You Don’t Have A “Right” To The Job Of Your Dreams—You DO Have A Duty To Pull Your Own Weight In LifeMonday, September 14th, 2009
In one of Al Gore’s national campaigns—I can’t remember if it was for President or VP—he appeared on a televised forum. (The audience was young adults, so it was probably MTV. )
An obviously intelligent young lady, just graduated from college, told Gore that she planned to pursue a career in the “creative arts.” She wanted to know whether Gore, if elected, could enhance government-funded health care options for people (like herself) who pursued career paths that didn’t pay well.
Gore said he’d try. I wished he’d said something like this instead: “Ma’am, you’re obviously talented and capable. We need to save our precious public health care funding for people who are truly needy, who truly can’t provide for themselves. You need to take care of your own healthcare needs. Find a job that allows you to do that.”
Maybe, now that we’re in the midst of a great national debate on healthcare, Gore could say it now? I wish he would.
I encourage everyone to follow their dreams. If you want to be a painter, or a writer, or a performance artist, great!
However, you’re a citizen first. That entails personal responsibility. I submit that, one of those responsibilities is making sure your personal needs—food, shelter, healthcare—are taken care of by YOU.
That’s what jobs are traditionally for. You take a job that gives you the money and benefits you need to feed, clothe, shelter and take care of you and yours.
Now, it would be nice if you can find a job that does all those things AND you enjoy—but it’s not critical. It’s not central to the reason for working in American society and it never has been. We work to support ourselves and (hopefully) not burden our neighbors and neighborhood. We don’t work for fun, personal growth and fulfilment.
I suspect that some of the advocates for a public healthcare option hope that, if the government will take care of their medical bills, they can then pursue jobs that they like more but pay less. Well, in a capitalist society, the better paying jobs tend to be those that provide services that society values. (I’m referring to private-sector jobs here. I acknowledge that many public servants—e.g., teachers, social workers—don’t get paid commensurate with their work’s value to society).
Remember economics class, when the teacher talked about Adam Smith’s “invisible hand?” Capitalist economies will naturally shift resources to those needs people most want fulfilled. People who do those jobs, who fulfill those needs, get better pay and benefits.
Does this mean that every idealistic, aspiring writer or painter should go work on Wall Street or join the Army. No. It does mean, though, that you need to take steps to ensure that, if you do have health problems, you’re covered.
Take a job that offers benefits, and pursue your dream on the weekends or evenings. Most young people are healthy enough to qualify for catastrophic health care coverage with premiums of just a few hundred dollars a month. So, buy a beater car, get the basic cable package, take a roommate and buy the insurance you need.
We need to save our limited public healthcare dollars for the disabled, single parents, and others who really aren’t financially able to meet their needs. The rest of us need to pull our own weight.