The joy of work...

At the top of Google news just now is the headline, "Long-term Unemployment Benefit Expires for 1 Million."

Good. What a horrible existence to be paid not to work.

No one should benefit from unemployment. The fact such a headline can top the Google news page is an indication our nation is deep into her dotage. We're talking "long-term unemployment" here, good buddies. Long, long periods of time when men get paid not to work.

There are so many commands of Scripture we are ashamed of today. For instance:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. (2Thessalonians 3:10-12)

"But the men and women getting unemployment benefits want to work; they just can't find a job," you say?

Right now there are 1.3 million men and women you and I have been paying for 26 weeks for not working, and in the next couple of months... another 1.9 million will complete 26 weeks of us paying them for not working. This is not benevolence. It incentivizes slothfulness and it is destructive of the souls of men. A mother who yields to her child's screaming fits for more candy, allowing her precious one to live on candy throughout childhood, is not a loving mother. She's a child-abuser.

The nation that pays men for being unemployed is even worse.

Am I saying I'm against all unemployment?

Sure. Instead of the government being our Lord-Provider, how about teaching the citizens of these United States the principle of saving for a rainy day? Why should the government force the employers to save for their employees' rainy days, serving as national banker for the scheme, when we could teach men to save themselves? Think of how much dignity men would have if they felt the pressure to work, and did so.

Sell on eBay (which my dear wife does). Shovel manure. Shampoo carpets. Milk goats (fifty a day, by hand). Cut grass. Drive truck. Wash windows. Pack books. Paint houses. Strip and wax floors. Pick apples. Clean boilers and heating ducts. Repair railroad cars. Bale hay. Clean motel bathrooms. As Merle Haggard sang, "I've done it all" — and I only listed the jobs I enjoyed.

Yup, there is deep satisfaction in cleaning horse stalls and washing bathrooms. Want me to explain?

You know who makes me feel ill? The man who's trying to get on disability.

You know who gives me joy and makes me proud? The man who takes a job at McDonalds, is an orderly in a nursing home, or delivers pizza. We have a number of men like that in Clearnote Church, Bloomington, and I'm so very proud of them! I tell them all the time.

This morning, one of our elders stopped by who is my hero for scrabbling his provision for his wife, children, and the church any way he can, any time he can. Pizzas. Roofing. Cars. A truck. A lab.

And cheerful — always, always cheerful. What cheer!

Listen, it's a kindness to men to take away their food when they don't work. So start right now, Mom and Dad; teach your children to work from the earliest age, and make sure they love it. Commend them on their work and give them more. Take away their iPads and smartphones for the day and send them outside to chop wood. Inside to clean toilets. To church to mop floors. To the soup kitchen to cook. To Goodwill to help you shop for eBay products, and you give them their own eBay turf, setting aside products they "own" that you won't infringe on.

Your children should have the privilege of learning what our nation is cruel enough to deny: that work was God's gift to man in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall; that work will be a gift of God to man in Heaven; and that work is a blessing to every one of us today. Sure, your children should have some time to read and play, but after the chores are done.

My family had guests for dinner all the time, and I always cleaned up the kitchen. You know one of the things I'm most thankful for in my life? That my dear sister, Deborah, taught me to clean up the kitchen before she left for college, and that I had the job each evening and every Sunday dinner for years after she left.

Do your chillluns have the privilege of setting the table? Clearing the table? Cleaning up the kitchen? Emptying the dishwasher? Scrubbing the pots and pans? Cleaning the bathrooms?

My mother made me do these and many other things, and how thankful I am she taught me to love work.

So, do your children love to work? Do they know how to change the oil on your car? To trim the grass? To split wood? To build a fire? To cook rice? To make granola? To sew a baby quilt?

Next to these glorious things a classical education is so very small.

Imagine Joseph and Mary sending their Son off to Gamaliel so he could be something more than a carpenter.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

It is a great gift to children to let them contribute to the maintenance of their families.  My older boys help bring in the wood that keeps our wood stove going and keeping the house warm in the winter.  I point out to them that they're helping keep their baby sibling warm when it is below zero outside. 

Man... you have to write this now, don't you?

A good part of wisdom is knowing when to take something to heart, and when not to. You're a worker, brother. Don't worry about this post.

Love,

It would also be good if we didn't have a country which protects the degreed (and provides them with inexpensive nannies and gardeners) while destroying the value of low-skill labor by importing vast numbers of illiterate Mexican peasants to drive down wages. 

