Labor Day USA 2011

As American holidays go?... Labor Day has a uniqueness all its own. Not as American as Americans may think. Known as "May Day" in socialist and communist countries, this observance of man's works is quite popular among mostly Caucasian populated nations through out eastern Europe. Termed May Day in Europe, Labour Day in Canada. A recognition and celebration of man's accomplishments. Of what the hands of men and women have built and done individually and as a team, union or nation. Labor Day USA 2011. The 129th time Americans have a patting of ourselves on the back for what we would'a done anyways! Considering of course in this day and time... if ya've got a job!









Labor Day... most have believed and some records do show, was initiated in the United States in 1882 by Peter J. McGuire. At the time the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners as well as a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor proposed to commemorate those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." Others believe the holiday was originated in 1882 from Matthew Maguire who was the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is known for sure is the Central Labor Union adopted a proposal for the holiday and appointed a committee to plan the very first Labor day on September 5, 1882 consisting of a picnic/demonstration, Peter J. McGuire being the key note speaker. The Central Labor Union held the next Labor Day the following year  and in 1884 moved the day of observation to the first Monday of September and began the push to other unions to adapt their idea of a "workingmen's holiday." As the union movement spread so did the holiday. The first state to offer legislation to mark this observance may have been New York but Oregon was the first to pass a bill commemorating Labor Day as a state holiday on February 21, 1887. That same year 4 other states, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York also passed legislation to mark the day. By 1894 27 other states adopted the holiday. On June 28th of that year The U.S. Congress passed a proposal marking Labor Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday of September. Two of the reasons for the selection of this day is so that it is not confused with communism's "May Day" (May 1st) and it gives Americans a holiday between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.


Labor Day in our culture today gives some of America's employed a paid day off to mark the end of summer. Or at least it used to mark the end of summer. My generation grew up looking at Labor Day as the last summer holiday before school began. Tourism kept going until the first of September. Mute today across much of America as most school districts now open for students as early as the first week of August as in East Tennessee. Beginning as the teacher union's push to open school the week before the holiday to benefit its members. Not really a fair trade-off from where I sit. Teachers and administrators may get the day off paid but how much has it hurt the areas depending on tourism? An example of "... working upon the prejudices of the people..." Have schools across America shown what should have been expected with more learning time? Smarter students? It really doesn't look so!


Our neighbors to the north also celebrate "Labour Day" (their spelling) on the same day as the U.S. And as in the U.S. Canadians appreciate worker solidarity. Maybe more so as unions were illegal there until 1872. A few businesses such as medical clinics, restaurants, some stores and tourist attractions do remain open. Schools in Canada still open for the academic year after the holiday. In Europe, Labor Day is referred to as "May Day" or "International Workers Day" which celebrates labor unions' achievements, especially in getting the work day reduced to 8 hours. Something the Canadians and Americans also recognize.


This year? With unemployment reportedly still above 9% across the states and absolutely no job growth for the month of August I don't see much for celebrating. Productivity declined 0.7% in the second quarter of this year in the nonfarm business sector and unit labor costs increased 3.3%. In manufacturing, productivity slipped 1.5% and labor costs rose 4.6%. Not that much is being manufactured around here anymore. When was the last time you noticed some non grocery item that was produced right here in America? American business is so busy chasing its tail trying to feed its addiction to profit the American working middle class is getting lost in the dust. It's a vicious cycle. People go into business or employment to make money. America used to and probably still does in most cases produce the best stuff. But because business in all categories couldn't/wouldn't treat its workforce properly, labor organized in all these categories demanding less hours in the work day, more pay and benefits which I believe aided us in keeping our humanity. But that and raising the minimum wage (the thinking being that this will bring more prosperity to the lower class... but it really doesn't. Minimum wage is hindering to the free market process and should be done away with) brings additional cost to producing stuff. These costs are added to the product which makes it much more expensive to buy. Even though everybody knows nobody wants to spend more than they have to for anything, the stuff America's manufactures/sells/ships cost more than what competing countries with lower wages/no benefits. (A major reason for American manufacturing to set up plants in other countries. Greed only knows profit, not patriotism! Kudos to GM for building the new sub-compact Sonic in the Detroit area!) Therefore, American made products don't move. If product doesn't move, the business isn't making money and forced to make cuts eventually to lay-offs.  A major reason why China's economy has been growing stronger and ours has been weakening. China has developed a working middle class while ours... well... ours is startin' ta suck air!


