USA Today Pushes the Wrong Message

I am an independent entrepreneur. Always have been. Last job I had working for someone was when I was 22 and that was about a 6 month gig as a bartender. It is not easy to be an entrepreneur, but it teaches you how to go “kill dinner” so to speak. It teaches you how not to be dependent on the management of some random firm. So when I see this article I get steamed. An excerpt:

When General Motors, the biggest employer in town, laid off 400 workers in December, it was like a boulder falling into a very small pond. April and Rick Allison lost their jobs stamping out doors and other car parts. They plan to leave to find work. Their departure means their landlord, Angelo Sorrenti, is worried about his business, so he’s holding off buying a new pickup. That hurts Graham’s Auto Mall, which has laid off sales manager Steve Brown. Now Brown can’t make his regular contribution to the United Way. The United Way has reduced donations to charities such as Friendly House’s after-school and summer program for low-income children. Friendly House is increasing its summer day camp fees. Single mom Pamela Hall worries if that keeps up, her 9-year-old daughter Courtney will have to stay home. The struggles facing the people of Ontario and its neighboring communities show how the 400 layoffs ripple far beyond the gates of the GM plant, where 860 people still work. The stories reveal how job losses at a plant tear the web that binds the workers and their neighbors. And Ontario is just one of 12 cities facing the bleak prospect that its GM plant will shut down in the next two years.

My first response? When is the media going to stop with this nonsense that the economic pain of Midwest-union-car-workers is somehow worse than anyone else out of a job and or money? More questions and thoughts:

1. Why do I need to care about GM? What is it so damn important about an impotent company run into the ground? Happens all the time across all businesses.

2. Why is the emphasis on “work” as opposed to making money? For example, the article says, “They plan to leave to find work.” It sounds so helpless. Why is there a “you are already dead” tone in the writing?

3. How did the phrase “job losses at a plant” supplant the phrase “entrepreneur”? It sure has, but why? Once again, it sounds so hopeless. These people are being presented as simpletons unable to get by since the “state” (read: GM) has gone away. It’s like an old Twilight Zone episode with big brother as all knowing and all caring.

4. I note the obligatory tearjerker talk of the United Way and Friendly House. Everyone knows the economy has changed so what are we going to do? Look fondly back on an artificial bubble and orgy of debt that funded charities? So how does it make you feel that in small town Ohio charities have less money? I am sure you feel exactly how this weenie reporter thought you would feel…sad. Great, now what?

Let me be blunt about this writing at USA Today and the tone taken: it is done on purpose. That article reads like an MBA research paper. Every word seems chosen. What do I mean? That article was written to appeal to the very people presented in the article. It is written for people in dire straits. Where is the language about digging out? Where is the language that says the entire “worker” model is flawed beyond reason? Where is the language that talks about what a great opportunity being laid off from a job “stamping doors” can present? That language is not there as it would sell less papers plain and simple.

Look, I am not saying this is easy, but America needs to get away from worshiping manufacturing jobs. America needs to find a more astute and intelligent job force for the years to come. Maybe, just maybe, if the country did not spend so much time at Fat Burger or so much time at the mall buying trinket this and trinket that, or watching endless American Idol bubble gum vomit, just maybe we might be forced to work smarter. Work smarter you complain? Yes, work smarter. Smart work builds strength, character and discipline. Just trusting that the job “working for the man” would be there was always a fatally flawed strategy. So spare me the article lamenting yesteryear. It is time for sucking it up and kicking butt, not crying in spilled milk.

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One thought on “USA Today Pushes the Wrong Message

  1. This is a good spin on how many people don’t think. America has lost a lot of its entrepreneurial spirit. Unless the desire to survive kicks in, lots of people don’t have a chance. So many of them are raised now days to depend on the government, or the company who ‘owes’ them because they have been there X amount of years. People should never depend entirely on outside sources for your income.

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