Bob Englehart sets the tone for today's holiday, where, if there's anything at all for labor to celebrate, it's that a few others have also picked up on an emerging "Hey, wait a minute ..." in the national mood.
Jeff Stahler has a similar take, which reminds me of the exchange each Father's Day and Mother's Day, "When is Kid's Day?" which is answered by "Every day is Kid's Day."
Every day is Boss's Day, and we'll make them wealthier even on Labor Day.
Of course, we'll buy lots of hot dogs and beer, and, after all, a Labor Day without Coors is like the Fourth of July without tea and crumpets.
But more than that, in the shift from serving stakeholders to serving shareholders, we have also agreed to take the "holiday" out of our holidays.
The most vomitous example, of course, is calling in retail workers on Thanksgiving so chain stores can sell more stuff to other workers in their midnight sales, but that's only part of how we have slowly given back not just the day off but the healthy and family-friendly nation-building concept of community that once surrounded our holidays.
And yet, as Joel Pett observes, we continue to support those who refuse to support us.
And, as Wiley Miller observes, we dwell in the world of Milo Minderbinder's syndicate, where, yes, they may trade away our morphine and our parachutes, but, hey, everybody has a share and it's all for the common good.
Well, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and not everyone even knows it then. There are always, always those who dwell in hopes of someday being in a position to exploit others and want to preserve the system against that eventuality.
They are the modern equivalent of the black overseers of the antebellum South, dutifully serving those whom they think do not despise them. The most pathetic thing about Vidkun Quisling was that he was less an evil genius than a man of Ralph Kramdenesque judgement and dreams.
On the lowest rung, the pawns in this game are innocent of any evil intent at all, optimistically buying scratch tickets in order to jump the line into wealth.
I saw a meme on Facebook that said playing the lottery in hopes of getting rich is like committing suicide by flying on commercial airlines.
Related to the promise of winning big in the lottery is one of the themes put forth in our history books, that America is the Land of Opportunity where hard work will pay off in success every time. Marx famously declared religion the opiate of the masses, and Joe Hill would agree that promising people pie in the sky when they die is a lie.
You can't succeed without hard work, but that's not all it takes and a lot of hard work leads but to the grave.
While it may or may not be true that the first group of Jamestown settlers were slackers who expected it to come easily, you certainly can't blame lack of effort for the Pilgrims and Puritans who died in the early days of their colonies, or any of the millions of others in our history who have perished in tenements and in prairie cabins or simply in the drab sorrow of unfulfilled, unrealistic suburban dreams.
I'm not anti-capitalist, but I am anti-exploitationist, and we need to bear in mind that it was not the miners who struck it rich in California or the Klondike, but the people who sold them their tools and supplies and their wildly improbable dreams of wealth.
Selling the tools and supplies was not, in and of itself, exploitation, depending on the mark-up. But selling the dream?
Well, it's like saying that there's no harm in setting a mouse trap, but it's cruel to smear the trigger with peanut butter.
Retail is always going to intersect well with Labor Day, but today's happens to also coincide with this heartbreaking New York Times piece about just that class of workers, right down to this bit of synchronicity: Cooper has decided to go back to college and escape the trap, while, in the real world ...
Newly off public assistance, she was just a few credits shy of an associate degree in business and talked of getting a master’s degree as some of her co-workers were. Her take-home pay rarely topped $400 to $500 every two weeks; since starting in November, she had set aside $900 toward a car — her next step toward stability and independence for herself and her 4-year-old son, Gavin.
But Ms. Navarro’s fluctuating hours, combined with her limited resources, had also turned their lives into a chronic crisis over the clock. She rarely learned her schedule more than three days before the start of a workweek, plunging her into urgent logistical puzzles over who would watch the boy. ... Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all.
You don't have to be Mulder and Scully to find the truth, because it is not just "out there" but all over the place.
You simply have to care enough to look.
And to think, and to educate yourself on the possibilities.
And to hope that the pre-settlement shenanigans around the Market Basket walkout/boycott have not so burdened Artie-T with debt that he won't be able to maintain the promise of that inspiring outcome, because wouldn't it be cool if it could happen again and again and again?
Ceci n'est pas une dessin animé
(It's a poster by Ricardo Levins Morales.)
Now, here's your holiday-themed moment of zen:
(Whole thing is available streaming on Netflix and probably other places)
Update: In all fairness, I was not aware until tonight's PBS Newshour that Starbucks had moved quickly to change the scheduling system described in the NYTimes article. That's only one of many, but it's at least one.