praise, honor, and gratitude…

God’s labor of love has been bestowed upon us all. No lengthy applications required!

Janet Burns is happy to be living in small town USA! She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.

 

 

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