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rockstar.esq

The false choice of Default to action vs. default action

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9 hours ago, John McPherson said:

"If you get up in the morning, and run into a single jerk, then that is his problem. If you get up in the morning and everyone you meet all day is a jerk to you, then YOU are the problem."

So true.

However ... why do you think that a place of work is a social experiment where everything  is fair and hunky-dory, and if it is not, then it should be or we can appeal to the fair-work-place fairy ?

I can believe every horror story you can describe, but my point is a different one. A business purpose is making money for the owners/ shareholders, not to make life pleasant for the employees. It is an unfortunate reality and the reason for people to change jobs if they can. If they can not, they have to wear it. Where is the novelty? What power has the one with no power? 

There are lot of injustices in this world. Unpleasantries in the workplace are probably number 123 in the list of injustices. The present pandemic rates a tad higher in the list of injustices unleashed on humankind. 

In my personal opinion only of course. 

 

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Marc1

I don't think there's much reason to dispute your central thesis that businesses have a moral obligation to profit.  There limitations of that thesis begin to show when dealing with problems that are not clearly aligned with profitability.  Especially as it applies to the concepts of fairness and civil discourse.

I've encountered plenty of managers who insisted that their abrasive and unaccountable approach was critical to their performance.  I've also encountered plenty of managers who seem to effortlessly preside over success after success without any apparent friction or drama.  If it's possible to be profitable without misery, why not choose that path?

A very long time ago I was a long-distance cross-country runner on a very successful team.  My senior year, we went undefeated, however if you watched any one of the races, it wouldn't look that way for the first half of the race.  We trained to run "negative splits" which means that each increment is quicker than the preceding increment.  From the beginning of the race to the very end, we were constantly picking up speed.  It's not dramatic looking against able competitors because we'd barely be mid-pack at the middle of the race.  However to our competitors, it was psychologically devastating to be passed at an increasing pace.  We'd not only pass them, we'd get so far ahead that within a few turns, they couldn't even see us any more.  Many of our competitors would rely on a big sprint for the last 100 or 200 yards.  I can tell you it was very dramatic because I was always done in plenty of time to see them finish.

I wasn't the fasted guy on my team, and there were plenty of competitors that had quicker people than me.  Some of them beat me with the big dramatic sprint.  That being said, their team overall lost to mine every single time.  

It's a different approach entirely.  Whereas most runners mid race were worrying about how much more there was to go, we were thinking about how much more we had to give.  I've found that when you're part of something stronger, and more composed, you can get farther than the people with a coach screaming from the sidelines.

 

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On 5/18/2020 at 3:07 PM, rockstar.esq said:

I don't think there's much reason to dispute your central thesis that businesses have a moral obligation to profit.  There limitations of that thesis begin to show when dealing with problems that are not clearly aligned with profitability.  Especially as it applies to the concepts of fairness and civil discourse.

I've encountered plenty of managers who insisted that their abrasive and unaccountable approach was critical to their performance.  I've also encountered plenty of managers who seem to effortlessly preside over success after success without any apparent friction or drama.  If it's possible to be profitable without misery, why not choose that path?

Sure, I can see the logic and the reasons behind a call to a better approach to relationship between employer and employee. 

And I can understand perfectly that if such relationship improves, the outcome might result in a lift in profitability.

Unfortunately to express such thoughts, is to tell the employer how to conduct their business, and most will not take well to that. 

The owner or their appointed manager, has that position because they know better than you, how to conduct their business.

Rightly or wrongly.

The conflict between owner and worker has been going on since the beginning of times and such conflict is even described in the bible. And so many tried to change it, regulate it, constrain it into some fabricated political / social / moral code ... with little or no success. Heads of state get appointed according to how they talk about it and pretend to understand it. 

Fairness and civility are ill defined concepts that if not set in law mean very little beyond the appeal to some ethereal moral code that will be in place only when everything else is satisfied.

I thought I made my case when I first answered with one sentence ... The fallacy of leadership is, that it exists. 

We live in an era of abysmal  lack of real leadership, in all aspects of life. Starting with parents, then teachers, pastors, bosses, politicians, religious leaders, heads of state, world organisations, countries unions, every single leader has the moral authority of a wet noodle, and the worse part of this situation is that it does not matter much at all. 

