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Today is May Day; let's celebrate - PittsburghLIVE.com
Today is May Day. A holiday that is celebrated worldwide in support of worker's rights.
This holliday is not celebrated much here in America where we have largely forgotten our own history. Labor struggles are rarely taught in schools and it wasn't until I came across people who knew about labor history that I became interested myself. A few books later and I realized just how uneducated we have become about what might be the most important movement in American history.
(For Okies, I can recommend "Oil, Wheat and Wobblies" as an interesting read.)
As the influence of labor unions have decreased so has the average worker's wages stagnated. We've been losing retirement benefits, we've been losing health care benefits and we are losing many of the protections that keep us safe from injury.
A new generation has started to believe the same old lie.
"We'll take care of you".
The big lie is that owners will give us the benefits and protections that we need if we would only give them the power to do what they wish. "What is good for us will be good for you", they say. But a visit to any third world nation will show you that the wealthy will always keep the riches for themselves, building palaces and fenced off playgrounds and that only in nations that have had vigorous labor movements is there any fair distribution of wealth.
This is an axiom of human behavior: no amount of wealth is ever enough.
It's a shame that May Day, a happy, outdoorsy, pagan celebration, was hijacked decades ago by the left, which treated workers' interests as being opposed to employer interests. In fact, they're pretty close. Countless chances are missed to advance living standards when us-against-them muddies the picture, as it so often does.
Go out and play, don't think about all the nasty things we do to you.
Of course we keep hearing the same old lines over and over again from owners who want us to put away our struggles and lay down. They want us to believe that there is no class conflict, that we're all just one big happy family. Or that by asking for our fair share of the wealth that we helped create we will ruin "the economy". Or that labor unions are no longer necessary because we've entered into a new age where human behavior is no longer governed by the same rules as before. The rhetoric has changed so little.
When you see a lady or gent of 70 or 80 taking tickets in a lobby or hustling burgers and fries at a food counter, what's your first thought? They need the money. Probably true. But here's a cheerier possibility: They'd rather work than stay home all day.
Right, old people would rather be working as a greeter at Wal-Mart than spending the day on the golf course, or motoring around the country birdwatching or visiting the national parks. Sure, they would probably rather be working than sitting at home broke and starving, wondering if they can pay for their medicine. This fucker is the worst kind of apologist for the harm we've done to our elderly by our failure to address the high costs of prescription drugs and from employers that are going back on their promise of lifetime retirement and health benefits.
The marble monuments of the past -- libraries, galleries, opera houses, hospitals and universities -- were given by "the rich," yes. But indirectly, too, by those who worked for them, at wage levels that allowed capital to accumulate. The big winners -- our generation.
Can you imagine someone saying this about the "pretty plantations" in the south? Or about the pyramids? "Thank God" we could say "for the slave labor that built those places". Its absurd to be thankful that some rich fucker built a library from the money that he kept from his workers. I doubt this asshole would be so apologetic about the monuments built by the Soviets through their exploitation? "Well, its ok that an entire generation was royally fucked over, because we got some pretty buildings out of the deal!".
Do you see the mental gymnastics people will go through to justify their own status?
The "best" jobs are rarely needed jobs. What good is a movie star or senator when the situation calls for a nurse, plumber or sanitation worker?
So why is it that we value so little the work that is so necessary? A strike by any of these workers can bring the greatest city to its knees. Its best not to let them know they have such leverage, they might use it as bargaining power.
Teenagers who work at a part-time job while going to school, taking music lessons, doing sports and bringing home As and Bs -- such young people will make it in this world. Never learning to work is what makes the underprivileged child.
Well, I can't argue that one. Just look at our president for a good example of how never learning to "work" has warped his perspective. This is just more lip service to the "value" of work so often preached by our elites while they send their own children to prestigous schools and then straight into positions of management.
Its the same condescending line they give to the "troops". Work and die to make us rich and powerful and we'll talk about how great it is to labor and fight while we avoid actually doing it ourselves.
Maybe they'll build us a monument, or let us soil their pretty libraries on our day's off?
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