labor

A Note on Legacy

President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

“Watching him now is a useful reminder that there is no such thing as the ‘twilight’ of a presidency. Until the day his successor takes office, Obama will be the leading actor on the biggest and most important stage in the world.”

Eugene Robinson

When we perceive a presidency as dismal, it is easy enough to wonder what could have gone better. Still, though, it is easy enough to wonder if perhaps the historical discussion, and probably not so far off in the future, will pause amid its reflections on one of the more affecting and effective presidencies in American history to wonder what more President Obama could have achieved.

That answer might as well be wishing on stars. But as Eugene Robinson reminds, these premature death notices of a lame duck twilight zombie administration really do remind of the soft bigotry of low expectations. Barack Obama is no George W. Bush, and but for a press accustomed to thoughtless milling and recycling, we might have no cause to remind.

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Image note: President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Robinson, Eugene. “Obama has plenty of reasons to smile”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

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Recommended Holiday Reading

McPoverty protesters outside Wendy's restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

E.J. Dionne Jr. opens his Labor Day column for the Washington Post with a basic reflection:

Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.

This way of looking at things greatly simplifies the political debate. Domestic issues are boiled down to the question of whether someone is “pro-government” or “anti-government.”

Alas for the over-simplifiers, it’s an approach that misreads the nature of the choices that regulators, politicians and citizens regularly face. It ignores that the market system itself could not exist without the rules that government establishes, beginning with statutes protecting private property and also the various measures against the use of force and fraud in business and individual transactions.

More important, it overlooks the ways in which the steps government takes often empower citizens and expand their rights. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of work.

It’s Labor Day, so there is no required reading. Might I, then, strongly encourage Mr. Dionne’s holiday offering?

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Image note: Hey, I’ve been there! ― McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Dionne Jr., E. J. “The right question to ask about government”. The Washington Post. 6 September 2015.

Sisyphus Weiner Galt

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal', by Zach Weiner, 18 November 2014.

Dystopia is burning, which ought to be a good thing except it is burning with the passions of the stage and just wants to dance! Which, of course, ought to be about as inspiring as Rush Limbaugh in a thong leotard.

Then again, one would think that at some point, prostitution would be the sort of thing only humans could do for each other, but I think society has yet to get through polygamy, incest, and bestiality before moving onto giant robot anime porn. Oh, wait. Rule Thirty-Four. Serves me right for trying to steal a line.

I don’t know, something about mechaphilia or mechasexual goes here. Still, in the Weiner dystopia at least the labor conditions for human prostitutes has improved. To the other, though, it would seem there is not so much difference between the Luddite punch line and a PG-rated future, which on this occasion means post-Galtian.

In the end, perhaps that is the point; people are what the really pointless labor exists for. Maybe that is why we must presume Sisyphus happy. Fruitless labor? Hey, it’s job security.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 18 November 2014.