Will Labor Day be recognizable in another 20 years?
Certainly, changes in culture, politics and technology will affect the love-hate relationship between capital and labor. Dizzying changes await this holiday. Yes, a holiday which honors the working people of the nation and grants them time to grill burgers and commemorate gains in workplace health and safety--while waiting to watch NFL players dutifully knock each other’s brains out.
By 2037, many current occupations will have have disappeared; but hundreds of jobs we haven’t even dreamed of will take their place. (“Dibs! I call dibs!” shouts workaholic Steve Harvey.)
There will still be lots of opportunities for safari guides. There will always be a demand for someone to help track down increasingly scarce things such as tigers and rhinos. (“Look. Don’t even step on a twig. It’s a nearly extinct company-paid pension! I want that bad boy hanging above my mantel, next to employer-funded health care.”)
The lucky few may even be able to double down on the sort of benefits that the Europeans are always boasting about. At socially progressive companies, I wouldn’t be surprised if paid maternity leave is expanded to cover flying across the country to a karaoke bar to sing, “Baby, baby, where did our love go?”
Right now the “$15-an-hour living wage” campaign is making headlines, but that concept may be made moot not only by inflation but by the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Yes, workers may soon be shambling down the street demanding a “walking dead” wage. (“Brains! More brains! We can’t survive on THIS guy’s brains! He invested in gold instead of Confederate memorabilia way back when.”)
Retailers will keep advertising Labor Day sales earlier and earlier. If you don’t leave Santa milk, cookies AND next year’s Labor Day flyers, you’re getting coal in your stocking. (Whether the coal is mined by an Appalachian guy named Sam or C-3PO is still up in the air.)
I’m sure some people will still abuse the social safety net, but at least lawyers’ algorithms will have churned out some new strategies. (“This poor man deserves to receive TWO disability checks! He has a rare injury in which a pinched nerve forces him to chop firewood and rappel down cliffs all day long!”)
In 2037, will ethicists have given up on preventing employers from using gene editing technology to produce exactly the sort of workers they desire? (“All I did was play Candy Crush at work and suddenly I’m covered with leprosy! AIEEEEE!”)
Will union organizers be able to make much headway when most jobs are handled by robots and artificial intelligence? (“It’s really in your best interests to sign up. I’d hate for anything to happen to your...your...what do you even call those thingamajigs? I’m too flesh-and-blood for this!”)
Budget cutbacks and loosening of civil service protections will have gotten rid of many government employees, but those who survive may become creatively cocky. (“I’m not changing the bedpan of this veteran of the War Against The Hundred Acre Wood unless you let me borrow the nuclear codes over the weekend.”)
The passing of Jerry Lewis makes me wonder if someone might even revive the MDA Labor Day Telethon someday. The theme song would probably be updated to “You’ll never walk alone ---- because those microchips embedded under your skin will help Acme Corp. keep an eye on you.”)
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”