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Little Red Hen syndrome coming home to roost thanks to enhanced jobless benefits
little red hen

Walk into almost any store in Manteca and you will see the sign of the times.

No, it’s not “masks required”. It’s “help wanted”.

It seems as if everybody is hiring and nobody is starting anyone these days at the current minimum which is $14 an hour. Instead it is $15 an hour — what minimum wage will reach on Jan. 1, 2022 — as the absolute bottom.

Talk to people who are doing the hiring and more often than not when they come across a qualified candidate willing to work they don’t get back to them next week or later in the week. Instead it is by the end of the day.

Much ado — and rightfully so — has been made about the $300 a week enhancement in unemployment benefits that in many cases have made it possible for many to pocket more money not working as opposed to being gainfully employed.

It is being referred to as a “disincentive” to work.

But there is plenty of anecdotal evidence many are citing who aren’t economic experts or social engineers that is gleaned from interactions with relatives and acquaintances that in a growing number of cases the aversion to work is more than just bottom line pay crunching.

The Puritan work ethic — dare one use such a term that reeks of political incorrectness in today’s woke world — has left the building.

The illusion of being better off not working and instead being assured of what seems like a minimum guarantee to get by is just that, an illusion.

There are financial rewards earning a paycheck that rise over time as opposed to drawing an unemployment check whether it us on COVID relief steroids or not.

First and foremost those $15 an hour plus jobs are foundational. They are what you take as you work your way upward over the years to positions requiring more experience and skills that are rewarded with more pay.

They are resume building as well allowing you to leave what may be a $15 a job flipping burgers that might not have you on track to becoming assistant manager and then a manger but a job in another field more to your likely with better play that requires applicants to show a work history of steady commitment to a job.

Ultimately all of that as the years unfold can lead to securing everything from housing to a life that is more than just addressing the bare minimum basics.

There are advantages to working that go beyond money. They can range from a sense of worth to interacting with others.

This might be a false alarm for people with long, established work histories.

But it’s likely more than a few people by not getting back on the horse sooner than later may create a situation where they are fearful — or at least uneasy enough — that they get to the point a job becomes a scary thing.

It is much like what many who work with the homeless say about them becoming comfortable with living on the streets and reluctant and apprehensive about taking steps to leave that has become their new “normal’.

The late Patrick Daniel Moynihan, a Democratic U.S. Senator from New York, repeatedly pointed out if the nation’s safety net is used as a hammock, it can end up creating attitudes that end up spanning generations that devalue both work and responsibility to others as well as one’s self.

Simply put government largeness can become an addiction that deteriorates the concept that through hard work and one’s own initiative a person can make a living for themselves. The deterioration also weakens other parts of the social fabric whether it is commitment to parenthood or a sense of community.

This is more than just socialism versus capitalism debate. It is a battle to foster not just personal responsibility but responsibility to others in the greater community.

It is also more than that.

Call it the “Little Red Hen” coming home to roost, a reference to the 1874 American table by Mary Mapes Dodge intended to teach children about hard work and initiative.

Those that do all the work to grow the wheat, mill the flour, and bake the bread will get farther than those waiting around for a handout.

You tend to get most of life what you put into it. And, yes, it is true the Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerbergs, and Bill Gates of the world have become immensely wealthy. But look at how they have enhanced the lives of billions not to mention the jobs and opportunities they have created for others with initiatives to better their lives through online businesses or making it easier to run a brick and mortar store.

Not everyone is going to convert working a job into a 4,500-square-foot McMansion or a trendy condo near a Southern California beach assuming either is their dream. But when you don’t invest in honest work you’re only going to get what the Little Red Hens of the world are willing to give. And regardless how generous the Little Red Hens might be, it will be mere crumbs compared to what they are able to reap.

Yes, you could try to take it by force or government dictate but you might want to check places where it has happened and see how well that is going. Or if you believe a supreme leader on the left or right should be entrusted to run your life you might want to spend a year or two in North Korea before you embrace letting government literally control everything.

What is most likely to happen is once enhanced unemployment checks run dry and jobless benefits cease, those that waited to get back on the proverbial horse and get a job, may have a difficult time doing to.

Even if they do land a job they will be farther down the ladder than those with similar qualifications that went to work months or — as the pandemic drags out — possibly years earlier.

COVID is still a concern but it is clear that vaccines are taking that away as an excuse for most people not working in many places in California.


 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at