With the election in our rear-view mirrors, there was a lot of consternation (suddenly) about the folks our economy is leaving behind. Media reports from a bunch of mysterious voters flooded the news waves, and it seems as if many of us did not know that there are still blue-collar jobs out there.
It’s easy for me to judge those surprised by the fact that material goods are still made in this country – my guess is that the class divide is as fierce as other things that divide us as Americans, and perhaps simplified just as much. There are blue collar jobs and there are blue collar jobs – some are meaningless, bullshit work uniquely unsatisfying and requiring some sort of outside stimulation to get through, while others are meaningful, self-actualizing, independent in some ways of wage slave state type work that feeds the wealth of those at the top. There are all kinds of gradations on what type of work people want to do, and all kinds of levels of engagement. There are also all kinds of barriers to entry for lots of this work, from almost none (mindlessly repeated tasks) to high (both deservedly and undeservedly so). We can call lots of jobs in the digital economy gray collar, of course, but I am most concerned with that type of labor that invokes some sort of toll on the body, the type of job that you can’t do forever.
What happens when that work disappears? Where do we go from there, and how do we create meaningful labor that enables us to make contributions? Is that sort of work even possible or necessary? What of those who don’t want to work – do they get dropped? If so, how?
Lots and lots of questions…