Captains of industry worry about dropping labor-force participation and slowed productivity growth. Is there a mismatch between jobs available and what workers need? According to election demagogues, local industries were shuttered by overseas competitors, not homegrown offshoring accompanied by merger mania.

How to motivate workers to apply for jobs when wages have been stagnant for decades? Those in the chambers of federal power have proposed mandating, entirely at state expense, that persons on welfare assistance be vocationally tested and pressed into service as a condition to continue receiving benefits. There is an attitude implied that those not working, those able-bodied but not continuously contributing to corporate profitability, are selfish deadbeats.

Lack of decent-paying opportunities and increasing work undertaken by robots affects many men. But for some time, women's participation in the workforce has not been what it might be either - for important reasons. Around 2000, international differences in government policies for the work environment started emerging more clearly. In industrialized countries that support families with paid parental and sick leave, women stay longer in the workforce and advance their careers further than is possible in this country.

Many have heard about the "mommy penalty" and the gender wage gap that impacts families with working mothers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information shows, at present, about a quarter of U.S. women age 45 to 64 are willingly choosing to sacrifice their careers and their own retirement security to provide uncompensated care for an aged or demented parent. In coming years, over a third of middle-aged adults will be acting in similar role.

Before judging and presuming a worker's level of commitment, let's first open our heart's guard to feel something appropriate for the caregivers of children and seniors: Love, respect, and have empathy for their selfless, giving sacrifice.

Lars White