Webster's dictionary tells us that Labor Day was "set aside for special recognition of working people."
That's nice, but "set aside" by whom? It certainly wasn't the Wall Street corporate and political powers that be. They nearly swallowed their cigars when the idea of honoring labor's importance to America's economy and social well-being was first proposed in 1882. Rather, this holiday was created by the workers themselves, requiring a 12-year grassroots struggle that finally culminated with an act of Congress in 1894.
The campaign helped coalesce unions into a national movement. And its message of labor's essential role also countered the haughty insistence of the robber barons of that time. The barons insisted they were America's "makers" — the invaluable few whose monopolistic pursuits should be unfettered. For they claimed that they and their corporations were the God-ordained creators of wealth.
Despite their bloated sense of self-importance, notice that the American people do not celebrate a CEO Day. Indeed, as Abraham Lincoln put it, the real makers are the many ground-level workers who actually do the making: "Labor is prior to and independent of capital," Abe declared in his first state of the union address. "Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
Yet on Labor Day 2013, robber barons are again ascendant, declaring that they owe nothing — not even a shared prosperity — to the workers, consumers, taxpayers, and other American people who sustain them. Quite the opposite, they and their political henchmen are blithely shredding America's social contract and again insisting that the corporate elite must be unfettered, unions eliminated, and middle-class jobs Wal-Marted.
This intentional hollowing out of our middle class is not just ignorant, but also immoral.
Yet today's establishment economists are asking: Why are so many people so glum? The Great Recession ended in 2009, they note, and even job creation is picking up. So come on people — get happy!
Maybe Labor Day is a good time to clue them into one big reality behind this so-called "recovery:" Most Americans haven't recovered. Not by a long shot. In June, median household income was still $3,400 less than in 2007, when Wall Street's crash started the collapse of our real economy.
Why are working people still so far down? Take a peek at those new jobs the economists are hailing. They're really "jobettes", paying only poverty-level wages, with no benefits or upward mobility. In the recession, about 60 percent of the jobs we lost were middle-wage positions, paying approximately $14 to $21 an hour. Most of those jobs have not come back. Instead, of the jobs created since the recovery began, nearly six out of 10 are low-wage, paying less than $14 an hour. A central fact of the new American economy is that working-class people are increasingly unable to make a living from their jobs.
To grasp this widening inequity, befuddled economists might bite into a burger or pizza. Seven of the 12 biggest corporations that pay their workers the least are fast-food giants. Yum! is one. It's a conglomerate that owns Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. Workers don't find these chains so yummy; for pay averages $7.50 an hour, with no health care, pensions, etc. In contrast, Yum!'s CEO hauls off about $20 million a year, even as even as he dispatches lobbyists to oppose any hike in our nation's miserly minimum wage.
This is no way to run a business, an economy, or a society. Fast-food giants are hugely profitable. (Yum! quaffed down $1.3 billion in profits last year alone.) They are more than able to pay living wages and decent benefits, as many local, independently-owned fast-food businesses do. Deliberately and unnecessarily holding down an entire workforce by funneling rightful wages into the coffers of a few ultra-rich executives and big investors is shameful — and dangerous. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over ... and being kicked.
At last, workers are beginning to kick back. All across the country, broad coalitions of religious leaders, unions, civil rights groups, community supporters, and others are joining thousands of fast-food workers in a rolling series of one-day strikes against particular chains, publicly shaming them for profiting through gross exploitation of employees. As one Baptist church leader said of his presence in these protests, "It's a matter of justice."
Yes — and that's what Labor Day has always been about.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
Dear Steve Earle et al:
While I do not want to get into a back and forth with you as your political leanings are much different than mine, I would like to offer a few words of advice to you.
First and foremost, please do not refer to me by the name "Bernie". Simply said, I do not know you and am asking that you not be that familiar with me. Second, my last name is spelled L O E S C H as opposed to your spelling of Loache. Please keep this in mind when you are writing to the editor of The Daily Sun in reply to one of my letters.
Now on to business. After much research on my part, I have found many, many references, citations and established law illustrating your concerns.
To save time and space I will list the public laws and their reference numbers. One fact in particular; President Obama's stimulus program turned the economy around for 48 months of private sector job growth.
The demands by the GOP for spending cuts at state and federal levels, such as raising the debt ceiling and to pay its bills has resulted in sequester. In addition, monthly job gains have been remarkably stable over the past years-Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Signed The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 committing $787 billion. This bill combined TAX BREAKS with spending on infrastructure projects.
2. Improper Payments Elimination & Recovery Act, July, 2010. Requires agencies to periodically review and report major programs that are susceptible to improper payments.
3. Small Business Jobs Act, 2010 (HR-597)-9/27/10: Authorizes the creation of the Small Business Lending Fund Program administered by the Treasury Dept. to make capital investments in eligible institutions, in order to increase the availability for small businesses. Provides $12 billion in TAX CUTS, including a 100 percent exclusion of capital gains taxes on small business investments.
