Worker’s Day Blues

In a world where those who are well-meaning have the largest inequality in the world, and those who keep their numbers fews and their oil flowing, what hope do we have for labour protection?

Wondering about the origins of Worker’s Day sent me down an internet-rabbit hole this morning. I wanted to explore what the death of protected labour meant for the world today — but I have absolutely no background in that area, and any conclusions I came to seemed trite.

Then I thought about my own life as a freelancer — I have never had paid leave. I’ve never had insurance from work. Or a pension. Or sick-leave. As a freelancer, you are a one-man band and a large portion of the job has become the chase to just get money for work you have already done, if you are unlucky enough to have some financially-challenged clients.

But I also know my freelancer nature, while new to my privileged community, is a life of instability and chasing the system that the majority of the world has been dealing with all along.

So I thought I better see, if after all this time, all this so-called economic progress, all these millions more people living above the poverty-line actually meant anything, as many of my more optimistic friends would assert.

I have lived in both the most unequal country in the world, South Africa, and, apparently, the happiest, Qatar.

According to the Gini Index, South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. The world. The world.

As in, no other country is doing such a shit job of protecting it’s most vulnerable, that we literally win at it. While we fight and battle and try fix our turbulent political situation, we cannot take any steps before we fix this fundamental flaw in our design. How do we tame a beast trained by those will no regard for the mass majority of South Africans?

Then, on the other hand, Qatar, coming in at Number 1 for happiness. By a huge margin.

Now, anyone who lives in Qatar can tell you for sure, that the majority of the people who live there aren’t that happy. But, the majority of the people who live there aren’t Qatari, and therefore nobody asks them. To put it mildly, worker’s rights aren’t a thing in Qatar. And this is going to seem dark, but at least they’re not pretending to be great protectors of human freedoms like many other countries who claim to be so, and then fall massively short. See how happy you can be when you don’t do that?

So I guess what I’m saying is that for someone like me, with no formal job but a life of privilege behind me, Worker’s Day is a bastardised, monetised excuse for a long weekend. A false nicety in an economic model which trades the hours of your life for money. Enjoy your eight-hour “freebie”.

Until tomorrow

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