Why do they have to be illiterate David?

It isn't a requirement but rather a tendency.  But if they were highly educated they'd be less useful for the purpose at hand.

Mr. Gray,

I understand your main point deals with problems with immigration in our country, but it's interesting that you mention Mexicans specifically. The Mexican individuals I've known personally (who are probably of the peasant class, I'm guessing, and some of them may be undocumented although I don't know for sure) are extremely hard working--cheerful and thorough even when doing menial tasks. I feel like they set a fine example of the work ethic Pastor Bayly is talking about. Obviously I don't know *every* Mexican immigrant to America, of course.

And some of the jobs immigrants typically do, Americans aren't willing to do: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/few-americans-take-immigrants-jobs-in-alabama/

>And some of the jobs immigrants typically do, Americans aren't willing to do

There are two aspects to that deceit (not yours personally but that of the Chamber of Commerce).  One is that Americans have done those jobs.  My cousins did bean walking and such agricultural work when there weren't Mexicans available.  The second is that Americans won't do them for the wages that illegals will.  Guess what, illegals won't do them for those wages either once they are legal.

However they will still depress wages.  I don't care how nice they are, how hard they work or if they sing about G.K. Chesterton while they work.  They aren't Americans and they are being used as a weapon against the American working man and his ability to have a decent job and provide for his family.  And that isn't even taking into account the effect that this winking at lawlessness has on society in general. 

Admittedly, the link I just posted is two years old. But, related to Mr. Bayly's post, it does mention the fact that Americans got more at that time in unemployment benefits than they would make doing difficult (but soul-building) farm work.

You don't see me praising the current unemployment system.  But let the market drive the wages for agricultural work.  I don't believe Americans won't do those jobs and reforming the unemployment system will just be another incentive.  Americans may not want to do that work at depressed wages driven by a greed filled desire on the part of big business but without flooding the market with illegal Mexican labor let the market drive what that labor is worth.  Don't let the wages be driven by millions of criminals, here in defiance of our laws.  The Democrats like them because they are a cudgel to be used against historical American culture.  The Republicans like them because they drive down working class wages.  BTW the use of the word "undocumented" is a tell-tale sign of someone using euphemisms to get around the lawlessness of the illegal immigrant.

<i> Shovel manure. Shampoo carpets. Milk goats (fifty a day, by hand). Cut grass. Drive truck. Wash windows. Pack books. Paint houses. Strip and wax floors. Pick apples. Clean boilers and heating ducts. Repair railroad cars. Bale hay. Clean motel bathrooms.</i>

It is only worth doing these things in exchange for money, and employers are not hiring because they have thousands of applicants for every opening for those sorts of jobs.

There are "X" number of new jobs available every month, and if you get one, great! But if you don't, then you are screwed, and you wait until next month, while 150,000 more people go on the job market. That's reality. Long term unemployment insurance extensions exist to account for this fact when we have a high unemployment rate for precisely this reason.

Tyro, Perhaps it's just the area where I live but the person I know who hires cleaning personnel for a hotel sometimes does not get even a single applicant for cleaning jobs that become available, let alone a thousand.

Mr. Gray, I do acknowledge the seriousness of the problems you mention. Certainly corporate greed is a factor, and also American consumer demand for rock bottom prices, no matter the consequences. But may I just make a completely separate comment, unrelated to immigration status, that I have been deeply impressed by witnessing the incredible work ethic of some individuals of a certain persuasion who work SO HARD for VERY LONG HOURS under VERY DIFFICULT CONDITIONS without the slightest complaint. It makes some other individuals, who happen to have been born into a wealthier society (including myself), look like lazy whiners. I think Pastor Bayly's post here about the topic of hard work is important. Perhaps he has addressed the immigration issue in a different post.

Odds and ends about work...

I see "now hiring" signs everywhere in Denver these days, but usually for places like fast food and retail. Those don't pay well, but are certainly a stepping stone to better things. When I was a teen, it was hard to get these jobs, they were so demanding and not accomodating toward someone who attended church. These days, the liberals want those jobs to pay a "living wage" for 40 hours per week, yet Obamacare disincentivizes businesses from hiring full time workers.  

A new Dunkin Donuts opened up down the way recently and I wish I could work there, if only for the social component (my line of work can be a little lonesome).

