The Benefits of Hard Work: What’s desperately missing from the world

Typically, union members who participate in collective bargaining agreements cheat themselves out of the good practice of benefits rendered from hard work—the type of work that leaves every bone in your body tired, where you fight hard with others to achieve a task under ominous circumstances to arrive at a goal many thought impossible. When work is throttled down to where breaks must be taken every two hours on the hour and deep concern is paid to how much one has sold their time for per hour—the union laborer becomes simply a whore who sells their time for a price instead of a producer who willed with sheer resolve to a conclusion invisible to others functioning from emotional limitations.

To those who have pulled all nighters, or several of them in succession especially when a team of other people is involved they understand the feeling of tackling the impossible and just how good a breakfast can taste after 32 straight hours of good work concluded. Those hours for the truly productive are not about making money—but about making something from nothing and pushing the project uphill against all odds to a successful conclusion. To achieve such things, it often requires exceptional willpower to pull off.

I have been involved in many of these events over the years and they always feel good to participate in, and finish. I never tire of the euphoria of a job well done. There is a bonding quality which comes naturally with a team when they all struggle as individuals toward an objective and there is always much back slapping that goes on afterwards when tired bodies struggle against sleep after being awake for more than 24 straight hours working so hard that they forget to take breaks.

Union workers always look at the time clock not willing to miss a smoke break, or a chance to stand around and talk about little ideas with shrinking minds. They are always in a hurry to discuss nothing, do nothing, and prepare their lives for one useless event after another for example—“hey Bill, lets grab a cold one when we get done with this shit.” That type of banter means nothing and goes nowhere and usually only contributes to their inner self-imposed misery.

I have seen the kind of magic hard work creates during difficult camping trips where there is often a lot of struggle. I have seen it after busy nights of work where the hours are long and people struggle together to finish the job. I have seen it on movie sets where everyone works hard for 12 straight hours to get everything just right and overcome thousands of technical problems to arrive at the objective. I have even seen such magic on long drives to distant lands where all night travel wears away your senses until daylight rescues tired eyes from the clock-like movement of highway lines steadily going by under your car. It is through struggle that good things happen.

What gets lost in the attempts at an assured “living wage” is the struggle to get something of value. Money is cheapened to an expectation when it is given away easily through a collective bargaining agreement. Sure it can purchase the same iPhones, the same Xbox, the same flat screen televisions—but those items have less value to the union worker who doesn’t have to struggle to receive them. There is a spoiled nature to such people who comes from having things given to them as opposed to earning them with sweat and tired eyes.

Whenever there is struggle and people do it together there is joy in knowing those other people who travel with you—no matter what their political affiliation is, their religious beliefs, their financial status—people all come together when they do hard work together. It is good for their souls and cleanses their spirits. Hard work is the great unifier.

This is why labor unions are that much more of a detriment—they provide a disincentive attribute to hard work by their very nature. They do this by assuring that no matter what the performance level, no matter the schedule, no matter if they get along with others for a united task—that they will get paid. They do not feel they need to work to earn money, because the money is typically given to them just for showing up. So there is no reason to push themselves toward a struggle which holds the secret ingredient toward productive—unifying enterprise.

Capitalism brings out the struggle of an enterprise. Socialism destroys the struggle by bringing everyone down to the unproductive levels of any endeavor. It doesn’t take long for hard workers to become discouraged when some union knuckle dragger stops work in the middle of a difficult endeavor to take a mandated break. It is even worse when you get knee-deep into a project to discover that you still have 10 to 12 hours left and you’ve already put in 12 and you need it by tomorrow—and the union worker walks off the job to have one of those meaningless drinks before Monday Night Football starts leaving the struggle for the next day and a guaranteed schedule slip that is costly beyond measure. When it is wondered why American enterprise is struggling it is because of this very basic element of modern society—the loss of contact between monetary value and productive enterprise—the lack of urgency that avoids struggle because it all pays the same whether it gets done today or tomorrow. Without the struggle, any endeavor is a cheapened experience.

This is the case for any experience in life, from sex to food. Nobody would argue that a McDonald’s meal is of equal value to a five star restaurant which costs half of a thousand dollars for a dinner for two. Even though they are both categories of food, one is undoubtedly more valuable than the other. It is the struggle to make the food that makes the five star restaurant so much more valuable than the quick processing that takes place at McDonald’s. The same holds true for workers of all types, there are those who avoid struggle, and those who thrive in it. The good workers are those who enjoy pushing themselves to the limit. Bad workers are those who just show up in exchange for money like a simple prostitute—lawyers come to mind who charge for small talk about sports when they have a rate of $200 to $500 an hour. At the conclusion of an hour of legal advisement the lawyer strikes up a 6 minute conversation about college football which invokes animated discussion among two men who love sports. But when the bill comes that 6 minutes is included, just like the whore who goes over her time by the same and expects compensation. So to is the union worker who will do nothing above and beyond the collective bargaining agreement even if it is for the good of productivity. Those are bad workers who do things purely for money and seek to avoid struggle of any kind—especially pushing themselves toward excellence.

It is so rare these days to have those struggles when dealing with other people and I cherish each instance. When I see them first hand they restore my faith in the human race. I relish it and when I have breakfast after 32 straight hours of work where every bone in the body is sore and shaking from exhaustion; the food tastes better than anything on the face of the planet—because there is value in it being earned and worked for. That is why it tastes so wonderful with the added purity that only comes from a difficult task accomplished above and beyond all odds and opposition.

Rich Hoffman

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