Labor Day Thoughts
Labor Day is a day to recognize and honor the contributions of the men, women, and children, who work.
The “working class” built America---literally. They are the folks, of all colors and nationalities, who laid the bricks, and pounded the nails. They navigated the rivers, exploring and mapping the new land and hauling the products all over the new America. Now they load and ship the products made or grown by other Americans all over the world.
The laborers plowed and harvested the fields and they tended the livestock. They cut lumber. They rode the roiling waves of the sea to harvest the creatures we enjoy as seafood. They dug pits and spent much of their lives in darkness to mine coal, minerals, gems, out of Mother Earth for the comfort and enjoyment of humanity. They drilled wells from which came oil, natural gas, precious water. They built and continue to construct and maintain railroads, highways, and bridges.
They worked in factories under unsafe conditions. Their intelligence and creativity make life convenient and pleasant. They tend our sick, our elderly, our children, our yards and homes. They repair our cars and machines. These were our ancestors building a nation. Today they are neighbors, friends, family members. Most of us are those working class people—and proud of it.
Their work to improve the lives of everyone also included striving for safer conditions through Labor Laws. They worked to prevent the exploitation of children in factories and mines. They worked for laws to establish fair wages that will support a family. On this Labor Day, they continue to work for safe conditions and fair wages.
Today the minimum wage, nationally, is $7.25 per hour. That is $290 for a 40 hour week, just $15,080 per year. In many cases, they get no paid vacations, no health insurance, no retirement benefits, except Social Security which they and the employer both pay into.
The three Walmart heirs, together, collect more money each year than the bottom 30% of wage earners. They are not alone in wallowing in riches. Many CEO's collect multiple millions in salary, benefits, and bonuses; plus when they leave the company, they are paid millions in “Golden Parachutes.”
What if they took less and paid the workers a little more? What if they paid their fair share of taxes? What if they did not hide their wealth off shore as Mitt Romney and many others did?
There are many good books on the subject of fair wages for people who do real work. Barbara Ehrenriech’s Nickle and Dimed Is an easy read and informative. She relates her experiences at several minimum wage jobs. I recommend this book.
"Where justice is denied, where porverty is enforced, where iganoce provails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and egrade them, neigher person nor porgery will be safe." ___Frederick Douglas
Today, honor the people who work. And leave a tip for the waitress.