“If I hear that expression once more, I’ll scream”.
So said my partner, a few weeks ago.
Thank goodness she was speaking figuratively, otherwise I’d be deaf by now.
The phrase she hates with such passion, and which I’ve come to loath in equal measure, is “hard working people”.
We hear it all the time these days.
Politicians from every party constantly talk about “hard working people”, as if they’ve identified a special group in society – the hard workers – that they want to identify with.
How many times have you heard David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, David Milliband, Ed Balls and a host of others say they’re “on the side of hard working people”?
Britain’s Tories quite clearly are. The phrase is splashed all over their current party conference.
Even President Obama used the phrase in a recent discussion about the value of Obamacare. Apparently, it’s for America’s hard working people everywhere.
What I want to know is this?
What’s the difference between hard working people and people who just work? Even people who just work hard?
Do we all have to be grafters employed on production lines to fit into the group and get the benefits? How dehumanising could that become?
Do we all have to have fingers worn to the bone by hard work? How painful would that be?
Must we spend endless hours slaving at work we’d rather not do? How much stress must one person bear?
Are our noses to be worn smooth by constant contact with the daily grind? Where’s the fun in that?
Can’t we have just a little bit of fun, even at work?
Must we always be working so hard?
A joyless life
It seems to me that, if we’re all expected to be so “hard-working” in order to reap the rewards offered by the politicians – the tax breaks, the mortgage deals and so on – we’re likely to lose something along the way.
We’ll all be so exhausted we’ll have nothing left to give to our lives outside work. No time. No energy. Nothing.
Creativity will wither, unless someone’s paying for it. Why would anyone create anything just for it’s own sake?
Family life may suffer, unless one works hard to find a sane balance. How much energy will be left for that?
Joy may become just a woman’s name.
Because everything in life will be governed by whether or not it – or the person who’s done or made it – qualifies as “hard-working”.
I’m sorry, but I don’t subscribe.
I’ve never been afraid of hard work; not ever in 50+ years of near-continous employment.
But I hate being expected to join the ranks of the “hard-working” just to remain part of the government’s thinking.
And I suspect the government’s thinking centres on how much tax it can harvest from “hard working” people rather than how much joy it can sow in the hearts of the country’s careworn population.
What a miserable, over-worked “hard working” lot we may become!