Scene In Passing: ‘Callous’ look at work’s real value explored

It’s time for a callous column.

This offers a chance to show any tendency here toward a bleeding heart long since succumbed to a motivated mind, a busy brain and a willingness to look upon work as play. This also is trending toward bias, so the following material is suitable only for a commentary.

“If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain,” said someone in a quote many, including me before checking, put into the mouth of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s a fun but generally useless quote given words like liberal and conservative mean various and sundry somethings to people who think they know their definitions. These terms now are about as nifty as Greece’s credit rating.

Upon reading last week Nevada’s and Carson City’s unemployment rates are under 7 percent, lightning struck in these precincts. Two different nearly useless words to serve similar imprecise impulses struck with an accompanying thunder clap. Liberated preservative will stand in for those other choices.

If you’re not a liberated preservative at 60 or above, you don’t have a prayer. Permit me to loosely identify a liberated preservative as someone bemused by politics, government and commerce who thinks for himself or herself (hence liberated from outside influence as much as possible), and who has done such thinking long enough to harbor philosophic notions as to what is best to jettison and what is worth preserving.

Examples: Free yourself from both tradition for tradition’s sake and change for the sake of change; meanwhile, preserve your body, your cash flow, your integrity and sound societal institutions or habits, if possible.

Now to the elusive point. The economy is back when employment exceeds 93 percent, so those out of work either are incapable, don’t want to participate in that form of play for pay, or think they’re worth more than society currently does. Here’s a “truth” that will make some think a uncompassionate conservative wrote this: Work is a privilege, not a right, and a sound habit underpinning society’s institutions.

No task is so menial that it batters either dignity or integrity. To be sure, there are times when people find themselves out of work and it’s tough. This city, state and nation passed through such times in recent years. It was when the employment — forget unemployment — rate was 86 to 89 or 90 percent.

But anyone who stayed out of work throughout the economy’s trough wasn’t willing to assume a role he or she thought demeaning though it would have preserved at least a modicum of cash flow. Starting over at or nearer the bottom rung of the employment ladder isn’t the worst thing. We are always on trial and it’s competitive-city out there. Starting over is what we do every morning when we awaken if we take the world for what it always is: Brand new.

As pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus put it: “Nothing endures but change,” and “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing onto you.”

Everyone working should keep that in mind. All who are looking for what to do next must keep it uppermost in their thinking so sooner rather than later, they will have something to do and at least some cash flow.

Sufficiently callous for a liberated preservative?

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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