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Why We Can't All Be Rich

Image courtesy of Pixabay, user StartupStockPhotos.

Image courtesy of Pixabay, user StartupStockPhotos.

The Great Disruption

Without a doubt, Covid presented one of the most interesting times for most of us in our lives. Perhaps if it did anything, besides make a lot of people sick, it provided for, and even continues to provide for, a lesson. And it is a lesson not everyone might readily think about.

We can't all be rich.

When Covid hit its stride, it shut down nations. Everyday life was redefined in ways we probably had not considered prior to it. I am not even sure that anyone was really ever aware that what we experienced was even ever possible.

The economy was put into a stasis of sorts.

Eating out ended. Traveling ceased to be a thing to do. Common household items became something we had to hope would be on the shelves when we needed them. Having a job became something only afforded to those who were considered to be essential to the economy.

Everyone else was left out and left to fend for themselves.

The fact was that many could not. Most of the people who lost their jobs during that time were already living paycheck to paycheck, and the final paycheck before the doors to the businesses that employed them were shuttered, was literally their last paycheck.


Everything that was normal to us was suddenly not. In the moment that Covid became a thing, life was inextricably altered. A new normal was in the making. The world, and everything in it was in crisis mode. Everything we knew was being tossed out the window to be replaced by something completely foreign to us.

Adapt and overcome was something we had said many times before Covid. But now it was something we had to actually put to the test. Covid times were, for all intents and purposes, completely unchartered waters.

The entire fabric of life was suddenly tattered and torn.

But Covid also did one other thing. It changed how we view our lives and the world, and more importantly, how we work.

Or how we don't.

Basically what we did, in our reaction to Covid, was to pause everything, and somewhere along the line I think many people—especially the ones making the decisions to do the pause—had it in their mind that once we were past the bad part, we could just unpause everything and everything would simply return to normal.

The old normal, with perhaps just a few minor alterations.

The Supply Chain

The disruption to the supply chain started out largely because people began hoarding things. Granted, there were other extenuating circumstances that happened to have come at just the wrong time as well.

Such as the jamming up of the Suez Canal.

But the supply chain issues we face post-Covid, if that is what we want to call this period we are in, is no longer really due to supply and demand. It is due to the major labor shortage we now face in the United States.

In other words, it's the unpause that did not quite unpause. When the businesses opened back up and the jobs returned, what did not return were the employees. We still have shortages of many things, including service, and businesses are in a major struggle to attract people to work for them.

From manufacturing to fast food to retail clerks, there just aren't enough people applying for the jobs to get the work done. And we lack truck drivers too who are crucial to getting anything made to market so it can be put on the shelves.

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One odd dynamic here is that it's not about the money. There was a time not so long before Covid hit that people were clamoring for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Because of the labor shortage we now have that and more.

But people are still not applying for the jobs.

The Jack in the Box restaurant down the street from my house is offering $14-$17 an hour, based on experience, and people are not filling out applications. The Casey's gas station convenience store is offering $15 an hour. Many retail operators are offering up to $20 and more.

They can't fill the positions.

I am in sales for the ready mix concrete industry, selling parts to mechanics who repair the mixer trucks, and many of them tell me they are offering up to $40 an hour for drivers and can't fill the positions.

In the news the other day, as school has resumed, it was reported that some kids had to spend hours waiting for a bus because of a lack of school bus drivers to get them home.

On top of everything of course, there are still many missing items and empty shelves in the stores. And that's because of labor shortages in all aspects of the manufacturing process. From a lack of people to produce the raw materials and transport them to the manufacturing facilities to a lack of people to fill factory positions on all levels and across all sectors.

The simple answer is that people simply do not want to work. And this new situation is making life more and more difficult for all of us to conduct our daily lives and get the things that we need.

We Need Worker Bees

Which all brings me back to my original point. That we can't all be rich. We need people to grow things and make things and move things around. To enjoy eating a meal out we need people to take our orders and cook our food. We need people to bus our kids to school and teach our kids.

What we deemed essential during Covid was a misnomer. Because when you break it all down and see the big picture, everyone is essential. Every job is essential. To enjoy our quality of life, and to enjoy any money we may have or want to spend, we need everyone doing their part to make that happen.

Everyone has a role in order to keep things moving along in the world.

In other words, what I am driving at here is that we can't all be rich and not do the work and expect that we will enjoy all of the same things we enjoyed before when everyone had to work.

Former president Obama said to the American people, when he could not fix the lagging economy, "Pursue your goals and dreams. If you like painting, take up painting."

Now I wonder if people, post-Covid, have considered this? I mean, where is the income coming from for those who have decided not to go back to work? The stimulus checks are done. The unemployment benefits extensions are done. The moratoriums on rent collection is done. It's all done.

So, where are people getting the money to live without working? Beyond that, what does "pursuing our personal dreams" matter if we can't get anything once our dreams are realized?

Who will stock our shelves or fix our toilets? Who will deliver the gas to fuel our cars? Who will make the cars or pump the oil? Who will build our houses and maintain our pools? Who will raise and slaughter the animals we need to eat, or tend the fields to grow the fruits and vegetables we enjoy? Who will man and maintain the resorts we want to vacation at?

What would any money matter if we did not have worker bees to make it all happen? And what dreams could we actually pursue? If we took up painting who would make the canvas? Who would make the paints? Who would make the brushes?

Who would sell the paintings?

The Great Reset

I think what we have tried to do is to reset things, but we haven't really thought about the consequences of the reset. We can't all be rich. We can't all be writers and singers and TokTok or YouTube influencers. We can't not do the work.

It is not to discourage becoming rich at some point. It is not to say that we all should not strive to work hard to earn as much as we can to one day be able to set work aside. But we have to earn it. We have to work our way to that end. We have to work to make sure that when we get to a place where we can work less and even retire, there is still someone to make that reward something we can actually enjoy.

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