The Dignity of Work

Politicians are constantly moralizing about the “dignity of work.” I’m all for being able to pay the bills, but I find the phrase condescending, as though people in need of the social safety net don’t quite grasp the concept of a job. And plenty of jobs are lacking in dignity; I’ve worked a few myself.

While doing some image research for this cartoon, I made a fascinating discovery. Did you know the Porta-john industry has its own trade publication, Portable Restroom Operator Monthly? Or that the 2014 Pumper and Cleaner Expo, billed as “the largest annual event in the world for the liquid waste industry,” will be held next week in Indianapolis? Not to suggest such work is undignified, mind you. But I bet they earn their pay.


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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