Monday, September 01, 2003

Labor Day

A holiday was declared for the working man, the little guys and gals who labor hard, long hours, day after day after day. One day a year to honor them, to give them a break. It seemed like a good idea.

So why is it that so many of these little people are working today? Every mall store, strip mall store, big-box store, restaurant, fast food place, gas station and convenience store is open today. Many shopping places have big sales today, meaning they need everyone to work. Lots of bar-b-queing today, so grocery stores need everyone this morning. The self-employed are almost all working (unless their business is connected to one that is closed, but not always even then), because every day means money and the margins are small for the self-employed. All these working folks -- the new bottom of the labor pyramid with the movement of so much manufacturing to cheaper nations that don't celebrate Labor Day -- having to work on their day.

So, who gets today off? Well, anyone who is in a union, of course. Government, of course. After all, this is "their" day and they've got the contracts to prove it! Those folks who feed at the government trough, like lawyers, are off. Upper management, taking advantage of the government-mandated day off, also took off early on Friday, making a three-and-a-half day weekend. Sweet! Pretty much anyone connected to the folks who made today a required holiday and the folks who fall in the penumbra, who work in companies afraid to take away a "federal holiday."

As always, someone had a "good idea." They had the best intentions and just wanted to do good. But as time went on, things changed, the folks who started the good idea left and new folks, not as beholden nor as idealistic, came along. People got used to the good idea and then the regular issues of daily life (or corporate profits) came crowding back in. Things changed a little here and there; we made accomodations and got used to them. The good idea was lost, pushed aside a bit, forgotten, and only the empty symbol remained. Like any empty symbol, it's ignored, and we get on with things. We now have this weird bump on the daily road, but there are more important things to worry about today, and so our life is deformed slightly, but we carry on. Gotta work if you wanna get paid.

There's a very important lesson here, for those who can stop to discern it and learn from it. Happy Labor Day.

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