Part of what makes Trump a monster, and the centerpiece of his appeal, is his stand on immigration and jobs: “Foreigners [or manufacturers] are stealing American jobs!”
My question: can anyone really own a job?
Linguists call some nouns in some languages obligatorily possessed because they describe a relationship and so cannot exist apart from that relationship. A father is a father because he has a child, so the words for father and son and daughter are all marked for possession: “my father,” “his father,” “my son,” etc. Same with husband, wife, cousin, grandfather, et cetera. This is how it worked in the language my wife and I learned in Papua New Guinea:
|my _____||your (singular) _____||his _____|
|wife||naka apäki||ntaka säpa||kanka kayäpa|
|father||naka äpo||ntaka sän||kanka kän|
|grandfather||naka täito||ntaka säwo||kanka kayäwo|
|mother’s brother||naka aamo||ntaka saamo||kanka kayaamo|
A given tree may or may not be owned, so trees, rocks, and the like had no such markings, nor did things like houses or clothes, though it’s not impossible that a language somewhere would mark manufactured items as obligatorily possessed.
But what about a job? Can a job ever really be possessed?
If I can speak of “my job,” it’s only because someone has asked me to do something with the understanding that I will somehow be better off (or suffer less) if I engage in a specified activity than I would if I did not. Implicit in that relationship is that the other person is the one who determines whether I “have a job” or not. One could say that our language expresses the idea backward from the reality: if anyone truly possesses a job, truly controls the situation, it’s not the person who does the work; rather, it’s the person who gives the job, the one who pays the salary (or, in the case of prison administrators, lessens the punishment).
So to say “the corporations are stealing American jobs and sending them overseas” is nonsense. They are taking what in reality and in every aspect except language are their jobs and giving them to whom they please.
Americans bitch about the “unlivable” wages paid by Walmart, but when people much worse off economically than we are jump at the chance to earn those “unlivable” wages, we need to consider the possibility, however remote, that part of “American exceptionalism” includes a worldview that is backward from reality.