Thoughts on Labor Day, and this Week’s Broadcast/Podcast
By Helen ~ September 4, 2013
Singer/ songwriter/ actor (and author) Steve Earle joins us once again in eTown, this time to rock out with his band The Dukes. A youthful protégé of legendary songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Steve quickly became a stellar songsmith himself, eventually evolving into a musical force to be reckoned with. His original tunes have been recorded by Willie Nelson, The Pretenders, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, and many, many more. Steve has been with us numerous times, and we’re always honored when he finds time in his extremely busy schedule for a trip to eTown.
Also with us: young, up-and-upcoming singer/songwriter Joe Purdy. Joe is one of a crop of rising stars in the music world; he’s an insightful writer, wise beyond his young age. He returns to the show for his second visit to share some thoughtful and well-crafted original songs (one of which he completed right before sound check; he had me learn it at rehearsal and we do it for you during the show, the first public performance of this song . . ever!). Check out this week’s show videos below. Our award winner is a woman from North Carolina who feeds the hungry in her area and, in doing so, brings her community together at the same time. There’s great stuff for everyone, this week in eTown.
Labor Day was just here. Makes me think of what a great country this is; a great deal of the credit for that goes to the American worker. Whether multi-generational Americans or immigrants who’ve traveled far and wide to explore the possibilities that America has to offer, the US labor force has been the foundation of this country’s financial success. They’ve also provided the cultural diversity that makes us exceptional.
My dad was one of the latter, an immigrant who came over literally ‘on the boat’, struggled to learn English (he worked on it until he became fluent), had good ideas, worked very, very hard to realize them, contributed a hell of a lot, and retired comfortably. My Pop became a citizen as soon as he could; he was SO proud to be an American. He and my mom both worked fulltime at the family business (btw she was the only working mother I knew of; my sisters and I were latchkey kids before the phrase was coined, and I was secretly jealous of all my little friends who had moms that greeted them after school with milk and cookies! But she was the best mother anyone could ever have, I’ll tell you about her sometime in the future.) Mom and Dad eventually were able to buy a very small ‘starter’ house, then a slightly larger one that was our family home for many years. They retired a bit early and were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, traveling and such. They were truly the American Dream, personified.
Well, things, as we all know, have changed, for many American workers. These days, it’s not so easy to afford a house (and some economic experts suggest one shouldn’t even consider taking on the debt). If you’re lucky you have a job. So many people don’t. And those who are working often cobble together two or three part-time jobs, without benefits (think Papa John’s, whose extremely rich founder takes pride in limiting workers’ hours so he can avoid paying for medical insurance and other benefits – Oh, that he would reconsider and take on the model of Costco and of Starbuck’s founders, who consciously pay their workers a decent hourly wage and happily provide various benefits to the folks who work for them, saying that they, as founders, reap plenty of financial success even while looking after their work force . . Love that!). It’s increasingly difficult for our middle class to thrive and survive and for individuals to get the chance to realize personal success from their hard work (remember, all those part-time workers still work hard – people don’t seek to be poor, its usually circumstance).
So its an interesting Labor Day quandary . . What are we celebrating? And how do we retain and restore our middle class to its former glory?
I know, we all need to find our way in the world, hopefully earn a living, pull our weight whenever possible, even give back to the community that allows us to prosper. However, let’s remember that not everyone can do that right now in this economic climate. So, when you walk into a convenience store or a corporate big box business, treat the person helping you with respect; they’re there because its what they can find – give them credit for working.
As for this Labor Day weekend, whatever your current situation is, I hope you had a safe and peaceful time with family and friends. (And by the way, shouldn’t it be called ‘No Labor Day,’ since most of us are off that day? I’m just sayin’.)