For more than 130 years, we’ve celebrated Labor Day in the US and Canada. And May Day has been around about as long.
Around here, it’s become mostly a seasonal marker, but it was founded to devote just a day to something that deserves much more… to commemorate and celebrate the workers who sacrifice and toil to build.
Everyone needs to work, but now, more people than ever have the privilege to choose which sort of work they’re going to do. You have to work somewhere, but it doesn’t have to be here.
And I think it’s fair to say that just about every person reading this blog has a job that would be unrecognizable to someone working when Labor Day was first celebrated. In fact, many of these jobs are now unrecognizable to people from just 15 years ago.
Only 9% of the office workers in Manhattan go to their office five days a week now.
Add AI to the mix and we’re seeing another shift, one that’s happening faster than any that came before.
At the same time, many of the jobs that people get paid for have analogues where people do these jobs for fun. Amateur violin players, volunteer editors at Wikipedia, people who volunteer to help build houses or feed the hungry.
Is it labor if we get to choose?
Far too many people are being left behind as the market for our effort bifurcates. Too many people are indentured or stuck, under-appreciated and underpaid.
If we’re lucky enough to have a choice, perhaps we should choose wisely.
PS the significance bee mug sold out instantly the last time I posted about it. Amanda has made 90 more, they’re now available here.