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President's Ponderings: Work Gives Dignity, Not Pay

By Ed Luttrell, National Grange President, (President's Ponderings Blog - 2/15/13)

  FEBRUARY 17, 2013 --

While testifying at a hearing regarding the potential pay cuts for federal employees, including Congress, on Thursday, Feb. 14, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said regarding Congress taking cuts:

"I don't think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do. I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded…”

Maybe this is part of the problem. Your pay determines dignity if you’re in Congress… What an interesting concept.

For most of us, we find dignity in a job by working hard and doing the best that we can. The result, whether it is a child with a little more knowledge, a mom’s car fixed, a load safely delivered to the grocery store, or grandpa’s leaky roof repaired, is how we judge if a job has dignity. Did we make life a bit better for others? Did we make things a little easier for someone else? Did we serve them as we would hope to be served?

I’ve held a lot of jobs over the years, ranging from farm-hand to janitor, to mechanic, to starting a business. Many times I found myself paid less than others doing far less work. I never felt without my dignity. Pride in taking care of my family, pride in a job done well, pride in helping others by doing my job, that pride was the foundation of my dignity.

When public servants, and I’ll use the term servants loosely, state that pay equals dignity, I question if they have any understanding of grassroots America. Almost every American knows someone who has lost a job and has spent months or even years looking for another. We all know someone who lost their job and when they found another, it paid much less, sometimes as little as half of what they used to earn. Many Americans haven’t had a pay increase in several years and are happy to have a job. 

Maybe if those engaged in partisan bickering understood what created dignity, something positive would emerge from Congress.

Work gives pride and dignity, not the size of your paycheck!

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