We hear much these days about “essential workers” and how they’re somehow different from the rest of us. The problem with this idea being that it’s not actually true. There is no useful definition of essential that doesn’t include everyone working in the economy at any one time.
Sure, over time that definition changes as we change what the economy produces but it is still true that everyone working is essential at any one time:
“Disposable workers” doing essential jobs
We can see where people are trying to go with this essential moniker, can’t we?
Millions of Americans are risking their lives to feed us and bring meals, toiletries and new clothes to our doorsteps — but their pay, benefits and working conditions do not reflect the dangers they face at work.
Ah, yes, there it is, already in the first paragraph.
The aim is to say that these workers here, they’re special. As such they should have lots of lovely job protections, higher pay, paid leave, presumably their employer should come around and tuck them in each night.
The problem with the idea is that any pattern of production requires all the workers that go into that pattern of production. That’s what it means. Thus all workers working in an economy are essential to whatever it is that economy produces.
Sure, we’ve changed what this economy does produce. Rather less ballet than we used to have, more food delivery. OK. But it’s still entirely true that if we go back to having the live arts then ballet dancers are an essential part of their provision.
All workers are essential workers.
So let’s not allow ourselves o be fooled by this latest linguistic change in favour of labour union propaganda.