Experiencing Hard Work

We spent the weekend working with the gardener again. We were joined by a neighbor, Paul, a round fellow, 75 years old – cutting firewood, splitting it, hauling it, stacking it.

Both Damien and Paul worked with cigarettes in their mouths. And both worked hard. Damien rarely says anything. But Paul never stopped talking.

“He’s trying to kill us both,” he said, pointing at Damien.

“Damien really knows how to work. He’s been working hard all his life. Well, just try to find someone like Damien today. Young people don’t want to work at all. And if they get a job, they expect a machine to do all the hard work. They don’t know what a shovel is. You’d have a hard time getting a young person out to help us do this work…

“Everything has changed so much since I was young. You know, I was here in Normandy when the Americans landed. I remember seeing them go by. I was only 10 years old. But it made quite an impression on me. They had so many machines…tanks…trucks…jeeps. I had never seen so many vehicles.

“When I was ready to go to work, I went to work as a gardener. We worked by hand… We didn’t have mechanical cultivators or garden tractors. We turned the ground with a spade. It was hard work…but I liked it.

“Then, I got into an argument with the boss. It was over nothing really. He told me to put up some cold frames…you know, for starting out the plants in the early spring. So they won’t freeze. Then, he went off. He was a rascal. He didn’t really do anything. He’d just tell us what to do and leave. And then he’d come back drunk later in the day and yell at us.

“So I put up the cold frames. And he came back and yelled at me:

“‘What do you think you’re doing… Don’t you know how to put up cold frames correctly… My old crew could do this right. They were great workers. How come you don’t know how to set up a cold frame?’ He went on and on. So I just took of my apron and threw it at him.

“‘Here…’ I said, ‘then let your old buzzards to it.’ And I started to walk off. And he tried to stop me. What was I doing…who did I think I was, he said. Then, he even offered me more money to stay – another 50 centimes per hour.

“You laugh. But that was real money back then. And then, we got paid by the hour. We worked by the hour…as many hours as we wanted… and that was all there was to it.

“And I’ll tell you something else. It wasn’t like today. If you’re starting out today, you have a hard time getting a job. You have to go to the right school and then get a trial period…and have the right training and get into the right program. And then, they interview you for days. Everybody is afraid to hire anyone because it so hard to fire them.

“It wasn’t like that when I was starting out. You could just walk onto almost any jobsite and ask. If they needed help, you could start working the same day. I did a lot of things – I drove a truck, ran a café, worked for a food delivery service. If I didn’t like the boss, I just quit. I always worked hard. Some bosses like that. Some don’t. And I never minded saying what was on my mind. So when I saw something that didn’t add up, I said so. And sometimes, I lost my job because of it. But it didn’t matter, because there were plenty of jobs for someone who was willing to work.

“It’s not like that now… That guy, what’s his name, George…you know, the one who comes to help over here from time to time. He’s on ‘permanent disability’ because he hurt his back. He can still walk. He can still talk. But he’s considered permanently disabled because he was a mason…and now he can’t carry heavy bags of cement. It’s ridiculous. He could just go do something else. He’s only about 40 years old. Instead, he does nothing – and we taxpayers support him.

“You know, they say that this financial crisis is going to be the end of capitalism. I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be the end of socialism…this kind of socialism we’ve had in France for the past 20 years. We can’t afford it. There are too many people not working. Too many rules. Too much interference. A third of the country works. Another third tries to stop them from working. And the final third does nothing at all.

“I think the financial crisis is going to put an end to it… we can’t afford it anymore.”

Until tomorrow,

Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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7 Comments on "Experiencing Hard Work"

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Unpopular Truth
Why on earth would you continue to spend the time of 50 people digging a hole, when you could use 10 people to design a tractor, 10 to finance the company, and 10 to build it, and 10 to run it, and 10 more to drive it? Those 50 people can then run 10 tractors, make a lot more money, and be a lot more productive. What we’ve seen is a shift from raw manpower into far more efficient utilization. Plus, now you don’t just need 50 strong gents with shovels. Those who are not good with shovels can do… Read more »

Unpopular, way to miss the point… Go read the article again (hint – has nothing to do with manual labor)


…while ricardians stack the oak wood, keynesians stack the pine…then keynesians stuff their stoves with oak and leave the pine…behind…when keynesians pick the cherries, they pick the ones down low…then someone needs the ladder, and up and down they go…when forced to dig a ditch, the keynesians shovel sand…then guess who gets the clay and calluses, on their hands…when life’s a bowl of nuts…keynesians preeefer cashIOUs…when alls that’s left are peanuts, the keynesians cry BOO HOOs…then sing the bailout blues…

Ivor Evans
Wow Bill. It finally takes the gardener to put life in perspective. He is some one who is in touch with the natural order, some one who knows that you have to work with nature not against her. Some one who as a result is in touch with their own nature. He’s absolutely right about affordability. And yep he will stand up and speak out against nonsense because he knows that no amount of fanciful thinking can turn a pig’s ear into a purse. Unpopular Truth needs to re-evaluate his value system. Wealth is not money and money is not… Read more »

In my longish experience, those who use the mantra “work smarter, not harder” are those doing nothing at all and who intend to do nothing.


Populism and demagogy ! Very close to Poujadism…

Jon Bain

Its hard work knocking a wall down with your head.
A smart man uses a lever or a mallet.

Those who say ‘work harder, stop thinking’ are those that get a rise out of keeping others under their yoke.

Go knock a wall down with your head, Michael. After all, it would be HARD work to do it that way.

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