Unlike apples in Eden, jobs here don't grow on trees
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, September 15, 2011

"While warming up a Labor Day crowd in Detroit before a speech by President Obama, Hoffa said unions should fight a 'war' with tea partiers and congressional Republicans. 'President Obama, this is your army,' Hoffa declared. 'We are ready to march. Let's take these sons of bitches out.'"

Daily Caller account of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa's remarks at Labor Day rally in Detroit at which President Obama also appeared.

In the beginning, there was no such thing as work.

Then Adam and Eve disobeyed God, ate the apple and were sentenced to "in the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread until you return to the ground."

As it was explained to us first-graders at Sacred Heart Elementary School: God punished Adam by making him work for a living, instead of just "cultivating" the Garden of Eden, eating fruit from its trees and naming animals.

We learned later that Eve was punished with an increase in childbirth pain, and was told that "your husband will dominate you." But we can talk about natural vs. drug-assisted childbirth another time, and we are never going to discuss female submission.

The reason I bring up the Bible is that I've always thought it unfortunate that some children's introduction to work is found in a story describing it as punishment. Many grown-ups still divide their lives into "work" and "pleasure," spending roughly 40 hours a week watching the clock, and 50 years dreaming of retirement and a return to gardening, fruit-salad luncheons (hold the apple) and naming pets.

The truth is, the Garden of Eden sounds lovely as a vacation destination, but who would want to live there forever? I think it's important to appreciate the sweet things in life; but don't we appreciate them more if we, well, earn them?

I have a theory that while God was resting on the seventh day, he got curious: What would happen if Adam and Eve actually had a choice between a blissfully ignorant eternity in paradise, or, knowledge of good and evil, with a mission to become one and fight the other? Why else would He have come up with the forbidden-fruit challenge?

The couple found out about good and evil soon enough. They had kids, one of whom murdered his brother. Would they eventually invent farm machinery? The assembly line? Unions, lawyers, politicians? Would women choose equality, or Shariah law? Turning off the "all-knowing" option, God settles back in his hammock to watch the show.

Both sides of the evolution-creationism debate will probably be relieved if I switch to evolution now.

In the beginning, there was only survival mode: Just a reacting to the environment, an opportunistic scrambling for light, food, whatever kept an organism alive. I wouldn't call what plants do "work;" but "worker" bees pollinating flowers while "collecting" nectar to "make" honey, does make one think of an assembly line.

Our own ancestors "worked" at hunting and gathering, until they reached the point in human evolution when they could scratch a living from the earth, which they seem to have considered an improvement over just picking berries and chasing mastodons.

So, creationist or evolutionist, we arrive at the same point: Human beings working to provide for their existence and that of their families. Along with farming, they made pottery, wove baskets, collected honey from the bees, started trading, and began wars to take what other people had earned.

Perhaps with an original mandate to protect earners from thieves, government was instituted; this also created government jobs. Here is where the line between protection and theft sometimes becomes blurred. Still, the powerful institutions had to make sure that workers, including serfs and slaves, kept enough of their products for their own survival, or the system fell apart. This is why we have "tax limitation."

The point is, survival has always been a giant struggle. Once one ran out of fruit to pluck from a tree or bush, you had to hustle to get enough food to eat. Whether following the herds during natural climate changes, or finding trade routes to other continents, humans had to be flexible, creative and relatively strong in order to survive. Lots of them didn't. There were never any guarantees.

Fast-forward a few years, and there's Teamster leader Hoffa at a union rally bellowing, "President Obama, we want one thing: Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs."

It's tempting, while noting the thuggish Hoffa's resemblance to Cro-Magnon Man, to yell back, "Jobs don't grow on trees, buddy!"

One you get past the hunter-gatherer phase, and the basic farming, jobs have to be created by "job-creators" using "capital," along with intelligence, creativity and a willingness to take risks and work hard. Once the jobs are created, they go to the "workers" who compete for them in "the marketplace," with the goal of earning enough to survive. Then the government takes a share to provide government protection and services.

But notice that without the "job-creators" there are no jobs for most private-sector workers, and no taxes for the government to use in creating government jobs.

The moral of the story is: Telling President Obama you want "jobs, jobs, jobs," won't create jobs. Might as well just tell God to get over the apple thing, and hand you a banana.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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