It’s Labor Day – So Who Is Celebrating?
By James Donahue
Labor Day holiday has been celebrated for the last century. But other than marking the traditional end of the summer vacation
season, when children trudge back to school, the holiday has lost its glimmer for many Americans.
If they are working, the job is usually labor intensive and the wages
are so low that workers are forced to seek second jobs just to try to make ends meet. Many of the people who have jobs are
slaving away at public service positions like fast-foot joints, Wal-Mart and service stations that keep their doors open on
Labor Day. Thus, there is no time off with pay for them.
Labor Day originally marked a celebration of the American labor movement, which brought about higher wages, vacation
time off, paid health care and other benefits that created the American middle class. With the rise of the “right to
work” laws, many states have successfully broken the back of labor unions, and allowed industries and other employers
to cut wages and eliminate those benefits, thus chipping away at the middle-class concept.
The very title, “right-to-work,” is a misnomer. Instead of assuring every American a right to hold
a job, the laws are prohibiting agreements between labor unions and employers and making it illegal for unions to force workers
to participate in union membership to hold their jobs.
While this has been going on, the nation’s elected leaders, obviously prodded by the big corporations that
financed their election campaigns, have been making international trade agreements that eliminated tariffs and made it possible
for many of America’s major industrial employers to move their factories overseas in search of low-cost and non-union
labor. Products now made in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, India and Mexico now fill the shelves of major U.S. department stores.
American students, burdened with the heavy debt of having financed
their way through college, are facing an empty job market. Young married couples and their children are moving in with their
parents, either for lack of jobs or because their income is too low to cover the cost of renting or buying a home of their
Many people are losing their homes
because they can no longer make mortgage payments. The problem of homelessness in America is becoming a major problem in nearly
every major city. Tent communities are becoming more and more common.
It appears that the greed of a few is succeeding in destroying the American middle class, and bringing back the
old feudal system that prevailed throughout Europe during the Dark Ages.
We notice that our television programming is packed with promotions designed to entice people to buy costly new
cars, buy insurance, frequent their dentist office, and ask their doctors to prescribe some new pill that cures silly things
like dry mouth and frequent heartburn. But who can buy such things if they don’t have the means to make their rent payments
and put a decent meal on the table?
would be wise to follow the rule established by Henry Ford at the turn of the last century. Ford invented the assembly line
and paid his workers well because he wanted them to be able to buy the cars they were manufacturing. Duhhhhhhh.