Why do we work?

Came across two related video clips with Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton touting the ‘freedom’ that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) gives us. It’s not uncommon that different members of a political party will repeat almost verbatim the canned response that the White House has to the latest steaming hot pile on their doorstep. But if you watch both clips, their response goes something like this:

Question: We now have conclusive evidence that Obamacare is responsible for millions of people losing the health insurance coverage they once had. It’s also responsible for employers cutting back on workers’ hours, eliminating jobs, and slowing the unemployment recovery. Doesn’t this prove that Obamacare is doing more harm than good to the country?

Response: The Affordable Care Act now gives those workers that were keeping a job just to have / keep health insurance more freedom. You don’t have to work at some company just to keep your insurance. And that’s a good thing.

I started to wonder, why do we work? Why do YOU go to work? What motivates you to get out of your warm, cozy slumber and go labor? Sure, we have bills to pay. We need to eat. Our kids need an education. But have you thought about why you’re doing the job you’re currently in?

I suspect the majority of people out there will say that they aren’t in love with their jobs. They may like it. They might enjoy certain aspects of it. But maybe they feel trapped, as Joe and Hillary claim, for whatever reason (to keep health insurance, pay the mortgage, work close to / from home, etc.). In other words, if something came along with better pay, less hours, less stress, kinder co-workers / manger, was spiritually more fulfilling, etc., then I suspect most people would jump ship the minute the opportunity presented itself. If you work in a corporate environment, the movie Office Space may hit a little too close to home for you. BTW, it’s one of my favorites.

The Bible tells us that because of the Fall of Adam, we’ve been cursed to have to work at everything – the food we eat, the homes we live in, the animals we raise. It all requires work. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 tells us that if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat. So from very early on after Creation through the NT, it’s clear we must labor / work instead of sitting around idle. That’s not to say that we must all be employed. Some of the most important labor that takes place each and every day is done by stay-at-home parents, retired seniors, and volunteers.

That being said and getting back to my original question, why do YOU go to your job? For me, I’ve had many different jobs at several different companies over the last 16 years of my post-college career. But even while I was still in school, I had several part-time jobs that I had taken – everything from washing dishes in a Bohemian bakery to bagging groceries and bussing tables. I did phone sales, traded stocks online, and finally landed in a Finance role, which is what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years or so.

Looking back, the reason I took my first part-time jobs was to get some spending cash. I wanted to buy things, so I traded my time and energy for a pay check. Sure, I would rather have hung out with my friends, but I also wanted to buy some tapes / CDs or a new guitar or go on a late night Taco Bell run. I weighed out the cost (my time and energy) and the benefit (the negotiated salary with my employers) and we made an exchange.

Rock Star

Now, as a teen, I really didn’t have a budget. I was blessed to have parents that paid for my housing, 3 squares a day, my clothes, even my car and gas. So 100% of my take home pay was ‘disposable’ income. Play money.

After I got married, we now had bills. We had a mortgage and groceries and not too long afterward, we had a baby coming. At first, Jenny and I both worked which meant we paid for Daycare. One of the first pivotal moments in our marriage came when Jenny had missed a ‘big moment’ in the life of our daughter. While she was in daycare, Ruth did something for the first time (can’t remember, but I think it was she turned over). It completely crushed Jenny that she missed it.

As a result, we made a decision. We would go from being a dual income household to one. Jenny stayed home with Ruth (and eventually 6 more) to raise them and witness all of their big moments. Obviously, there was a cost to our decision. We could have more money to buy nicer things, more toys, dine out more frequently, buy a bigger house, and take more vacations if we had 2 incomes. But, we had decided that the Total Cost to our family was not enough for the benefit of more pay.

Later, we made a decision to homeschool our children. Unfortunately, that meant we had to pay for all of our educational resources out of pocket. (Homeschoolers that are homeowners get slapped twice with the cost of education – our taxes pay for everyone else’s children to go to school and then, we have to buy our own materials / curriculum with post-taxed income with no write off / deductions.) Again, this decision had a cost, but we decided it was important enough for us to make the sacrifice.

Everything Jenny and I do with our finances comes down to our values and priorities. The job I take, the hours I spend away from my family, the stress my mind and body endure, the difficult relationships that invariably pop up when you work with people – these are ALL factors in the choice I make to wake up each morning and go to work. It’s not always bad. There are moments that are quite satisfying for me. But I am FREE to make that choice to work. I am under no contract or indentured servitude with my employer. I can choose to walk away at any time.

Yes, if I quit my job today, it might be difficult to keep all the things we have. We might get kicked out of our home and our possessions may be sold off. We may lose our health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, and savings. But that’s part of the choice I make to work.

So, getting back to Joe and Hillary’s “freedom to not work and keep your insurance” claim. Unless there’s another change that they slipped into the 33,000 pages of regulation that they had passed, the way I see it is if you don’t have the money to pay for the Obamacare plan, you won’t get health insurance. They’ll simply keep your tax “refund” at the end of the year to make you pay. If you are out of a job, how exactly are you free to keep your insurance?

You were / are ALREADY free to pursue health coverage without Obamacare. There are countless options available, including having no insurance and paying out-of-pocket for the services you use. The question is how important is it to you? If you have no other priorities in your life, you don’t have kids, you live in your parents’ spare room, and you live off of ramen and cereal, your choices are pretty broad ranging, even if you worked at a fast-food restaurant at minimum wage. Maybe you won’t have cable TV. Maybe you won’t have a cell phone. Maybe you can’t afford a car or the latest fashion. But. YOU. ARE. FREE.

One of the choices Jenny and I have made is also to limit taking from others against their will. If you live in a society of heavy taxation and public provision, it’s hard to be completely disconnected. We use the library. We benefit from police and fire and military services. It’s almost impossible to buy milk or cotton or sugar in the US that hasn’t been subsidized by the taxpayer. But I would rather lose my home and my cars and live in a one BR shack with my family than take any ‘public assistance’ stolen from other taxpayers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally in favor of giving to / receiving charity that is done voluntarily. But stealing from many for the benefit of a few (and also the administrators that have to provide all the red tape) is something in which I am not willing to participate.

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