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Life Arts    H4'ed 8/4/10

Lazy-Americans: The Last Despised Minority

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There are few absolute virtues was all agree upon in this crazy continent we call America, but one of them is surely "hard work." Hard work is the universal recipe for success, it's the breakfast of champions, The American Way.

Hard work gets credit for all our victories in life, right behind Jesus.

"First I want to thank my Lord and Savior for this win, Marv. It took lots of hard work, but it was worth it."

Fair enough, but it's a pretty good bet the losers worked their butts off too. Just once I'd like to hear the vanquished say, "We've all turned atheist in this locker room, Howard. Hard work let us down. Next season we'll be in Cabo, smoking weed."

Hard work has a slippery meaning. Hard work used to be digging the Erie Canal with a pickaxe, now it means ignoring a tweet from your friends until you finish typing an email to your supervisor.

What I'm doing right now, writing this column, could be described as hard work if I was shameless enough. It's no day at the beach to pound on this laptop, drinking tea and smoking a cigar while trying to entertain the masses. It's a day on the couch. But it's no day at the beach.

The closet is deep and dark, but I can no longer live a lie. My name is Allan and I'm a Lazy-American. I dare to speak the truth that hides its face in shame. Hard work is an overrated crock.

"Hard work is its own reward." I'm not sure where that famous quote came from. Probably Tony Hayward when he was at the yacht race the day another shrimper shot himself because he couldn't make the boat payment.

If hard work was its own reward Wal-Mart greeters would have personal assistants. More often than not, hard work is somebody else's reward and if you don't believe me, look at your paycheck.

That is the great genius of capitalism. It is the most powerful driver of men ever invented. We become slaves to ambition whether we are naturally driven or not. When a hundred million people say, "I may not be the smartest, most talented person in the world, but nobody is going to outwork me," we nod our heads in approval.

But they can't all be right, right? That's how brainwashed we are. We don't need overseers. In capitalist America, Massa is us.

But ignorance and prejudice are stronger than facts. The sad truth is that Lazy-Americans are the most viciously persecuted group in the land.

Burning ambition, outsized drive, inexhaustible energy, those are inborn traits. You have them or you don't.

So are smarts. If you're stupid it's considered bad form to be ridiculed for it. If you're really, really stupid they call you special and everyone has to be nice to you.

But if you're a little down scale on the effort-meter they call you a slug, drop down a notch from there and you're a hobo. Society can tolerate the dim, the halt and the lame. They make laws to protect them.

But if you don't want to live your life like you're on the flag lap of the Daytona 500, you're a bum.

How do you know if you're one of the energy-challenged, the enlightened idlers, the serenely slothful? No blood test has yet been developed that can diagnose the condition.

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San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on Amazon.com, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)
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