Yes, There Is Such a Thing As "Unskilled" Labor. But That Doesn't Matter.
Ignore the adjective. Focus on the noun.
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To maximize profit, the Capitalist class is incentivized to keep labor costs low. While they have many ways of doing this, one of their more egregious tactics is creating a false dichotomy between “skilled labor” and “unskilled labor” so that they may pay the latter poverty wages. This is nothing but a naked attempt to divide the working class by telling some workers they “deserve” livable wages, while other workers are “undeserving” of adequate compensation and the improved quality of life it brings.
Sidenote: “Poverty wages” isn’t a figure of speech. The Federal poverty threshold for a single individual under 65 is $15,225 a year. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 / hour, meaning working 40 hours every week would yield the minimum wage worker $15,080 ($7.25 x 40 x 52 = $15,080).
In response to this framing, Leftists and labor advocates often respond with the cliche, “There’s no such thing as unskilled labor,” usually accompanied by a short video of a manual laborer performing impressive feats.
While it’s true that even the simplest jobs require some degree of specialized learning, I disagree with this premise. There is such a thing as unskilled labor. But whether labor is “skilled” or “unskilled” does not matter. Regardless of its modifier, it is still labor.
Forget the Adjective. Focus on the Noun.
At 15, I got my first job working at a local golf course. My responsibilities included:
Standing behind the counter.
Clicking the “1 ROUND” button on the cash register whenever a customer wanted to play a round of golf.
Collect the money. Give change if needed.
The only skills necessary to do this job were rudimentary arithmetic and the basic motor functions of pushing a button. Essentially, I was an “Entry Level Button Pusher.” As anyone with a 2nd-grade education could do it, I’m comfortable calling this job unskilled labor. But whether or not this work required complex skills is irrelevant. It is not the adjective that matters, but the noun.
Were the unskilled labor of my 15-year-old self to disappear, no one could play golf and the business would grind to a halt. This is precisely what happened when one day I got ill and had to leave, shutting down the golf course for the day.
The same can be said for every other job considered unskilled. Picking tomatoes off a vine requires almost no skill, and is so simple a child could do it (in fact, in many states they currently are).