Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Hard work

It's a well-worn cliché that only hard work will get you what you want in life. But it's also a load of bollocks. Hard work might get results, or it might get you precisely nothing.

There are plenty of people out there sweating away day after day with little to show for it. All the money's going to their bosses or their landlord or their season ticket and they struggle to make any real improvements in their life.

Other people lie on their yachts all day and do nothing but watch the money pour in from their various investments and property empires. Their only hard work is tying their shoelaces.

I must admit I've done very little hard work in my life. I've been lucky enough to have fairly leisurely jobs with plenty of time for chatting and fooling around. The only serious exertion was the start of the academic year at a university bookshop, humping hundreds of weighty textbooks into the shop and trying to keep up with the deluge of impatient students and their voluminous booklists (that was in the pre-internet, pre-Wikipedia days of course). It was pure bedlam.

What wealth and comfort I've acquired has been almost entirely through luck rather than hard work. Constantly rising property prices, especially in London, and an unexpected windfall from my mum. Or to put it another way, being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people.

I suppose you could also say I haven't squandered all my money on drink or drugs or gambling or hookers. If you have any kind of expensive addiction, then any amount of hard work, however well it's paid, won't bear much fruit.

I was reading only today that the average income for a writer is now about £11,000 a year. You can sit in front of your pc for decades, laboriously cranking out page after page of hard-won creativity, and have only a massive overdraft as your reward.

Listening to all these millionaire government ministers urging us all to solve our problems by working a bit harder is pretty sickening. I'd like to see them scrubbing a few floors on their hands and knees. That'll be the day.

19 comments:

Sol said...

people can judge others all they want. they don't know what another person has done to get where they are.

if someone inherits, I am sure a lot of them would give all the money back for one more year with that person.

the big house? maybe someone worked their behinds off and then made good investments.

everyone needs to stop trying to be the jones or trying to keep up with them.

I work hard, but at the moment I can say I love my job. I don't get paid huge amounts... we get by.

A lot of people should do other peoples jobs then they wouldn't pass judgement

Nick said...

Sol: You're right that we shouldn't judge people too quickly, even if they seem to be the idle rich! But my sympathies are entirely with the downtrodden, hard-pressed folk at the bottom of the heap.

Too true that if we tried other people's jobs we wouldn't pass judgment so easily. Shop assistants have a really tough time but so many customers look down on them.

Bijoux said...

Sure, there are trust fund babies out there who did nothing to earn their inheritance, but someone originally DID work hard to start that legacy.

Maybe it's an American thing, but I do believe hard work pays off for most.

Helen Devries said...

I don't think that hard work ever made you rich...it's the mantra that the rich give the poor to keep their noses to the grindstone that keeps the rich rich....

I worked to represent people who worked hard...nomatter how hard they worked they would not become rich because they did not go to the right schools...did not have financial networks to get them off the start line...were not dishonest.

susie said...

I'm trying to think if I ever had to work hard...babysitting, to flipping burgers, to office jobs...so no. I've had some volunteer jobs that were challenging.

Nick said...

Bijoux: I think in many cases the wealth started with someone pinching someone else's land. Or launching some tiny product that just happened to get very popular. Like Coca Cola or vacuum cleaners. There are people out there doing three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet.

Nick said...

Helen: Amen to that. Keeping people's noses to the grindstone indeed. And you're absolutely right about not going to the right schools or being in the right networks. The rich just scratch each other's backs the whole time.

Susie: Volunteer jobs can be surprisingly challenging. You get asked to do all sorts of strange and unexpected things!

Grannymar said...

Nick, these millionaire government ministers urging us to work harder, or to jump off the 'sick' list, seem to forget that they will grow old and frail some day. I wonder how many of them ever got dirt under their nails doing what they seem to consider as menial jobs, only suitable for the plebs of this world

Nick said...

Grannymar: When they get old and frail, they'll just go into a luxury private nursing home, with all mod cons! They won't have to worry about which cash-strapped depressing care home they'll be dispatched to.

Rummuser said...

We have a lot in common as far as work is concerned http://rummuser.com/?p=1494. My old colleagues now in retirement too however say that I am being modest. I may not have worked hard but they say that I worked smart. Who am I to argue with them when it sounds so good.

I am entirely with you when it comes to asking the privileged to scrub some floors. I have been asking the leaders of our communist parties also to do exactly that as they were wiped out in the last general elections. They of course maintain that their job is to provide the inellectual work needed for the movement to succeed. If that is the case, their work is not getting them any results.

Nick said...

Ramana: Doing the intellectual work for the movement to succeed? *laughs like a drain*

Indeed, working smart is the point, not working hard. Other European countries have shorter working hours but are more productive, for that very reason.

John Gray said...

My average income is 10 grand
But I only get paid for one nursing shift a week!

Nick said...

John: That's a modest income indeed. A good job Chris is a highly-paid academic! So do you own your cottage or do you also have a mortgage to pay off?

CheerfulMonk said...

I majored in physics and worked hard in college, but it paid off the rest of my life. My goal wasn't to avoid hard work, it was to find work that was interesting.

Nick said...

Jean: Finding interesting work is the important thing in life. I'm glad you managed to achieve that. So many people find themselves slogging away at something that doesn't interest them in the slightest.

Wisewebwoman said...

Working hard to make big bucks? That is a very American idea indeed, I worked very hard, 24-7, had 5 employees and worked to pay them and rarely myself.

I was never happy in it. Only happy now, writing, writing. Luckily I had an inheritance and sold my Toronto house in the upmarket. But still, I do worry about making ends meet. Seriously.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: I'm glad you're now doing something you enjoy rather than just making money. I guess most of us oldies worry about making ends meet, when we don't even know how long we're going to live.

Secret Agent Woman said...

It's my personal belief that NO ONE amasses great wealth except on the backs of others. I believe hard work can often help you but I don't believe it is a guarantee ad I don't believe the super wealthy are simply people who either worked hard or inherited from someone who worked hard. I'm disgusted by the great divide in my own country between the very rich and the (rapidly shrinking) middle class and poor. And there are indeed people who work incredibly hard and barely get by.

Nick said...

Agent: I totally agree with you. Who can honestly EARN millions or even billions of pounds? Clearly someone is being cheated in the process.

Governments still haven't got the message that inequality goes hand in hand with economic stagnation.