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Guest Opinion: Labor thoughts on Labor Day

As I travel around the Brainerd lakes area, it's hard to go very far without seeing help wanted signs by local merchants. With unemployment hovering around 10 percent in this area, my first reaction is this: Why is it, when there are so many empl...

As I travel around the Brainerd lakes area, it's hard to go very far without seeing help wanted signs by local merchants. With unemployment hovering around 10 percent in this area, my first reaction is this: Why is it, when there are so many employers looking for help that we still have people without jobs? I thought about this long and hard and this is what I came up with. Like always, there are two sides.

Work can't just be seen in the concept of your work and you make money. Some of the other good reasons for working are self-esteem and having a purpose and a reason to get up each day. The relationships you develop while meeting and working with other people is priceless. You are more active while working and your body likes you to be more active and will respond by working better for you.

Some of the reasons for not working are, it's not hard to live at the same pay grade as a lot of the working people in this country by simply taking handouts and government programs. There used to be a stigma that went with this and, unless you were unable to work, it was almost shameful to do. But no longer is that true. One other reason is an inflated ego that says, "I'm not going to do that. I'm better than that." Well, I'm here to tell you that if you're sitting home watching television instead of working, "You're not better than that." You just think you are. If you get out there and be a part of a team in a working society, you might meet that person someday that will pay you what you think you're really worth.

There have been efforts to raise the wages of part-time and entry-level jobs and I support that. But on the other hand we need to have a tax climate for businesses to help their bottom line also. Are businesses greedy? I don't think so; most of the new ones fail within a year. That wasn't their intention when they first started up. Competition can be fierce sometimes. But the ones that survive do so because they recognize how important two groups of people are. Their customers and their employees and they do their best to take care of both of them.

There is phrase that doesn't get mentioned much anymore and it's called "work ethic." It's not for sale anywhere and schools rarely teach it. Most people find this harbored deep in the genes of the people they grew up with. Work may get you rich monetarily someday or, on the other hand, it may just richen you spiritually but it will go a long way to making you feel good about yourself. My father was steeped in this ethic, working from day up to sunset most of his life. He died, not a rich man, but a fulfilled man because he knew that whatever he had he worked hard for. He also knew that his children saw that look of satisfaction on his face and wanted nothing more than to emulate him. I look at those help wanted signs around Brainerd and I always remember one of dad's favorite sayings: "There is always a job for a person who wants to work." I've seen the truth in that in my life. Something our government can't seem to figure out is, if there were more people paying payroll taxes and less people living off the taxpayers, we would be better off. On the other side, if you truly can't work and need assistance. God bless you. Be proud.

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Mike Holst is an author and resident of Crosslake.

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