Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Real Job

A phrase which I wish we could discard is "real job." A derisive and dismissive means of ending a conversation, it deserves to be thrown into the trash heap of unimaginative and mean terms polite company no longer uses. I've heard it used against me as a public school teacher. I've heard it used against free-lance musicians. I've heard it used against those who work in the not-for-profit sector. I've heard it used against the retired. I haven't heard it used against those who work in the private sector. Anyone who labors does something real, something with value (even those who labor without pay).

We're in an era of working hard. Those fortunate enough to have jobs are working many, many hours. Workweeks that exceed 40 hours are becoming the norm as firms make do with fewer employees, as the public sector sheds jobs, as not-for-profits trim and cut, and as business isn't as good for those who run their own businesses. People work hard because there are fewer hands to do the work, and because job insecurity menaces us to keep up the effort. It's symptomatic of an economy that is growing at an annualized snail's pace (fractions of a percent when measured in terms of real GDP) and in which unemployment remains high.

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