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Labor Day

September 5, 2011

Labor Day. A day when Americans across the nation gather around grills and honor the worker. It is a National Federal holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.

First celebrated in 1882 Labor Day over the years has lost its purpose. It’s gone from honoring the people who’s backs this country was built on to just being a — Monday off.

We are in the midst of an economic crisis with millions of Americans unable to find a job and millions of others giving up looking. Manufacturing, the segment that made this country great, is leaving our shores for cheap labor elsewhere. General Electric’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt, in a recent speech talked about being crazy about China, China, China, China, China, and subsequently moved it’s X-Ray manufacturing there. GE has laid off one-fifth (20%) of their American workers since 2002.

To reward Mr. Immelt for his dedication to the American worker, President Obama named him to serve as chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

I don’t know where this country goes from here. The American Dream is being shattered every day. Family’s who once had a modest home  in a nice neighborhood are now living in their cars, a throw back to the days of the Great Depression. People are hungry and angry and frustrated. Without the right kind of change it’s likely to only get worse.

As we celebrate this labor day think about where we are and where we are headed.

And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.
The Grapes of Wrath

In general our country does not have a great track record for protecting the rights of the worker. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. History speaks for itself.

Bisbee Deportation

Pullman Strike

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho labor confrontation of 1899

Coal Strike of 1902

Great Railroad Strike of 1922

PATCO

 

   
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One Comment
  1. September 5, 2011 11:33 am

    The average working man or woman is meaningless in today’s economy, but I have to wonder how much of that we brought on ourselves. Homes we can’t afford, a cellphone for every child in the house, 200 stations of cable TV, a car for every licensed driver – did we really expect corporate America to pay for this inflated lifestyle when they could save (and thereby make) millions or billions more by taking their manufacturing off shore? Corporations have never and will never care about their workers.

    It’s sadly gratifying to me that our lifestyle is the opposite of inflated. Even in this economy we can support ourselves with frugality and a dedicated work ethic. I cling to the hope that those two principles will continue to be enough.

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