Monday, September 3, 2012
The first Labor Day celebration was in New York City on September 5, 1882. The legislature of New York had considered a bill to establish a regular holiday, but Oregon was the first to pass it on February 21, 1887. First proposed as “a street parade to exhibit to the public the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” Labor Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1984, when Congress made the first Monday in September a federal holiday.
Today, Labor Day seems entwined with family, friends, food, and festivities. I'll be thinking about all of the people without jobs. It's a difficult time for many Americans and a good time to think about how everyone can help. Can't we put the country back to work?
I know this is a complex issue. The labor market has changed with progress and technology. Robots are replacing people. Efficiency has brought unemployment with it. Whole industries (e.g., textiles) have been moved overseas. Perhaps even years of inflated salaries (particularly for new college, finance, and law school grads) have raised expectations beyond reality. Paying CEOs $20 million/year leaves less money in the pool to hire workers for $50/hour. I worked at a company that paid the CEO $10 million in salary and benefits. Nice man, but he wasn't a $10 million dollar thinker.
I don't pretend to know the answer, but I'm starting to believe that keeping jobs in our hemisphere (otherwise known as protectionism) may have its virtues. Would the price of our beloved iPhones go up if they were made here or in Canada? Probably. Would we stop buying them? I doubt it. I read a newspaper article in which it was postulated that American workers were not available or amenable to work long shifts in 24/7 production lines to produce iPhones. Maybe our American companies need to re-examine their assumptions and give us a try. It could make a huge difference.
It's time to think outside the box! Have you got any ideas for reversing the unemployment that continues to plague our economy? I'm sure they'll be better than anything I've heard in the last week.
Happy Labor Day! I hope you and your family can enjoy a comfortable and secure holiday.
Photo courtesy of bilerico.com