Sunday, June 24, 2012

Coming Apart: You Can't Measure Industriousness in Feet

A Book and Its Man
In case you missed it, there's a glorious introduction post (bolded and hyperlinked for your convenience) about this A in BC miniseries. In this four-part-plus-an-intro series (really, click that link!), we're exploring America's four founding virtues, as outlined in Charles Murray's book Coming Apart, the State of White America 1960-2010 (please notice picture of book and author). The four virtues Murray outlines as essential to the American spirit are industriousness, marriage, religiosity, and honesty.

And now, after that killer introduction, a word about industriousness. (We're playing a game called "bold the key word." I'm winning.)

A few weeks ago, I started a glorious job. I am selling suits at Jos. A. Bank. ... Jos. A. Bank, kids! This is exciting for the following reasons:
1) I get to learn about a new realm of fashion
2) I get to look at suits all day (!!!!!!)
3) I get to help men experience the transformative magic of a quality suit.

Clearly understands the need for suits
If a tailored suit can't make you feel 100X more qualified for something, I don't know what will. I mean, why do you think superheroes wear supersuits? Hmm? It's because "the refined power evident in the authoritative broad shoulders, professional buttoned-down front, and elegant silk tie speaks to a man's capability for the job. A good suit says a man is capable, well-mannered, and cultured." (I wrote that in my cover letter. I got the job. I charge $50/hr for resume consultation ...)

Anyway, personal horn-tooting aside, it's a job I'm excited about. It's a job I'm getting paid for. It's also a job that involves a lot more standing on my feet than I usually do.

"Ow! My job is so physically strenuous."
See, something Murray discusses is how none of the new elite really do manual labor, or any labor that involves something more painful than sitting in a desk for eight hours. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I typically just sit and type. And it's easier to wear adorable shoes when you're sitting all day. (To my credit though, I do sit and type.)

My first day of work, I wore sensible shoes. SENSIBLE. That's not something that happens often. And even still, it was miserable. My feet hurt. My back hurt. Every speck of energy had been zapped out of my body. I was a zombie.

The depressing thing is that my job isn't even technically hard. I stand and sell suits. It's not like I'm fighting wars, or chopping down trees, or wrestling alligators. I'm just standing. And it hurts. And I go back. 

The "I'm wildly successful and wear hoodies" look
Industriousness, hustle, or that go-get-em, work-until-you-drop, attitude is a key ingredient in successful America. Even though the new elite has largely channeled their industrious spirit into white-collar management jobs (or the "creative" jobs that encourage super-casual work-wear [ewwwww]), they still work. Murray points out (through multiple graphs and charts) that the lower class is finding more ways to collect a paycheck without work (more generous and attractive welfare benefits). In other words, we're encouraging people to not work. By encouraging people to not work, we're demonizing one of America's crucially important virtues. This can't be good, kids. 

Even though working might be tiring or unpleasant (whether at desk or sales counter or lumber mill), it's essential. You can't go to sleep at night feeling good about your day if you sat around and didn't get off the couch. You might feel good about it if you sat around and ate salted caramel brownies all day, but then you couldn't fit into your business casual. But I digress.

If we want to encourage industriousness, it's going to be important for the "new elite" to keep working hard, to tell the "working class" how important it is, and for the government to stop setting up perverse incentives that encourage laziness and discourage industriousness. And trust me - we want to encourage industriousness. Because without it, America will soon be just another bunch of broke socialists, who have finally run out of other people's money (thought credit to Margaret Thatcher).

All that to say, sometimes industriousness involves standing for long periods of time. It may even involve actual physical labor. And it may hurt. But the next day, we get back to it. Why? Because men need suits. And America needs industriousness. May the last one standing win.

I started my job at Jos. A. Bank in:
Black pencil skirt, blue and black faux halter blouse, black blazer, nude hosiery, and black patent pumps. 

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