Un-Happy Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the United States, a time we should be taking to celebrate the American worker. We should be, but this year is a very different. With the twin plagues known as COVID-19 & election politics in full bloom, millions of Americans are out of work, their “non-essential” businesses shut down or only able to open at a small fraction of their capacity.  In my state, today is day 180 of the mandatory Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve of COVID-19 economic shutdown.  Businesses closed, many forever, means workers idled, dependent on emergency government assistance to provide them with enough money to simply survive. Too many businesses are closed, families broken, and lives lost for not being able to endure the anguish.  This is not the way to celebrate Labor Day.

I don’t believe for a moment American workers want to be dependent on the government for their existence. American workers want to work. They want to provide for their families themselves. They want to be independent and make their own choices about the safety of their families, but they are not allowed to. 

A little reminder on what Labor Day is. 

The modern observance of the holiday seems to have forgotten the roots that brought Labor Day into being. Following the Pullman Strike of 1894 where 30 workers died and 57 were injured at the hands of the United States Army and Marshals Service, Congress approved Labor Day as an official holiday. It was an attempt by President Grover Cleveland to gain support among the trade unions following the strike. While it is disputed who first proposed the holiday, Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners or machinist Matthew Maguire, the intent was to create a “workingmen’s holiday”.

Recently the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) revised their numbers to show the number of sick and dead from COVID-19 were never as bad as they had been reported. Also revised has been the guidance for travel indicating the mandatory 14-day quarantines are not necessary. Still further evidence shows the economic shutdowns have been overly broad and unnecessary. Yet extremist governors refuse to revise their shutdown orders and let people go back to work. Those who attempt to defy these orders have been issued shockingly excessive fines for simply opening their businesses. 

The longer this pandemic shutdown goes on, the more we see it has not been a health-related emergency but a political exploitation. The purpose has been crystal clear, to cause as much economic disruption as possible to influence people to vote against an administration THEY blame for the economic turmoil and promise to rebuild the economy THEY themselves are responsible for destroying. 

When the U.S. Congress comes back into session this week, we’ll see if they are willing to work towards helping those who have been shut out of their jobs or holding them hostage until they can pass a full agenda of socialist reform measures. 

Better yet, how about some encouragement to the states to get them to reopen their economies. Perhaps if the politicians who have yet to go without a paycheck from the economic shutdown lost their income too it would prompt them to action. Perhaps a complete shutdown of all federal dollars to any state that hasn’t reopened would get them to take a fresh look at the economic impact vs. their political positioning under the pretext of a health emergency. 

American workers deserve the opportunity to work and celebrate their Labor Day as actual workers. 

Bob

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