Reporter's Note: Before he took office, President Obama invited Americans to give him advice on running the country. My advice is taking the form of a letter a day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
Did you ever hear this joke during the Bush presidency? “I know George Bush is creating jobs, because I’ve got three of them!”
I’ve said before that any of us who have jobs now should be grateful, but there is a down side to all the downsizing, even for those who keep their paychecks coming. Many people are working harder than ever before; sometimes at two or three jobs in different places; and sometimes at two or three jobs right where they stand. Because even though there are fewer workers in the office anthills, the bosses still want the same amount of work accomplished. So you can walk through all sorts of businesses and collect the stories of lone workers doing the jobs that used to be covered by two, three, or four other people.
Invariably, when I meet such folks, they quickly say they are glad to be employed. But then they sigh, slump a little, and say they certainly hope the economy picks up soon, because they’re getting tired. Between longer commutes, growing hours on the job, more competition for each position, e-mails, Blackberries, and the sense of being constantly “on call” like an ER doctor; many gainfully employed people seem to be struggling in their own way with our economic problems.
Are harder working people and leaner payrolls good for business? I suppose so. But many years ago we established a 40 hour work week in part because we also knew something else was good too: Full employment. And when one person takes over several jobs, you can bet your resume some former colleagues wind up walking the pavement.
Again, I’ll admit in a heartbeat that the unemployed have it worse. But the guy in the sixth circle of hell is not cooler just because he knows there is a seventh circle.
I’m a big believer in hard work. I’ve worked many long hours over many years, and I’ve found it rewarding, both financially and personally. Still, no one likes feeling like he or she is being unfairly taken advantage of, and that’s one of the more subtle dangers in an economic downturn.
So in the midst of all your hard work, remember there are others working just as hard to keep this economy running, and they are doing it for a lot less money, no recognition, and with little hope that the job will be any easier this Monday morning…or any Monday… until the economy gets a lot better. And when that happens, remind your powerful business friends that the regular folks who kept them afloat deserve to be rewarded…and a little rest.
Call if you feel inclined. I’m in and out today, but always happy to hear from you.
For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.
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