This is now a few weeks old, but I just stumbled over it and found it interesting; it seems a lot of the folks who are leaving the workplace are the ones who actually make things work. And the message, although not stated in this article? “This is John Galt Speaking.” Excerpt:
The Great Resignation is not just a story of economic policy incentives or Marxist analysis, or even exasperation with rude and difficult customers. It’s not a matter of attitude adjustment, as if Americans were adopting the Chinese practice of tang ping—”lying down,” the new trend of young people giving up trying to achieve or accomplish anything. Quietist philosophy—at least when it comes to professional occupation—is foreign to the American culture of liberty and self-determination.
Solving the mystery of the Great Resignation phenomenon is not difficult. We must pay attention to who is resigning—what kind of workers—and put ourselves in their shoes.
The “laptop class,” John Tierney’s term for college-educated workers whose workday is largely computerized, is not resigning. Graphic designers, software developers, and the assorted cohort of spreadsheet surfers and keyboard warriors have not been the primary driver of unemployment during or after the pandemic. Most companies and employees adapted to remote work, a development that was long overdue given the technology available. Now, the only office employers struggling to fill cubicles are those who still think cubicles are the future.
The workers resigning are those most brutally impacted by policy over the last year and a half. They wear uniforms, or at least boots, and most of their customers are strangers: police officers, airline pilots, healthcare workers, builders, repairmen. We used to call them “frontline heroes” and “essential employees”—now we oppress them with litanies of COVID mandates in their workplace. And don’t forget about the workers in retail and restaurants who have always lived just above the poverty line. At a time of unprecedented economic instability, they don’t see much difference between their paltry wage and welfare, with poverty even being preferable to an exploitative or abusive workplace.
Here’s a primary cause, if not the root cause:
We’ve all walked into a restaurant or grocery store where masks are not required for customers, but “corporate office” wants all employees to wear them. We’ve all had a friend or relative whose job has been threatened by public or private-sector vaccine mandates. We’ve watched the disunity over COVID restrictions split churches and tear school districts apart—so why should we be surprised it demotivates workers? Working in these conditions comes at a price—and for blue-collar jobs especially, that price is not justified by the salary. Workers in these jobs value job security, schedule regularity, and constancy of tasks—a job to be proud of, but not to prioritize over values, free time, or personal dignity.
Or, in the words of John Galt:
I am speaking to those who desire to live and to recapture the honor of their soul. Now that you know the truth about your world stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction to give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support.
That seems to be what lots of blue-collar (and some white-collar) folks are doing. Lots of emergency responders, too. And, honestly, why not? In an environment where we are demonized for being successful, for working hard and taking pride in our work, for not giving in to hypocritical mandates by virtue-signalling bosses?
The linked article concludes:
The American entrepreneur of the future must rally the workers being squeezed by these coercive policies. Their productivity and ingenuity—currently subdued by short-sighted agendas—may be America’s greatest untapped resource.
In other words, let the looter’s state collapse, and build something new, something productive, in the wreckage. Ayn Rand, while far from the best fiction writer in history, may yet prove to be one of the most prescient.