I love intellectual exercises. They are fun and polish one's use of the language and grammar, have some effect on a few who like to think, and can lead to someone writing a book about it and surely may even show in one's eulogy and epithaph. 

I just don't see their practical value to survive in our peculiar world. :)

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I have seen leaders in business. Rarely.

I have seen a lot of bosses. A lot of cruel, shallow, broken people in places of authority that they were in no way mentally or morally fit to occupy. But they looked good on paper, and talked a good game, took all the credit, placed all the blame, and never put anything self-incriminating in writing. As long as the final numbers look good, there is no change.

And I have seen a lot of supervisors above them turn a blind eye and deaf ear to any problems, because then they would have to DO something, or maybe even make a decision, something that they feared.

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Marc1,

It's difficult to square your perspective.  One the one hand you posit that there is a moral obligation for a business to profit, then you undermine the practical approaches to cooperatively achieve that end with a Nihilistic exercise.  I don't think Nihilism is an intellectual exercise, it's just feeding a parasitic host of depression until the lights go out.  I think the whole class conflict theory is for the birds as well, for mostly the same reasons, but especially because it inexorably leads to stealing.  That's working against human nature, which is why systems built on this thought consistently fail.  Even great apes object to stealing.

I'm sorry if you've lost faith in humanity. Maybe it would help to look for things that mysteriously work out.  It's been my experience that truly excellent leadership is often confused with being lucky, or possessed of a great team.  This is due in no small part to the tendency of great leaders to encourage and motivate their staff.  History is full of examples to illustrate excellent leadership.  

As high-minded as we might pretend this concept is, the majority of questions resolved in leadership come down to fairly obvious alignments with the core mission.  All the confusion comes in because of human nature.  Reward human nature, and the obvious problems tend to resolve themselves.

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30 minutes ago, rockstar.esq said:

Marc1,

It's difficult to square your perspective.  One the one hand you posit that there is a moral obligation for a business to profit, then you undermine the practical approaches to cooperatively achieve that end with a Nihilistic exercise. 

That is because your turn what I call the purpose of business to exist, into what you call a "moral obligation". Moral is the concern with the principles of right and wrong, nowhere near the reasons for a business to be. 

I used to held personal development courses and to my dismay, people actually paid a fee to listen to me. Go figure!

i used a series of questions for people to answer and set the mood for discussion. One such question was ... " What is the purpose of your business". Most attendees were management or business owners. The answers invariably took off, high into the stratosphere of philosophical mumbo jumbo. Not even owners of business could sincerely confess that, after the dust settles, the purpose, the only one, is to turn a profit. The rest is "carton pintado" like the Spanish like to say ...( just for show).

And so if the purpose of business is such low and unattractive mundane reason, that needs to be hidden and camouflaged with alleged high social or moral purposes, on the surface, lobbying for a better more effective way to achieve said moral concepts should be very popular and have many followers and adherent. 

But we all know this is not so, simply because of human nature reluctance to change what appears to work. 

So , the realisation that to survive you have to roll with the punches rather than make yourself a target,  is far from nihilistic, and just one tool to adapt to a changing environment. 

Everyone will be using his own set of values to draw the proverbial line in the sand of how far they are prepared to adapt. 

And your observations of business politics and the others horror stories are but a picture of what we have to contend with. 

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Business if ran well is always about making a profit. 

A business won't last long if they do not turn a profit.. 

Though today there are a bunch of crazy things that happen with corporations that would never fly as a mom and pop business with Actual cash on hand vs overall business values and such. 

I think the largest failure today is people thinking that 50.00 per hour is a good living wage..   Back in the late 80's everyone was brainwashed into thinking that corps and businesses could not afford to pay the average worker more money.. 

Labor is the largest expense for most or at least it used to be when hand labor was a major component of the mfg structuring and thus all the larger  corps moved to lower labor rate states and then eventually to other countries.. 

The USA is a country builder..  With our industry  we keep moving production to other 3rd world countries build the economy and then as the labor raises to a certain price point they move onto the next place or location. 

This cycle has happened from very early on.   It has not changed..  Just the scaled wages up high.. 

I as a single shop person can never get rich by myself unless I get lucky both with position in the field and with patrons who also find favor in my work. 

