WASHINGTON, D.C., September 3, 2012 — Labor Day, USA: Barbeque pits, picnics, kickoff weekend for American football, most private and public offices and businesses: CLOSED. And don’t forget back to school for the kids. We know the routine, although it occasionally changes.
But the sad truth is, America can no longer boast or take pride in the condition of its workforce in the year 2012. Things have not been worse for employment and our economy in 70 years, and uncertainty anchors a mood of pessimism for investors.
“Labor Day 2012 in America” is oxymoronic: To celebrate labor at a time when, by accident or design, we are degrading the nation’s job creation climate is oxymoronic.
Forbes.com asks about Labor Day, “What are we celebrating?” It answers: “The contributions and achievements of the 155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce.” But Labor Day is a Canadian creation, not American. In fact, the day was a day of protest by workers north of our border, and it first took place in Toronto in 1872, less than ten years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.
When the U.S. Congress and President Grover Cleveland became aware of domestic labor riots and the increasing influence of the Socialist Party, Congress hastened to legislate that the first Monday in September become a national holiday. This action was taken in part to deflect attention from May Day, a socialist observance. The holiday eventually morphed into an occasion for entertainment, relaxation and amusement instead of commemorating the worth of the laborer (employed worker).
The American workforce today is not the same as it was a century ago. In 1900, the private sector was well over 95 percent of the labor force, with almost 40 percent employed in agriculture. Today, the government sector has more than tripled to 16 percent of employment in America, with agriculture accounting for less than 1 percent of the workforce.
During the course of this recession, the rate of labor force participation has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years, 63.7 percent. Millions have left the labor force. They are not unemployed; they are no longer available or interested in work, or they have given up on ever finding it.
Despite its frailties, shortcomings and problems, the United States economy continues to be among the best in the world. The chance to improve your situation in life by your own work is still known as the American Dream. But because of unchecked internal factors, most notably runaway debt and deficit spending, America’s economy is on the decline. The situation is exacerbated by an Administration that wants to penalize success by focusing on class division, while subsidizing those who are not amongst the producers and risk-takers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s revised history, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
Those worker contributions have been primarily in the private sector. Most of the jobs and almost all of the country’s wealth have been created in the private sector. But government policies have stymied growth there through excessive regulations and the highest rate of taxation in the free world; penalized and demonized risk-takers who help bolster the private sector; and legislated 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, perceived with increasing frequency to be a more attractive option than reentering the workforce.
It is important that cause and effect is carefully examined in this narrative. When the government creates a climate of uncertainty or has policies that discourage investment in the private sector, job creation is suppressed. Dwindling job creation is due primarily to uncertainty fostered by government.
Without American businesses and entrepreneurs, there would be no economic achievement of American workers. The corollary is: The private sector is essential to the strength, prosperity and wellbeing of our country. The public sector is funded by revenues generated by the private sector, so it is incapable of replacing the private sector as a source of jobs.
“We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” (George Orwell)
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.