Why Americans Work
Why do we as United States citizens work? This is a question that has multiple answers. This analytical paper will discuss the most common reasons why Americans work, and it will also attempt to decipher whether or not we really have a choice in the matter. Some people do it for money, others for status, many do it just to get away from home, but the majority of us work simply because we need to in order to survive in this concrete jungle we call home.
In order to properly illustrate the reasons why we Americans work, I must first reveal some vital and interesting knowledge about our nation’s government and society. It is important for the reader to understand these issues so that they may correctly comprehend the views expressed on the topic of this analysis.
To begin, the United States of America is one of the world’s superpowers; in fact some would argue that it happens to be the world’s strongest powerhouse. Now, the question I propose is this: how did one of the youngest countries on Earth make it to ‘superpower’ status? The answer that I have found to be most relevant is: Our economy is primarily based on our constant consuming of products. Almost everything in American’s lives revolves around buying things. We have commercials on television every 15 minutes telling us to purchase this and that. As we drive on our massive highways and interstates we are bombarded with billboards suggesting that we need Mercedes Benz’s and enormous houses in order to be considered by the masses as successful. Well, I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret. Our government and society drill it in our minds day in and day out that we need to obtain material possessions to be happy and have status in society. I have come to find that the main reason these institutions do this is because; when we go out on shopping sprees, or simply go to the grocery store, we spend our money and release it back into the cash flow of our country. This is beneficial for the country as a whole because our economy goes up, but is a high economy really worth ‘working ourselves to the bone?’ Since our recent drop in the economy there have been more television commercials and advertisements than ever witnessed before. These ads are not only for our usual products and cars, but television corporations are now pushing things such as boating and skydiving. Things of this nature have never been on commercials before, and that is because in the past few years we did not need that extra boost in our economic status. As of now, the people that control our nation need to create a ‘pick me up’ for our economy. Their absurd answer is: a higher price of living, and practically subliminally suggesting that our citizens go out and splurge on products. The sad reality is that our country is essentially brainwashing us to work our asses off to consume products, which in many cases were made in foreign countries, and do not contribute to the wealth of our nation’s economy. The worst part about this truth is; our leaders are pushing us to buy unadement objects that we flat out do not need. Quite frankly, most of us can not afford these unnecessary items in the first place.
Now that I have explained why we Americans feel the need to consume, I will discuss our ridiculous drive to work. The motivation for work is different for everyone as I have previously stated. First, I will explain Americans drive for money. It has been deeply instilled in our society that money equals power, and it is only natural to crave power. So that being said, we can now infer that many Americans work because they desire to be affluent and powerful human beings. There are still other things that drive us towards money one of these reasons is; to put it +blatantly. . . stuff! I explained earlier that our government and society hammered into our brains an unnatural obsession with material possessions. The rich want more and the poor want what the rich have. There is always something to buy; even Bill Gates does not have everything. It is a highly unfortunate fact that the majority of Americans believe that there possessions make them who they are. It is incredibly obvious that in order to have money, unless you are one of the lucky few that are born into it, you have to work for it. The more ‘stuff’ you want, the more you have to work to get it. However, there is hope. There are a handful of people out there that have a more humble reason for acquiring money. A few very intelligent people in our country understand that you do not need material possession and power to have a fulfilled life. The wise few that I speak of understand that you do need money, but only for your basic needs. These people are the ones that work only as much as they need. These insightful individuals are far better off than the rich and powerful, as well as the rest of us because they comprehend the fact that time spent with your family is better than owning a brand new Lexus.
There is another category of people in this vast country of ours who work for the status. It is no secret that our society respects an affluent, lying lawyer more than the average Joe working in an office. I can only assume this is because our nation dictates that the more money you have the more successful you are, and the higher you are on society’s metaphorical totumpole. Americans love the idea of being the best. We have an unlimited amount of reality shows to prove this. Our country is largely based on competition; from our love of sports such as: football, to competing for the CEO position in a major corporation. Sadly, many of us base our lives on this status; we worship the high roller rich guys and degrade and despise the poor.
Many other civilians in the United States of America work simply to get away from home. Life has many stresses, and a large quantity of them stem from the home. Mothers are constantly bugged by their children and often just simply need a break. Work is not generally thought of as relaxation, but for many parents it is a paradise where they can speak ‘grown up talk’ and be valued for more than cooking meals and cleaning the house. The undeniable fact is that for many Americans home has become a living hell full of nagging partners, noisy children, and countless chores. For these people work is a way to simply escape the daily drama.
