“Dad, I got the job!”
It’s among my proudest moments as a father. (Indulge a few personal thoughts, if you will.)
The year 2020 — with the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdown of society, high unemployment and civil unrest — has brought its share of firsts.
Among them: the first “real” job for my son, our oldest child, who secured the position over the Independence Day weekend. I’ll admit that I had few expectations that a teenager with no previous experience could find a job this summer. Rest assured: Either way, he would have been working. There are plenty of household projects I need help with, but everyone’s preference (especially his) was for him to experience the workplace.
Over a celebratory lunch, I found myself giving my boy the same first-job advice my father gave me: “Never stand around. Always find something to do. If there’s nothing to do, you can always sweep the floor.”
A job is a marvelous thing, and a person’s first job is a sign of significant opportunities ahead, even if the job itself lacks glamor. For a kid, it’s the means to the first tastes of agency and independence. “I’ll get a job and buy a phone, get a car, save for college.”
The free enterprise system has done more to lift people out of poverty than any government or social service program in history. A job, a basic building block of independence, is the best poverty-elimination tool known to mankind.
Give a person a job and you give that person a future. Even better, the job changes the future. Which is why it is heartbreaking to see employers and job-holders alike hampered by Michigan’s months-long lockdown. Michigan’s recovery won’t be the result of a federal stimulus or a state government action. Rather, it will come from brave entrepreneurs and resilient employees who fuel growth, prosperity and philanthropy.
Your generous support of the Mackinac Center gives people hope, because it enables public policy solutions that expand employment and prosperity. Whether it’s the proposition that people should be free to work without financially supporting a union (right-to-work), eliminating barriers into the job market (licensing reform), enabling offenders to reenter the workforce after facing the consequences (criminal justice reform), or allowing families to keep more of the money they’ve earned (tax reform) — the ideas we value recognize the dignity of work and the hope a job confers.
Ask just about anyone if they remember their first job and you’ll likely get the same response: A smile, a nod of the head, and a fond remembrance: “I’m glad I don’t do that any longer, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”