Monday, September 3, 2012
This Very Day
Google could have done better for Labor Day than post a little American flag on its home page. Labor Day was not created to honor this country. It was meant to honor those who do the hard basic work that supports our comfortable lifestyle - who mine the coal that fuels the electric plant, drive the garbage truck, clean the toilets at J. C. Penney's, operate the crane in the mill.
Labor Day was gained in the "antiAmerican activities" of defying the rich who were then exploiting the working class in this country, and now exploit them in Asia (think Steve Jobs). It got us the 40-hour work week and the weekend, and some employer benefits for full-time workers, though the wealthy get around the intent of the law by not employing people full-time (think WalMart). It got us minimum wage, a good thing, though pathetically inadequate.
Near my hometown, Youngstown, Ohio, men were shot and killed by the thugs of the wealthy men who owned everything. And still do. Now, some of the working class have been convinced to vote for tax breaks for the wealthy. In our schools, we fight over whether to teach evolution or creationism. How about teaching people how to think about being exploited and oppressed by the wealthy owners? How about teaching the history of the people's battle for a living wage? How about teaching people how many small businesses fail. How unfettered capitalism benefits the very few and deals out bad cards for the many.
Like every national holiday, Labor Day has been turned into a secular feast day on which people try strenuously to have fun, eat, drink, go to festivals, buy stuff. How soon we forget. How easily we are manipulated by advertising and our delusions.
Instead of that little American flag, Google could have put up the poster above, which was made by the US Department of Labor in 2010. It honors the woman Theodore Roosevelt called "the most dangerous woman in America." The words on that poster were hers. Fight for the living. Put yourself on the line. That was her spiritual practice.
The performance/song below features Utah Phillips and Ani deFranco.