Are 21st-Century Americans the Most Spoiled People in World History?

Writing about this story regarding Lara Imler, I accidentally stumbled on to some of the comments on the NPR article (I don’t typically read those). Here is what the story said:

Imler, a 37-year-old hair stylist in Anchorage, ditched her office job as an accountant in 2004. She says she loves making people feel better about themselves and is a lot happier cutting hair than she was sitting in front of a computer. But she does miss one big thing about her old job: “I had health insurance, and it was wonderful.”

Even without health insurance, Imler spends a lot of time in doctors’ offices. She has , a thyroid disorder. The treatments and blood tests she needs are expensive, but not as expensive as buying insurance in Alaska’s individual market.

“Being self-employed, getting my premium at anything reasonable wasn’t happening,” she says. “I think my last quote was $1,200 a month for myself.”

So in the comment, someone responded with a question that I myself had wondered about.

I’d love to know why Lara Imler gave up an accounting career for a much lower paying hairdressing job. Workplace harassment maybe? Whatever the shortcomings, they must have been substantial to drive a professional out of a lucrative white collar career and into a blue collar job without health insurance – particularly considering her illness. I do understand that hairdressing is a lot more fun, but with her health and a family to consider, I don’t see fun as a compelling enough reason for the switch.

To this commonsense curiosity, two people responded. The first:

Because… it is not healthy, mentally or physically, to go to a job you hate. Because why look back on your life and wish you had followed your passion instead of sticking with an unfulfilling job that one can only say is “lucrative?”

And then there was agreement in a second commenter:

Yeah I am one of those. I hate to think how many crappy jobs I have taken because they offered health insurance. I was never a risk taker. Now I am 58, looking back, and seeing a life spent making everyone else money and nowhere close to retirement. Be a “ruin”… Life is short!

To which our original commenter responded:

I’ve been stuck with jobs I didn’t like, or even “hated”. Yet, as millions of others do, I chose to stay with it until a viable alternative presented itself because I had responsibilities and couldn’t choose to be bring financial ruin on my family.

Throughout history and still in many places in the world people have had to do what they needed to do to survive. Scarcity is real. Work is hard. It is the only way to be fed, sheltered, and clothed.

Throughout history, most people have had no choice but to slog away their lives in agriculture or inherit a trade from their father. It is still this way in much of the world. In other places, the only alternative is grinding factory work. Believe it or not, most people are glad to have the manufacturing option.

Also throughout history some people have managed to live off the labor of others. But never before in history have these people been able to justify their exploitation by convincing the majority that they could live off the labor of each other. Twentieth- and twenty-first century moderns are more gullible and/or more ignorant of math.

The fact that we have better lives than virtually all our ancestors doesn’t mean that the fundamental laws of human life and survival get suspended for our sake. We’re not that special.

You don’t burden your family because you hate your job. There may be reasons you have to quit that do end up burdening your family, but those exceptions still don’t nullify the rule.

Even Ashton Kutcher knows better!

Yet this is exactly the kind of entitlement thinking to which Nancy Pelosi appealed.

Is anyone willing say that they should get to quit their job and follow their passion if it requires a couple of people to die of cancer?

You can’t escape reality be being delusional, though you can make the consequences worse.