Happy Labor Day! Stop Saying People “Just Don’t Want to Work”

Shelby Elzinga
4 min readSep 6, 2021


Seriously, shut up.

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

Listen, I have had so many jobs that I have lost count. Literally. I couldn’t tell you without doing some algebra. And that is not including things off to the side I did for family friends. I had wanted to work since I was 16, but I came from a conservative environment where they wanted girls to either prepare for academia or marriage/motherhood.

So you can imagine how I feel about everyone saying “no one wants to work”.

Ok, to be fair, I have also known people who didn’t work or worked the fewest possible. For support they usually relied on parents or their S.O..

I will say this though. I don’t think it is also people “just living off the system” (as if we don’t all use the system). Hearing people say that makes me have to use all the self-control to get really get into with people. Thankfully, I don’t. I just say this politely:

“The ODJFS tried to make me pay back $4020 because they weren’t sure how I should report $0.27”

If they haven’t started trying to politely get away from me yet, I also tell them:

“Everyone told me to report the $0.27 in Medium payments; lawyers, the service line, all instructions online (a lot rules weren’t consistent online, but that was the one that was).”

“Only to then have someone from the legislative office tell me I shouldn’t have reported it.”

“Thankfully I have a recording of them”

No, I really do.

(Reminder: This is legal in Ohio as it is a one-party state. As long as you, the recorder, are part of the conversation, it is legal. If you are looking to do something similar, check with your lawyer for your state. For example, California is an all-party state.):


Listen to the whole thing preferably. But TDLL; basically I try to explain how Medium works, she doesn’t really care. She tells me that she thinks that I should have not even reported it. I tell her about what lawyers and such told me. I ask her if I should owe thousands of dollar for $0.27. She then says “it is not her opinion”

This could be straight out of a Key and Peele skit.

Again, to be fair. Maybe I was unlucky. Along with thousands of other people.

Reminder: when you get hit to pay back unemployment, you can’t collect any going forward. Don’t worry, even someone that worked for the Legislative Office at the ODJFS was confused about that.

So tell me, how do people live off a giant loan shark?

So what is going on?

It would be bad rhetorical practice to knock down the prevailing theory and not offer alternative explanations. So I pulled out my meta-analysis from my 80,000 degree I am still paying for. I looked through a bunch of articles and see what I could find in common.

The answer was not much. But a bunch of interesting ideas. Except a lot of them agreed government assistance was no more impediment than anything else. (Here is what I googled btw, see below screenshot). There was some disagreement as seen in the screenshot about how much it isn’t a factor. But it definitely did not support what I was hearing in waiting lines at restaurants, stores, and what not.

I will say this one in particular, while I don’t agree that governmental assistance should be listed first, has some good ideas: https://www.businessinsider.com/unemployed-workers-arent-returning-to-the-labor-force-jobless-benefits-2021-4#:~:text=1%209.7%20million%20people%20are%20actively%20seeking%20work%2C,disincentivizing%20people%20to%20work%20and%20pandemic%20health%20concerns.

I have heard from more than a few friends that people with families have switched jobs that were more family-friendly.

The delta variant has also probably put enough people at home or in the hospital to make a dent, don’t you think?

The conclusion:

This is where I give a basic summary of what is actually happening with the labor shortage….but we don’t have one. It would be arrogant to pretend I do. We have a lot of opinions, but those are certainly never in short supply.

Here is another one to add to the pile: I think looking for easy answers and easy targets to blame is not going to get us out of this. Each business needs to take it upon themselves to figure out what their workers want and and give it to them. Or at least meet in the middle.



@ me on LinkedIn! — is that a thing?



Shelby Elzinga

THE scooter girl. Jill of all trades. Mostly best at failing at tech. Needs to get better at writing bios.