Sherrod Brown For The New York Times: When Work Loses Its Dignity
As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, all work has dignity and importance, whether done by a street sweeper, Michelangelo or Beethoven. People take pride in the things they make, in serving their communities in hospitals or schools, in making their contribution to society with a job well done.
But over the past 40 years, as people have worked harder for less pay and fewer benefits, the value of their work has eroded. When we devalue work, we threaten the pride and dignity that come from it.
American workers understood then and understand now that you build a society and an economy from the middle class out. Trickle-down economics was discredited decades ago. Workers paid good wages are also good consumers, which means companies can sell more of their products. Executives have always been paid well, but nothing close to the 300 to 1 pay ratio separating chief executives from workers today. Most Americans have always wanted to believe that their children’s lives will be better than their own.
Ohio workers know they toil harder and are paid less than their parents, and have less power to control the hours they work and their share of the wealth they create for their employer. This diverse force feels betrayed by trade and tax policies that create immense affluence at the top and take wealth from workers. Much of Washington — and that now includes Donald J. Trump — doesn’t seem to understand this.