I don’t really know what Labor Day is. I don’t have a tradition of “celebrating” it. Do any of us? What is it to celebrate labor in this age when actual labor is no longer valued? In the U.S. we love the notion that hard work brings success but we all know that real wealth comes from having wealth. Wealth is built through investment, therefore, the only ones who are considered successful are those who have more than they need so that they can invest it and create more wealth for themselves.
In this article on Common Dreams, we see that, for some, greater wealth is created by depriving jobs to as many workers as possible: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/03
Decreed by President Grover Cleveland, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 following the deaths of several workers in a disastrous “incident” during a clash between striking railroad workers and federal troops.
The creation of a “Labor Day” may have been nothing more than a public relations bandage.
There was a time when unions were seen as supporting the rights of workers. Today, unions are vilified, even by those who could most benefit from an organized movement.
There was a time in which most Americans actually worked with their hands. That time is long gone and that kind of work is no longer honored. In the following, Ralph Nader considers the contributions of those who actually work with their hands, those who actually produce something: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/03-11
But scarier than devaluing work, are these two stories that I read in the same week.
In this one from the LA Weekly, we learn that more and more women are turning to Nevada brothels to support their families: http://www.laweekly.com/2010-09-02/news/the-family-prostitute/6/
And in this story about Montana Fishburne in The Hollywood Reporter, we learn that even well-connected children of privilege are using sex tapes to launch their careers in the entertainment industry: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3iea381ae4ffdbc7aeda3b98f00c35f5c0
Over a century since the rise of both organized labor and feminism and this is where we are? Both the poor and the privileged find the sex trade as their only options? In the case of the former, this is sad. In the case of the latter, it’s indicative of how little regard we have for actual work. Why be a sucker by actually working hard for success when one can just star in the equivalent of a porn movie to draw attention to oneself? Even the advantage of having a movie star dad isn’t going to fast-track this woman enough to suit her impatient ambitions.
Given all this, why wouldn’t certain young people sell drugs instead of studying hard and graduating from school?
Given all this, why wouldn’t unscrupulous mortgage brokers talk homebuyers into borrowing more than they really could afford?
Given all this, why wouldn’t certain personalities focus on spreading lies and misinformation if they knew that there was an angry audience ready to lap it all up and make them rich and famous instead of practicing real journalism by reporting facts and providing well-considered analysis?
Are we a lost cause? Who am I to say? My wealth accumulation plan/retirement plan amounts to playing SuperLotto.
Enjoy the third day of your three day weekend.