Where does wealth come from?
Diamonds are worthless until someone digs them out of the ground.
Some of the news from Bridgeport, Ohio
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Caption on this video: “Broke up a fight and kicked a dude out last night. Ate a big-ass beef dip for breakfast at 1 pm. Mercy killed rats in the basement at 4 pm. 12-hour shift starts now. Come and visit me, I guess.
America, I beg of you, quit gluing rats to the floor until they die.
If any of you were loosely following my transformation into real-life Charlie Day, the circle was completed this week. My Friday bar shift started with mercy-killing rats in the basement stuck to glue traps that some bug-man threw down on his rounds through Ohio Valley beer joints. There are a lot of memes that capture what working long shifts in a post-industrial Appalachian dive bar really feels like, but here’s a personal favorite:
And from what you tell me at the bar, this is how lots of you feel at your job too.
Whoever created man endowed us with the insatiable urge to tell bartenders the stuff you wouldn’t let slip in a sacred confession. Juicy gossip abounds - who got arrested last night, who picked up a DUI, and who has a secret family.
The most common lament, uttered by everyone from transgender website developers to big scary Harley Davidson riders with an iron-working habit, is that we’re all making money for somebody, just not us.
That’s a powerful realization. It’s been the common denominator through most major social revolutions. When the unwashed masses gather in bars with the shared experience of being screwed by elites, look out ruling class.
Much could be said from here. The ruling class knows history well. The antidote to the unwashed masses talking about their common enemy is always to divide and conquer. Instead of writing you a book about this, I’ll leave you with a book recommendation.
This book is for anyone who knows we’re getting screwed and wants to start doing something about it. It’s a practical manual for how to make change in your workplace, from the smallest issue, all the way up to unionizing the company. Read it if you want to take concrete steps to improve life at work. I’ll probably make some TikToks about it.
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Who else is going to fund media that lifts up the working class and rips billionaires? You are. Fund the media you want to see today for $5/mo.
Labor creates all wealth
Diamonds and coal are worthless until someone digs them out of the ground
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Comment I’m responding to: "Workers don't create value, prove me wrong."
Okay. Nobody shows up to work at Amazon tomorrow. Would that be a problem? Yes, but here's the real example.
It is impossible to unite Republicans and Democrats in DC, and for good reason. Elected Republicans are vile. But a group of extremely valuable workers did exactly that. Rail workers were threatening a strike a few weeks ago. Those workers are so valuable that Congress, in the 20s, passed a law saying that you cannot go on strike without getting Congress involved first.
So there was a meeting with the "Big Four", Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and Republicans Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell... oh, and President Joe Biden. All of them agreed to pass a bill and impose a contract on workers that killed the strike.
And not only did they agree immediately, but they had fun doing it! Here are some quotes. Pelosi said, "It was a very positive meeting, and it was candid, but from a timing standpoint, right now what we need to do is avoid the strike." McConnell said, "We had a really good meeting and laid out the challenges we're all collectively facing here."
Look at that! They're getting along! And all because a group of workers was so valuable that they added a last-minute meeting on the agenda of the President of the United States, with leaders from both sides of both houses of Congress who all came together to agree that these workers must not go on strike because they are so valuable.
Hey Joshua Hill, thanks.
Joshua Hill’s tweet of my video from about a week ago has 2.6 million impressions.
Joshua is great reading for those on the labor left. They write a newsletter called New Means, which I highly recommend subscribing to. Here’s a passage from the about page:
What I don’t want to do is just tell you the news — there are already tons of great indie media outlets and journalists who can do that much better than I can. What I do hope to do is bring thoughtful commentary, ties to history and movements, and synthesize it with other dimensions like the religious, cultural, and social dynamics running through our country.
Many of you found your way to The Holler last week through Joshua. If you’re not familiar with their work, go subscribe to New Means now.
New media is important. No one is coming to save us on any major issue we’re facing. We have to save ourselves. That means organizing your workplace, building new media to talk about it, and acting together to challenge power.
Coal has obvious value. I should know. Keeping the furnace in our Upper Ohio Valley home properly stoked was my teenage job. The man who dug the coal and sold it to us knew how to price his output and my dad knew what he was willing to pay. Willing seller meets willing buyer. That’s the primary feature of a market economy. Diamonds? Apart from certain specialized industrial uses like masonry saws or some lasers, diamonds are valuable as a girl’s best friend bc of brilliant marketing, but not so much as an intrinsic good. Still, sellers find buyers even if they have to create them. But digging these things up doesn’t make them valuable, just available.