“Better go back to the house, hear that woman’s mouth, Preachin’ and a cryin’, tell me that I’m lyin’ about a job That I never could find.”
— The Silhouettes
Monday, they say, is Labor Day.
I don’t think so.
Sure, it’s a day that most of you laborers — and others who don’t really labor that much but go to jobs on a regular basis and collect paychecks — will get a long, three-day weekend with Monday off.
So, it’s Labor Day.
But I’m not so inclined to pay tribute to laborers in a country where so many people spend 365 days of the year avoiding labor.
Oh, sure, I know there are people who have some types of disadvantages — a handicap, a disabling injury, mental health issues — who truly are not able to work, who would be putting themselves, their co-workers and their employers at risk if they were on the job.
But on this un-Labor Day, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of able-bodied Americans who will not be laboring Monday because ... well, they just don’t labor. With hundreds and hundreds of job openings here in southwest Georgia, thousands across the state and tens of thousands in the country, there is a segment of the population that simply will not work.
I cringe every time I hear politicians — especially local politicians “playing to the crowd” — sell themselves to voters by proclaiming, “We’ve got to get more good-paying jobs for our citizens.” And I get that. It’s difficult for the breadwinner in a family of three, four, five or more to support his family, provide all their needs, with a minimum-wage job.
But here are a couple of things about that: 1) A person who is willing to work hard at his or her job without the typical griping that often surrounds working men and women is most likely going to advance in his job and earn more money. 2) There is no reason — not one — for any person who is willing to work for a living, to put in the time it takes to get ahead, to be “stuck” in a low-paying job any longer than he or she wants. With institutions like Albany Technical College and Turner Job Corps offering training in professions that offer livable — or at least better — wages, and making it easier and easier for students to do so, those old “I can’t do it” whines are nothing more than the same BS people have been repeating for years.
Have children to take care of? These facilities often provide day care. Never did well in school? There are teachers and tutors available to help overcome educational roadblocks. Didn’t finish school? Again, not only can students of all ages get a GED now, they can get one at absolutely 0 cost. Don’t have the money? See previous sentence.
The truth is, we’ve raised two or three of “welfare generations” that believe the way to get ahead in life is to work the system in a way that will allow them to get even more government handouts. It’s really not their fault. It’s what they’ve been taught. And, believe me, finding someone in a situation like that whose pride will not allow them to accept food, housing, utilities ... necessities that they did nothing to earn (other than fill out appropriates paperwork) is like looking for a piece of hay in a stack of needles.
The people who could change that — the politicians and the wealthy business owners — are more concerned with helping people game the system or keeping them “in their place, pliant and under control,” than they are helping them build self-pride by teaching them a skill that will allow them to not only get a job, but learn the sheer pleasure of looking at homes, clothing, cars, appliances that they bought themselves with money they earned by the sweat of their own brow and their own ingenuity.
Labor Day? I don’t think so. In fact, I’ll be working that day. For so many of you, I would love to see you join me.