U.S. work ethic tainted by dreams of 'easy money'

He said he didn't have time to take a job at McDonalds, because it wouldn't be profitable.

He asserted that he shouldn't have to waste his time working there when he could be out raking in real money selling drugs on the street.

This TV news interview was of a high school dropout who had turned to drug dealing to support himself. He made it clear that he had no intention of making his money legally or getting a job to earn his living. It was a perfect illustration of society's obsession with the prospect of "easy money."

Drug dealing provides people a chance to make a lot of money without having to put in a lot of work. In the same respect, gamblers spend exorbitant amounts trying their luck at winning money, and they carry with them idealistic hopes that their dreams will come true after they hit the jackpot.

Unfortunately, these hopes of obtaining "easy money" are tainting the very essence of what the American work ethic stands for.

It's time that "work" be viewed as something positive rather than being seen as something that "has" to be done. The notion that work is something that will pay off in both personal and financial respects has to be instilled in the younger generation, but right now, kids are sidestepping most of these efforts in favor of the "all play, no work" lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I still hear people carrying on conversations that only illustrate the fact that they would rather sit at home and watch TV than go to work and earn a living.

"Gimme a break . are you serious? I don't wanna work at Wal-Mart. I want a real job."

Comments like these make my ears hurt. All work is admirable, no matter what the profession, and it is sad that people view certain workplaces as negative reflections of their self-worth.

Whether the position requires tilling soil in a Kansas field or making executive decisions in the most extravagantly decorated New York office, both jobs must be considered equals with respect to their worth within society.

Sure, one job may pay more than another, but pay does not determine the job's level of importance. Many established actors and actresses make more than the President, but who is to say their job as entertainers is more important than that of the country's most powerful, elected government official?

People want to start at the top, but they don't want to make the rigorous climb up the ladder that provides access to the silver lined cloud they aspire to live on. Below, however, are profiles from Forbes (Oct. 17, 1994) of some who had no problem starting out small, and look where they are now.

Bill Cosby was raised in Philadelphia, and he quit Temple University to pursue comedy. The next year, he was on the "Tonight Show," but his success ensued only because he risked starting at the ladder's lowest rung. It obviously paid off.

A teenager named Michael S. Dell sold newspaper subscriptions to newlyweds. Later, he founded the Dell Computer Corp., and he is now the CEO and Chairman of the Board of one of nation's largest IBM compatible computer retailers.

Movie director and producer Steven Spielberg ran "kiddie theater" in his living room as a child, but at 20, he was already directing TV shows.

David Packard and William R. Hewlett started out with $538 and a meager garage in Silicon Valley. They slowly expanded and founded Hewlett Packard in 1939. Their company did $20 billion in sales in 1993.

Included in this group that started from the bottom and worked themselves to the top is William Henry Gates III. He dropped out of Harvard and co-founded Microsoft Corp. in 1975. Last year, he was worth $9 billion, and that doesn't include sales from Windows '95.

Finally, I'd like to introduce those who said they didn't want to work at Wal-Mart to the late Mr. Sam Walton. Walton started out selling newspapers, working at five-and-dime stores, and training to be an employee at J.C. Penney. Later, he founded Wal-Mart, and the chain has grown to over 2,000 stores with locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

In 1993, Wal-Mart was the world's largest retailer thanks to thousands of dedicated employees.

The work ethic lives on.

Adam Djurdjulov is a journalism junior. His column appears every other Thursday.

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