Friday, September 3, 2010

Putting the Labor Back Into Labor Day

It’s Labor Day weekend once again and another summer will soon retreat into the recesses of memory.  In the coming months as the leaves change and the temperature cools I’ll fondly remember balmy days at the beach, quiet Adirondack ponds, and breezy, carefree days at Saratoga. Many of us will transition—albeit gradually, and maybe even grudgingly—from our summer gin and tonics to our autumn and winter martinis. Hot coffee and tea will start to replace their refreshing iced counterparts as Labor Day puts a kind of full stop on the bright, sunny glare of summer.

The first Monday in September should also serve as a reminder to consider the unemployed and the underemployed. I know, I was just up on my soapbox a week or so ago and here I am again, but as one who is in some ways both un- and underemployed, I’d like to remind the world that there are a lot of people out there of my ilk. 

Most everyone I know who is marginally employed wants only to make a comfortable living and be productive; they want to make something, do something, be something. It is no small task, these days, finding a decent job that allows you to share your skills, learn some new ones, and make a contribution to society. And even if you are fortunate enough to find such a work environment, often they are short term or freelance/non-benefitted gigs. Despite what some loose-lipped and addle-brained politicos might have you think, those of us who are underemployed want to do more, not less. We want to be part of the workforce, not a statistic or a wedge in a colorful pie chart. Every time a politician takes a crack at the American worker we lose a little faith in ourselves and begin to wonder where—or if—we fit into the American dream.

Our government representatives have all had a nice, august August recess and I hope they return to Washington with a firm resolve to do something to jumpstart job growth and assist the members of the workforce whom they seem to have, for the most part, utterly abandoned. It would be truly refreshing to see Congress working as zealously for American workers as they do for their own re-election.

Maybe while we’re enjoying our barbecues and cracking open our cold beer this weekend we can all take a moment to ponder the plight of the forgotten members of the workforce for whom Labor Day is less of a holiday and more just another day without work. And then remember them (us) again in November when you cast your vote.


sid fernando said...

Thanks for reminding us of this on the eve of the L-day weekend; certainly something for all of us to contemplate, and to wish our fellow Americans who need and want work the chance to get it soon; and for those of us who work and complain about it, you've reminded us that we're fortunate in this climate to have what others desire and to be thankful for it. Thanks again, Michele, and have a great weekend!

The Paper Tyger said...

Thanks for the kind words, Sid. I don't mean to harsh anyone's mellow, just seemed like a good time to remind folks how many are un or underemployed. Not even so much about the $$ aspect as the self-worth and pride in doing good work that is valued. Have a great wknd as well! :)

fjk said...

You're not harshing my mellow; rather, preaching to the choir. Amen!

Hmm, perhaps now a cup of hot cocoa with a marshmallow is in order. Thanks for the idea :)