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CSotD: The Holiday With No Meaning

Daddy’s Home (Creators) puts me in mind of “The Archie Bunker Rule” that I had in our household when the boys were in junior and senior high.

The rule stated that “Nobody who would not be welcome through the door is welcome through the television.”

I realize I hold a (heh) minority opinion by feeling disquieted by 23 minutes of racist humor followed by people saying, “Oh, Archie! You’re wrong!” and a group hug, which ending is known in the industry as a “Moment of Shit.”

Then again, I felt my instincts confirmed by the fact that nobody who sold “Archie Bunker for President” paraphernalia was ever sued, which would certainly have been the case if the program’s goal were social equity rather than ratings.

It took several decades of softening up our collective sense of decency before we actually had the opportunity to vote for someone like Archie Bunker, but eventually it came about and what i want to know is how do you like your blue-eyed boy?

Anyway, I’m not taking a holiday from posting, but I’m trying my best to invoke the Archie Bunker Rule today, because the rancor, division and bad vibes amongst political cartoons is depressing my holiday spirit.

 

For instance, Michael Ramirez (Creators) continues to flog the double fallacy that (first) a significant number of young minimum-wage workers were able to qualify for federal unemployment subsidies and (second) that the payments — which end today even in states that didn’t block them — are why people are reluctant to take lousy jobs for lousy wages.

They aren’t. No matter how often Republicans and their commentariat cohorts repeat the idea, they simply aren’t.

There is, granted, less enforcement of the rule that you have to actively seek work and accept appropriate jobs or lose your benefits. I claimed unemployment in 1977 and was put through a weekly wringer to maintain eligibility. When I was laid off again in 2008, nobody ever asked if I was looking for work (though of course I was).

Then again, the IRS used to perform a lot more audits than they do now.

If you stop paying for the system to keep the money flowing in, you shouldn’t whine about how similar underfunding lets it flow back out.

The other point is that the pandemic triggered all sorts of awakenings in America’s wage slaves, who work with fewer benefits, fewer holidays, shorter vacations and less overall respect than workers in other developed countries.

Such that there are a variety of reasons people aren’t/won’t/can’t return to the labor market.

And, BTW, that link leads to an article in (Robber) Barron’s, not the Socialist Worker.

 

Despite what Carmen says in today’s Prickly City (AMS), thinking has nothing to do with it. Perhaps she feels she should be seeing more labor, but if she’d click some of the above links and think about it, she’d understand the issue better.

 

That assumes she wants to understand the issue. As Arlo points out in today’s Arlo & Janis (AMS), the roots of the American labor movement are tangled indeed.

It reminds me of when Nellie Bly traveled to Illinois to cover the 1894 Pullman Strike, expecting to condemn the workers for their disloyalty to the company that had built them such a fine model city to live in.

But she made the fatal error for a reporter of actually talking, and listening, to the workers, which upended her pre-assumed story because she found out their pay had gone down 25% but their rents had not, and, if they moved out of that fine model city, they’d be fired. There was more.

What I had seen and heard in Pullman had not only converted me into a striker, but had left me very despondent as to the ultimate fate of the employed, men and women.

The federal government called out the troops to settle the strike, bringing to mind the British labor movement’s saying from a century ago, “A bayonet is a weapon with a British workingman on each end.”

Perhaps you had to be there.

For instance, 35 scant years ago, we held our company’s Annual Dinner the night before Labor Day, because we didn’t publish a newspaper on that holiday, or New Years, or Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving or Christmas.

No more publishing holidays and today the annual dinner is greatly diminished, where it’s still held at all.

I’m also old enough to remember when working people didn’t cross picket lines, either as customers or as suppliers.

Yes, I’m really, really old.

But it’s not my age group that is declining to go back to lousy jobs, lousy pay and lousy working conditions. Even workers too young to remember being treated with decency have become aware that they’re being screwed.

Meanwhile, Labor Day had, until 1894, been a unionist event. It only become a federal holiday in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike.

You won’t get many omelettes if you’re too polite to break a few eggs.

 

Anyway, times change, memories are short and today, as noted in Dogs of C-Kennel (Creators), Labor Day is simply the divider between summer vacations and autumn.

Which may come as a surprise to the kids who have already been back in school for two or three weeks, depending on where they live.

Around here, the summer tourist season ends with Columbus Day, though you should plan carefully: Sometimes the leaves are brilliant then, but in most years, by mid-October, they’re pretty much gone.

As is most of the tourist industry’s labor force, who have been back in college and high school classrooms for at least a month.

Though it’s only a problem when pandemics aren’t keeping the tourists home anyway.

 

John Sayles Appreciation Day

How you celebrate today is up to you. If you want to revive the spirit of the holiday, you could stream John Sayles’ “Matewan,” a movie based on the coal miner labor movement in 1920.

 

But Wallace the Brave (AMS) suggests, instead, “The Secret of Roan Inish,” a gentler, more mystic Sayles film, though, technically, it’s about a selkie, not a mermaid.

Suggestion: If you’re going to binge-watch both, watch this one second.

You’ll have better dreams that way.

Community Comments

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#1 Susan Crites
September/6/2021
@ 12:02 pm

Every Labor Day I share the music vid for Alabama’s ’40 Hour Week (For a Livin’) because I like the message. Always sad to see how out of date it is, though, as it calls out to Detroit auto workers, steel mill workers, and other jobs that really aren’t around too much these days.

#2 Kip Williams
September/6/2021
@ 3:11 pm

I got the flag up, a bit late, but still with plenty of daylight to celebrate a holiday that’s not about killing dark-skinned people somewhere.

#3 Denny Lien
September/6/2021
@ 3:21 pm

Re patriotic killings of scapegoats:

I recall a Lenny Bruce routine in which Norman Thomas, by a fluke, is elected president and his first duty is to determine which minority he will persecute. Being half-awake, he makes a random judgment call for “midgets” and explains that they’re sneaky and always looking up your dress/trouser legs. “The motto of my administration is going to be, look out midgets, because Norman Thomas is in power now!”

Or something like that.

#4 Mary McNeil
September/6/2021
@ 5:43 pm

Carmen is standing in the middle of someone’s backyard barbecue. She’d see some work if she went to Wal-mart, a grocery store, or – especially – a local hospital of “senior living” unit.

#5 George Walter
September/6/2021
@ 8:29 pm

I hope every reader checked that Barron’s article. It provides a clear and easy to understand discussion about the problem.

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