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Columnist Bob Bridge

Is hard work no longer popular

It was a simple question, one I should have fielded with little difficulty.

“How are you today, Bob?” the waitress politely inquired.

After a pregnant pause, I replied: “You know, I’m really not sure.“

It was a sincere response. I did feel somewhat discombobulated, out of sorts.

It’s like residing in a world that’s half-real, half-imagined. Some factual; some facade.

After retiring a couple of years ago I came to grips with the quintessential question: Which are you going to run out of first, money or life?

I gradually realized it would be life. Though hardly a Mr. Moneybags, I am financially stable, comfortable. Forty years of hard work and four decades of minimalist spending saw to that.

My health? Less than stellar.

I assumed we were living in a meritocracy so I endeavored to be a man of merit, a guy exhibiting a strong work ethic. I still write a few human interest columns for fun, but I don’t need a paycheck. Those days are in my rearview mirror.

So why so confused about this puzzle, this enigmatic economic landscape before me? It appears incomplete, as if a few vital pieces are missing. Why can’t I answer the question posed by the waitress?

Is this incessant, infuriating inflation the source of my dire demeanor?

The economic outlook is blurry. Something does not feel right. It’s as if I’m limping through an episode of the Twilight Zone.

For the past few weeks I’ve been seeing signs declaring: “Now Hiring! Help Needed! Jobs Available!”

Where is our workforce? Has everyone retired?

Allow me to mention this morsel from my childhood: Laziness is the embodiment of evil. My father was not a believer in complacency.

I asked the aforementioned waitress, “Why are you so short staffed?”

She smiled, then explained. “It’s not just us. Everyone needs workers.”

Our leaders were overly cautious with us during the recent pandemic.

“I know people are really hurting out there,” President Biden uttered repeatedly.

“Some people decided to stay home rather than work,” the waitress opined. “After all, the government is paying for everything.”

Really? I thought the government was so woefully mired in red ink it will take forever to pay off the national debt.

How did this financial fiasco transpire?

If jobs are so plentiful, why aren’t people accepting these much-needed positions?

I was raised on the principle of responsibility. Basically, if I desire something I should develop into a productive human being and work to provide both sustenance and self-esteem.

Nothing discombobulating there.

“Hurting” has become both a vague and vogue word these days. Dad would have seen this as a deteriorating development, an example of independence spiraling dangerously out of control.

Yes, sometimes we must rely on the kindness of strangers. But living off the government is a precarious practice. Printing and borrowing more money seemed neither practical nor prudent.

If people aren’t working, how do we pay for all of these promised future entitlements?

I’m sure our leaders in Washington D.C. will figure it out. However, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if they genuinely have our best interests at heart ...

Just in case, I’m still seeking my old piggy bank and those random, redeemable pop bottles along the roadside.

Contact Columnist Bob Bridge at 812–276-9646 or

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