As the subject of the Occupy movement comes up more and more in conversations, I often hear apparently well-intentioned yet seemingly self-righteous comments from employed people that claim that they work hard for what they earn while those protestors are just lazy and need to get a job (or two).
One of the common threads that I hear in dialogue is the misunderstanding of the corelation of hard work with earned income. It seems to me that it is an oversimplification to assume that hard work of itself or even primarily is what determines the value of one's wage or earned income.
It seems to me that one's economic value would be determined by where one lives, as in what part of the world or what city or neighborhood one grew up in or now resides in, access to quality education, who one's parents are, a strong support system of family, mentors, etc., nepotism, being lucky as in being in the right place at the right time for opportunities along the way, and of course, hard work.
Looking at one's economic value surely takes on a much different perspective when taking all of these things into consideration, doesn't it? It is a very humbling experience to realize that our hard work doesn't always produce the results that we desire. No man (or woman) is an island, that is for sure. The person that believes that their own efforts solely create their economic value in this world is certainly making a naive assumption.
Ask most people who understand how circumstances beyond one's control and politics fit in to the picture for instance, especially the unemployed single person looking for good living wage work who has lost something major like their home, their job, career, pension, health insurance or other benefits, and has worked for decades to build their personal capital, and get their story. You'll probably discover that what they have experienced and understand earned income to be involves a lot more than hard work and most likely they won't give you that 'I work hard and the lazy people need to get off their butts and get a job' story.
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