Fun fact: work-worship was coded into "Manifest Destiny"
America cited labor to justify land-grabs
I recently listened to a very good podcast episode on the subtle stories that drive how we think about ownership, and there was a historical bit in there about the origins of property law in America.
In short, when the courts were looking to codify European land-theft from indigenous people into law, they cited “having worked to alter the land,” for example cutting down trees, as what granted people rightful ownership over it (oddly enough, just the other day defined “work” for myself as any activity that alters your environment, but that’s beside the point).
Beside purposefully punishing indigenous people for their much less intrusive relationship with land, it’s interesting to see how deep the work-as-moral-high-ground argument runs in this country.
Though, of course, working on something is no longer acknowledged as giving someone ownership rights around here. Quite the opposite: making that argument will get you called socialist and anti-patriotic.
That’s America for you: overvaluing work and completely devaluing it, all at once.