Thomas Sowell

Some would apparently prefer a society where all-wise elites would decide what each of us "needs" or "deserves." The actual history of societies formed on that principle -- histories often stained, or even drenched, in blood -- is of little interest to those who mistake wishful thinking for idealism.

At the very least, many intellectuals do not want the poor or the young to have to take "menial" jobs. But people who are paying their own money, as distinguished from the taxpayers' money, for someone to do a job are unlikely to part with hard cash unless that job actually needs doing, whether or not that job is called "menial" by others.

People who lack the skills to take on more prestigious jobs can either remain idle and live as parasites on others or take the jobs for which they are currently qualified, and then move up the ladder as they acquire more experience. People who are flipping hamburgers at McDonald's on New Year's Day are seldom flipping hamburgers there when Christmas time comes.

Those relatively few statistics that follow actual flesh-and-blood individuals over time show them moving massively from one income bracket to another over time, starting at the bottom and moving up as they acquire skills and experience.

Telling young people that some jobs are "menial" is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for "meaningful work" is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate