Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor's Day

On this Labor Day we find labor, once again, flat on its back. This has been the state of working America for many years, and there is no sign that things will improve anytime soon.

While the presidential candidates fixate on “middle class families”, because this is the more politically correct and soothing language, the fact is that the middle class is fast disappearing.   So rather than pretend that everyone is middle class or that there is no working class, it is time to face the reality that many workers are either unemployed, underemployed, struggling to hang on to their jobs,  or have joined the ranks of the working poor.  

It is disgraceful that in the midst of a severe economic crisis, and in the face of Census Bureau reports that half the U.S. population is poor or low income, neither candidate can bring themselves to utter a word about poverty or say anything about the plight of the poor. 

Instead, all the talk is about creating jobs and opportunity for “middle class families”. The recipe always involves more tax cuts, incentives, and fewer regulations for business.  But even if some jobs are created, what kind of jobs will they be?  How much will they pay?  How secure will they be? What benefits will they provide?   [see the latest on our low wage economy].

On this Labor Day we need to think not about the needs of business, but the needs of labor. How about establishing a living minimum wage? How about passing legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act that would make it easier for workers to organize and collectively bargain for decent and secure working conditions?  

It was Abraham Lincoln, not Karl Marx, who said “Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”  

On this Labor Day we should acknowledge that such consideration is long overdue.

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