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> This feeds directly into the popular narrative that the working poor somehow lack moral fortitude.

Not really. Not every bad job is held by an oppressed proletariat. Many times they're held by mischievous PFYs who still think they're immortal and that $20 is a lot of money. Youthful indiscretions are one the most common sources of this type of behavior. It's extremely common to not have a professional attitude in your "first real job", or to not even consider most minimum wage jobs as a "real job". There's an entire genre of movies that relies on this culture. Slacker culture has been part of pop culture for decades, now. When you don't have any actual responsibilities it's pretty common to treat any new ones like a big joke, or as "suggestions".

And it doesn't just happen at work - there are people with extremely cavalier attitudes towards education. I had a conversation with my kid about other kids getting around attendance rules in high school by showing up to class and then "going to the bathroom" and not returning to class again. Skipping class to go smoke, race, shop, etc has been a thing for at least 50 years. It's kind of telling, though, that most slacker movies were about college-age (or younger) kids. Ones for adults (e.g. Office Space) are pretty rare and rather niche.

It's important that we recognize that professionalism is not a natural (or an exclusive) trait. Babies don't pop out of the womb screaming "Please advise." The teenage years are full of people pushing boundaries to learn how they fit into society. We expect mistakes at that age, and those expectations are frequently met.

I've literally met hundreds of people who blew off classes because they weren't the ones paying for it, or who called in sick after a hangover or because they didn't like their job. I've stood around at parties listening to people tell stories of how they ditched work. I had a co-worker call in sick because he "couldn't get his car out of the garage." And having six dead grandmothers in a year is a trope now. It's not everyone, for sure, but it happens. It's just that people do it less with the jobs that they value in the careers they've invested into.

That said, we do need a lot of labor reforms around hours worked, employee rights and privacy, cost of living adjustments, etc. And we need better safety nets for citizens. But those will always extend far more slowly to a job that can be filled by 90% of the population. The supply of entry-level workers far outstrips the demand.




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