Wall Street Journal op-ed: Work and the American Character, by Peggy Noonan:
Huckabee [said] on his Fox show a few weeks ago ... that we see
joblessness as an economic fact, we talk about the financial
implications of widespread high unemployment, and that isn't wrong but
it misses the central point. Joblessness is a personal crisis because
work is a spiritual event.
A job isn't only a means to a paycheck, it's more. "To work is to
pray," the old priests used to say. God made us as many things,
including as workers. When you work you serve and take part. To work is
to be integrated into the daily life of the nation. There is pride and
satisfaction in doing work well, in working with others and learning a
discipline or a craft or an art. To work is to grow and to find out who
In return for performing your duties, whatever they are, you receive
money that you can use freely and in accordance with your highest
desire. A job allows you the satisfaction of supporting yourself or your
family, or starting a family. Work allows you to renew your life, which
is part of the renewing of civilization.
Work gives us purpose, stability, integration, shared mission. And so
to be unable to work—unable to find or hold a job—is a kind of
catastrophe for a human being.
There are an estimated 11.5 million unemployed people in America now,
and those who do not have sufficient work or who've left the workforce
altogether inflate that number further.
This is the real reason jobs and employment are the No. 1 issue in
America's domestic life. And what I have been thinking in the weeks
leading up to this weekend is very simple: "Thank you, God, that I have a
job." May more of us be able to say those words on Labor Day 2014.
And may more political leaders come up who can help jobs happen, who
can advance and support the kind of national policies that can encourage
American genius. One of the things missing in the current political
scene is zest—a feeling that can radiate from the political sphere that
everything is possible, the market is wide open.
In the midst of the economic malaise of the 1970s the TV anchormen
spoke in sonorous tones about the dreadful economic
indicators—inflation, high interest rates, "the misery index." But Steve
Jobs, in his parents' garage, was quietly working on circuit boards.
And strange young Bill Gates
was creating a company called Microsoft. All that work burst forth
under the favorable economic conditions and policies in the 1980s and
What is needed now is a political leader on fire about all the
possibilities, not one who tries to sound optimistic because polls show
optimism is popular but someone with real passion about the idea of new
businesses, new inventions, growth, productivity, breakthroughs and
jobs, jobs, jobs. Someone in love with the romance of the marketplace.
We've lost that feeling among our political leaders, who mostly walk
around looking like they have headaches. But American genius is still
there, in our garages. It's been there since before Ben Franklin and the
key and the kite and the bolt of lightning.