"Labor Day sales you can't afford to miss," is the pitch of U.S. News and World Report. The lead reads, "In the sluggish economy, retailers lure shoppers with big discounts." Reuters' Rolfe Winkler writes his own "Labor Day Links," mostly focused of financial and economic news bits. The New York Times presented a slide show titled, "Faces of the Uncounted Unemployed," which is a study of the people who are too discouraged to continue to look for work. The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson posted "Unhappy Labor Day." His conclusion, unhappily, is a viewpoint with which I agree:
The Reaganite ideology of the past 30 years insisted that if Americans were freed from the constraints of government and unions and made responsible for their own economic security, a golden age would come. Sure enough, American businesses have eluded regulation and cast off their unions -- but they've left their workers in the lurch. If we fail to enact universal health care and laws that truly make it possible for workers to form unions again, each of our Labor Days will be grimmer than the last.
The image illustrating today's post is from Wordle.net. I chose it because it reflects how much of the past still influences my feelings about Labor Day and the situation in which we find ourselves today. I am not in a celebratory mood, nor are many of my friends and news sources in the blogosphere. Bankers are pulling down big bonuses, unemployment nears double digits, and the body politic is rent with insanity on its right wing and discouragement on its left wing. The center is soft.
Labor Day Banana Republic Day. . . There is little to celebrate," wrote (O)CT(O)PUS at The Reaction. Presenting the facts, the author suggested we call Labor Day by its real name "National Banana Republic day." He had a point. You would have thought that the lessons learned from the economic downturn would have taught us that the corporatocracy will not take good care of the American people, left on its own.
Another blog friend, Spadoman of Round Circle, wrote a powerful piece that helped me understand some of what has been driving my down mood. It began and ended,
I don't really want to rant about it, but the proclamation of labor Day and all it means these days has me depressed somewhat. In the past, when I was in the labor force as a Teamster, Labor day seemed to mean something. Maybe it's because I'm not working for wages any longer that I don't see the honor in being a working person. But maybe it's the way corporate America has taken the life away from so many, as those high on the food chain of American life use the backs of labor to make their millions.
. . . Remember the working class. Use your own definition of who that might be. I know it must vary as to when labor cuts off and management begins. Look at the fast food industry. Get hired as a manager and you have to work all the hours of every shift from time to time to cover the shifts of those that quit and call in, and that means weekends and holidays like Labor Day. In my book, the fast food manager is still labor, with a different moniker, a ploy, no doubt, dreamed up by those who will actually have the day off and profit from the fruits of that labor.
"I sit and look out," by Walt Whitman, was posted by my friend Betmo earlier this month, presaging Labor Day for me. Whitman's silent, and so am I. So I linked to others who can speak better for me. To quote the poem's ending:
. . . I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant
persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes,
and the like;
All these--all the meanness and agony without end I sitting
look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
(Cross posted at Sirens Chronicles) [9/8/09]
See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.
Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.