Now we come to the category that the majority of us conform too, these are the people who work simply because we have too. I have made it very clear throughout this paper that we as Americans are consumers, but what about our basic needs. Most of us work because there are always bills that need to be paid; it is a never ending battle. All of us should have at least a basic understanding that it is quite necessary for us to have a roof over our head, food on the table, and a warm bed to sleep in. These things are not free, thus Americans need to work to adhere to their most instictual and primitive needs. Whether one is facing a house payment, car payment or insurance, all bills must be paid. This information further proves that we have no choice but to work to survive at least in the United States. Housing, healthcare, and gas prices are all on the rise, and they are going up fast! The citizens of our country are now forced to work grueling hours, not to buy fancy electronics and trendy clothing, but to simply live.
Now comes the time for me to discuss the impact of our work life on our families. It is becoming more and more common for children to be raised by nannies verses their parents. Because the cost of living is so high both parents often have to work in order to afford the needs of human life. It has come to the point where so called ‘family time’ is nonexistent in the majority of our households, or if there is time for the family it is often interrupted by a so called ‘important business call.’ The rise in work hours leads many Americans to struggle to balance work and family. Many Americans are experiencing significant stress in trying to balance the often countervailing demands of work and family. Most of these families report feeling like they are working more hours than their parents did, and fear for what the next generation will have to deal with. American families are in fact working more hours than in recent decades, with the average number of hours worked by all family members up since the 1970s. The mass majority of Americans are so consumed in their work that it has now become priority number one in our lives.
‘Today, work dominates Americans lives as never before, as workers pile on hours at a rate not seen since the Industrial Revolution.’ States Andrew Curry in Why We Work. The million dollar question is: when did we manifest this insane work ethic? I completely concur with Andrew CurryСs view, that this all started during the Industrial Revolution. In this time period the government began pushing 40 hour work weeks. During this time factories are starting to come into play, which means business owners are starting to mass produce their products. Employees were strongly urged, and in some cases forced to work more hours than ever previously recorded. Americans were essentially obligated to make work their first priority in life. Unfortunately, this mentality is still alive today. In fact it has become more instilled in our culture than ever before.
Now that I have covered all the most common reasons United States citizens work, I would like to tell you a story. I believe this story is very relevant to the topic of this analysis, and will help us better understand how we as Americans are viewed by other countries with much more laid back cultures than our own. This impeccable story also morally depicts our nation’s flawed priorities and principles.
There once was a man, who lived in a small fishing village in Mexico. He owns his own fishing boat. One day he went out for his daily catch, and came home with 4 very hefty swordfish. When the man docked he was met by an American CEO businessman. The CEO said to the fisherman ‘Those are some mighty fine fish you have, how long did it take you to catch those?’ The fisherman replied ‘About three and a half hours.’ ‘Wow’ remarked the business man. ‘What do you do with all you free time?’ The fisherman replied ‘When I am done unloading my boat I go to the beach and relax in the sun, and sometimes go for a swim in the hot sea. I then return home and play games with my children. After that I take siesta with my wife. Later in the night I meet my amigos at the local bar. We drink wine and speak of infinite love and the bewilderments of life. Following the bar; I go home tuck my kids into bed, and cuddle with my wife until we drift off to sleep. In the morning the process begins all over again.’ ‘Interesting’ replies the CEO. ‘You are a mighty fine fisherman, if you were to work a nine hour day you could triple you catch. Then, with the money from that you can buy another boat. With the money you earn from both the boats you will be able to run an entire fleet of fishing boats. After you have established your fleet you could move to L.A., start your own company in America, and be a major producer of the seafood market. Following this; you could move to New York and find someone to buy your company. With all the money you will have made you will be able to retire to a nice little fishing village in Mexico.’ States the business man. ‘Well what would I do when I am retired?’ replies the fisherman. ‘You can fish in the morning, relax on the beach, play games with your children, take siesta with your wife, drink wine with your amigos, tuck your kids in, and cuddle with your wife.’ cheerfully replies the CEO. ‘I do that already.’ remarks the fisherman. ‘Well yeah . . .but don’t you want to be rich.’ says the CEO. ‘My life is rich enough already.’ replies the fisherman. The author of this story is unknown. It is apparent that we all have something to learn from this story. The idea of work consuming the fisherman’s life, only to have in the future what he already has now was down right blastfamous to this humble man. The United States of America needs to live up to it’s name, and become unified in what is most important in our lives such as: each other. If there is anything I hope my readers take away from this paper is that work is not everything. There are much better things do to with your time. We all only get one life to live, and it would be a terrible shame to die without really knowing the many joys our world has to offer, and guess what? Most of them are free of cost and labor.