If a person has a skill that can be turned into a small business, there is money to be made. I did a search for a tile layer and a baseboard installer on the internet and found only one person in each category. If you are starting or operating a business, here is one tip that will make you rise above the competition: answer your phone.

I pondered recently what would it be like if unemployment insurance was privatized? I mean, a person could contract directly with an insurance company for whatever coverage he wanted, while the person who selects none would keep all of his wages. Just thinking.

There are entire industries in the Denver area that are primarily Mexican. Roofing is one of them. In my line of work, as I drive around, I rarely see a non-Mexican on those teams. I wonder what the economics are that sees the non-Mexican avoid it.

Labor is a product, just like anything else, and responds to supply and demand. When there is an increasing supply of workers, wages go down. Illegal immigration is the single biggest depressor of wages for hyphenated Americans, yet they are blind to it. I think that historically, it was the addition of women to the workforce that depressed wages for men. Now it takes two incomes to live comfortably, compared to one in the past.

There are so many Mexicans in the Denver area, there may be a day that you won't be able to get a job if you are not bi-lingual. On the other hand, I have tried to crack the Spanish market a number of times but haven't been able to figure out a way to do it economically.

Why does a person accused corporate America of greed, while at the same time asking his boss for a raise so that he can afford an iPhone? 

There is also no such thing as demanding rock-bottom prices. There are 330 million (or so) people in America, and each one of us makes thousands of economic decisions everyday. Our economy caters to all of them. If you think that Wal Mart doesn't pay their workers well enough, you can do two things: leave a tip for the cashier, or vote with your dollars and buy your detergent at Macy's.

I repent of all (or most) of the bad attitudes I had toward my past employers, and I am very grateful that God has taken me out of working for others, at least for the time being.

Dear Tyro,

It may be that your response was only hypothetical or in defense of another Christian brother who can't find work? But on the chance that you yourself are having difficulty holding down a job, and knowing many others reading this post are, in fact, as lazy as I am, here's my Sunday morning pastoral exhortation.

Knock on doors and ask if you can shovel snow. Find some odd jobs and do them well — often they are doors to better things. Go in stores and ask if you can have a job washing their windows once a week. Go to gas stations and ask if you can clean their bathrooms or high pressure spray their dirty concrete sidewalks and pump pads. Go to boarding stables and ask if you can shovel their manure. Ask a business owner in your church if you can work for him free for a month, to learn? Then get there early, leave late, and work very, very hard. And smart.

Men who own businesses know who works and who doesn't, especially in the church, and you wouldn't believe how much work shows up for men who work.

So no snivelling from Christian men about immigration and the economy. Yes, they're real and a disadvantage, but almost everyone in our church is poor and the men work hard and the Lord provides. And this in a small university community with lots of competition from students who don't want to leave once they've graduated.

I've watched these things for forty-five years now, and men who work, work. When I was in high school, I painted houses and hired friends to help. All my life I've noted how this testimony of Scripture is true:

I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.(Psalms 37:25)

Also this one:

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)

You may be tempted to think I'm being harsh with you, dear brother, but consider that there are few things more important for Christian men to learn today than the blessing work is, and how to do it. These are things that are only learned by men willing and able to face up to our own laziness, and repent.

Love,

I would hate to reach the point where calling on the magistrate to judge justly and perform its duties honestly is regarded as "snivelling."  

"How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
(Psa 82:2-4)

All my bones shall say, "O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?"
(Psa 35:10)

Dear David,

I don't think anyone who knows you would consider you capable of snivelling. Sorry for singling out excuses you had spoken of, yourself. As I said to another brother earlier, you should know that this doesn't apply to you. You work. Hard. And hard workers don't snivel. They argue and reason. Again, sorry for not being clearer.

Love,

Sorry for not being more perceptive. 

I agree with the main thrust of what you are arguing.  It is good for man to work, whether he is unemployed or even if he has inherited a trust fund and has no financial concerns (admittedly a smaller group). 

With each passing year I've grown more concerned with the plight of the lower end of the labor market.  It is a wrongly ordered society when a man can be self-disciplined and hard working yet has great difficulty providing for his family.  This doesn't sting the same way for the more educated end of the labor market.  There are indeed many shiftless folk and our government pursues policies which will add to that number.  Yet there are still many hard working men who are undermined by governmental policy. 