If this does not take place I need to produce an item that I then can sell more of them and then as long as I can turn ample profits off the employees I have on payroll the business can be successful.   I have to turn X amount of dollars from each persons work.  When the labor costs me more than what I am selling its time to close shop before there is no money left.. 

Or I need to lower labor costs.. And the cycle continues. 

I refuse to work for less than 100.00 per hour...  Is this snobbery..   No..  Today it is a living wage for a 40 hr work week..  This is an ideal and if I can do that then I can also afford all the items that would be included in such a business..    800.00 per day,  4000.00 per week,  200K a year..    Today this 200k a year is barely living if we look at the standard of living. 

But, few will really acknowledge that 50.00 is not enough per hour.   And certainly no employer wants to hear the person wants 100 per hour because of what I all ready mentioned with a number of dollar per employee. 

If I am christian, I can run my business with these principals in place but it does not mean the business will or won't be successful. 

I have found that if a business or a person is supposed to be successful they will be..   

Success is and can only be measured by the person themselves..  Not by any other measure..  

If we look at strictly numbers then we end up right back to where the numbers dictate each employee has to produce a certain excess for the amount of work produced.  X dollars be hour of employee pay. 

it is really simple, but may will want to make it more complex saying as an importance " it's more complicated than that"..    

it can be as simple or as complex as someone wants it to be..    It's also someone can look at forging that nail and discuss it till everyone agrees and spend that 30 minutes so everyone can agree (of which 30minutes is problably more like 4hrs)..  Verses just grabbing the stuff and 1 minute later making the nail.. 

I am in business to stay afloat.   At this point in my life I am on the back side of maximal output..  With less output comes charging more for a given service up to the pricing point that only a few will find the value vs desire to even out these are the customers who end up paying much, much more than 100.00 per hour. 

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On 5/19/2020 at 5:14 PM, jlpservicesinc said:

I think the largest failure today is people thinking that 50.00 per hour is a good living wage..   Back in the late 80's everyone was brainwashed into thinking that corps and businesses could not afford to pay the average worker more money.. 

in the 90ties, when I wa running those personal development seminars, I also used to ask the audience ... what do you think is fair for a person to earn. I used the word fair purposely even when fair has nothing to do with it.

The answers never ceased to amaze me and are at the core of the very low 5% success at personal level when it comes to money. 

To begin the answers did not come at all and needed encouragement. "So tell me what is fair? Is $50k a year fair?" Mind you I never said what the hypothetical person did or what he was paid for. It was the nineties.

$50k a year would draw quiet nods of approval, and murmurs of sure, thats fair. 

$100k would produce a bit more head movement but still approval, although that approval took more time.

$200k, started to draw exclamations of surprise and qualifications ... depends what the does, and the word "greed" surfaced here and there. 

But I kept on going, $400k? made them loud and restless and $800k drew out rude exclamations and other irreproducible concepts. When I started to go into the millions, I lost them altogether.

Why?

Basically and to keep this post short, this is at the core of the "anti values" principle. Our values, adopted early in life, make us who we are. Some of those values help us forward and others pull us back. Note that I don't say right or wrong. I say they help you or they hinder you ... let's say like the oil in a gearbox. Too thin and you destroy the gears, too thick and you slow them down. 

in a nutshell, 95% of people believe, deep down that it is wrong to be prosperous, that rich people are so at the expense of the poor, that you have to be content with what you have and ambitions are bad, fuelled by greed. With that in mind, most people will glide through life attempting to keep apparences, held moral principles, avoid like the plague talking about money, complain about others who with their greed make them short of a quid, and some even state that their average condition is due to keeping to their moral obligation ... "I am poor but I am honest" is a classic expression that implies that you can not prosper unless you are dishonest ins some way. 

The above, certain to ruffle a few feathers, is not necessarily clear in most people mind, more a subconscious concept. However it does lead most people decisions away from prosperity. 

In the corporate world this is just as apparent, and the bad boss is bad because he is not only incompetent but also greedy cashing in those millions, etc etc. 

It is a fascinating subject and one that most people avoid talking about or react with ire when confronted with.

Your post describing what you consider good or basic is courageous and refreshing. Good for you. Your prosperity is valuable and is a good thing not only for yourself. Congratulations.  

