ChrisWeigant.com

Happy Labor Day To All Workers!

[ Posted Monday, September 7th, 2020 – 15:41 UTC ]

I'm mostly taking today off, so this won't be a column about politics. It won't even be a full column, for that matter.

I'm taking the time off in order to get caught up on a few projects around the house, if truth be told. That's right -- I will be laboring on Labor Day. Now, I do realize that delving into the mysteries of under-sink plumbing and towel rack maintenance don't really qualify for the intended purpose of the holiday, so I decided to write this to comment about how important laborers are to the country right now.

It took a pandemic for many people to even notice how essential some jobs are. Who among us ever gave a single thought for the workers who produce toilet paper before this year? And yet suddenly they were at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus (mostly due to rampant panic-buying for no particular reason). The only times I've ever stood in a long line at 6:00 A.M. previously, it was to buy concert tickets when they went on sale. Doing so to get the limited number of toilet paper packages the grocery store released each day was indeed a novel experience, that's for sure.

There's another category -- who ever paid all that much attention to the people at those grocery stores who stock the shelves each day so we can all buy the food and sundries necessary for normal life? I for one gained a new appreciation of the risks these people have been running all year long just to allow me to shop. Who ever though grocery workers would be called the frontlines of a crisis and get danger bonuses for showing up for work? They fully deserved every dollar of it, that's for sure.

Seeing commerce come to a screeching halt except for essential businesses meant categorizing all the places we shop. What is an "essential" service to one person is deemed frivolous by others, and likely vice versa. These battles are still playing out (just ask Nancy Pelosi) for all kinds of businesses. In the depths of the shutdown this spring, I did get some work done on the car, which reminded me that auto mechanics are indeed pretty essential to modern life.

These are just a few examples of many that we've all experienced. I've taken to calling 2020 the "lost year" because until a safe and effective vaccine is readily available to all, the public mindset will still be locked in crisis mode. No return to full normalcy is going to be possible until vaccinations are widespread and proven to work. Until we reach that point, life will continue on a wartime footing as we all try to fight off the deadly pandemic.

Which is why today I am incredibly thankful for all those on the frontlines of this fight. Normally, when you speak of "war" and "frontlines" you think of soldiers or perhaps first responders (police, firefighters, doctors, and E.M.T.s). Here in California, firefighters are still at the top of everyone's thankfulness list right now, I should in all fairness mention. But in a pandemic economy, the definition of frontline workers has been expanded to include everyone from farm to table involved in food production -- which most definitely includes processing facilities, truckers, and grocery store workers -- as well as all kinds of other jobs, from gas station attendants to liquor store clerks.

My own work routine has not changed one iota, I should admit. I work from home. I sit at my computer and type. I read news online. In other words, no change at all from before. However, tens of millions of workers have had to create home offices from scratch and learn how to telecommute. My wife is one of them. Her workday has been completely changed and will not return to normal for months. Millions of others are going through exactly what she is.

But millions of other workers don't even have this option, and it is those that I am most thankful for this Labor Day. You can't telecommute if you stock grocery store shelves. You can't work from home if you're a mail carrier. Or if you work in a cotton swab factory. You don't have the option to radically adjust your worklife if you work with your hands or if your physical presence is otherwise necessary to do your job. All of these people are the laborers I am praising today, because their selfless efforts have kept at least some aspects of life from spiralling out of control. Even the toilet paper panic died down pretty quickly, due to one previously little-noticed sector of the economy rising to the challenge.

