Did you wake up with a roof over your head this morning?
Did you enjoy a breakfast that contained food that was grown, processed, trucked, put on a shelf, kept cool in a refrigerator, cooked on a stove with either natural gas or electricity, and sat at a table?
Going to travel in your car filled with oil refined into gasoline over roads and bridges to go play at the lake?
And while it took a lot of brains to come up with your smartphone, computer, tablet, X-Box, and smartwatch none of it would have been possible without some mining materials, manufacturing components, and assembling them.
Much ado is made about how we are shifting from a manufacturing to a service economy.
At the same time every thinks coding and 3-D printers will make physical labor as we know it obsolete. But somebody still has to mine and process the raw material and then build the robots, computers and 3-D printers.
Engineers specializing in a repertoire of disciplines provided the blueprints for the Industrial Age, the Space Age, and the Internet Age. But all of what they do would have remained on paper or jillions of numbers on a microchip if it wasn’t for labor.
Try using indoor plumbing if it wasn’t for labor. Not only did labor build and install the toilet but labor put in place the pipeline and the wastewater treatment plant.
We look at modern day marvels such as the Golden Gate Bridge and remember only one man, Joseph Strauss. History doesn’t note the thousands that mined the ore, molded the steel, manufactured the wire and the 600,000 rivets in each tower, and those that risked life and limb erecting the suspension bridge over the dangerous Golden Gate. Eleven men perished building the bridge. Not one of them was an engineer.
Labor literally built the American Dream.
It transformed the New World into an economic juggernaut that stepped up in the world’s darkest hour and produced the armaments to beat back the Axis Power and then rebuilt war ravaged lands.
Labor is still as important as ever.
Unfortunately many look down on miners, farm workers, truck drivers, train engineers, mechanics, plumbers, and others because they aren’t engineers, lawyers, professors, code writers, and other professionals. Try launching an Internet start-up by eschewing anything labor produces.
Your innovative workplace would be in the open or in a cave. You wouldn’t have bean bag chairs let along cubicles. They’d be no power to run your computer, charge your smartphone or run your expresso machine. You couldn’t sell a physical product or ship it. You’d have to walk to work and do so naked unless you can sew your own clothes or can find big enough fig leaves.
You’d have to make sure your office was by a brook as there would be no water pipelines nor bottled water deliveries which need a truck, a plant to mold plastic bottles, and a processing system to bottle and sanitize the water.
It’s ironic. We don’t hesitate to pay $1,000 for an iPhone that has a massive mark-up but we squawk bloody murder if we can’t hammer someone employing labor skills to do a job for us or produce a commodity down to the thinnest profit margin possible.
We value gadgets over the essentials.
That’s because labor has done its job and done it well.
We rarely give what they do a second thought. Labor and what it produces is taken for granted.
In fact, it is taken for granted so much that experts project we will soon experience a shortage of skilled workers in the non-tech sectors as more and more carpenters, welders, diesel mechanics, miners, and others reach retirement age.
Already Manteca-Lathrop-Stockton area fabrication firms have to rely on skilled foreign workers from Mexico to fill critical welding jobs as there are few trained young people and even fewer that want to get into such fields.
There is great honor in labor as well as value.
To be a success, support a family, and contribute to America’s prosperity you don’t have to be an engineer or have a white collar job.
Today as you enjoy the first day of a three-day weekend, reflect for a minute or so on labor and where we would be today without skilled craftsmen and those who do the back breaking jobs.
Almost nothing we have today would have been possible without blue collar workers.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.