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Thomas, I just checked land prices with homes in the Albuquerque New Mexico area and the prices are just as high as they are here.   11acres.  1.5M 

And other areas in NM..   I've looked at many places over the years in different areas and really in the last 20 or so years prices have evened out in nearly all areas..  Yes, there are still some deals if using the Tapatta method.. :)    But for the most part.. 

The other factor that is funny is when someone says that its cheap living where they are and yet won't ever mention how much they actually make..  Anyhow,  People say that about living in VA, or MT or CO..  I haven't seen this unless the people bought their property back earlier than the 1990. 

Anything is possible as is any situation..  What you wrote is the reason we are still struggling to see 50 per hour in many jobs.. 

How many hours does a person have to work out there to make 50K a year?  Will this give you vacation, retirment, a nice home, water rights? Mineral rights? etc, etc. 

This can be a slippery slope for sure. 

Marc1 I agree with you..  it is a very interesting subject and it is also funny what personal value as an attribute adds or subtracts from any given exchange with it comes to behavior and money or money talk. 

Much of it is biased to skew what one person does vs what they will tell another person to do. 

 

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Lets see my 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2389 sq foot house with passive solar and wood stoves and a bit over an acre of land cost about US$150K. It's on a paved road and about 5 miles from town.  Yes it has rights.  For $55K I work a 40 hour week with retirement, health, vacation---and property taxes are low.

Having lived in Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas; I can say that out here has been the best value for the money. (Though paying about $20 a year property taxes for 13 tree covered acres in Arkansas comes close. Unimproved family land on a gravel road though.)

Life in the cities is much more expensive; but who wants to live there anyway? (Check out Santa Fe or Taos!)  There is a 30 acre plot listed for sale out here; they want about 20K dollars for it and I doubt any near neighbors...

Oh yes; my heating bill for the last 3 years has been $250, that's *total*.  Going to have to buy another cord of wood for the next couple of winters; we'll buy it mid summer when it's cheap and has time to season.

Now buying good coal is expensive...and it does get HOT in the summer; moving into the mountains would make the summers nicer and the winters colder.

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Marc,

I appreciate your effort to explain your point of view.  I think I have a better understanding of where you're coming from.

When I was a teenager, I was certain of a lot things that I don't know now.  I've learned to spot situations where neither the "either", nor the "or"  offered sufficient explanation of what happens.  Fairly often, the perceived options don't fit because the situation is misunderstood.

Let's say we have a situation where people are skittish about naming their price.  Sure, it could be that people are morally constipated on the topic, or they're bound by taboo.  Assuming that people aren't getting what they want, this situation represents a real obstacle to ambition.

Now let's say we have a situation where people identify themselves with a brand, a movement, a trend, a trade, or a scholastic achievement.  That creates a super handy way to price-point their rate, which bypasses the taboos and moral constipation.

So far, everything stacks up and it sorta makes sense.  Except for all the situations where people get higher compensation and better working conditions than they would have asked for.  Price pointing labor converts the individual's work into a commodity that is no better or worse than all the people working at that price point.  That practice trades the arguing over your value for the security of your position.  I've seen industry adapt to this approach and it has a lot of down-sides.  "Black box" engineering is an easy example.  Your job is to take a range of inputs, and do whatever is necessary to generate a set of outputs.  If you become a problem to the firm, they'll un-socket you from your cubicle/workstation and plug in an equally credential colleague.  Over time, it's a simple matter to apply this process to designing replacements for all the colleagues.  This is why factories replaced blacksmiths.  

It's my humble opinion that the real reason that people resort to convolutions over wages is not due to any of the above.  I think it's a far more simple problem than that.

I think the problem is that we don't teach or practice estimating.  Nobody knows what a good value is.  We see arguments framing it in terms of owning a home, or paying your way out of college debt.  The concrete concepts of a market rate, or actual utility to society, are completely ignored in favor of pretending that all value judgments are stymied with the lazy reply; "it depends".  YES, it depends on the factors that matter.  Measure those, and you'll get your value for that situation, in that market, for that point in time.  The hard truth for many people, is that they just aren't that good at what they do. If they actually focused on what generates value, the world would be a better place.

