Labor Day is depressing
ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced story.” It is another editorial from the opinionated editor who believes that democracy is an ongoing argument.
Labor Day has become the most depressing and useless holiday in America.
That’s saying a mouthful when we have manufactured pseudo-holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which were created only to induce common people to spend money on cards, flowers, restaurant meals, chocolates, telephone calls, ties and cologne.
What makes Labor Day so depressing is that is started out with a laudable premise — to honor everyday working people, to whom politicians give a lot of lip service as the backbone of this great country, but for whom politicians do so little these days. It started almost 120 years ago after the Pullman Strike in Chicago, when politicians came to the conclusion it might be a good idea to give a little recognition to pressure groups of working stiffs.
Not long afterward, the labor union movement helped build the most prosperous nation in the history of the planet. It built a strong middle class, which has been under constant assault for more than three decades.
By the middle of the 20th century, the United States was enjoying a shared prosperity in which common folks made decent wages and bought a lot of goods and services to grow the economy. Even the super capitalist Henry Ford paid his employees decent wages with the understanding they had to have enough money to buy his cars.
But in the early 1970s we were challenged by an explosion of gas prices and worries of an energy crisis. A decade after that we began to see the pendulum between labor and management swing back to the latter. Unions, particularly after the landmark air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981, began to be viewed as greedy, protecting weak workers and demanding wages and fringe benefits companies couldn’t afford.
Corporations and their CEOs fought back by closing down plants and shipping their operations first to southern states that had lower taxes and cheaper workers and later to foreign countries that offered even lower taxes, fewer government regulations and much cheaper workers in the bold new world of the global marketplace. Multi-national corporations that auction jobs off to the lowest bidder are not patriotic by keeping the jobs in the U.S.
As a result, the once-proud and prosperous United States no longer makes anything. It just buys and sells goods and services and good-paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by much lower-paying service sector jobs. Even most of the high-tech jobs are filled overseas, as Apple has proven most recently.
It is pure folly to believe those good-paying manufacturing jobs will ever come back to America. In a global marketplace now dominated by free market philosophy, if you’ve got a job anybody can do, eventually anybody will, at the cheapest price. Your value as a worker and an economic cog in the machinery plummets. Tell that to your children, they deserve the truth.
So now I’m just waiting for our once vaunted economy to collapse because we can’t sustain it when the middle class and working stiffs can no longer afford to buy goods and services these companies sell. The day of reckoning just has to be approaching. Our economic system is unsustainable.
Labor Day now is just a tip of the hat to working stiffs in days of yore. This year it’s filled with a lot of hot air gushing from politicians who lie to us when they tell us they care about jobs when they’re firmly in the back pockets of the rich few who guided us to this uncomfortable point. Politicians don’t care about you and me. They just tell us what they think we want to hear.
And Labor Day now is just a weekend to mark the end of summer, to have the last parties before the start of school year, to make the last trip to the lake to button up the cottage or ride your boat if you can afford ‘em.
This is why Labor Day is so depressing. We seem to be honoring a disappearing feature of our once great and prosperous society. And few seem to notice.
Labor unions now are much maligned. I hear tell that fewer than one in 10 American workers these days belong to one. The most powerful unions left standing, those representing teachers and public safety employees, are under fire here in Michigan and now even the right to collective bargaining, a cornerstone of the union movement, may be consigned to the dust bin of history.
Politicians and corporate officials, through television, have succeeded by using advertising and marketing effectively and they’ve managed to keep us working common folks fighting with each other rather than fighting with them.
The solutions? Many and easy.
1. Move your money out of a private bank and put it into a credit union at no cost to yourself.
2. Legalize marijuana, subject it to the same rules as alcohol and tax the hell out of it.
3. Insist on a Medicare-for-all, single payer health care system.
4. Since the private sector hasn’t been creating a lot of new jobs, let the government be the emergency employer by hiring people to build sorely needed bridges and roads, sewer and water and convert to a more eco-friendly society.
5. Eliminate the state senate in all 50 states and go to Unicameral legislatures, thereby saving billions of dollars in the cost of governing.
I guarantee these simple steps would make a huge difference and the deficit would be wiped out and the crime rate would go down. I also guarantee none of this will happen because we’re too lazy and frightened to do anything to get ourselves out of this mess.
Have a Happy Labor Day, if you can.