So I hope everyone has a happy Labor Day no matter what you do with your holiday today. And I hope everyone joins with me in offering up some thanks to the laborers out there who -- until this year -- worked in relative obscurity, with the fruits of their labor being completely taken for granted by the public. Call it a small silver lining to the pandemic, because if this year has taught us anything, it is that a whole lot of labor has to take place (with a whole lot of laborers running daily risks) for modern life to happen on any scale. Some frontline jobs are more prominent than others, but we really need them all, from the doctors and ambulance drivers to the meatpackers and convenience store clerks. All of them deserve equal thanks, no matter how obscure their job was before the crisis hit.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

29 Comments on “Happy Labor Day To All Workers!”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Excellent.

    And very much to the point of Labor Day from its beginning: labor, that is work by men and women that can't be postponed or automated or abolished, is absolutely essential to society as a whole, and should be celebrated by society for that reason.

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    well, off to school.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Happy Labour Day, Chris!

    Well, the weather was lousy here so no lounging poolside without the pool.

    And, I learned some distressing news about the Democratic leadership in Congress and, it seems, Biden, too.

    Why are congressional Democrats fighting to eliminate the SALT cap which would be, essentially, a big tax break for the rich! Granted, other Democratic tax policies promise to have the opposite impact but why open themselves up to legitimate cries of hypocrisy and political opportunism!?

    When will Democrats finally, at long last, put a stake in the heart of the Republican cult of economic failure!? As it stands, now, the current president is being allowed to make his case on the economy with impunity. I hope that ends and fast!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Joshua,

    Good luck with that!

    Take good care and stay safe!

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    thanks liz.

    i'm scared shitless, i can't lie
    -robin williams, live at the met

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Here's some cheer from a New York Magazine article 5 Reasons that Biden’s Odds of Victory Look Better Than Ever.

    (1) Trump didn't get any real post convention "bounce."

    (2) Post-Kenosha polling indicates rising crime isn’t actually a “win” for the sitting president.

    (3) It will be hard for Trump to make new attacks on Biden stick when the electorate trusts the Democrat’s word over his.

    (4) Biden is outspending Trump 10-to-1 on television ads — and has the war chest to keep the aerial bombardment going indefinitely.

    (5) Absent further fiscal aid, the economy is likely to get worse between now and Election Day.

    Now Elizabeth, the author does conclude, So there you have it. Ironclad proof that America is probably not about to reelect an authoritarian kleptocrat. And when I say Donald Trump probably is not going to win an election, you can take that to the bank (where the teller probably won’t accept it), so feel free to keep worrying. (Like wild horses could keep you from worrying haha)

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Indeed.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Joshua,

    You know how to be safe and you'll teach your kids how to be safe; take all of the precautions and I will be thinking of you and hoping that all goes well.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [3]

    Elizabeth Miller wrote,

    Why are congressional Democrats fighting to eliminate the SALT cap which would be, essentially, a big tax break for the rich! Granted, other Democratic tax policies promise to have the opposite impact but why open themselves up to legitimate cries of hypocrisy and political opportunism!?

    That SALT cap affects a lot more of the middle class than you apparently realize. Middle class Americans in Blue States, I might add. Um, "political opportunism?" What's opportunistic about correcting Trump's big "fuck you" to the blue States? I'd remind you that many blue States contribute more in Federal taxes than they get back. The excess goes to a lot of red States such as Mitch Mcconnell's Kentucky, as CW pointed out in these pages.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The big winners are the rich, as per usual. Don may be right. :(

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, you've not been affected by the fires? That's great news!

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Enough with the handwringing, Elizabeth. At no point have I suggested that Joe and the Democrats not work their butts off to win nor have I suggested that they should be lulled into complacency by good poll numbers.

    I just don't see Trump's path to an Electoral College squeaker victory this time around. Just where is he going to get the votes?

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yes, of course Don is right. That's been true from day one of human history. Too bad One Demand isn't the answer.

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    If yer talking to me, no I haven't been affected by the fires. They put out four little ones here locally three weeks ago, and the air is hazy from more distant fires, but that's about it.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  16. [16] 
    Don Harris wrote:
  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Grocery store workers got danger bonuses?

    Did all the fast food workers/deliverers also get danger bonuses?

    What were these danger bonuses? A dollar an hour? Two dollars an hour?