Just yesterday I put up a post about how "mystery stuff" is always free and easy.  Whenever people don't understand the underpinnings of a value proposition, they tend to assume that all value is attributed to the things they do understand.  Stuff costs a lot.  Seems like a bag of "stuff" is easy to come by, must be greed.  Superficial understandings lead to resentment.

Sure, you could just demand a higher wage.  Basic economics dictate that if everybody got a higher wage, everything would cost more.  Is that better?

My point is that modern businesses overwhelmingly assess the value of human labor using proxies, price points, social capital, and inertia.  Lazy process-driven approaches developed and administered by H.R.  Applicable skills testing is virtually non-existent. 

In many markets everyone is a commodity.  Virtually all construction work is awarded by competitive bid.  It's silly to pretend that all bidders would deliver an equal value of work.  They're not a commodity, but they're evaluated that way.  Incredibly stupid fallacies take hold because the people making decisions, don't know what they're looking at.  We have people who assume that "lowest bidder" means they're incompetent, yet the entire industry uses competition to identify market leadership.  There are people who genuinely believe that cost is an accurate indicator of quality, who made decisions without bothering to measure the quality.  Few take the time to consider how difficult it truly is, to make a good thing cheap.  I meet a lot of clients who have an adversarial relationship with reality.  It's a terrible model to follow.

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Rockstar; your post about mystery stuff looked to me as a restating of the Dunning-Kruger effect wrt estimating. I'm beginning to think that the Dunning-Kruger effect is one of the fundamental laws of this universe along with Sturgeon's Law and Murphy's Law.

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there was a study more or less disproving the dunning-kruger effect.  with the exception of humor

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I sure have run into it in real life in multiple areas.  How many people have you had show up at your forge expecting to forge pattern welded swords by lesson 2?

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A few general comments to add to the discussion:

My father used to tell me when I said something wasn't fair that  fair is where you went to ride the merry go round (round about) and eat hot dogs.

I think it is obvious that the primary reason for the existence of a business is to make money.  If it isn't it is a charity or other non-profit organization.  However, by their mere existence business provide other things to individuals (owners and employees) an society.  They provide a living to the owners and employees, life purpose to the owners and employees, a source of goods and services to the society, social contact to owners, employees, and customers, etc..  However, problems arise when owners or management want to try to make ALL the money to the detriment of society, employees, and customers.  This is what is perceived by many as greed.  This is why there are work place safety regulations, anti-discrimination laws, unions, many other government regulations and regulating bodies, the right to organize and collectively bargain, minimum wage laws, in the US the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act, etc. bloody etc..  These all arise as attempts to address various perceived abuses and perceptions that something is "unfair."

Unless a person is actually producing an actual product, e.g. X number of widgets @ Z$  each, it can be very hard to quantify the value of the person's labor to an organization.  As an local government attorney I could never go to the City Council or County Commissioners and say that because of my legal advice we avoided $X of litigation expenses and damages in the previous year.  You can't prove a negative.  That is why, as imperfect as it is, comparing the salaries of similar positions in the region may be about the only benchmark to determine what a person's compensation should be.

In my experience a jobs were awarded to the "lowest qualified bidder."  The key there is "qualified."  I have seen low ball bids come in from people who were clearly out of their depth and were not equipped or experienced to do the job.  I won't go into how we knew that but sometimes it is pretty obvious.  I will admit that I have seen plenty of apparently qualified bidders who, when they got the job, were out of their depth and made a serious mess of the project.  That is why we required performance bonds.  BTW, if you think collecting anything from an insurance company is fun try collecting from a bonding company.

It's late and time to go to bed.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."     

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19 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Rockstar; your post about mystery stuff looked to me as a restating of the Dunning-Kruger effect wrt estimating. I'm beginning to think that the Dunning-Kruger effect is one of the fundamental laws of this universe along with Sturgeon's Law and Murphy's Law.

Thomas,  I can see how you came to that conclusion.  I had to look up Sturgeon's law which cracked me up.  I think you've got a good list there which might benefit from including the Pareto Principle.

George,  You're making excellent points as always.  I think your comments about valuing intangible work are a perfect illustration of how people fail to understand the principles of estimating.  You're absolutely correct that there's no way to prove a negative.  That doesn't mean that the only way to effectively measure your value is to assume that paying the "going rate" will equate to a fair return on that compensation.

