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Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Once Again





At last Labor Day weekend is upon us once again. This weekend marks so many special things doesn’t it.? The kids are back in school and the cries of “but I am bored” no longer echo across the playrooms and backyards of North America. College football season begins as we rediscover that violence with half naked women cheering the contestants to greater fury is the true embodiment of America. The pennant races are real now as baseball gets serious. It is celebrated the same way we celebrated all our holidays with copious amounts of alcohol, the ritual burning of tasty dead animals in the back yard and road trips down crowded highways.

Most of us have some vague idea of what the holiday celebrates. It is to honor all those who work right? The image many of us get is that of a factory worker or coal miner when we think of Labor Day at all. Indeed the holiday was started to honor them and the growing Labor Union movement at the start of the industrial revolution. It is a day to honor the contributions and sacrifices of all those whose labor built this country and continues to feed the engine of production. The men who built the skyscrapers, poured the steel, mixed the concrete and laid the block that form the foundation of this great nation. The celebration started in Oregon and spread around the country. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894 in the aftermath of the Pullman strike, 30 states already had set aside a day to celebrate the contributions of the labor force.

We still honor and always should, these people. Those who rise early and descend into the earth to mine coal, or head to the rigs to bring oil and gas to the surface power our nation. The factory workers assemble the products that make our daily lives better. Millions of men (and  women) with calloused hands load their trucks each morning to build the homes we live in, the roads upon which we drive and the buildings where we earn our living. Labors contribution to our nation is incalculable and should be celebrated.

When I think of Labor Day I tend to broaden my definition somewhat. I include every American who gets up and goes forward to earn their living by making a contribution to society. I think of guys like my friend Carl in Key West. He makes a nice living in Key West as a cab driver.  Now driving drunken tourists around may not sound particularly laborious I wonder how many lives Carl has saved keeping folks from driving drunk or wandering around the streets Island Drunk? I think of the Tic-Tac kid selling software that makes companies work more efficiently and on a more cost effective basis.   How many jobs have been created because his products freed up resources and made a business run more efficiently? I think of my journalist friends who chase stories all over hells half acre and back to keep us all informed. What about the kid at the grocery store who stocked the shelves on the night shift last night so you had fresh produce and other products available to feed and care for your family? How about the bartender who poured your drinks, listened to your bullshit, put the right game on the TV and the called you a cab at the end of the night? Or the cook at the restaurant who fixed that perfect meal, the waitress who served you and the bus boys and dishwashers who cleaned up after you? They all work their ass off and make our world just a little better every day.

The definition of labor needs to be expanded to include more of us on this holiday. You know who I think we should honor on Labor day? Working moms. Especially single ones. I don’t care if you are a factory worker, an executive, waitress or a stripper on a damn pole. Be a working mother is LABOR. Even in homes with a father present there are some jobs and duties reserved to Mom. After carrying your fair share and earning a living all day women still have to come home to the kids and be Mommy with baths to be given, homework to be checked, boo-boos to fix, stories to tell, house work to do and other tasks that are pretty much reserved to Mom.  The single ones have even more as they have no one to help them fix the meals, pay the bills do the dishes or laundry or all the other tasks of making a home. Being a parent is hard work but it is even harder for a working mom.  I am pretty handy around the house and work from home but no matter how much of I do my wife is still being Mommy after my day has ended and I am parked on the couch with a book and a ballgame. When you are celebrating Labor Day this year pop one of those cold frosty delicious distilled beverages in honor of every woman who  works hard to earn a living and even harder to be a Mom.

We do not usually think of business owners on Labor Day as they are generally consider capital and nor worthy of recognition. That’s just wrong. These people work their asses off, rising early to open the store, dealing with the bills, the supply ordering, the staffing, the taxes, payroll and regulatory crap before the first employee arrives. They have to greet the customers, fill in for whoever didn’t show up today, solve problems, be a marketer and cheerleader, handle employee  problems, stay on top of trends and opportunities in their industry. They have to deal with salespeople, vendors, complainers and regulators. The responsibility for others families fall on their shoulders and it is a heavy burden. These entrepreneurs get up each day to open the liquor store, the gas station, the restaurant, the jewelry store, the barber shop and host of other businesses that provide the products and services that make our lives easier and better. They spend their nights with ulcers trying to eat them alive from the inside out as they sweat out the choices between payroll and mortgage, new equipment and the kid’s school bill, paying taxes or paying the bills and the other hard choices they must make each and every day as they grow their business.  As they reach a level of success they are the ones sponsoring little league teams, buying ads in school programs, buying tables at special Olympics fundraisers and contributing to other community causes and concerns. They Labor to make lives better for themselves and their families and by doing so they provide millions of jobs and make our communities better places. At least one of those frosty gin and tonics in a sweat covered cold glass of lime tinged deliciousness should be downed in honor of the engine of America, the small business owner this labor day.

