Be Thankful for Low-Skilled Workers
On Thanksgiving, we rightly give thanks. And let’s be clear that, amid all the turmoil that consumes daily headlines, we Americans do indeed have a lot to be thankful for. We are still relatively free. We are also incredibly prosperous—a prosperity that would be impossible without uniquely talented and driven entrepreneurs and the courageous investors who back them. But this year I want to give special thanks to those workers we call “low-skilled.”
They may not have acquired the know-how or years of education possessed by the people you see on TV, or by academics, tech gurus, or financial-market whizzes. But low-skilled workers are nevertheless among the unsung heroes of our lives.
Before I begin, I want to challenge an increasingly popular fallacy. It has become a talking point of the political left to insist there are no such thing as low-skilled workers. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) for example, tweeted earlier this year that “the suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages.” Many have since jumped on the bandwagon to make the same point. But it’s utter nonsense.
If simply calling workers “low-skilled” allowed employers to underpay and overwork them, then every worker in America would be labeled as such and paid a pittance, including professional sports stars and neurosurgeons.
Now to be fair, a lot of the confusion comes from the sloppiness of the term. We tend to lump together entry-level jobs with jobs that don’t require much of an education, or with jobs that require hard skills but no formal education. These are very different types of jobs, and they offer very different prospects to those doing them. The term is also
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