4) The Tax Relief Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization & Job Creation Act of 2010-Public Law: 111-312. Also known as the Middle Class Tax Relief Act or Obama-GOP tax deal or Obama TAX CUTS.
5. Budget Control Act of 2011;Public Law 112-25: Creation of the Congressional 'Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction' aka: The Super Committee. The goal of this legislation was to cut at least $1.5 trillion over the coming 10 years and be passed by 12-23-11.
6. On July 31, 2011 Pres. Obama announced that the leadership of BOTH parties in both chambers had reached an agreement that would reduce the deficit and avoid default.
7. American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; Public Law 12-240 refers to the Tax Provisions for different income levels. Cuts of $4 billion Fiscal Year 2013. Cuts $8 billion Fiscal Year 2014.
2012-2013: The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) indicated that the deficit was projected to be $641 billion in 2013, significantly below the 2012 deficit of $1.128 billion. Dave Camp, the Republican chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee called the provision the 'Largest TAX CUT in American history.' The TAX provision of this law REDUCED TAXES for 98 percent of taxpayers, bringing their tax rates to the LOWEST levels in 60 years.
Education Reform: Pres. Obama signed The Health Care & Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. By directly lending to students, the government is projected to SAVE taxpayers $68 billion over the next several years.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
To The Daily Sun,
I must have been in shock for the past 24 hours after reading the letter from Bernadette Loache, but apparently Bernie is in far worse condition for I fear she is comatose, walking, talking, writing letters but comatose none the less. It has to be all that Kool Aid the left lives on.
No Bernie, Obama has not achieved a reduction in the size of the federal government nor reduced government spending, lowered the national debt, maintained an honest transparent administration. faithfully enforced the laws or defended the Constitution of the United Stated of America. But well, other then that he's just a fine fellow.
Now that that is off my chest I have to say congratulations to Nancy Parsons for recognizing, in her most recent letter, that it was the media that turned the Zimmerman/Martin incident into a racial circus (my description). You are right on the mark there Nancy, though I do think you gave the Sanford police the smelly end of the stick. After all their investigation indicated that Zimmerman shot in self defense and the trial ended with that verdict. So unless some new evidence is suddenly found it seems they were right not to arrest Zimmerman.
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 September 2013 10:24
To The Daily Sun,
After reading Ms. Loesch's letter in today's Sun (Thursday), I asked myself if in this day and age that there is someone out there that is that out of touch with reality. Her letter was by far the most ridiculous misstatement of facts ever printed on these pages and that is saying something.
Ms. Loesch, the debt under Obama has increased by over 6 trillion dollars in his less than five years in office. In comparison, under Bush it increased by 4.9 trillion in his eight years, which in my opinion was 4.9 trillion too much.
Ms. Loesch which taxes did he lower? He has increased federal regulations to an astronomical number which infringes on the freedoms of everybody and increases the cost of living for everybody, including liberals. The Constitution he treats like a piece of used toilet tissue. His administration is one of the most corrupt in the history of this country. Waste is a by-product of this administration that they ignore completely and as far as an open and honest government is concerned there aren't enough pages in this newspaper to respond to that comment. There are two ex-presidents who really appreciate Obama, the first is Nixon because Obama makes him look like a choir boy; the second is Carter because Obama makes him look him like a genius.
I used to have the same feelings toward Ms. Loesch as I do other out of touch liberals who continue to misstate facts in their letters to this newspaper but after reading this last one from her I feel nothing but compassion for some one so blinded by Obama's rhetoric.
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 September 2013 10:18
To The Daily Sun,
In response to Mr. Kent Warners letter in the August 28 Daily Sun:
Sir, your letter rambles and exudes the same negative attitudes that you profess to find stupid, boring,and tiresome. Believe it or not we are all entitled to an opinion on matters, the fact that it may differ from your own does not make me in need of "getting a life" as you suggest we all do.
I for one am not "ill-informed" on either our membership in the U.N.,on EPA mandates, or any other topic I choose to have an opinion on. Having served under U.N. commanders, sorry but I'm just not that enthralled with the organization. And I have worked with the bad and the good of stringent environmental regulations for many years... so sorry, not ignorant there either.
And sir, YES as a matter of fact, I have given thought to others in the community in need of help and actively support several agencies with whom I have the honor of working with.To suggest that those writing to the editor with their thoughts are somehow not a productive citizen of the community is not a fair assumption. You must be one heck of a "world saver" to deem yourself qualified to judge so many others. I can only speak for myself in assuring you that I do not need to get off my "pity potty". Perhaps just a little tolerance on your part might allow you to see that dissent does not mean "negative diatribe". This area has a remarkable spirit of giving. . . of time and not just money that your letter does a disservice to.
Andrew J. Engler
Last Updated on Sunday, 01 September 2013 10:10