Snowmass Village Sun, Snowmass Village CO
Whatever happened to the
Great American Job? You know, the one
that you get right out of high school, trade school or college that just keeps
leading to bigger and better things. I’m
talking about that job that covers health, dental, disability and life insurance. Take a vacation and enjoy the holidays on
paid time! All your paychecks are on time, and they never bounce. When you are
through working, a guaranteed pension cushions you until you draw your last
breath. From the secure arms of your
parents to the secure arms of your parent company, you never worry where your
next meal is coming from.
It is clear that the Great
American Job resides with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus somewhere in
Neverland. I don’t know who has had the
ruder awakening, the Boomers or the twenty-somethings who are just finishing
their formal education.
The Boomers have had the
distinct disadvantage of being raised by the only generation in American
history that was actually able to retire in large numbers. Somehow, we assumed that our parents’
experience represents an entitlement.
History says otherwise. People in the generations that preceded World
War II pretty much planned on working until they dropped unless they were
fortunate enough to have some family support.
That was a major motivation in having kids, apart from lack of reliable
The twenty-somethings were
raised by the illusion-laden Boomers who ramped up the fairy tale by rewarding
their precious little darlings for every burp and hiccup. They bought them cars to drive to high school
and if the perfect report card was tarnished by a “D”, they assumed the teacher
must be at fault. I truly feel for these
kids. These babes in the woods are
ill-equipped to compete in a shrinking job market. Heck, they are probably competing with their
own shell-shocked parents for that job at McDonalds.
But enough with the
hand-wringing. Where do we go from
here? This is not the end of the
world. We will carry on. What will the new Great American Job look like?
I believe the new Great
American Job will be an individually-crafted collection of revenue sources that
each person will work hard to assemble and maintain. I believe revenue and prosperity will be
defined by measures other than money. I
believe people will protect and appreciate their own unique livelihood and the
partners who help them maintain it.
Finally, I believe this will be an improvement on some of the drone-like
livelihoods of recent decades.
We are already seeing a
reduction in the 40-hour work week, and overtime is taking a hike in most
workplaces, unless, of course, you are a salary slave. A reduced workweek not only allows for more
jobs, but also allows people time to pursue other non-paycheck sources of
I have long subscribed to the
idea that every household needs at least five independent sources of
sustenance. My friends in Mack tell me
the number is actually closer to twenty.
A little of this, a little of that, but never all of one’s eggs in the
A good accounting instructor
suggested we should each look at our lives as a small business. Your most obvious customer may be the
paycheck employer. The best way to keep
this customer is to ask how you can help him/her succeed, and then proceed to
act on the answer cheerfully.
A wise businessperson always
seeks more than one customer. We’re all
familiar with the extra part-time job and a myriad of buy-and-sell or
make-and-sell opportunities. The new
Great American Job will go beyond that in defining both customers and revenue.
How about being your own best
customer. What can you do for you? Can you grow your own food, fix your own car,
mend your own clothes or cut your own hair?
Most importantly, can you recognize and value your own unique prosperity
without comparing yourself unfavorably to others?
I know my family and my
neighbors are my customers. If I can
help them out with a little child care, skill sharing, a borrowed tool or a
sympathetic ear, I know that support will come back to me. It’s nice that nobody seems to be keeping
Finally, I know my community
is an important customer. The value of
volunteer work allows a quality of community life that money cannot buy.
Everyone has some way in which they can serve. The spiritual revenue of volunteer
work does not show up in my bank account, but I certainly feel richer for
it. On a pragmatic note, volunteer work
is a great way to network.
There are a lot of Great
American Jobs out there. We just have to