Who You Calling Lazy?

By Begala, Paul | Newsweek, December 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Who You Calling Lazy?


Begala, Paul, Newsweek


Byline: Paul Begala

The president and his GOP opponents tell us American workers have gotten soft. Hardly.

Perhaps the best news I've heard in this dreary year is that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are gearing up for another tour. We need the Boss more than ever, in part because few of our leaders are extolling the American worker.

President Obama is being hammered by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-Oops) for saying Americans have become Aa little bit lazy.A In truth, the president was referring not to working men and women in general, but to what he sees as a decline in the zeal with which corporate elites and government policymakers have been chasing foreign investment.

But maybe Perry is getting away with taking the president unfairly out of context because in September Obama told an Orlando television anchor: AThe way I think about it is, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.A

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R-Wall Street) has joined Perry in bashing the president. Too bad way back in 2010 Romney seemed to agree with Obama's view, writing (in his campaign book No Apologies) that Americans Ahave tended to avoid the hard work that overcoming challenges requires.A

The view that America's economic problems are caused by laziness was repeated in recent days by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Ayn Rand). APart of it is the culture of people just having no work ethic,A Ryan said. Ryan is an expert on the work ethic. He's a self-made millionaire--if by Aself-madeA you mean he was born into a family that has been wealthy since his great-grandfather founded Ryan Inc. Central in 1884.

Herman Cain (R-Pepperoni) and Newt Gingrich (R--Tiffany's) also blame the victims of the recession. Gingrich has said Occupy Wall Street protesters should Ago get a job right after you take a bath,A while Cain has proclaimed, AIf you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself.A

There is only one problem with all this bashing of working people: it's untrue. …

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