Sometimes it’s not about how you slice up the pie. When there isn’t enough pie to go around, things can get nasty.

Working class white Americans are much less well off than they used to be. They’re angry.

We do a lot of things wrong in the United States. We don’t value the trades. Not only do we not pay skilled tradespeople as well as we should, we don’t respect or value them.

Just look at the social distinction we make between a profession and a trade.

A highly skilled mechanic or electrician, for example, has at least as big a knowledge base as a skilled accountant, and needs just as much time and effort to master their craft.

Yet we dismiss what those tradespeople do as mere manual labor, not acknowledging the value they add to society, crucially, often not paying them a wage that recognizes their skill.

If they do make decent money, and some of them do, they still get looked down on.

When I was a small child, my dad was a foreman at a steel plant. His annual wage was roughly the same as the price of the three-bedroom house he bought for the family. You’d never see a young factory worker make that kind of money today.

Perhaps more importantly, he was respected and looked up to as an important worker who played a key role in a critical industry.

Today, doing the same job, which is just as important, he would probably be dismissed as a mere manual laborer.

So, yes. There’s less pie to go around for workers, many of whom are feeling disrespected and unimportant.

Of course, this applies to Black workers as much as it does to white workers, but if everyone were getting a more equitable share of the economy, we would probably have a lot less to fight about.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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