What Gives? [Part II]

The vast majority of fast food restaurants here in Cedar City have gone to drive-by service because they can’t hire enough people. I see “now hiring” signs where I never saw them before. It took almost two months to get my snow blower repaired, partly because of COVID and partly because the power equipment dealership couldn’t find qualified mechanics.

Record numbers of people are quitting their jobs, especially in hospitality, retail, and healthcare. There have been articles in several periodicals lately about people quitting jobs or not wanting to work at “shit jobs.” I have to wonder what world they’re living in. All jobs have shit components – even writing – and historically most jobs haven’t been all that easy. There’s a reason why the term “job” is synonymous with “work.”

People want others to do unpleasant jobs, but there aren’t enough American citizens who want to do the jobs for the wages offered. Yet far too many of those who want the goods and services provided by low-paying jobs don’t want to pay for what it would cost to hire people. Nor do they want to allow immigrants who would do those jobs at current pay rates into the United States.

We have housing shortages and rapidly rising housing prices in the U.S. In nearby St. George, the price of a median-priced home has almost doubled to $500,000 over the last six years, with almost a 30% increase in the past year alone. In all too many cities, Americans with median incomes can’t afford rent, let alone mortgage payments. Yet it gets harder and harder to build a house every year, and harder and harder for builders to find qualified workers.

Students complain about the high cost of college, yet, at the same time, every year, my wife the professor has students who complain about not having enough money, but who don’t do assignments and papers and don’t show up for classes – and end up losing full-tuition scholarships because they flunk out.

Republicans complain about government ignoring the average person, but they continue to elect predominantly politicians who either graduated from expensive elite colleges or who are rich, if not both. And even though the Republicans are against everything except barring immigrants and lowering taxes at a time of massive deficits, their supporters still think they’re good for the working man, especially white males with limited skills and education.

Democrats say they’re for the working people, but they’re having a hard time reaching agreement among themselves because of the so-called progressives who are pushing so many policies with regulations and price tags even most Democrats find excessive. And a likely result is that they’ll get too little done before the mid-term elections and will wonder why they lost seats in Congress.

4 thoughts on “What Gives? [Part II]”

  1. Grey says:

    One of the themes at the outset of this essay, about what is termed the great resignation, doesn’t discuss a driving factor: that people are not quitting jobs because they don’t want to work, or because they were surprised that their job had crappy parts. Rather, they are quitting jobs for other, better paying jobs [1], in part for the reasons you discuss later: it’s getting really expensive to live here. There is not some idle workforce lounging around on the dole. This has been the case even in the states that cut off pandemic relief funds quickly to get people back in to jobs.

    It is true that more people are quitting from healthcare retail and hospitality, because those jobs have become markedly more awful over the course of the pandemic. How many videos have we seen of some minimum wage employee at a grocery store or a restaurant being abused by some anti-mask drama queen, or just having some person who has been cooped up in their house for months lashing out at the first convenient target? How many Reddit posts and newspaper articles about doctors and nurses being abused, sometimes physically, by Covid denial and vaccine dead-enders? Pick any movie you want for the “I didn’t sign up for this” quote; I would quit too.

    [1] There are many stories out there debunking this, as a specific local example for Wisconsin, I randomly found: https://www.wbay.com/2022/01/05/great-resignation-myth-says-local-workforce-development-leader/

  2. Postagoras says:

    I agree with Grey above. The pandemic has definitely been the straw that’s broken the camel’s back.
    But the situation for workers has been getting worse for years, as wages have not kept pace with the cost of living.
    Businesses have broken unions and kept wages low by leveraging globalization. Also, the ultra-rich aren’t making the same mistakes as the robber barons of the early 20th century. They’re making sure that the legislators get their cut.
    I’m a little surprised with your comments here, Mr. Modesitt. You’ve made the point in many of your books that factors and High Holders will pursue obscene profits and will only grudgingly settle for less-obscene profits.
    Workers aren’t able to fight collectively against these employers any more, so they’re using this opportunity to vote with their feet.

  3. Postagoras says:

    You say that the Democrats will lose seats in the midterm elections because they’ll get too little done?
    The Presidential party losing seats in the midterms is a pretty consistent trend.
    Nowadays, it’s damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. The reliable Democratic voters won’t be enthusiastic because too little was done. But reliable Republican voters would be up in arms if ANYTHING was done. And the swing voters, who knows how they make their decisions?

  4. Darcherd says:

    One major factor in The Great Resignation that hasn’t been mentioned is the unexpectedly large numbers of Baby Boomers who are choosing to retire now rather than later (I’ve seen several articles from reputable newspapers and magazines documenting this phenomenon). This has the result of freeing up higher-level, more desirable positions within firms and organizations that people lower in the organization can now take advantage of…and leaving a lot more positions open at the bottom.

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