Labor Day 2020 and the Dire State of Everyday People

Today we celebrate American worker’s contributions to our society. The workforce is the engine moving our country to the realization of our dreams and goals. The men and women who get up every day to seek a decent living in this country are increasingly under assault by the corporation’s manipulation of people and profits. Our labor unions have been decimated and the workers’ rights chipped away little by little, or a lot by a lot. All of it began with Reagan and it hasn’t stopped since. Congress is beholden to special interests with most of our elected officials’ ears more attuned to the lobbyists’ demands roaming the halls of Congress than to the ordinary people’s plight for help for better wages, better work conditions, better parental leave, better health insurance.

Shepard Fairey. Los Angeles, CA 2011 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Pandemic has only exacerbated the already perilous conditions among the middle class and poor Americans. Most working-class individuals were already living paycheck to paycheck with little if any savings to confront personal, family crises. The poor have always counted on the safety net that the government has put in place to help alleviate their financial and health burdens but those services have been either privatized for-profit or totally eradicated. When Covid-19 took hold of the whole world and Trump made the situation in the USA worse, the majority of Americans have found themselves steps removed from the economic precipice, or pushed into it. Strangely, Democrats also are not coming to the rescue.

There are many lessons to be learned from this Pandemic, one of them will undoubtedly be the abysmal difference between those with money and those without it to confront this crisis. The rich are getting incredibly richer and the poor are getting poorer. Lockdown has been difficult for all of us but certainly easier for those without financial difficulties.

Shepard Fairey. Los Angeles, CA 2011 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Almost 30 million Americans have lost their jobs, and their hopes of getting them back are slimmer by the week. If there is to be an economic recovery in this country the divisions of who’ll benefit from said recovery will be sharply divided. While the stock market has hit record levels of wealth, ordinary Americans have seen greater inequality. So you might wonder, what are we celebrating today? Our workforce is in tatters and our service economy has been decimated.

Shepard Fairey made the works shown above in LA almost a decade ago, and his message resonates even stronger today.