Monday, September 6, 2010
Happy Labor Day to all of you. I don't know about anyone else but I really haven't celebrated Labor Day since I was a kid. It has become just another retail 'holiday' and the unofficial end of summer marked by the last cook-outs or what ever. Once upon a time working people had something to celebrate--not so much any more. Everything the Labor Movement gained from the 1930s to the 1970s seems to be disappearing--family wage, health care, pension plans, vacations. I have often thought that the last two-thirds of the twentieth century was a bit of an anomaly. Before that a 'family wage' meant a man's wage plus his wife's (one-half the man's) plus at least 2 kids (each earning half the woman's wage). A work day was anywhere from 12 to 16 hours without breaks. A work week was (usually) 5 1/2 days with Sunday off and maybe you celebrated the feast day of St. Monday if you were too hungover to work. If you were lucky, when you died you had a burial account with the local workers association which paid for a nice funeral. And if you were real lucky you didn't get seriously ill because the charity hospitals were gruesome. I read the news and wonder if that is what we are returning to--with some nasty twists.