Thursday, September 6, 2007

Post Labor Day Thoughts

A liquor store employer remarked to me and the other patrons in his store, last Saturday, that Labor Day is the day of 'not-to-work', but Americans with their Consumer Cult need for 24/7 service, no longer abide by this. He said that he would be damned if he was going to work on Labor Day, and neither were his employees. These are not the words of a labor unionist or socialist - he owns a small chain of liquor stores and seems to be quite well to do. He began as a mere grocery store clerk however, and obviously hasn't forgot what it means to be an employee.

Naturally, I put my two-cents in, and replied that first they took away May Day from the American Working Stiff, now they went to work on the first Monday in September; there are companies who don't even have Labor Day as a paid-holiday for their staff. Some - most Yanks - gasp that May Day is a 'Commie Holiday', and no red-blooded true American would observe it. Actually, May Day goes back to pagan times before Karl Marx&Co. were spermatozoa swimming in their daddies' MuleJuice. It's actually as American as Apple Pie: the first of May was one of the days that George Washington ordered the Continental Army to stand down when they were not in military engagements, for instance...

The fact is, that Yanks in the 21st Century work longer hours than at anytime in the 19th Century - the period that some erroneously view as the golden age of the Protestant Work Ethic. Some slave-driving American capitalists joke about the 'lazy bums' in places like France with their 35 hour work week(soon to abolished by Paris's NeoCon and laissez-faire Le Predator, Nicky Sarkozy?), yet the Frenchies today work longer than their grape-pickers in Alsace did in the Middle Ages. Our ancestors were 'slackers' in comparison to present times, but still we hear Old Foggies lamenting - " they sure knew how to WORK back in them thar days!" Yeah, they did. They worked their butts off via lack of technology, artificial lighting, but they also knew what leisure meant. The medieval peasant, the apprentice blacksmith, would not be employed at any company in the 21st Century because he would insist on having his holidays - which were more numerous than those today. And from what we know about the sociology of the Working Stiff in the 13th Century, it appears that they largely kept their own hours and were not regimented to a defined daily punch-in and out. Many have this image of the Feudal Lord standing over his Manor occupants cracking the whip; though feudalism was a form of slavery,the Lords actually seemed to have been loose, lackadaisical bosses - just as long as they got their cut from the crops and whatnot that their peasants toiled over to bring in. Their workday, as an aggregate whole, probably didn't extend much over five hours - yet civilization continued. Thus, the 24/7, three-jobs, 48hour + a week Consumer/ Work Cult today is more indicative of decline than that of social benevolence...

Even when Americans are off from their jobs come Labor Day, many spend it working about their houses and whatnot( as they do come their summer vacations and leave - if they have vacations, that is.) Even those who utilize their granted holidays and leaves, they remark that they'd had rather been working and didn't know what to do with themselves when granted leisure, even if it is paid; humans that spend their weekends not doing something, are often derisively regarded as 'loafers' by these above robotic workaholic creatures - even if the loafers are punching a clock consistently during the week, and have a dedicated ethos on the Job. I personally know people who would rather work than to fuck, for that matter - "..sorry, Miss Penthouse Pet of the Year, I gotta get to my third job at the Convenience Store!" Maybe I exaggerate here, but I wonder about some of these guys who slave-drive themselves(?)

Another thing that is deeply annoying are these workaholics who complain that they haven't time for their Families and maybe they should downsize their worship of the Protestant Work Ethic. The fact is that they don't even know their *family*(they're always working, how could they?), and would undoubtedly end up in divorce, wife-beating and child abuse if they were in the situation to "spend time with my family". If one is truly into *Family Values* they would had tried to fathom a way that they could work less, anyway. But they actually think that Family dedication is having things to keep up with the Joneses and the latest gadget trends. This has become the true-blue American concept of Family, so workaholics had better not cry on my shoulders about their neglected families - spouse & the biped spawn from their loins are mere possessions for them. I once played the workaholic game, time to time, but I learned to grow-up out of it.

And I don't work at a goddamn thing on Labor Day, either, and I'd probably shoot the person who tried to coerce me to work that day.

2 comments:

cxx_guy said...

Wow, subsistence farmers, who worked 12/14 hours a day and barely survived, sure did have it easy compared to modern Americans who work 40 hours a week.

People should do what they want to do. Some people would rather make more money, and work more. Nothing wrong with that. Others want to work less and make less money. Nothing wrong with that. Until you involve the government, and require that those who work more provide the fruits of their labor to those who work less. Then you have a problem.

It doesn't bother me that the French work 35 hours a week. It bothers me that Frenchmen who want to work more are legally prevented from doing so.

Freedom is the condition of being able to pursue your values, without coercion, even if your values are stupid. It does not include being able to pursue your values at somebody else's expense.

Redoubt10 said...

I was wondering when some stary-eyed disciple of the Libertarian Faith would drop in here with their two-cents...

One, medieval peasants worked less than the working stiff in 21st Century America does.Two, midst the Blue Collar segment, I personally know few who 'just do the Forty' - usually they have another job and/or they are required to work overtime. It is is often to make their ends meet and they do not particularily enjoy it( how is that doing 'what they want to do' if they're coerced??).
Contrary to what the Randroids have told you at the their corporate funded think-tanks, the Frenchie can work more than 35 hours if he/she elects - the company has to pay them overtime beyond that, and this is what Sarkozy wants to eliminate. Up until now, France has kept their industrial base intact (with whopping government interference and they keep up on GNP - more than the Yanks)unlike the USA. The French upperclass wants to emulate the Americans with their CEO pay and Sarkozy will try to do it on the backs of French labor.