Hard Work – The Antidote to Joblessness

by Shawanda Greene

Busy by Id-iom

Witty. Passionate. Thoughtful. Gorgeous. Amazing. Those are just a few words I use to describe myself.

I haven’t always felt this way. Quite frankly, I didn’t think much of myself during the younger years.

However, there is one word I’ve identified with since I can remember and that’s “patriot.”

I love my country. Every day I pray, “may the blessings of the Lord be upon the United States of America and no one else.” I’m kidding.

But I’d be lying if I said I wanted us to be anything less than the best country the world has ever known.

While reading the Washington Post article, Cain finds support among some Atlanta Democrats, I was reminded of the mentality that puts our #1 in awesomeness status at risk. 

But first, a few words of caution. I’m about to unapologetically say things you may find offensive. Those who are expecting, suffering from heart conditions, or prone to simplifying others’ extensive and complex beliefs as either liberal or conservative are advised to stop reading. Try to sum me up based on one blog post, and you’re gonna hurt yourself.

Now, let’s talk about the effed up attitude that’s destroying America.

There’s no honor in hard work anymore.

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Jimmy Smith, an out of work construction worker and Democrat said he’d consider voting for Herman Cain if the Republican presidential candidate could do something about the Mexicans.

You look around at construction. The Mexicans got all the jobs because they work all day. I know because I work with them. They don’t take breaks.

Let’s acknowledge there’s at least one Mexican hiding somewhere in the far reaches of the continental United States who’s taken a 15 minute break within the last decade.

When I told a friend about Mr. Smith’s observation that Mexicans work all day, before I could finish my thought, she snapped,

“I ain’t ‘bout to work on nobody job all day without taking a break!”

Well then, I guess it’s settled.

Even if we erected a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico that electrocuted illegals as “jokingly” suggested by Herman Cain, how do we compete with immigrants who are here legally?

Where’s the magic switch that triggers the desire to take long, frequent smoke breaks once you become a legal resident of the United States?

Look at Alabama.

They ran Mexican laborers out of the state. Now farmers don’t have enough workers.

Currently, Alabama has a 9.8% unemployment rate. If Alabama is like the rest of the nation, the jobless rate among the 16 – 24 crowd is even higher. With unemployment rates like these, better not one tomato leaf rot on the ground.

Save the “we’re not cut out for picking crops” garbage. If you’re too fat and out of shape to perform manual labor, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.

Obviously, if you’re strapped to an oxygen tank, I’m not talking to you.

What’s wrong with getting a little exercise, making money, helping an American business owner, and contributing to the continued low food prices in your area?

That’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 101: Think Win-Win-Win-Win.

Kevin Haggins, an unemployed website project manager, has the right mindset. Even though he’s been jobless for a year and a half, he says:

Are we gonna wait for the system to go and get us a job?… some people have given up…some people are so used to being subsidized it’s a type of slavery. They never develop skills.

Masterfully said, Mr. Haggins. We need more people like you.

If you’d rather not perform physical labor, you’re welcome to acquire skills and expertise that other people are willing to pay you for.

Thomas Edison famously said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Regardless of the path you choose, if you’re to be successful you gotta work…hard.

By all means, vote.

But I’ve learned over the years that I exercise the greatest level of control over my own life.

Be mad all you want. You know I’m telling you the truth. Chronic, self inflicted anger, disappointment, and bigotry can lead to hair loss, constipation, and bad breath. That may not be totally true, but they do cause something far worse than joblessness and that’s hopelessness.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

This blog post was featured on the Carnival of Wealth, Chief Executive Edition at Control Your Cash.

Photo by Id-iom

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Camille November 9, 2011 at 7:46 PM

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it." — Thomas Jefferson

I loved this post. Your point was very well made!


Shawanda November 11, 2011 at 7:06 AM

Thanks! Great quote.


Kazu November 9, 2011 at 8:02 PM

I agree with you. In general, immigrants work harder than Americans. We (I am a foreigner working in US) have to compensate our lack of certain aspects of abilities, such as communication skil, with hard work to compete position with native Americans. I also have been checking labour situation of agriculture in Alabama after the new immigration law went into effects. I was skeptical about the claim made by politicians that the opening would be filled by "hard working but unfortunately jobless" American people. Thank you for picking up this topic. I appreciate your fair view of view on immigration workers. Kazu


Shawanda November 11, 2011 at 7:15 AM

You're very welcome. It's been my experience that immigrants, as a group, do work harder than the average American. Why wouldn't they? I think, by nature, immigrants are risk takers. Many are willing to relocate to an unfamiliar, foreign land in order to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families. The deadbeats are back at home complaining about their circumstances.