You know who else labors t and should be honored this labor day. Immigrants. It is controversial subject and many are here illegally but a good deal of that is the result of ignorant policy. There are some who come here just to take advantage of social benefits and I am in complete agreement with deporting these freeloading bastards. Same with those with criminal records. Bye-bye thanks for trying, go the fuck home. But those who come here to work should be allowed to do so. The image of the lazy Mexican or Latino is just bullshit. They aren’t taking jobs from anybody, they are doing the jobs that our spoiled ass society doesn’t want to  and this has been the case since the dawn of time. Immigrants have always come here to take the lower paid jobs that society needs done. They have worked hard, sometime holding two or three jobs to make a future for their family. I see the same thing today in immigrants.  Those that come here to work, work hard and contribute to their new nation.  We need an immigration policy that can keep out the parasites and criminals but allows those who to come here to work, contribute and write a new chapter of the American dream.   I hear fears from some small minded people that letting all these Hispanic and Asian immigrants may change our precious nation. There is no doubt they will. Just like the micks, kikes, krauts, niggers, polacks, lunkheads, hunkies, hillbillies, white trash, ragheads, frogs, wops, dingo fuckers, chinks, goat bangers, and other races and nationalities that have come here in search of a new live and new hope, they will change our nation. For the better.  We are a nation of immigrants and the great melting pot of America has room for new generations of workers, builders and dreamers. I raise of glass of well chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in honor of those who look to come here to labor for their dreams.

I think of those in our Armed Forces who labor to protect our freedoms. From basic training onward military service is hard work. It requires discipline, commitment honor and the bravery to rush to the guns when required. They serve often in missions they do not understand. They serve a public that is not always grateful for their service. From the highest ranking General to the newest private they serve for far less money than they could make in private life. They labor for their nation and the ideal we try to represent and I will raise a glass of cold delicious frosty beer in a salute to their labor and sacrifice.

 I even think we should raise our glasses this labor day to honor some government employees. The policeman and fire fighters who risk their lives to keep our homes and families safe. Those who rebuild and repair our roads, sewers, highways, bridges and electrical lines that makes our lives so much easier and safer. Those who keep our neighborhoods cleaner and free of unsightly trash and garbage by carting all our trash and junk off to the dump should be thanked and honored. To those teaches who labor to educate our children and push them to new heights of achievement I offer my thanks and appreciation. All of those whose toil and labor to improve our cities and towns should be considered this labor day. I raise this crisp, chilled martini in your honor.

Of course I do not offer any honor to the bureaucrats, politicians, administrators, tax creators and collectors and other parasites who live on the public dime without offering any real benefit to society. To those who make it difficult for workers to work, first responders to respond, teachers to teach and citizens to thrive I offer no honor or respect. I spit this well used cocktail onion in your general direction.

It is Labor Day. I think the definition of the day needs to be expanded to everyone who rises each day to earn their daily bread, to provide for their family, to offer their children a better life, to achieve their dreams and earn their success. It does not matter if you wore a coat and tie, grease stained coveralls, a business suit and heels or a nurses uniform if you went to work to make your life more secure, your labor in pursuit of your own dreams has helped to make our national dream closer to a reality. This nation is built not just on the hopes and dreams of our citizens but the effort, yes the labor that has gone into reaching for those hopes and dreams. To the dreamers who work I celebrate you and lift my glass high in praise of your labor and your contribution to the world.

Now light the damn grill, turn on the game and someone get me a refill. Happy Labor Day to all.

1 comment:

Frankie Estep said...

Tim, this is so incredibly well said and so very true!! I love it!! Thank you for honoring all those who have labored for our Country, and raising a glass to them!!