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Get to work, America!

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 11:21 a.m. CST

I just about choked on New Year’s morning when I happened to see a CNN poll about who was to blame for the shrinking middle class — the Democrats or the Republicans.  Come on America, grow up.

Why do we have to be so obsessed with blame and fingerpointing? But, if we are, let’s point the finger in the right direction. Remember, every time you point that index pinky, three others are pointing right back at you.

It’s not a political party that’s to blame, it’s not the economy. It’s the breakup of the family.

I don’t very often come up with an original idea, nor, for that matter, does anyone else.  Most of what we spew out, hear, or read is a rehash of what someone else has said. 

But in this case, I came up with this postulation all on my own, from my own experiences, from my own observations, with no support from research, data or political polls. You may have read this first, right here in the Empty Nest.

If the middle class is indeed shrinking — and this is as debatable as the cause of global warming (you have your naysayers and your supporters) — the real cause is the breakup of the family. And the family is the backbone of our society, not political parties that come and go with the wind.

We all know the divorce rate is/was 50 percent. Researchers are now telling us that the divorce rate is skyrocketing even higher due to, you guessed it, internet and social-media hookups.

Throw in gay marriage, which has an even higher divorce rate, and you have a family crisis shaking the foundation of our culture.

Of course the middle class is shrinking. You no longer have mom or pop around setting the example, going to work every day, demonstrating upward mobility, instilling the work ethic.

I remember very clearly my mother telling me, as pop left for work, that in America, you can do anything you want to do. I believed her. I still do today.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Opportunity has never been greater in America than it is right now. For heaven’s sake people, we don’t even have the death trap of health insurance tying us to a dead-end job. Get out there and get after it.

I’ll use my son as an example. He’s in his 30s and is married with two small children and would like to have more. He has a degree in religion, but decided not to follow pastoral paths. 

He was working for his father-in-law, doing contracting work, which he enjoyed. After all, Jesus was a carpenter. But he decided he wanted to bring home more payola, enough so that (OMG) his wife wouldn’t have to work (where these kids get these crazy notions, I have no idea).

He made a two-prong attack. First, being in the contracting business, he decided he might like to be a building inspector. Remember: goals are 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.

He got the self-study material, stayed up late after his family went to bed, studied his fanny off, took the state certification test, and passed. He is now a state-certified building inspector.

Second, he talked to me about coming into the insurance business. Gulp. So, once again, he got the self-study materials, stayed up late after saying goodnight to his family, studied his fanny off, took the state insurance exam, and passed.

In one year, all on his own initiative, with no government help, he studied for and passed two state exams. He is now selling insurance and performing building inspections. 

He essentially created a new profession: insurance plus building inspections.  He could call it “insurespection.” And, oh yes, he’s doing quite well.

Is this an unusual example? It’s unusual in the sense he did this all on his own with no help from anyone. Can other people do this? Absolutely.

What he did have, growing up, was two parents that worked very hard. He witnessed failure, success, pick-yourself-back-up-and-get-to-work attitudes, providing for the family, and never-quit determination.

Was he lucky? The definition of luck is: putting yourself in the best position to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises.

The start of a new year is a time for resolution and goal setting. There is a labor shortage in this country. Challenge that gray matter between your shoulders and get to work.

No one is going to do this for you. Parents or no parents, job or no job, Republicans or Democrats in the White House, “American” always has, and always will, end in, “I can.”

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