    Who paid these danger bonuses? Did the employers get tax credits for it?

    Do these danger bonuses really get to be called bonuses?

    Weren't there people on unemployment already getting more on unemployment than these workers still working earned by working that got extra money on unemployment that dwarfed the danger bonuses?

    Danger insults or danger salt in the wounds would be better terms.

  18. [18] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I saw Michele Goldberg (NYT) on TV yesterday. She was talking about some election forecaster who says the reality TV orangutan has a 1 in 7 chance of winning. Her point was that, although that looks very good for Big Money Joe, we can't be complacent. How do you feel about having a 1 in 7 chance of getting a deadly disease?

  19. [19] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Death Harris,

    Do you flip burgers for a living?

    Did you not get a danger bonus?

    Is ODd not generating enough income for you?

    Do you not know how the google works?

    Are you suggesting that that unemployment benefits should be less to create equity with danger bonuses?

    Why are you allowing this situation to exist?

    Where is our Little Money Messiah?

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Aaaand... another Lincoln Project offering, Un-American.

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oooo! Here's Radicalize

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    JFC-
    Lame.

    Where is the BMI? Not from the Deathocrats.

    Where is the healthcare? Not from the Deathocrats.

    What makes you think that someone that is pointing that some people are being screwed would be saying that other people should also be screwed?

    That says a lot about how YOU think.

  23. [23] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Mtn Caddy-
    Those were pretty funny.

    It will be so much better with Biden honoring those he sends off to be killed, wounded and/or to kill others.

    It's a choice between Donald Trump and America was the most hilarious part.

    It's actually a choice between Trump, Biden (the corporate Deathocrats that brought you Trump and will likely bring another Trump) and America.

  24. [24] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Death Harris,

    That says a lot about how YOU think.

    Actually, everything you say leads to the inevitable conclusion that YOU think in a very disordered way. In addition, it's easy to conclude that YOU think Drumpf should win re-election which will only lead to worse outcomes for those you pretend to care about.

    YOU ask a lot of questions, but never answer any.

    Are you a Russian troll?

  25. [25] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Death Harris,

    What makes you think that someone that is pointing that some people are being screwed would be saying that other people should also be screwed?

    The way YOU framed YOUR question.

  26. [26] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Death Harris,

    Where is the healthcare? Not from the Deathocrats.

    As always, YOU show YOUR lame ass. I made no mention of any political party whatsoever. YOU are the one constantly complaining about Sanders and Warren and AOC selling out to Big Money rather than stamping out those $201 donations with YOUR stupid, out-of-date website.

  27. [27] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW

    "Who among us ever gave a single thought for the workers who produce toilet paper before this year? And yet suddenly they were at the forefront of the fight against the Corona virus (mostly due to rampant panic-buying for no particular reason)."

    There is a particular reason that has been largely ignored. There are two distinct markets for T.P. - one is the home, the other the workplace. The supply chains are different and so is the product (think home vs work T.P. and T.P. dispensers). A high percentage of daily US excretion typically takes place at work or school. Suddenly workers and children are staying at home! Pooping rates remain roughly the same. Home supplies of T.P. run out quickly and grocery stores can't keep up with increased home T.P. demand. At the same time, supplies of workplace T.P. pile up in warehouses and janitor closets. It takes a long time for the free market to re-jigger the supply chains.

    I haven't seen any hard numbers, but the hypothesis makes sense. Here's a non-pay-walled reference:

    https://www.usatoday.com/money/

  28. [28] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    TS,

    I think the food supply is similar.

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:

    Chris Weigant

    So I hope everyone has a happy Labor Day no matter what you do with your holiday today.

    I'm playing catch up here but hope you all had a great Labor Day. I've been busy with my big spatula working to flip a large chunk of Texas for y'all Democrats. You're welcome.

    Later in the day, I was busy swimming and drinking alcohol. Work hard/play hard.

    Happy Labor Day! :)

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