Seriously, is there any holiday more depressing than Labor Day?
It goes without saying that our last summer holiday comes much too early, but this year we have the special bonus of leaders who are furious with the lazy, shiftless, unproductive, ungrateful, useless mopes who make up the American workforce.
Most years, politicians will issue proclamations about U.S. workers, the bedrock of our nation, pursuing the American Dream, yadda yadda bull bull bull. Not in 2021, though. This year, they're all screaming just one question: Why doesn’t anybody want to work anymore?
It's a legitimate question, since millions of people, from bartenders to rocket scientists, are taking extra time to return to the workforce. From entry-level serfs to highly-sought techies, the hesitation is broad-based and troubling.
Still, let's be honest about the whole thing. All the politicians and pundits aren't asking about the people who decided to retire last year, a number that apparently doubled to more than 3 million. And they aren’t asking about the people who are earning enough to thrive on one income instead of two.
No, the vitriol is reserved for the poor, semi-poor, nearly poor and the millions who are just getting by in the land of plenty. Entire industries, from restaurants to ride shares to daycare, depend on people working for low pay and, often, zero benefits. Pretty much every industry in the country is facing staffing shortages, but we’re only angry at the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Fun Fact: None of us wants their jobs, either. Really, when was the last time you woke up and said…
“Gee, I wish I could wash dishes for the next ten hours,” or
“Wouldn’t it be fun to spend the day cleaning an airport bathroom,” or
“I love taking calls all day from people with problems I am not authorized to resolve.”
Anyone who wants one of those jobs can get one, because millions of people have moved on to greener pastures. Any takers?
Of course, this is how capitalism works. Supply and demand drive prices, free markets create new opportunities and every resource seeks its maximum returns. Most of the time, those resources are steel or oil or rail cars, but this year the scarce resource is people. Real wages for most workers have actually declined over the past 40 years, but it looks like 2021 is the year that everyone is getting a raise, including the dishwashers.
Personally, I think it’s worth the tradeoff. I’ll end up paying an extra dime for my coffee and a dollar for my pizza, but maybe we’ll be seeing fewer homeless encampments under the expressway. Maybe fast-food workers will finally be able to buy some of the food they make. Maybe working moms will still have a few bucks left over after they pay someone to watch their kids for ten hours a day.
Now, if only we could stop being so furious at the people who are getting a chance to move up a rung on the ladder, Labor Day could be just a bit less depressing for everyone.
Our labors would be much more rewarding in the coming year if you just click here to subscribe, and it won’t even require a minimum wage increase.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.