Candidly, I am torn about writing this week. We just celebrated Labor Day Weekend.
From Wikipedia: “Labor Day in the United States of America is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend.” It began in the late 1800’s and “by the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories have subsequently made Labor Day a statutory holiday.”
The holiday we celebrated this past weekend was instituted at the Federal level 124 years ago. Are our modern labor circumstances worthy of our celebration?
I am a glass half full kind of guy. I believe our republic still has the greatest resources in the world, to include human resources. I also believe we have the most opportunity because of the foundations laid by previous generations. I do however think it wise for us to reflect on how this holiday was originated, its meaning and determine if it is still fitting today.
Today in our republic, we live in a generation which has the largest middle class in the history of the world. The vast-majority live with air conditioning, television, wireless devices and transportation, in apartments and homes with square footage averages beating out every other industrialized nation in the world. We have attained a quality of life the first generation of “Labor Day” participants could only have dreamed about. All these benefits come from labor and are worthy of celebration!
However, I question what the first generation of Labor Day participants would think about America today, where we are required to import so much of our labor, in so many industries. We must import labor for everything from our food production all the way to our STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries.
Why is it that a nation which celebrates our labor, is required to import so much of our labor, in so many industries?
Why is it we are incrementally increasing our national debt, in many respects to fund this labor?
Why is it this is transpiring at the same time so many of our businesses struggle to find the work-ethic within our own citizenry to fill the jobs which are currently available, many sitting vacant until the guest worker arrives?
Why is this labor shortage is transpiring at the same time our citizen work-force participation rate is at an all time low? This is not to be confused with the unemployment statistics.
Returning to Wikipedia’s definition, we must ask ourselves the question, do these trends add to or detract from “the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country” as “Labor Day” is intended?
I can see many angles this discussion could potentially go, so when it is posted online, I’d love to know your thoughts. More next week!
Here’s wishing you a productive week!