Labor Day: Too much work, too little pay

Stressed man sitting by laptop while papers fall over him.

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Stressed man sitting by laptop while papers fall over him.

By Yari Tapia, News Reporter

A regular conversation between Americans almost always involves an exchange of names. The following exchange somehow leads to what those people do for a living. From a young age, Americans are encouraged to learn about what they’d be interested in pursuing for a future career. Work culture is strongly embedded throughout the whole course of life. Although it’s important to be future-oriented in some situations, Americans don’t get enough payoff for tying themselves so closely to their jobs.

Originally, the idea of work was not something that was always at the top of the average American’s mind. Instead, it was ingrained through centuries of poor working conditions.

“A lot of people had been struggling for shorter hours, shorter work weeks for generations by the time that Labor Day was won,” said Rosemary Feurer, associate professor of the Department of History. 

Because shorter days, work weeks and improved benefits are still being fought for, it shows that the government has never preferred satisfying the people. It’s all about money and productivity.

Productivity isn’t a bad thing, but constant productivity and commercialism aren’t worth the sacrifices American workers are forced to make. Working 40+ hours a week every week until the retirement age that keeps getting pushed back just doesn’t sound very lively. 

Think about it: Americans spend their formative years in school, then they dedicate 30 to 40 years to a career, retire then about 10 years later, they die. This is part of the culture’s social clock.

Not to mention, Americans have to actively take money out of their salaries in order to afford said retirement because Social Security doesn’t cut it anymore. But, ah yes, there’s still two weeks of vacation every year. 

The government has never cared about all of its people. The government has benefitted from using its people in a “cog in the machine” type fashion. Realistically speaking, American work wasn’t created for self-wealth rather than the wealth of superiors.

“All of our psyches in the U.S. is built up on making that dollar, being able to pay for things, and we are low to demand more,” Feurer said.

The question is: whose dollar is being made?

The United States is quite an individualistic society, which is fine. But there come a lot of excuses for inhumane work conditions that fall under the “self-made” or that they “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.”

The reality is, humans are the only species who have to pay to live on this planet, and the unethical has become tiring. Americans haven’t been happy with these working conditions, and it’s time more people realized that.