Look. Our unemployment rate is 9.1% as of the reports that came out for August, right? That is according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics use of the U-3 measure of labor underutilization which is percentage of the total civilian labor force and considered the official unemployment rate. The U-6 measure is considered more broader in that it measures the total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force. Arguably... a more accurate feel for the real stats. The "real" stats for August 2011 U.S. unemployed?  16.2%. SIXTEEN POINT TWO PERCENT!!! And forecasted by some experts to accelerate before it turns around.


"Take a look at the above chart.  For the first 8 months of the year (2008) 655,000 jobs were lost.  In the last 3 months alone over 1.2 million jobs have been lost.  This is usually what happens with recessions. Even if you take a look at the mild recession in 2001 you will see how many consecutive months we had job losses and how quickly they escalated and stayed high." - from mybudget360.com


Greed is getting a stranglehold on our nation. America has become a melting pot of another kind. The corporate world's unquenchable appetite for profit, the labor unions' drive for fairness on their own terms whether it's fair or not, politicians and special interests trying to control what they can't and actually hinder true progress by being involved at all mixed in with the petty ego's that is in every crowd being more concerned about how other's perceive them and personal gain with no thought of realistic future consequences of their present day actions and you have where we are today. A lot of confusion, some desperation, little confidence, not united. All the effect of years of no true leadership. A manifestation of our predicament today because of the ignoring of Abraham Lincoln's warning when he said... 


It's the working middle class that's the strength of any nation. It's the middle class that suffers during economic tailspins. And the American middle class is suffering. Losing income and health benefits puts American families behind the 8 ball and a major contributor to the increased divorce rate. And regardless of what comes out of Washington, the recession hasn't been and isn't over. Just this last July there was 1,579 mass lay-offs (affecting 50+ workers) involving 145,000 individuals. Up 3% from the previous month. Average American wages have not increased much at all since 1917 as seen in the graph below but the richest Americans have seen a healthy surge in their incomes. Another fact showing Lincoln's vision is coming to pass and that greed is choking this nation. It is greed that has taxed and pushed American manufacturing jobs to other countries. It is greed that has allowed illegal immigration to flourish and have it's damaging impact on the American economy. It is greed that's causing us to be so short with others in traffic! On another note... Is it really surprising to learn recessions have a greater impact on suicide rates among working age individuals? Regardless of what some Wall Street movie says, greed in not good. The greedy won't see it. The poor blinded bastards just can't! But the rest of us sure do!


Regardless of the facts, things will go along as they have been. Speeches will be given Monday. By union officials, manufacturers, industrialists and let's not forget... politicians. They'll be paid days off, picnics, parades, family get-togethers, the start or end of a vacation week and long weekend get-aways for many. For those that have benefits and can afford it. Too many, they will have the day off, no pay, hanging around the house because they can't afford to do anything or it will be just another work day. What happens after Labor Day? Another day dawns... Another baker punches in, another roofer arrives on the job site, another waitress pours another cup of coffee. And hundreds of thousands of America's unemployed wakes up to another day of desperation... a rising percentage of which having given up on finding a job forced to accepting assistance which in turn puts more of a drag on the economy... on us all.


As individuals, I do pray you have a wonderful, safe holiday weekend. As a nation... I see nothing to celebrate this Labor Day. Hmm... that makes me wonder... isn't that part of the problem? Have we become  so focused on our individuality that we are losing the national unity mindset as a country? Why does it take a travesty such as an attack on our nation for Americans across all wakes of life to become a proud, united country? Have we allowed greed to so flourish in our minds that we stand at the dusk of The United States of America's super power status? We are lacking true leadership to be sure, but that's our fault. We all have a job to do to fix this now. If you're unemployed do what it takes to secure a wage. Take what you can for work, if you're not satisfied with you have presently you keep looking, find a way to get training or retrained. Figure it out and start your own service. Take it on! Be a patriot and be responsible for yourself! And! Pay attention to the political scene. Get your mind involved now. Be informed, vote logically November 2012. Responsibly. Not just to make yourself feel good. Sure... this is America. You do have the right to wallow in your own greed, keep your head stuck in the sand and not get involved for your own lazy, selfish reasons and watch as a spectator as your nation loses it's grip or you can stand up and be heard! Have ya had enough yet?! Or have you just given up? Is America still becoming The United States it was designed to be or has it peaked already? Can we plllleeeease have something to actually celebrate in regards to the American worker next Labor Day?!


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Related Links
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