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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Value of a hard day’s work still deserves recognition

    While kicking back with friends and family this past Monday, did you actually take the time to contemplate the significance of Labor Day?

    If you didn’t, you’re probably not the only one. For many, Labor Day is everything but laborious, and taking the time to appreciate its meaning has become too difficult a task amid a weekend full of rest and celebration. Some would even argue that Labor Day, a holiday meant to commemorate the achievements of workers, has become an excuse for drunken frivolity and plain laziness.

    Gina Rinehart, the controversial Australian mining tycoon, is among the few who take umbrage with the state of work ethic today. In a column for the Australian Resources and Investment magazine, the multi-billion dollar heiress told Australia’s plebeians to “spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

    “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself,” rails the richest woman in the world, clearly taking a jab at the founding principles of the Occupy movement and similar movements.

    In an age when the value of a hard day’s work is rapidly declining and thousands take to the streets to protest the excesses of the richest one percent, Rinehart’s comments couldn’t be more salient. This privileged iron-mining queen fails to realize that the men and women who earn a living by the sweat of their brows are working harder than ever and earning less over a lifetime.

    The productivity of the middle-class American worker has skyrocketed over the past three decades, but all this backbreaking toil hasn’t translated into higher earnings. In fact, the ones who have benefitted the most from this increase in output are those who were already well off to begin with. During this same period of middle-class malaise, corporate profits and the incomes of America’s richest have soared.

    This brings us back to dear Miss Rinehart. The mogul didn’t actually build her wealth from the bottom up like most of us have to, but inherited a significant portion of it — $75 million, to be exact — after the passing of her father. Then to add insult to injury, in her column Rinehart lavishes praise onto those millionaires and billionaires like herself who are best equipped to “invest in other countries” and “help our poor and our young.”

    But it’s these self-seeking millionaires and billionaires who have perpetuated the dismal state of workers by deregulating the financial sector and dumping their corporate profits into tax havens while busting workers’ unions and balking at the slightest increase in the federal minimum wage.

    It’s easy for someone born into abundant wealth to scold the masses for not working hard enough to acquire their own riches. Those of us who slog it out every day to put food on the table and maintain a decent standard of living will just have to turn a deaf ear to the fat cats who have the audacity to tell us we’re lazy.

    So next Labor Day, while you partake in a barbecue feast or just lounge around in your pajamas, remember that Labor Day is a holiday meant to honor the sacrifices and achievements you’ve made as a worker.

    Despite the ramblings you’ll hear to the contrary, you deserve that day of respite now more than ever.

    — Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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