I want all my sons to be hard workers.  My grandfather was the hardest working man I ever knew.  During the war he put in 70 hour weeks at physical labor and I remember very clearly when he was 70+ years old that he would still put in a days labor before he'd see any of his family in hunger or want.  I named my eldest after him and I teach the boys about him.  Our current government, both under Republicans and Democrats, undermine men like that.

Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. (1Co 9:10)

And I need to work harder at proofing before hitting the save button.

Skilled or not, migrants are motivated people. Admittedly, I have been one (in the UK), but I can't make this point strongly enough.

In terms of labour market economics, immigration tends to depress nominal wages, especially at the lower-skilled reaches of the labour market, but the overall increase in goods and services produced will offset this to the extent that real wages (what you get for your money) can quite possibly increase. In economic terms, it's no different to buying imported products because they are a lot cheaper than the domestically-made ones; the effects on the domestic labour market are comparable.

I know someone here who turned up in the UK from Eastern Europe, with a lot less English than the average Mexican. He managed in the next three-four years to learn English and keep a permanent job. He also did something here which would probably not have happened had he stayed in his home country - he came to faith in Christ. 

In the UK we have 'guestworkers' from Eastern Europe working in areas (esp agriculture) where it is difficult to find people, even if one is paying measurably above the minimum wage (the people are here quite legally, so that isn't the issue). Some more enterprising churches have seen in this a God-given opportunity to reach out with with the Gospel to these people, who are much more likely to come to Christ outside their home culture than in it. Why isn't the Mexican influx, legal or not, being seen in similar terms? :-)

Why isn't the Mexican influx, legal or not, being seen in similar terms?

The comment "legal or not" says it all.  God is not honored by a utilitarian and lawless approach to evangelism.  And if someone's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world obeying U.S. law will not stop the salvation of that person.

@David

Yes, but how is God honoured by our *not* taking the opportunities that come our way? To express it in Reformed terms, it is the Christians who make the effort to get out and preach the Gospel, like St Paul being "all things to all men", who then have the joy of seeing the elect come to salvation as they (the elect) respond to the preaching of the Gospel - and then they then have the privilege of discipling those people in the way of Christ.

It is quite clear from missiology that someone is much more likely to come to faith in Christ outside their home culture than in it. If God has brought the mission field to us ...

Yes, but how is God honoured by our *not* taking the opportunities that come our way?

How is tolerating violations of the law taking an opportunity?  If you want people to witness while the criminals are being deported I have no problem with that or any other prison ministry.

It is quite clear from missiology that someone is much more likely to come to faith in Christ outside their home culture than in it.

It is even more clear from scripture that someone is 100% likely to come to faith in Christ if they are of the elect and they are 0% likely to come to faith in Christ if they are not.

I have no problem with mission work or witnessing to Mexicans, before or after they are deported.  I do have a problem with failing to enforce the law under the auspices of a faulty theology that says break a valid law so more men will know Christ.

Dear David,

We need to remember the special care God has for these...

'Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.' - Deuteronomy 27:19

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 19:33-34

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; - Matthew 25:35

As God takes special care for all the weak and powerless, and as illegal immigrants are more powerless, not less, surely God's special care extends to them too. A complaint I have heard here in Indianapolis is that the Mexicans make a neighborhood untidy because they pack so many people into a single house. Bottom-end jobs, multiple families crammed into a house...

Our responsibility before God for these must inform our attitudes and decisions regarding them.

This sort of fuzzy irrationality is tiring.

A foreigner who is here with our permission should be treated with all kindness and courtesy.

How did Israel treat the Philistines when they were uninvited?  A lot more harshly than we do the Mexicans.  I'm not calling for the law to abuse people while they are being deported, just to be honest and honorable and conform to a valid law.  I'm not calling for us to fail to feed, house, and clothe these people while they are being deported.  I wish you folk cared half as much for Americans who are struggling, both on the border and elsewhere, due to the illegal activities of those for whom you seek to advocate.

Corporate greed is a canard for the most part. For one, I believe it is 80% of employees work for a small business (someone can check me on that.) There is a huge difference between profit and profit margin. Our company (not RJ Honey, but the company I work for to support my beekeeping business) has a goal of a 5% profit margin. Margin is what's left over after the profit pays the bills. That's pretty slim. But business is competitive. 'Big' oil is always a straw man target. Check me again, but I believe their profit margins are 5-8%. Hardly greedy. We used to get that in savings accounts before the Fed devalued our money.

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