OPINION — We must work to restore our nation’s work ethic

Published 8:18 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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As acid corrodes aluminum, once it starts it gets worse faster and faster. We are watching this happen before our eyes. The headline in the Danville Bee stated the current situation perfectly, “Southside’s sign of the times: Help wanted but very few takers.”

When the Jamestown Settlement was first established, settlers decided that all would work to grow the crops for survival. In turn, they would be shared. To their surprise, too many shirked work. The result was not enough labor in the fields which led to a winter in which only 60 of those 500 survived. The next year, they established themselves as a capitalist society. Each would be rewarded based on how much they participated in growing the crops needed. Little work resulted in little food.

Over the last several decades, America has forgotten that important lesson. Multiple government programs provide free services to any that hold their hand out. Clearly there are those who physically or mentally are unable to care for themselves and need help. As a moral society, we have a responsibility to assist those. However, we no longer make much effort to divide those who cannot from those who will not do for themselves.

In the mid-90s, Virginia led the nation with legislation that limited welfare thus reducing the tax burden on those working to provide for their families. It was an example that the federal government followed during the Clinton administration. Gradually, at both the federal and state levels, government has removed the restrictions of who gets various benefits.

Some in our society abuse the system. Some will accept a job, work the number of weeks required, then slack off enough in hopes of losing the job. This will be followed by months of unemployment benefits until they reach their maximum unemployment benefits before the cycle begins again.


The COVID pandemic has only made matters worse. Employers need employees to get their businesses opened back up to full capacity. Despite that, the federal government is paying former workers hundreds of dollars a week in addition to state unemployment benefits.

Some are receiving more for not working than they would receive after taxes for working. This is a disaster for all. The money to do that is a debt that our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay far into the future. Meantime, businesses are unable to find workers to keep their businesses open.

Restaurants are either operating shorter hours or fewer days. Motels are not able to service rooms as they have traditionally. Nursing homes are unable to properly staff to provide the care to our most vulnerable seniors. Assembly lines have had to shut down for lack of parts.

The president sadly does not understand the dilemma that he is creating. When asked by a reporter if he thought the reason that so few jobs were created in April was the result of paying folks not to work, he simply dismissed the question. Either it is beyond his ability to deal honestly with the American people, or he simply could care less about our future.

Luckily, some governors are smart enough to call a halt to these payouts. Regrettably, Virginia’s governor is not one of those. In fact, Governor Northam’s leadership at the Virginia Employment Commission has so mishandled the jobs claims that they now have pure chaos.

Our nation’s success depends on all having a strong work effort. We must all work to restore that ethic.

Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.