© 2021 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-753-9000
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: What Is 'Work' In America Today?

karl-magnuson-oFB97KdJBFk-unsplash.jpg
Karl Magnuson/Unsplash
/

Today is Labor Day. As we pause from work, we should pause to examine the troubling conditions of work in America today. 

 
The very nature of work has changed fundamentally. The transformation from a manufacturing economy to a service economy has rattled and even wrecked the lives of many Americans. By ignoring this tectonic shift, self-satisfied elites helped elect Donald Trump. The rise of the "gig economy" has left too many workers unprotected by basic labor laws, and the number swells. 

bob_evans.jpg

   
Wages have stagnated, as has productivity -- the engine propelling wage growth. Income inequality, as a result, has expanded alarmingly. Labor force participation, a key indicator of social as well as economic health, has plummeted. 
 
The Business Roundtable just posed the question whether corporations advance the public interest or merely self-interest. The Economist magazine cover shouts "What Are Companies For?" -- by which is meant who are they for? 
 
Is the response to this threatening litany of problems to abandon, as has been demanded, capitalism for some hybrid of socialism? In a word -- no. A mere glance around the globe leads us to seek a more practical and promising response. 
 
So enjoy the cookout and the day. But remember that tomorrow we have to go back to work, or rather, we have to go back to work defining together what work means for us and to us as Americans.  

 

I'm Bob Evans and that is my perspective. 

Related Stories