A Book Review Of: Men Without Work
While on Vacation I’ll be again reading more of Nicholas Eberstadt’s book:
Men Without Work
(New Threats To Freedom Series)
by Templeton Press.
I want to give a primer of this book and share some key thoughts…
Hence the end of work for a large, and steadily growing, share of working-age American men has been met to date with public complacency, in part because we evidently can afford to do so. And this is precisely the problem: for the genial indifference with which the rest of society has greeted the growing absence of adult men from the productive economy is in itself powerful testimony that these men have become essentially dispensable.
But the progressive detachment of so many adult American men from the reality and routines of regular paid labor poses a threat to our nation’s future prosperity. It can only result in lower living standards, greater economic disparities, and slower economic growth than we might otherwise expect. And the troubles posed by this male flight from work are by no means solely economic. It is also a social crisis—and, I shall argue, a moral crisis.
The growing incapability of grown men to function as breadwinners cannot help but undermine the American family.
It casts those who nature designed to be strong into the role of dependents—on their wives or girlfriends, on their aging parents, or on government welfare.
Among those who should be most capable of shouldering the burdens of civic responsibilities, it instead encourages sloth, idleness, and vices perhaps more insidious.
Whether we choose to recognize it or not, this feature of the American condition—the new “men without work” normal—is inimical (harmful & damaging) to the American tradition of self-reliance; it is subversive of our national ethos and arguably even of our civilization.
Our nation cannot begin to grapple with this challenge to our future unless we first understand its genesis, its dimensions, and its implications. In the following pages I attempt to offer a preliminary description of these.
Think of how much we’ve lost…
- Prior to about the 1950s, there was no such thing as retirement, as the term is used today. A 1950 poll showed that most workers aspired to work for as long as possible. Quitting was for the disabled. Life did not offer “twilight years,” perhaps two decades of uninterrupted leisure courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
- THE REAL ROLE OF WORK God placed man into the Garden of Eden to work it. Judaism teaches that this work was to be man’s source of satisfaction. In this, he would fulfill his destiny as a partner of his Creator in the act of creation. Through work, he would prove that he was indeed created in God’s image because he was to be earth’s only creature capable of the same creativity as God Himself. There was no time limit or age limit placed on Adam’s mandate to work.
- The book of Job later repeated and emphasized the essential link between human satisfaction and work with the words: “Man was born to work.”12
- You work not because you need the results of that work but because there is intrinsic meaning and value in the work itself. That meaning emerges from the fact that your work benefits others. That it should also benefit others is an accompanying side benefit that should not surprise anyone who sees God as benevolent. I cannot overemphasize this essential point.
Lapin, Daniel. Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money (pp. 327 & 337). Wiley. Kindle Edition.