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Belaboring Labor Day

Happy Labor Day everyone! Amidst all the barbecues, picnics, beach trips, swearing at strangers in traffic, and long-seething family anger kept under a tight lid up until this holiday weekend gathering, let’s not lose sight of the true meaning of Labor Day.This is the day we set aside to honor those great men and women who built the economic machinery on which this country hums, with their tireless toil, selfless sacrifice, all their powers of alliteration.Yes, I’m talking about America’s CEOs.

Sure, there are some who like to talk about “the workers,” as if the so-called “labor” they contribute in their minor roles in the office or on the assembly line, stocking our shelves or greasing our monkeys, or even digging deep inside our coal mines (when they’re not slacking off during a cave-in) – as if any of that matters!

Tell me, when an iceberg looms in the distance, who do you think is more important:the brawny shirtless brutes stoking the engines deep below deck, or the captain at the helm?I’m not even sure today’s modern cruise ships require stoking, but you get my point: it’s the captains of industry who matter, not the faceless yeomen who putter through their work week with nothing more on their mind than the promise of shore leave and a ten-cent dance.

And how do we repay these great leaders for their skilled stewardship of our precious industry?We insult them with money!A study released this week showed that chief executives of large U.S. corporations were paid an average $10.8 million dollars last year.That’s not just an insult; it’s a GIANT one.I was always taught it was rude to offer money to someone for a brave, selfless act, like returning a lost wallet or rescuing a dog.They should throw it back in our collective face!But they won’t, because they’re better than that.

Sowhy not take a moment between your mom’s soggy cole slaw and that burnt hot dog, between disciplining your screaming child and suppressing the screaming child within when your sibling dredges up that familiar anxiety you’d thought was buried long ago, to pay proper homage to the true heroes who preside over the blood, sweat, and tears of their workers, keeping the economic ship on course and clear of icebergs, while their bloody, sweaty, weepy underlings work an entire year to earn less than America’s CEO makes in one day – Labor Day, when they’re not even working.That’s what I call a paid holiday!

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A Modest Proposal for a film by Kurt Engfehr and Ken Pisani.
2006 Ken Pisani and Kurt Engfehr.  All rights reserved.
All "Blogging Poorly" posts  Ken Pisani.