I'm waiting for the decision in Alabama to be reversed. I think it stemmed from the frustration felt by angry Americans who were having difficulty securing desirable employment for the wages the thought they deserved.


Evan November 10, 2011 at 12:13 PM

I think there is an expectation that most people have that if they graduate college they will be exempt from manual labor and it isn't just that simple.

Regardless, how can one bitch and moan about their situation and not be apt to change it through hard work…sad comment.


Shawanda November 11, 2011 at 7:18 AM

"How can one bitch and moan about their situation and not be apt to change it through hard work."

Honestly, I don't understand it myself. Sometimes I think their brains are wired differently.


20sfinances November 10, 2011 at 2:56 PM

I like Evan's statement – today's economy has mixed everything up. I know way too many people who take dead-end jobs out of college. (not necessarily manual labor, but starbucks-type jobs). I don't think you can control everything, but some things.


Shawanda November 11, 2011 at 7:23 AM

Although it's more common now, what you're describing has been happening for years. I remember asking my mother when I was kid why she didn't go to college. She told me it didn't make sense to go to college, get a degree, and work the same job as someone with a high school diploma. My mother graduated from high school in 1970 and that's what she saw at the time. After that, I knew that if I was gonna go to college, I'd better obtain the skills, certifications, knowledge, etc. to make it worth my while. This requires careful planning and, uh, hard work.


JP @ Novel Investor November 10, 2011 at 11:12 PM

There's always changing to welfare state, like many of the European countries, and support everyone with income whether they have a job or not. Those countries certainly aren't doing exceptionally well. Or we can bust our butt and get our hands dirty. I'd like to believe that there are more people willing to work hard than those who want it handed to them.

As far as illegal immigrant, why does everyone assume that they only come from mexico. Open the doors. Those that want the American dream can have the same opportunity I was born with. It's only my fault for not trying to achieve it.


Shawanda November 11, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Allow me to stand up for my European brethren for a moment. There are some countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain who're falling apart financially because they took on too much debt. (America isn't far behind if we don't get our acts together.)

But there are others like Norway, Sweden, and Germany who are doing pretty good for themselves. Believe me. I HATE the sense of entitlement felt by unproductive members of society who never contribute anything to their country.

However, at least many of the social democracies in Europe have the courage to pay for these services. Be it war or welfare, if we want it, without debt, we should find the money to pay for it.

I'm not ready to open America to just anyone. I do think we need to be selective about who we accept into this country while at the same time finding a workable solution for the millions and millions of people who are in this country illegally.


Nique November 11, 2011 at 9:41 AM

I am from Alabama and I am jobless as well. I have 2 degrees and I will take just about anything. I tried to sign up for the agriculture jobs because I wanted to work. I was told that they were looking for "trained men". I am female. Yes, there are still people in Alabama looking for ANY kind of work to earn a paycheck.


Kazu November 11, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Dear Nique,
Sorry for my ignorance. I wish you good luck for your job searching.


Shawanda November 13, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Trained men, huh? Well before I tell you to sue them for sex-based discrimination, if you haven't done so already, keep looking. If none of them will hire you, your job search strategy will have to be more aggressive. There's a great book I'd highly recommend that provides unconventional tips on finding a job called 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.

Spend time in your local library reading up on how to prepare your resume and hone your interviewing skills. One thing I do that many people don't is practice in the mirror before I go on an interview. It forces me to reflect on my work experience and clearly communicate what it is I have to offer a prospective employer. Which helps me build confidence. If you sound unsure of what your value is, then the interviewer will be doubly unsure.

In a tough job market like this, you need to expand your network. I've met phenomenal people and well respected professionals by volunteering. Although it's unpaid work, you are working. You can either improve the skills you already have or obtain new ones. Employers want to know that you've been productive. Those you volunteer with can inform you of job openings they've heard about or refer you to the folks that do the hiring. Assuming your volunteer work demonstrates your commitment to excellence, people will be more likely to stick their neck out for you.

And don't forget social media. I can't say much for LinkedIn since I haven't used it a lot. But if you're on Twitter, follow people who work for organizations you want to work for or who are in fields you'd like to work in. Send them @ replies. Retweet their tweets. Read their blogs. Comment on them. Develop relationships with them. Ask them if they have any tips on how to find gainful employment in your field. The same goes with Facebook. You have to get creative.

I don't know what your word processing skills are like, but you should attempt to create a clear, organized, and visually appealing resume on quality paper. Check out Gallery of Best Resumes by David Noble for ideas. Put on the appropriate dress attire and hand deliver your resume. Yep. I said hand deliver your resume. You'll be remembered over the 100s of applicants who only emailed their resume. Better yet, you'll beat out those who didn't know a position was available.

