The Dignity of Work

A happy coincidence occurred in the NYT on Friday, November 9, 2012.  The obituary of James R. Dumpson, the first black welfare commissioner and the appearance of the Op-Ed piece of David Brooks entitled, The Party of Work. 

Back in the 1960’s when opponents of welfare insisted that welfare made people lazy, Mr. Dumpson argued that “virtually every adult would rather work and that most considered employment an element of personal dignity”.  That was how the Times paraphrased his remarks about work.  Further, the NYT quoted Mr. Dumpson as follows: “There is no comfort in living on a subsistence level.  There’s no comfort in constantly having to establish eligibility.  No comfort in the necessary intrusions into your private life to find out if you qualify for assistance.”

Just a few days after the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Brooks, a conservative by NYT’s standards, noted that present day voters in America do not see government policies( welfare being one)  interfering with the American work ethic.  Recent citizens, especially people of Mexican and Asian decent see government policies as protectors of opportunities to work and to raise families.

Mr. Brooks goes on to suggest that rich Republicans spend less money on “super PACS” and more on research.  He goes on the encourage the Republican party  to celebrate work and to inflame enterprise using any tool, pubic or private, to help people transform their lives.  Not a bad idea!

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