Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

On Labor Day, we celebrate the achievements of American labor. On this Labor Day, we wish there were more Americans with jobs. Despite progress on the jobs front, there are still people who want jobs and can't find them.

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


grlnxdor said...

Happy Labor Day to you too, Charlestongirl! Hope it's a relaxing one.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Grlnxdor! So far, I got up late and then took a nap. Maybe a little too relaxing.

I hope you have a fun day doing something you love!

Mike Licht said...

1. Tax Capital Gains at the same rate as wages. To do otherwise, as we do now, is morally reprehensible as well as harmful to the economy.

2. Limit the amount of low-priced share options corporations grant to CEOs, and limit the number of shares CEOs may own in corporations they run. For the past half century U.S. corporations have been judged on the paper value of share price rather than their productivity and the quality of goods and services they produce. The result has been catastrophic.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Mike,

There are a lot of economists who agree with you. Let me ask a question, not to question the idea, but to explore it.

Here's the scenario...
1. You make money at work and pay taxes at the regular rate.
2. You invest some money.
3. You make money on the investment.
4. Is it double taxation to pay the regular rate again?

The distinction between investments and wages is a tough call. However, there's no question it favors the wealthy at the disadvantage of those who cannot afford to invest.

Can you tell I don't really know the answer?

Ida said...

Go to Denmark and see how we have it here. Pure bliss compared to most other countries. As soon as you realize that the time when the economy could be based on production is over and has been for years, then it's all good. It's quite astounding that anyone could think that in a developed country in 2012. Thinking that a better educated population will inflate the salaries is probably the most backwards thing I've read for a while. A well educated population floats our boat, let me put it that way.

Clarisse said...

Hi Charlestongirl!
Happy Labor Day to you and all your American readers:-)I hope you have a lovely day!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Ida,

Happy day! I'm not exactly sure what you meant by your comment. What I think we've proven through our experience over the last six years is that an education doesn't buy a golden career. It used to be that way, though, and expectations evolve slowly.

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Clarisse! I think it's a holiday in England too, but not sure which one. Perhaps a Labor Day in Canada?

Jann said...

Love this post! My husband and I are both unemployed and looking for work. This is the first time in 40 years of working that my husband has been on unemployment. It is hard. My heart goes out to all the people who don't have jobs and want to work. Have a great day!

Charlestongirl said...


My heart goes out to you and your husband. I swear there is age discrimination. Those of us who are middle-aged or greater find it way more difficult to find jobs than younger people with less experience.

Good luck!

ciera said...

My father's tiny textile 2-man shop was dangling by a thread in the 1980's, assaulted by union thugs and crushing taxes, thank you Mr. Carter. My dad got sick of it, sold it to a conglomerate that moved all operations to Malaysia. Malaysia was giving away free land, zero corporate tax, zero property tax, and a super cheap workforce. America's problems lie not with globalization. It lies with our ability to destroy our own family businesses AND the enormous red tape and hassles one faces when trying to start up a business. Do you even own a table, or a shirt, made in America? Look beyond the obvious for the reasons why.

The days of going to work at the local plant, and expecting a secure and comfortable retirement from such an enterprise are completely gone. You must be your own job creator and hope you don't get trampled by the govt./local bureacurats/local red tape. Witness the right-to-work states with many Asian auto makers setting up plants in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi-- these aren't idle and aren't laying off workers. When govt. and unions push businesses to destruction, those jobs will never come back because nobody is crazy enough to risk it all again. This is why iPhones are made in China. Much cheaper, less hassles, quiet and communist tamed workforce.

Money isn't a zero sum game, CG. There are no rules as a CEO "should have" such and such a salary and workers "should have" such and such a wage. The free market is scary, and one commands the wage that the market will bear. Wealth is created by producing something so unique and great that people buy it and show great loyalty, such as Apple iPhones. Nobody says Apple should give up its dividend to feed the poor. An idealist might want that, but the market rewards (with money) those that produce great innovation and quality. Period.

Govt. must stop printing money and hoping it'll dull the pain. It's only diluting purchasing power and making us LESS competitive. People are waking up to the fact that the way of things in America is changing. No. It changed right in front of us and we weren't watching closely. You need to educate yourself via unbiased news and economics sources about what is happening and not take Obama's soundbites as gospel.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Ciera,

No one's soundbites should be taken as gospel. The economy is complicated. I fear most Americans don't take the time to really understand all the forces and factors that have led to this down economy.