An older generation disapproving of the incoming one is a tale as old as time. As the philosopher Abraham Jebediah Simpson once said, neatly summing up the phenomenon: “I used to be with 'it', but then they changed what 'it' was. Now what I'm with isn't 'it' anymore and what’s 'it' seems weird and scary. It'll happen to you!” Are the aged really upset with the young generation and the way they live, or does that younger generation just become an avatar of a changing world that will leave them behind before they exit? You’d have to talk to the therapists the last generation doesn’t go to to find out!
The latest bug to crawl up the butt of the boomer generation is their collective decision, in what they’re calling “the Great Resignation,” is the idea that these ding-dang gosh-darn millennial snowflakes just simply don’t want to work anymore. This is a sentiment echoed across bizarrely punctuated facebook posts and cranky dads at fast food restaurants en masse. You’ll also see it posted on passive-aggressive signs hung in understaffed businesses, saying things like “Bobo’s Hamburger World is no longer open past midnight because of a coddled group of SJWs who think they’re too good for grease burns.”
Instructor at University of Calgary and Twitter user Paul Fairie, smelling the stench of an argument endlessly made, put together a thread of quotes from publications going back a full century accusing workers of not wanting to work. The thread was then compressed into a single image by Twitter user Robin Garr, embedded below.
This documentation through the ages of the lazy, discontent working public starts to show that this isn’t exactly the epiphany that Subway franchise managers seem to think it is. My favorite of the above is the one from 1937, from an interview with “orchardists” which is not a word I’ve heard before. Apparently it means people who run orchards, even though it sounds like a back row instrumentalist in the Philharmonic Orchestra. Just another example of my sheltered millennial mindset! Regardless, if you ever needed an example that this imagined struggle is constant, orchards complaining that no one wants to pick apples in the middle of the god damn Great Depression feels pretty apt.
Parallels can further be drawn from this specific situation to today. Again, we find ourselves in an economically perilous period, that, according to everything I’ve read and the general anxiety levels of economists smarter than me, seems like it’s only going downhill. Once again, the people in need of labor for incredibly unrewarding jobs have pointed their finger at a willpower-less public. After all, they’re talking about fruit-picking, a job that is literally often used as a punchline or example of undesirable work. One that is now the go-to example of the work taken by desperate and less-than-documented migrant workers because, well, the job f**king sucks.
Nowadays, “burger flipper” has become the de facto nomenclature for a terrible underpaid job. One that was weaponized as an insult for a non-zero portion of my life and used as a boogeyman-style threat for those considering missing out on college.The same college that has resulted in insurmountable debt hanging over the heads of most people I know. However, now that their fries don’t come fast enough, young people’s aversion to what was described to them as basically the most dishonorable profession in the first world is a fault in character.
What’s even more bizarre about these froth-mouthed claims is that simple economic data doesn’t back up the narrative. The current unemployment rate in the U.S., via the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 3.6%.This is one of the lowest unemployment rates in the last 50 years or more. So apparently, the amount of people that want to work is the highest it’s ever been, but no one wants to work anymore. How do these two things co-exist? It’s pretty simple: people don’t want to work TERRIBLE JOBS, and they don’t have to.
Since the people that continually scream about the poor work ethic and willpower of the snowflake generation are usually erotically obsessed with the idea of the free market, you’d think they’d have some basic grasp of the idea of supply and demand. Unfortunately, it seems that when it exists in any form beyond a word problem about apples, it’s harder for them to follow. The unemployment rate shows that there is a large supply of jobs. If no one wants to work for you, that likely means whatever job you’re offering is in very low demand. So maybe do what the businessman you hold in such high regard would do in this kind of situation: examine why what you’re offering sucks so much that nobody wants it.
Before you complain so much about people that don’t want your jobs, ask yourself why nobody wants it. Maybe if you raised the salary, or offered any sort of benefits, so hundreds of dollars a month of an already piss-poor level of compensation don’t also get hoovered up by insurance companies. Is paying your workers a living wage not financially viable? Well, unfortunately it seems like your genius business plan was actually financially unviable and was held afloat by simple desperation.
The words you’re looking for aren’t “nobody wants to work anymore,” they’re “I can’t find anyone desperate enough to do awful things.” Which, for anyone looking at a picture beyond numbers, isn’t the worst state of things. By the way, the entire statement “no one wants to work anymore” is inherently dumb. Nobody likes to work, except for mattress testers and candy tasters. People work because it’s necessary to live and do the things in life that actually bring them joy. So when your job can’t offer any of that, maybe your potential employees are just asking a question you’ve probably rattled off in a hundred meetings: “what do I get out of it?”