Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, February 7, 2014.
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When Bill Coates, Kevin Simon and I finished work on Radio Row at the Super Bowl last Friday we took a little time in the evening for a New York City treat. We went to the top of the GE Building, the tallest of the 19 buildings that comprise Rockefeller Center, to take in the best view in New York. ($27 per head for adults and worth every penny!)
On the way to the elevator is a famous photograph taken by Charles Ebbets of the New York Herald Tribune. It shows 11 construction workers sitting on a steel beam 800 feet above Manhattan having their lunch – a photo that was made while Rockefeller Center was under construction. The men are sitting there casually talking and smoking and having lunch without an apparent care in the world that there is nothing holding them to the beam and nothing to catch them if they fall. The photo shows what was, for these men, a day at the office.
“Any chance that photograph could be made today?,” I asked rhetorically as we passed by it on our way to the elevator. “How many federal agencies would descend upon the general contractor if someone on the jobsite so much as Tweeted that photograph today?,” I asked. (They’d have gone after the guy lighting the cigarette first,” said one wag.)
As I got good and wound up I began a filibuster to the effect that those men – now long gone – are emblematic of the men and women to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for the big, brawny, prosperous nation that we spend our lives taking for granted. I remarked that these are the kind of people that built the America that saved the world between 1941 and 1945 and then went on to put men on the moon.
Keep the image of those workers in mind as you ponder projections released this week from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office saying that Obamacare will result in a net loss of 2.5 million fulltime workers by 2017.
The CBO explains that given the structure of the subsides in the Affordable Care Act, as many as 2.5 million workers will weigh up the benefits of working fulltime versus the benefits of deliberately minimizing income so as to maximize what they receive in health insurance subsidies – and wind up coming down in favor of the latter.
And then ponder that that’s a good thing according to the White House, the New York Times and other liberals. Liberated from the need to hold a job in order to have health insurance, says the White House, more Americans will be free to live a life of semi-permanent sabbatical, working only at what they choose when they choose.
Perhaps the men sitting on that girder would have preferred to have had their lunch inside a deli at street level rather than sitting exposed hundreds of feet in the air. Given the choice between eating the lunch that they paid for with wages earned doing hard, dangerous work, or eating a lunch given to them in return for no labor whatsoever, they might have chosen the latter. But had they so chosen, we wouldn’t have Rockefeller Center.
And the men in that photo would not be admired by visiting tourists 80-plus years later.
Work is more than simply a means to acquire money for food, shelter, clothing, transportation and health care. Work – even if it’s not the most desirable work – is nevertheless ennobling. Without work, one cannot have a true sense of self worth. Menial, low-paying work done well today paves the way for more rewarding and higher paying work tomorrow.
As a clergyman whom I admired greatly once explained, in order for a person to be healthy of body and spirit, he or she needs someone to love, something to hope for and something to do. For able-bodied adults, that something to do is called ‘work.’
The White House and liberal media spin of the CBO’s projection is appalling. Any public policy that serves to make idleness more profitable than work is bad for the republic.
And anyone with a lick of common sense knows it.