Sunday, September 03, 2006

a brief labor day nothing:

how is it that on what is an excellent three-day weekend, there is no one in the mainstream of punditry agitating for a shorter work week? i think we all agree three days off is a nice thing. it makes people happy, simply put. more time to listen to music, hang out with friends, chill with the family, go to the lake/beach/pond/crick, time to grab a ballgame (i'm particular to soccer myself, but for most of you that's baseball i'm sure), play a game, and so on.

so, here we are, it's all nice and good, and nothing. there simply is no mainstream pundit who would ever argue for such a thing. that's not so weird, as much of our pundit class is too rich and 4 days-a-week-and-then-the-hamptons to care. but where is labor? where are those trying to get positive steps taken to improve our lives as workers? nowhere. the statistics (less americans now repped by labor unions then ever in our unionized history, wages stagnant to negative for the vast majority of americans, hours longer than ever, productivity as high as it's going to get) don't lie: we're fucked.

how did this happen? labor used to win huge battles: the five day week, the 40 hour week, vacation time and break time mandated, child labor laws, health and safety laws--shit, we were making the world a better place, not just for the working man, but period. the rising tide would lift all boats, and labor would be a respected partner in the business of business. well, when the rich saw how they could get richer, in fact stay that way and hand the whole shebang off to their spawn who had done nothing to earn their place at the (head of the) table, they changed the laws (written by their factotums, the highly paid lawyers) to accomadate such needs. and here we are.

now everywhere you go, someone has a story. i'm not sure which was more depressing: my flight on Northwest, where the whole workforce will be forced to take a 20% pay and benefits cut, or the conversation with Drea, the super cool security woman at my office building, telling me she's got to come in on LABOR DAY!!!!!! or she won't get paid for time off. WTF? anecdotes, you say? sure, but it seems everyone i meet has such a tale to tell.

i think it's bhutan that has a measure for "Gross National Happiness". i think it's time to institute something like that in the USA. i think we won't be near the top of the heap.

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