Understanding Freedom And Work
As an American, I’m convinced that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. Obviously, I’m biased as hell and, frankly, I’m not interested in apologizing for it.
We’re not perfect, but I see remarkably little from other countries that look attractive enough to me to make me want to relocate. Especially when you understand what some of the ramifications are of certain policies.
See, I saw this bit earlier today on Facebook and, frankly, it has to be addressed.
This is, of course, an assault on the American system of work. This has been shared by a number of people, many of whom are in what many of us would consider “dead-end” jobs.
After all, they’re not getting paid time off with which they can travel and see the world.
So freaking what?
See, what our truck driving Redditor doesn’t grok is that while we may not legally require vacation time for all employees, we are the wealthiest nation on Earth. We maintain 30 percent of the world’s accumulated wealth, and that doesn’t happen by accident. People have to work for it.
When you tell a company that they have to pay for vacations for everyone, what you’re really doing is telling that British dreamer that having his or her own company isn’t really worth it because they’ll have to provide 5.6 weeks of vacation time.
That isn’t just a lost opportunity for that dreamer, either. It’s a lost opportunity for all the people they would employ.
“Oh, but if they can’t afford to pay the vacation time, clearly they wouldn’t employ a lot of people.”
No, not to start. But companies tend not to start off with thousands of employees. They start with a handful and grow, employing more and more. Walmart didn’t start off with 2.2 million employees. It started with just a single store, and not a particularly large one, either.
Plus, a lot of Americans actually do get paid time off. A fair bit of it, actually; often close to what Europeans get by law.
The difference, though, is that Americans have earned it. It’s not a mandated gift from a government that doesn’t have to pay for it. We earn that stuff.
But not the people who I saw sharing this. I mean, a guy who has been working retail—not retail management, just retail—for years isn’t likely to get a lot of vacation time.
Even then, a fair number of retail jobs actually provide vacation time. My son works part-time for a company and he gets paid time off all the time. Not a whole lot of it but this is his first job and he started making more than minimum wage and gets paid time off.
All without government mandates.
See, this mentality of vacation time somehow being a right is why the United States controls 30 percent of the world’s wealth and the UK has 3.7 percent.
But does this make us less free? After all, the Reddit post ends by saying:
“Freest country in the world” is just a slogan for overworked people who don’t get a chance to find out if it’s true or not.
The implication is that this is somehow evidence that we’re not all that free.
Even if the author didn’t intend it that way, though, some of his champions on social media sure as hell are taking it that way. In their minds, we’re not free because we need to work.
I hate to break it to you, the need to work isn’t going anywhere.
What these sad sacks want is for someone to save them from themselves. Their pathetic existence is too much for them because they lack the ability or skills to get out of their sad little lives.
They want the government to make their bosses give them vacation time and for everything else to be handed to them as well.
Yet everything in the world comes with a cost. As the late, great Robert Heinlein once wrote, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. There is always a cost that someone has to pay.
For everything you demand to have handed to you, someone will have to pay it. That means someone has to work. You think you’re not free because you have to work in a capitalist society? I hate to break it to you, people couldn’t just enjoy their bliss under any communist regime in history either. Work was mandatory under the Soviets.
But while you worked your ass to the bone in the USSR, you had to stand in breadlines to get food.
Here, you have your choice of bread brands and can even afford to get picky about types of bread.
If you can’t see why our system is superior, you’re too stupid to breathe.
But are we less free because we can’t do whatever we want? Hardly.
Freedom means that the government can’t tell you what to do. It doesn’t mean you can just ignore your own responsibilities simply because you don’t want to.
Hell, just the fact that employers are required to give people vacation time is ample evidence that these other countries aren’t all that free in the first place. Company owners are forced to do something, while their American counterparts aren’t.
Now, it’s unlikely the Redditor nor his American supporters really even understand freedom. They just understand they don’t like their current situation. I get that.
Yet the beauty of the United States is that if you don’t like where you’re at, you can work to change it, so quit complaining and do something about your circumstances.
Maybe you can start your own business. After all, you won’t have the added cost of having to pay people who aren’t working.