I could continue, but I feel like I've written another blog post.


@thefrugaltoad November 12, 2011 at 9:03 AM

I don't think it is quite that simple. There are many reasons for the high unemployment numbers: downsizing, business cycle swings, corporate takeover, disability, etc. that are not within the employee's control. Having said that, many people believe they are entitled to a certain standard of living. I find that attitude alarming. If you are willing to work hard there are resources available to help displaced and out of work individuals learn the skills necessary to be employable. One can no longer get a college degree and expect to work in the same job for 30 years. You must continually add to your skill set to make yourself a valuable employee, you risk the unemployment line if you do not.


Shawanda November 13, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Although we can't control everything that happens to us, we can choose to focus all of our energy on the factors we can control.

You're absolutely right about resources being available to learn new skills.There are numerous public agencies and charitable organizations that help people become more marketable, learn how to start and operate a small business, and find employment. You just have to be willing to look for them. The library is my personal fave. CareerOneStop and the Small Business Administration are also good resources.


101 Centavos November 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Simple math, really. More hours spent at work at more productive than hours spent couch surfing. Is $100 a day not bad money for a young guy or gal just out of high school? Better than serving up lattes and mochas.

I had to chuckle a bit at the farmer's last line "If you support immigration law, quit eating". By evidence of his considerable em, girth, he was not a supporter. :-)


Shawanda November 13, 2011 at 3:26 PM

In Alabama, $100 a day sounds pretty good to me.

I was thinking the same thing about the "quit eatin'" farmer. :)


My University Money November 13, 2011 at 9:28 PM

The juxtaposition between our graduates and young adults today, and those of the greatest situation is so unflattering to us. I was talking to my students the other day about the sacrifices of our veterans during WWI and WWII. These guys went through that hell on Earth, and then came home and built countries (in my case Canada, but the story in the States is a mirror image). They sacrificed everything and thought a 60 hour work week was a walk in the park. They truly asked what they could do to make their country great, now all we do is ask where our handout is.


Afford Anything November 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

I saw that news story (okay, I admit: I saw it on the Colbert Report) and it BLOWS MY MIND that there is simultaneously such a shortage of farm laborers in Alabama AND such high unemployment. That just doesn't make sense. Unemployed people, meet farm jobs.

I'm sure there IS sex discrimination or age discrimination (as one of the commenters on this post mentioned) but that doesn't explain the shortfall of thousands upon thousands of farm workers. I assume that roughly half of the unemployed people in Alabama are men — or perhaps more than half, since men account for more than half of the overall workforce.

Like Evan said, many people who have college/grad degrees would rather be jobless than do manual labor.


Shawanda November 15, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Not that women can't do the work, but I do think men are more suitable for this type of labor. From what I've read, this tough job market has more negatively impacted young men – the people most capable of performing this kind of work. I can't wait to see what happens to the farmers' crops.

Even if this type of labor isn't part of your long-term career goals, there's great honor in being able to support yourself and your family.


kim November 15, 2011 at 4:53 PM

WOW I loved that knowledge – so many people say Mexican immigrants take all the jobs, but with them gone in Alabama there is still high unemployment. Wow. Can we say lack of education and opportunities in Alabama? Sounds like the South is crying wolf. I am quickly following up with some reading on my own. Thanks for the food for thought!


Shawanda November 15, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Thanks for commenting. Below is an email I sent to a friend earlier this week. I figure you might find it interesting. It's from the article:

Immigrant workers, farmers fearful in wake of Alabama immigration law

"Durr said he’d stick with this as long as he could, but he preferred his previous job as a dishwasher at Applebee’s.

'The work was a whole lot more easier than this,' he said.

Since our visit, he and the other American workers have quit.

'The people that you could get locally, they wouldn't — regardless of what you offered them, within reason — they wouldn't put in the long hours. It'd take probably three (of them) to do what two of the immigrant workers do,' he says.

'They'd want to be on break all the time, going to the bathroom, going to get a drink, or, you know, something. They just don't have the initiative to work, just plain and simple,' Danford says.

He says he bases this opinion on decades of experience with local workers who show up for a day and then quit, if they apply at all."


@phyllis27312 February 12, 2012 at 9:06 AM

I have been spouting the hard work philosophy for a long time. I have friends who pay no attention to me, and they remain poor.
I'm poor, also, but not NEARLY as poor as I would be if I hadn't worked all my life.
It is my opinion that work very rarely kills anyone – unless they are cutting wood and a tree falls on them.


Shawanda February 23, 2012 at 6:12 PM


Ann Landers said "Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat." Looks like we all agree.


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