The value of work

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

My first paying job was picking up fallen tree limbs in our apple orchard. My kids’ first paying job was picking up gumballs from under the gum trees in our yard. Neither job was particularly hard, but they taught a simple lesson. The lesson was: work has rewards. As you can see, neither job was very challenging (and barely paid); nor were they the same things as daily chores that were expected as part of the family. But they did send the message that work does have rewards. Those rewards could come in more than one way. Work gives one the feeling that they have a role; that you are doing your part. Each year, growing up, that role grew and grew. Giving me a strong foundation to make my way in life.

I was reminded of these experiences from the publicity that the Democrat Congressional candidate who won in a primary in New York several weeks ago received. She is a professed Socialist. She has spoken frequently to reporters since then. In one interview she stated that this nation was founded as a socialist society. In that statement she was only partly correct and clearly was not taught the entire story.

While it is true that the Virginia Company settlers did set up a socialist colony in Jamestown, she was never taught that many in that settlement died in the first winter. The colonists had believed that it was best to set up the colony with a model in which all participated in doing the work nurturing the crops and, in turn, sharing the harvest. However, what happened was that too many simply did not take part in that process. With poor crop maintenance the harvest was poor, providing too small a harvest to last the winter. Starvation took a heavy toll on the colony. If fresh supplies had not arrived from England, Jamestown probably would have become the second lost English colony in America.

With fresh supplies and new leadership, the new model that was followed was: To each they were rewarded as to how hard they worked. In effect, they changed from socialism to the basic concept of capitalism. The rest is history.


There are clearly two distinctive directions our nation and Virginia are heading. The next couple of elections may well change the future. One route, headed by the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat party, would take us to socialism which proposes the same naivety as the settlers at Jamestown. This philosophy of college professors around the nation, many who do not understand basic economics, are teaching our youth that this is a good way for a society to function. With fewer and fewer understanding the value of work, our nation will be challenged. The other route is to follow the path of our founders. It is imperfect, however, those who have been taught the value of work will tend to do well. It has made our nation the wealthiest in history. We have created more crops that have fed the world. It has produced the greatest inventions of the world that has made life easier and more productive.

I encourage all to sit down with your children and grandchildren and explain what the New York Democrat candidate has never been taught. That work is how one gets ahead in life and, as well, gives one greater self-respect.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.