Friday, February 15, 2013

Work Gives Dignity, Not Pay

While testifying at a hearing regarding the potential pay cuts for federal employees, including Congress, on Thursday, Feb. 14, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said regarding Congress taking cuts:

"I don't think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do. I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded…”

Maybe this is part of the problem. Your pay determines dignity if you’re in Congress… What an interesting concept.

For most of us, we find dignity in a job by working hard and doing the best that we can. The result, whether it is a child with a little more knowledge, a mom’s car fixed, a load safely delivered to the grocery store, or grandpa’s leaky roof repaired, is how we judge if a job has dignity. Did we make life a bit better for others? Did we make things a little easier for someone else? Did we serve them as we would hope to be served?

I’ve held a lot of jobs over the years, ranging from farm-hand to janitor, to mechanic, to starting a business. Many times I found myself paid less than others doing far less work. I never felt without my dignity. Pride in taking care of my family, pride in a job done well, pride in helping others by doing my job, that pride was the foundation of my dignity.

When public servants, and I’ll use the term servants loosely, state that pay equals dignity, I question if they have any understanding of grassroots America. Almost every American knows someone who has lost a job and has spent months or even years looking for another. We all know someone who lost their job and when they found another, it paid much less, sometimes as little as half of what they used to earn. Many Americans haven’t had a pay increase in several years and are happy to have a job.

Maybe if those engaged in partisan bickering understood what created dignity, something positive would emerge from Congress.

Work gives pride and dignity, not the size of your paycheck!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Lessons of Lincoln and Grandpa

February 12 has always been a special day for me, at least since I was old enough to understand birthdays and Presidents. It did help that my grandfather shared Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

Today you’ll see a multitude of columns, blogs, and stories about our sixteenth President, deservedly so. Lincoln stood up and did what he believed was right in spite of hateful and savage treatment by his opponents. In preventing the dissolution or destruction of our country, as commander-in-chief he oversaw actions that led to the deaths of over 600,000 Americans. And in spite of an all-consuming civil war, he still managed to lead the country in passing a number of far-reaching legislative measures.

I think many Americans would be surprised by the number of achievements, many of which still impact our lives that Lincoln advocated for and worked hard to make into law and public policy.

I saw a lot of President Lincoln in my grandpa. Honesty and integrity were core values and they were supported by a willingness, even eagerness, to work hard to achieve his goals. I hope that I am living up to those standards in my life as his grandson and as an American citizen.

The concern that I have is how many of our elected officials have these basic values as their core? Are they honest with us? Are they telling us what they think we want to hear or are they telling us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it? Are they sacrificing their values for political gain, or are they standing firm on what they believe to be their fundamental principles? Are they working hard for the future of their community, their state, and our great nation or are they now entitled to perks and privileges?

Today is a great day to remember to hold a picture of Lincoln, and one of your admired ancestors, up to your elected officials and ask them to reaffirm the values and work ethic that we elected them to have. Each generation needs to remember the struggles, trials, and tribulations of the past and commit to overcoming today's obstacles and challenges. Each American and Granger needs to remind our elected officials that it isn’t about them, it is about our Country and our future.