I grew up hearing about how lazy unemployed people were – how they didn’t really want to work, and if they did, why, there were plenty of jobs out there for them. I knew this was bullshit for two reasons: (1) I read in the 80s about people with PHDs whose job fields had dried up, but no one else wanted them because they were “overqualified” and (2) I noticed a capitalist society isn’t designed to be without a lower class. If everyone was equally clever, reliable and industrious, somebody would still have to make due with less than everyone else, because that’s how this society is designed.
As you’ve surely noticed, there are a lot of people laid off from jobs these days in the US. Some of them are working class or poor. Some of them are solidly middle class, and have been all their lives. You know what boggles my mind? The middle class men don’t try anything but job hunting. Even when they know there are no jobs in their field anywhere. Even when they know their field of expertise was morphing/disappearing/etc. long before the lay off. Several of the ones I know have been living on unemployment for 1-2 years.
The poor and working class folks are trying to start businesses, or babysit for cash, or something. So are the middle class women I know. They’re looking outside their field/degree/whatever. They’re seeking training for new fields. They’re looking to wait tables. They’re doing temp work. Marginalized people know: The Man does not carefully set aside jobs for all the smart, good workers out there because He does not give a shit about anyone but himself. Marginalized people have some savvy about how the world really works. Marginalized people know they’d better have some nuts hidden away for winter, or they’ll starve, and it’s simple as that. Marginalized people do not share the delusion that The Man is looking out for them.
What I’m seeing from middle class men is leaving my jaw on the floor. They’re not doing anything beyond the standard hunt for jobs that aren’t there and, in my humble opinion, are probably not coming back. Why is this? Because they’ve always enjoyed the privilege of not having to do anything more than sit around and wait for The Man to realize what industrious little squirrels they are? Because they’re so entitled they can’t see past what they think the world owes them?
Could this be why so many middle class men are quick to stereotype the unemployed as lazy as sitting around, thinking the world owes them a living? Could it be they are the ones who think that, and lack the initiative to think outside the box and find their own path?