Labor of one kind or another is about all most of us have to sell. Yet, according to that great economist Milton Berle, work is the most unpopular way of making money.
That is something to think about as we approach Labor Day, which was established to honor people who go to jobs every day so they can afford to have weekends off. Unless, of course, they have kids in college. Then, they will be working on the weekends too, either to send the money to the kids or to the bank that gave their kid his or her student loan.
The fact is that most of us work to take care of our families — the people we love.
The work may be physical labor — such as that done by farm workers, or police officers, or firefighters, or truck drivers — or it may consist largely of thinking, such as that done by people who write newspaper columns (yes, we laugh and call this work), calculate financial statements or administer the work of others.
Then you have the work that’s a combination of physical labor and thinking labor. Nurses and doctors are a good example of that kind of combined work
Either way, we all look forward to that Labor Day off because it will belong to us unless we have agreed to be one of those who work on the holiday.
Yes, it will belong to us because in many circumstances it is likely to be paid for by our bosses.
It is our time. We can do with it what we wish, as long as we don’t break the law.
We can make the day part of a three-day mini-vacation — maybe go camping or go visit relatives.
Maybe we or a neighbor will throw a backyard barbecue.
Maybe we’ll do some work around the house or the yard.
Maybe we’ll read or watch TV, or play with our computers.
Some people will sleep in, some will go shopping, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. We will spend the time as we wish.
Economists talk of a propensity to spend. If you have money in your pocket, the geniuses say, you will spend it in some way that gratifies you, even if it is merely paying bills or tossing it into a savings account.
And the same is true of time.
It’s a rare person who can put $100 in his or her pocket on Sunday and carry it around until Saturday and not spend at least part of it on something.
And it is very rare for a person with a day of paid time off not to spend at least some of it doing something that gives him or her satisfaction, even if it is something as simple as painting the doghouse.
Labor Day is your day, oh workers. Spend the time safely in a way that will make you happy so you will have no regrets when you have to go back to work, and to reality, on Tuesday.