Why Can't We Talk?
I HAVE WORKED ALL OF MY LIFE. SOMETIMES I GET PAID WHAT I'm worth, and sometimes I don't. But it's all hard work and I immerse myself totally -- there is no detail that is beneath me. In fact, I am very obsessive about any work I do -- to the point of jumping awake at night over some minor detail or unresolved problem. If my name or reputation is connected, I want whatever I do to be the best that I can muster. If I don't do well, I'll take the criticism and consequences; but I'll know it was the absolute best I could do. So, I recognize what work is.
Most work is not compensated for because it's not part of the labor market -- but it is work! In fact, the poorer you are, the harder you work at everything (and the more you jump awake at night).
As a worker, I realize that it is work just to live! Whether I am in or out of the workplace, I know I am a member of the working class. Except for very few people who are independently wealthy and live off the interest their money earns, we are all dependent on outside resources to survive, whether it's a job or public assistance of some form. I get very dismayed when I hear one group of workers (those who are employed) criticize another group of workers (those who are unemployed) for the choices they make. They do not realize that they are all in the same boat. By not aligning themselves with the unemployed, employed workers have divided themselves from other workers. Don't they understand that sometimes it is your boss who decides that tomorrow you will apply for welfare? Whether we have jobs or not, we still need to eat, pay rent, and clothe our children.
When I first re-entered the workforce, the realization that we are all engaged in the same struggle became increasingly clear to me. The need to clarify it for others became one of my chief missions in life.