Labor Day: When hard work isn't enough

  • Article by: Joe Selvaggio
  • Updated: September 2, 2013 - 11:04 AM

My first experience at labor was at about age 7 in my father’s awning shop in Chicago. “Joey,” he’d say, “sweep the floor.” And, of course, I did.

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pumiceSep. 1, 1310:42 PM

From the article: "Even businesspeople who are working should be reminded that the bottom line cannot be healthy unless the business has a competent workforce earning a living wage." Good reminder, Joe Selvaggio. At full employment with every full-time worker earning a living wage, there'd be no need for entitlements--such as unemployment compensation, SNAP, Medicaid, housing subsidies, childcare subsidies, transportation subsidies, ER health care--beyond those for "the needy, the blind, the lame, and those with invisible disabilities." (Moreover, if our economic "system" paid as much attention to the stakeholders as it does to the shareholders--that is, the top ten percent who own 81% to 94% of stocks and have profited mightily during the fragile, job-weak recovery--there might even be ways for the needy, the blind, the lame and those with invisible disabilities to contribute to their communities and enjoy the dignity of productive work.) Uncle Sam wouldn't be subsidizing gigantic, profit-making Leviathans like WalMart and McDonald's and Yum! by supplementing less-than-living-wages via the Earned Income Tax Credit. Congress would reform Medicare--most efficiently by converting ACA to Medicare for All. And Congress would make Social Security solvent for the foreseeable future by raising or eliminating the cap on FICA earnings.

comment229Sep. 2, 13 4:51 AM

Reality check and stop being in denial... simple as that. Corporations sent the light manufacturing jobs to foreign lands as part of their profit margin plan making lower skilled manufacturing jobs here nonexistent. Now, that is their choice and people here have to deal with it, but let's be honest when you see that family down the street where the husband works two jobs and the wife cleans motel rooms part time, just to make ends meet. And if that is not enough, take a look at Detroit and if the job exportation keeps happening, you are going to see a lot of Detroits. Fine with me; but would please quit complaining? Congress calls it the "global economy" and every time I hear that, I know some corporation just moved American jobs overseas with the blessing of Congress. We have met the enemy, and they are us.

jathu001Sep. 2, 13 7:18 AM

AND, over the past 30 years, the models of employment and norms of the workforce have gotten further away from any kind of employee stability that would support raising a family. So let's add that to the mess. Relative to costs of daily life, health insurance, and college education, wages have not kept up with what it takes to raise a family--and there is no employER loyalty to workers. Yesterday's article on "Free Agents as the New Face of the Workforce" was also troublesome for how it bodes for raising families. Employers and the politicians who have worked against unions and/or employee rights, and sending jobs overseas, now have folks going this new route of striking out on their own. There's just one problem with that: you can't raise a family that way! ("Hey junior--not promising anything but you MIGHT eat tomorrow if my own little business pans out since there are no more decent paying jobs out there.") So the outcome of the attack on labor that began in the 1980s will be this: fewer people will choose to have children and our demographics will shift even further out of whack with the coming "gray tsunami." And those who do have children will need to rely more and more on entitlements to survive. Meanwhile. . . a very few at the top are doing better than ever. When the heads of the masses come out of the sand, and realize they've been duped. . . .

badcopperSep. 2, 13 7:45 AM

I am far from liberal but listen to the liberal radio station on occasion. Thom Hardman and I disagree on almost everything. One item that he advocates that makes some sense is placing tariffs on least equal to what other countries place on our exports. IMO, this would level the playing field and help America.

jathu001Sep. 2, 13 8:04 AM

I admit I am not an expert on economics. I too am busy working three different jobs just to try to get my son through college--for what kind of future, I don't know but we are playing the game we have been told to play. But sometimes it seems ironic to me that we are beginning to resemble some of the plutocratic countries our ancestors left behind 230-some years ago. So here we have "capitalism" and others evolved to "socialism." And I wonder, isn't there a middle ground? The wealth of those at the top in America is obscene and indefensible. It appears that base human greed and the drive for dominance have overcome any sense of decency, ethics, fairness for everyday workers. And if, in the end, this leads the majority to entitlements then I guess we will also have evolved to a socialist system. And the joke will be on those at the top in the end. In the meantime, there is so much unnecessary pain. What can we do? Well, for starters, "Citizens United" (what a truly insulting title) needs to go.

furguson11Sep. 2, 13 8:18 AM

"badcopper-One item that he advocates that makes some sense is placing tariffs on least equal to what other countries place on our exports. IMO, this would level the playing field and help America." Perhaps you should read up on the "corn laws"

thatisright1Sep. 2, 13 8:45 AM


tuttifruttiSep. 2, 13 9:19 AM

5 years of obama. Welcome to the jobless "recovery". Don't you miss the days when Bush was president and unemployment was a lot lower?

martytoilSep. 2, 1310:02 AM

tuttifrutti--Please double check your history. During Bush's final year we were losing jobs and unemployment was trending up historically fast. For the past 4 years we have been gaining jobs and unemployment has been trending down. The truth will set you free.

tuttifruttiSep. 2, 1310:35 AM

"For the past 4 years we have been gaining jobs and unemployment has been trending down". 75% of the jobs are part time. Unemployment is down because people have dropped out of the labor force. Unemployment began to rise under Bush when the democrats gained control of congress in 2006. That is the truth.


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