The Dignity of Work – A Salute to the People Who Built America

Who are you working for?

If you’re reading this, odds are good you’re a lot like me.

Okay, no. Maybe you didn’t get your right eye iced over while swapping semi trailers in a 30-below polar vortex. Maybe you didn’t get hit by a Monte Carlo towing cars in the pouring rain on a tropical island, or dislocate your shoulder throwing tires in the scorching sun. Maybe, you didn’t even fall off a roof putting down shingle while fighting off rabid squirrels.

It’s entirely possible you’re a little luckier and more competent than I am. But we are alike in one way, at least…I know what it’s like to bust my ass for a living. Literally.

America was built by individuals like us; strong of back and hard of head, the ones who are smart enough to do any job, but dumb enough to keep them. We are not the robots others would replace us with. We are not just drones, going on mindlessly to profit whoever had the money before us.

We don’t follow paths. We build them. Without you, without us, there is no America. Great or otherwise.

We work for ourselves, even when we’re working for someone else. You might love building houses, mudding drywall, running accounts or stocking shelves just as much as I do wrenching on cars or driving truck through the Tennessee mountains. But, end of the day, we don’t work for the ones who pay us.

We work for ourselves.

This is what it means to be an American. We’re not the Chinese, who toil endlessly as brainwashed armies to benefit their superiors. We’re not industrial droids, going by programming, thinking and doing only as we’re told. We’ve got out own goals, our own ideas, our own identities…and we could give a damn whether the anyone else profits from it.

America is our land of opportunity. Ours. Alone. It is this core selfishness which has driven American’s to excel for a century, always striving and surpassing whenever we had the chance. Personal gain, personal glory, personal fulfillment. If we’re not working for that, then what are we working for?

Today, global corporations labor in the sweatshop of capitalism’s destruction, driving out small business and killing the economies on which they feed. Many foreign owned, caring no more for their employees than for a gnat on the windshield.

Look no further than the GM plant closed in Dayton last years, now owned by Chinese company FuYao Glass. Formerly unionized employees once making over $20 an hour, people who loved their jobs…now reduced to starvation wages and deadly working conditions to rival any third-world nation. Look at Jeff Bezos and Amazon, who decided it was cheaper to keep ambulances stationed in front of their facilities rather than provide air conditioning for employees.

Is this who we are. Is this what we’ve become?

Who are we working for?

Gaze into the abyss of trucking, where mega-corps have begun the inevitable slide toward automation by purchasing “smart trucks,” and recruiting barely trained and underpaid drivers fresh out of school to helm them. “Big S” Transportation (a former employer of mine) would rather flip 14 trucks a week than invest in skilled labor. Because smart trucks were supposed to replace smart drivers.

And wages show it. Not just at Big S, but across the board. Big S assembly line approach of “smart trucks plus dumb driver” brings down wages and freight costs for everyone. This company and those like it woo us with promises of loyalty and benefit, then stab us in the back the moment it profits them to do so.

What happened to respect, to dignity for the working man?

I say “man” only as a matter of aphorism, since women now make up more than half of all retail and factory assembly positions. Which has worked out pretty well for corporations. These companies capitalize the desperation of single mothers, suckling at the wage gap like the sweet teat of quarterly profits. They hold hostage the children of these mothers by healthcare and pay, even as they destroy the families which might otherwise give them a chance at stability. This cycle is endless: destroy the family, hire the single parent, exploit her desperation to reduce wages, thus destroying the family.

What are you to them? Do they treat you as an individual? Do they profit you? Do they respect you, in any way deserving of an American? Or are you just another cog in the profit machine?

Who are you working for?

We are the ones who built this country. We are the blood, sweat and backbone of everything that ever made America great.

And we did it through selfishness. Through ambition. We did it in our own interests, because America’s greatness is in the sum of its parts; and yes, we are all parts. All cogs in this great machine, this great experiment in freedom and liberty called America.

We worked to build society, because we are society. We built this. Nobody else. Not the rich, not the powerful; not the corporations who sign our checks, or the billionaires who own our politicians.

We are the makers; and

the Great Lie of those in power is convincing us we were ever anything but. We built their roads, we built their offices and homes; we built the machines they use, and provide the power to run them.

We are the powerhouse that drives this nation, and we damned well deserve our fair part of it.

These people have never done anything but profit off of us. While we struggle to pay rent, they rack up dollars in the Cayman Islands. They keep our wealth locked away in their golden palaces, while we die daily to feed our families. Assuming we can afford to have them at all. As our families fall apart, their empires grow stronger than ever. Their strength is in the destruction of hope, of all we love…and the exploitation that follows.

They turn us against each other with every possible idiotic political wedge; party, race, age, income, abortion, religion. Anything they can use to separate us, they do.

And while we’re all left here, fighting each other like dogs in a pit over the scraps they’ve left behind…they sit above us, laughing. Secure. Confident. Hiding in their gated communities, fearing nothing more than that the Forgotten should see their deception for what it is.

We built this. And we deserve our fair part.

It’s time we put aside this false division. Forget our differences for today, and give those who stand against us what they fear most: a united working class. A fraternity, together in selfishness, knowing we deserve all they’ve kept from us.

This is our country. Our world. And it’s time we take it back.

Because, here’s the reality, and I tell you this: My mother didn’t die in this fight, running a union for 30 years, for America to descend into this corporate oligarchy. She fought for you, for me, and for all that America could be. She didn’t give her life in this fight for us to give up now.

But that was her fight. And this is ours. We don’t ask anything we haven’t earned. We only demand what we deserve.

It’s the American way.

This country was built by pioneers. Innovators. Those who dared to dream, and put in the work to achieve it. We are their heirs. We carry the legacy of immigrants, who braved death and peril in search of a better life. We, Americans, inherit this courage like no other on Earth. It is this drive, this courage, this well-earned conceit that unites us. More than borders, more than language, culture or religion, the courage of our ancestors unites us.

And it is this that they fear. Courage, and unity.

You know who I am; you read the header at the top of this flier, and know what I stand for. Some might call me a “different kind of Democrat,” and that is true. I am. I’m a Progressive; and like every Progressive, I care more about the working class than anyone else. Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative; doesn’t matter. End of the day, party, names and ideology are irrelevant. Labels. Team colors. Nothing but wedges the powerful use to stay the fear which wakes them at night.

The Forgotten, aligning against them.

They lie. They manipulate and separate. They sell us the pill that made us ill.

Who are you working for?

My name is Richard Rowe. I’m a candidate for Congress in 2020. But, I’m a lot like you. Just another guy, who’s tired of working to profit everyone but himself. Mechanics and drivers, carpenters and factory workers, bartenders, servers, cooks, salesmen, office workers, tire changers and lawn mowers. We’ve worked side-by-side for decades. And today, I’m asking you to work with me on re-forging America.

We are individuals. We are together. We unite, for what we’ve earned. A future. Our future.  

That’s what we’re working for. And together, we will have it.


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