Why have a lawyer?  The simple answer is to mitigate risk.  People buy insurance policies even though the majority never make a claim.  They do this, because the cost to mitigate the risk is lower than the potential cost of the risk itself.  Insurance companies can "prove" their value by pointing to the claims they paid out to policy holders.  If a lawyer is lucky enough to never have a client in need of their services, they might advertise themselves as a talisman!  Everyone else will have plenty of work experience to cite where they did their job to protect a client from risk.  Since everyone's portfolio of work experience will be different, it follows that their value to the client will be different.  The market rate for the services will therefore make a lawyer with a better portfolio fit a better deal to the client.

Ultimately, this all goes to show that price pointing professional labor to market rates is an excellent way to disconnect an individuals actual value from reality.  The effect on the whole is to reward the individuals working at low end of the professional spectrum with wage increases deprived of the professionals working at the high end of the spectrum.  

This happens in collective bargaining agreements all the time.  The most skilled and valuable employees in a given agreement are paid exactly the same as the least skilled and valuable employees.  

 

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There is also the strict form of Sturgeon's law: that 90% of the rest is the same; but you didn't realize it at first.

My sister was once put in charge of an assembly line for a major high tech company and found that some of the  people were just not working and told her directly that she couldn't fire them as it took multiple meetings with multiples levels of management to actually fire someone! After the third person was fired, (and she got the nickname "The Axe Lady"), the line was found to be more productive, higher quality and BETTER MORALE!  Seems that the folks not working had been a drag on the people wanting to do their own jobs and do them well.  Having people being paid the same or more and not doing their jobs  impacted the good workers negatively.

My own experience working on an assembly line where one of the people on it would go out of his way to blow smoke into my face after I had explained to him I had a health condition it affected. When I complained he said that he had 20 years with the union and if I didn't like it I could leave.  I ended up leaving and getting a job that paid twice as much. I wondered what happened to him when the factory was moved to Mexico...(He had said that they would never move the factory down there; I did a BotE calculation that showed that given the wage differentials the company would save millions of dollars a week moving it "offshore".  I got out while the getting was good!)

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Well, boys and girls, in for a dollar, in for a dime. And yes, there's a bit of a brag here.

I've followed this thread and all I can say is I hope the work roll you have chosen as your source of money is worth it for the quality of life it represents. The few times I've worked out of my blacksmithing world, I've dealt with all the, well, stuff, you have listed above. Labor hating management for being worthless and management having no respect for the labor force. And everybody one way or another xxxxxxx xxx xxx.

I just turned 73 and daily thank my "lucky stars" that I identified all the above long ago and chose to just say no! You couldn't pay me enough to spend 8 hours a day in that kind of work environment. I chose a work roll that i have a passion for even to the day. This is called desire. It is an equal partner in the creation of the quality of life that is created  by my definition and lives in harmony with with all the other parts, my homelife, my entertainment, most of my friends.

I've had successes and major crashes, but survived them all. This is called determination.

I've never wavered in my pursuit of this whole. That's called dedication. 

And best of all? It certainly doesn't take $100/ hour to achieve it. 

As a farrier I was blessed to spend my "work" dealing with one of the most beautiful creatures on this green earth,,, and come home to the smell of fresh baked bread, my loving wife and a squirmy little girl demanding a story.

As a working traditional blacksmith, I spent my day being fascinated and challenged in the metamorphosis of this cold, hard, immovable substance called iron to something warm, flowing and soft to the touch. And i when I smelled the smell of fresh baked bread at the end of my day, I knew it was time to head up the hill to be with my lady and that lil girl. 

Sure beats the alternative.

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3 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Axe Lady"), the line was found to be more productive, higher quality and BETTER MORALE! 

Heh, heh, heh,  been there. Folks tend to live up to your expectations, if you don't care neither will they. Most folks like to believe their life has meaning and it's a hard self image to keep if your job is meaningless so you don't feel well. Folks on a crew of high liners can take pride in their jobs and feel good about them. It was probably the best point made by Mike Rowe in, "Dirty Jobs." Guys doing the dirtiest, stinkiest most dangerous jobs were all happy guys, many self made millionaires. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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