I consider myself a very hard worker. There might be harder workers out there, but I am sure they are immigrants. Out of the red blooded, jerky chewing Americans I consider myself a very hard worker. Well, there might be harder workers out there in fields like medicine or law, but I am sure their higher intellects make it feel less hard. So out of red blooded, jerky chewing Americans not working in the medical or law field I consider myself a very hard worker. Aside from entrepreneurs… and single mothers… or James Franco…probably most social workers… definitely protestants… oh my God… am I lazy?
The Protestant Work Ethic
Protestants worked so hard they made the average colonial worker’s 15 hour day look like a lunch break. They believed that hard work, frugality and success were signs of God’s favor—that you were predestined for heaven. Under this belief, the unemployed weren’t just lazy; they were damned sinners offending God. The modern day Tea Party must have read the protestant handbook.
Modern frugality is less about making more and more about mooring more of what you make. Work ethic isn’t necessarily at the for-front of things; it looms in the background like an awkward cousin at Thanksgiving. A holistic perspective on success and finances has replaced the single minded goal of attaining financial success. It would be fair to say that modern frugality is proactively helpful and views itself as something that can help society, while Protestants built society. Touché, Protestants.
The Protestant work ethic morphed gradually into modern frugality as gains in technology facilitated automation, and as child labor laws gradually become less parent-friendly. The freed up time allowed for a focus on what to do with one’s money, rather than simply how to make more of it. Increases in consumer options brought about thriftiness.
Gradually, society has recognized that being a caring parent or friend is more valuable than berating your children for not spindling fast enough or not buckling their hats, shoes and shirt properly. So although modern frugality is the great-great-great grandchild of the Protestant Work ethic, it has allowed itself a broader perspective on life. Those following the tenants of modern frugality are constantly looking for ways to maximize their money, and thus time. Many also are always on the lookout for ways to make more money. This is all very Protestant. Now if we can just start wearing those buckles again…
Do you think the Protestant work ethic has evolved into modern frugality? Or do you think modern frugality stems from other things?