Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Richard Posner mocks the British father-son pair Robert and Edward Skidelsky for wondering about the balance between work and leisure in contemporary society.
Once you finally get a job, then you need to get a “real” job. Then you can expect to be laid off at least once in your life. Then you have to retool and enter the workforce again. Then even if you get your “dream” job, you might come to the realization that you’re destroying your family and your personal life, and the dream becomes a bit of a nightmare. Then you begin to realign all your goals. Then you begin to look toward retirement, and you begin to imagine what your vocation is going to be when you retire.
Taking Retirement: A Beginner's Diary, by Carl H. Klaus
Are you old?” a little boy asked as he popped up in the pool beside me. Hoping that his vision merely had been blurred by the spray and not wanting to admit my age, I tossed off his question by replying, “I didn’t think my backstroke was that bad.” He paddled away muttering, “You must be crazy.”
"Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.” So begins one of my favorite prayers, from the service for compline in the Episcopal prayer book. What a good thing it is, before going to bed, to remember those whose rest comes with the dawn.
In January I went to New Orleans with the Protestant Cooperative Ministry of Cornell University to work on a Habitat for Humanity project. My wife, Jeanene, and I drove from San Antonio through Houston and on to New Orleans. As it turned out, our journey through Houston helped us to understand the work we were about to do. I grew up on the west side of Houston, 15 miles out Interstate 10, near Katy, Texas. Our exit had nothing more than a Shell station, a small grocery store and a few shops. There wasn’t much between Katy and Houston either, mostly open country and a few familiar roads. In the late '70s I drove into Houston regularly to visit friends and sack groceries in a little store near Kirkwood Street.
Are the poor blessed or lazy? The prevailing answer in America is lazy. The welfare revolution of the past decade put the poor to work. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 changed the social support system. As the name of the law implies, people are held personally responsible for getting out of poverty by taking advantage of work opportunities.
Funding for the 1996 law that changed welfare had an expiration date of September 30, 2002. So last year, Congress had an opportunity to renew and revise the system. The House and Senate disagreed, however, about funding amounts and changes for the system.