By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Holiday from labor a cruel irony for many this year
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
Originally meant to be a celebration of the American worker, the Labor Day holiday has come to be equated with a last long weekend of revelry at summer’s end, an opportunity to relax, enjoy and prepare for the coming of fall and winter.

In better days, it has been a time for families to gather around the grill, one last big splash at the pool, and a chance to just “chill” before the onrush of winter holidays.

That tone is much different this year, however, and it is largely because there is so little for the American worker to celebrate.

As we go into the first Autumn of the Barack Obama administration, there is a palpable fear that is resulting in frustration and anger for many Americans, and while those on Capitol Hill in Washington want to blame politics, hate talk or racism, the underlying cause is more simply defined.

As political consustlant James Carville once advised the Bill Clinton campaign, it’s “the economy, stupid.”

As they celebrate this Labor Day weekend, the people of this country are worried about putting food on their tables, paying their bills, supplying the needs of their families and having sufficient funds for old age.

It’s hard to have a holiday when you don’t have a job, and nearly 10 percent of the nation’s workforce is unemployed. Those who do have a job have had to deal with pay cuts, furloughs, salary freezes and heavier workloads, and have done so gladly just so they can stay employed.

Worse, the eternal flame of American optimism that has for so long convinced us that things always will be better is starting to sputter and dim.

Yes, the American people are interested in health care reform, and ending our involvement in Middle Eastern wars, and improving the economy, and protection from terrorists, but all of those issues take a back seat when you haven’t had a pay check in a month, the house payment is overdue and there’s no food in the pantry.

The economic stimulus legislation of the spring is going to take years to have a truly measurable impact at the local level, and with the economic malaise gripping the nation now there is little incentive, or funding, for private business to grow or expand.

In an amazingly short period of time the current Democratic leadership in Congress and the Obama administration have turned the nation’s economic playing field on edge, so that no one is really certain what to expect from future economic growth.

The U.S. economy developed into the world’s strongest by sitting on a solid foundation of private industry and small businesses. Whether that will be the case again will be determined largely by the course chartered over the next year in Washington, where the nation’s ruling party has casually inserted the federal government into major industry and banking as though that were a natural, and inconsequential, decision.

For many Americans, relaxing and enjoying this Labor Day will be difficult. They know that the much ballyhooed economic recovery may still be a long time coming, and that even when better times come, the rules may have changed forever for the workplace and private business.

Americans want to work, and are proud of their labors. For many, a chance to labor on this holiday rather than another day spent worrying without a job would be true cause for celebration.