By LARRY M. JONES
On Monday this past week, we “celebrated” Labor Day, a federal holiday set aside to recognize the achievements and contributions of American workers. It was originally conceived as a show of strength by labor unions, although today the unions have lost a bit of their clout and we tend to recognize only the individual “working man.”
Each year on the first Monday of September we mumble lip service about the workers who built the nation, but it seems to me more of an excuse for a day off from work. It marks the end of summer, the start of the school year, and an opportunity for merchants to put on great sale events. It’s ironic that 24 percent of the U.S. workforce is employed in retail sales. These workers can enjoy the holiday by going to work.
Over the past decade and more, I have frequently railed about the plight of the American worker. The health of our nation and its economy can be gauged by various indices. Not unlike our doctor who checks our blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs on each visit, we can determine our nation’s economic health by its vital signs. Probably, the most important of these would be employment statistics. We need jobs, jobs, jobs! A family bread-winner with a good job who can care for his family, contribute to his/her community, and bolster the economy is the keystone of national economic health.
Despite the criticality of full employment, our political and bureaucratic leaders have pursued government policy in recent decades that has crippled large segments of our economy. America’s industrial might that allowed victory in World War II and an unprecedented economic surge throughout the next two decades has slowly been emasculated. As the result of overzealous labor unions driving up labor costs, over regulation of U. S. industry safety and environmental standards by OSHA and the EPA, and the takeover of American corporations by multinational conglomerates, America’s industrial might has been driven overseas.
At the onset of WWII FDR summoned Henry Ford, Henry J. Kaiser, and other leaders of industry to formulate plans for supplying war materials. These men were patriots ready to defend their nation – for a price, of course. Today, our military depends on logistic support from nations such as China and former Soviet Bloc countries. Does this make you feel good when even our own government does not “Buy American?”
With 25 percent of America’s workforce in retail sales, roughly 20 percent employed by the government, and God only knows how many employed through government contract, that doesn’t leave very many to sell insurance and sue people. There was a time when the term “Made in America” was a global standard for quality, innovation, and reliability. Today, many of the few products boasting such a claim are only partially assembled here from parts made offshore. We cannot afford to live a bloated lifestyle funded by borrowing from future generations, selling the family jewels, and mortgaging our national sovereignty.
Instead of flying to Hawaii to play golf or shooting multi-million dollar missiles at Third World thugs, our leaders need to develop programs to rebuild our industrial might. An American with sweat on his brow, a job, and a livable wage does not need government welfare or micromanagement.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.