Life without Principle
The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get “a good job,” but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it (pg. 2018).
According to Thoreau one of the aims of the laborer should be to work doing something you love, not something you just do for the money. This raises the question that every college student faces: what do I want to do with my life? This is a question we have all struggled to answer, and ideally the answer that we come up with is similar to what Thoreau advises; follow a passion. Unfortunately the reality is that many of us do not end up with jobs where we work for love and not for money.
A point that Thoreau makes is that employers should only hire people who love their jobs and employees should be paid well. If only more managers in the world thought like Thoreau, maybe we would all make little more money, and have to deal with grumpy employees a lot less.
Later on starts talking about “community”, but I struggled with this section,
The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man. You man raise money enough to tunnel a mountain, but you cannot raise money enough to hire a man who is minding his own business. An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not (pg 2018).
Before this he was talking about workers doing what they love, employers hiring only people who love the work, and employers paying people better, but here it sounds like Thoreau is talking about possible free services. That is, one can’t raise enough money to hire a man who has other work that he loves to do. When Thoreau says “An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not (pg 2018)” Is he saying that an efficient and valuable man will do what he can with a job, whether or not he gets paid? This seems to be slightly contradictory to what Thoreau was saying earlier.