Our history books are full of stories of the great industrialists of our times and before. We know the names of captains of industry, present and past. We know the billionaires, the moguls, the media stars, the pop stars, the momentarily interesting.
We hear reports minute by minute about the stock market (a.k.a. the national casino). We check it like it was the heartbeat of the country. But none of that made America the great nation that it once was. And none of those will restore it to greatness. It was, and will be, the average American worker and an economic morality that favored a large middle class.
Labor Day is probably the most sane and sober of all the American holidays. (This does not demean Memorial Day, which is an honoring of that same American worker called to war.) Created in 1894, Labor Day is a tiny recognition of the nameless and faceless majority that actually built this country. A day of appreciation for those that grew the food and delivered it to our stores, those that built the buildings, roads and bridges, made the goods, provided the services, those that actually did the work.
And, due of the tireless efforts of labor unions (formed at great personal risk with more than a few martyrs to the cause) and some enlightened lawmakers, the American worker shared in the incredible bounty that was the United States of America. The entire country prospered like no country ever has.
The soul of America is the very essence of simplicity. We work hard and expect that our hard, honest work should pay off in a decent way of life. If it doesn’t, it is the system that has failed, not the worker.
The majority of us are not interested in amassing vast fortunes and influencing government for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. We expect economic prosperity to be shared. We expect all voices to carry equal weight.
We seek a simple, quiet, equitable life and don’t think it is in any way un-American that establishing, maintaining and defending that life should be the national priority. Economic diversity, protection of communities, reasonable distribution of wealth flowing through the whole economy, putting quality of life ahead of profit and maintaining an environment where all have the opportunity to grow to their full potential, should be the mandate of our government. It should be our government’s job to defend that against all enemies, both within and without.
Have a suggestion for our Labor Day celebration. On this day, let it be required that, all workers NOT work. No Labor Day, blow out, price-slashing sales events allowed. Let this truly be a day of honor and rest for those that built the country and defended it on foreign lands, rather than a day of profit spikes for those whose coffers are already filled to overflow.
Let’s have our eyes opened, as the day comes and goes with no profits, no revenue increase, no economic activity at all. Perhaps then we will truly remember and honor the American worker, without whom, there would be no profit spikes, no record Labor Day weekend sales, no 3rd quarter boom. Because there would not only be no one to make, deliver and sell the goods, there would no one to buy them.
Perhaps then we will recognize where the greatness of America really lies and regain our economic morality and our national sanity. Perhaps then we will renew our efforts to protect the foundation of our unparalleled prosperity. And perhaps then we will be found morally fit to be restored to the greatness that once was.