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Biscuit (Noun) : A person who is willfully ignorant and almost certainly incompetent

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A Tale of Two Ways

Chris (the majority owner and my partner in Sangiovese) and I had dinner at a swanky restaurant in Carmel the other night. Along with the general manager we were lamenting the current state of the labor force in this country.

I’m involved in two different restaurants these days. One is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays because we don’t have enough employees to be open all week. The other we have just enough staff to be open for dinner service seven days a week. And it’s literally just enough, in this hyper competitive environment it wouldn’t take much to upset the apple cart.

At Sangiovese we’ve talked about eventually opening for lunch, but we both agreed that at this point that’s a 2022 project at best. Why is this happening?

Republicans are quick to blame the overly generous federal unemployment benefits which Democrats have extended into September, which most Democrats deny. They point to “fear” over Covid and child care issues due to school closings as primary reasons why employees are not coming back into the workforce.

The truth of course is that all these are variables contributing to the equation. I believe if we are really being honest about it that it’s pretty clear the generous unemployment benefits are a large part of the problem. It’s not the only part, but I have to think it’s at least 50% of the issue. Denying it at this point is just silly.

I’m not sure I’m buying people being “afraid” of Covid – between vaccinations and the crowds I’m seeing at the beach and elsewhere that seems to be in the rear view mirror these days. The child care issue is certainly more of a potential issue, although it seems like most schools have gotten back to in person learning and or some kind of arrangement could be made by most folks.

Regardless there are clearly an ass ton of help wanted signs everywhere you go. The government reports through the JOLTS system that there are over eight million job openings currently available in this country. And some people simply are staying at home and are not willing to take a job, for whatever the reason.

And that is a choice. One I would argue is a poor one. I am a believer in the American way, the Mike Rowe mantra, that hard work can and will lead one to prosperity in these here United States. And we see so much of this “anti work” evidence and get worried. But sometimes, our faith is renewed.

A few nights ago I was finishing up a late dinner and it gave me an opportunity to talk to one of our servers. She’s been with us for a while now and I’ve always been impressed with her attitude and service.

During the course of dinner she made comments about not understanding why people wouldn’t come to work. She noted that yes, the unemployment benefits are good, but that “you only need to be here a few nights a week to make more than that.” Refreshing attitude to say the least.

Later I saw her talking to another customer at length about something so I asked her about it. She noted she was getting some ideas from him about a business she had started.

Turns out during the day she’s cleaning houses. Waiting tables at night. Working and getting after it so she can make a good life for her and her family. I was heartened to hear her talk with clear zeal how excited she was with all of her endeavors.

I have to believe that it’s people like her that in the end will come out on top, despite the Democrats who want Americans to be dependent on the government. I HAVE to believe that. And I do. God help us all if I’m wrong.

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