Excuse Me, While I Demonstrate

April 1, 2011
Today's subject is work. Is it really necessary? From what I can determine these days, it is apparently not all that essential. Taking one day in time,

Today's subject is work. Is it really necessary? From what I can determine these days, it is apparently not all that essential.

Taking one day in time, several items are saturating the news. They range, in no particular order, from the fighting in Libya, Yemen and Oman, and union protests in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, to Charlie Sheen.

Several thoughts come to mind in my pea brain on what I would consider to be a pretty typical news day anymore. My first thought on the array of events is, “Doesn't anybody work anymore?” I know a little about your businesses, and I'd venture to say if any of those events were taking place in your vicinity, virtually no one from your company would be participating, whether it involved fighting in the streets or protesting outside the statehouse.

Granted, there is a difference between the intent of the protests. Yet, in reality, are they not the same when you consider the hordes of people who are not working, spending time outside and, for the most part, having fun in one weird way or another? I have never been involved in protests. However, for almost 50 years, I got up every work day, showered, dressed, got to work on time and spent the day doing what I was paid to do. Other than that morning routine being extremely monotonous, there was never an alternative (known to me) on how else to start my day.

I try to picture how it must be for the union protester or those who are trying to overthrow their government. I guess you get up; probably no need to shower since nobody cares, and besides you'll probably need a shower later because you've been carrying a sign, yelling all day or throwing rocks and running back and forth. It seems that kind of activity could work up an appetite, but I wonder who cooks dinner or if there is dinner? Seems like a fairly cool unstructured life. Maybe I missed my calling in the 1960s and 1970s by working for a living.

If I were to pick one of those events that seems the most ridiculous, it's the union protests against state government for asking union members to pay a portion of their medical insurance and pensions. How dare they! It seems like a no-brainer because I've been doing it for a long time. Did I like it when I started doing it? Certainly not, but after a few months, I adapted and realized it was one of the ways to continue my employment.

I'm not personally against public employees and teachers organizing because, as with the evolution of any union, an original need fostered that solution. But as with the steel and auto workers, the unions eventually became so powerful that they drove themselves out of work. Such is the case with public employees and teachers, who (in case you didn't notice) negotiate with us (the taxpayers) and somehow believe we shouldn't care that our governments are nearly bankrupt.

I know I'm weird, but it seems to me that somewhere along the way, we traded welfare for another government-funded entitlement program, only this time it involves public safety and our children's education.

Those are critical issues, and everyone has a right to make a decent living, but there has to be a middle ground. I don't think many people ever envisioned that public-employee unions would ever get too powerful and too costly. Well, the economic downturn brought that problem to the surface; if we don't solve it now, I fear the most recent recession will be but a drop in the bucket.

You probably noticed that I did not mention Charlie Sheen. That was intentional. In my mind, all the factions mentioned above are delusional. They want the press, they want your sympathy, and they want your money. Boy, it's a good thing you work for a living!

Don Frendberg,