Today is Labor Day in the United States. It is a national holiday where we celebrate the contributions of the American Worker to society, the nation and the world. It spawns parades, barbeque and the start of fall. I think John F. Kennedy summed it up nicely (emphasis added by myself):
The history of the United States is in vital respects the history of labor. Free men and women, working for a better life for themselves and their children, settled a continent, built a society, and created and diffused an abundance hitherto unknown to history. Free men and women, affirming their dignity as individuals and asserting their rights as human beings, developed a philosophy of democratic liberty which holds out hope for oppressed peoples across the world. In commemorating the role of labor, we honor the most essential traditions in American life.
I think it's especially important this year with the attacks on the American worker, the individual, religion and the entrepreneur which has caused a massive feeling of uncertainty, angst, and a class warfare mentality, which is detrimental to society and the nation as a whole. We're being told that the government can solve all of our problems. I believe this is far from the truth and is just not the American way. We are an independent people with proud roots whose freedom has allowed us to pursue the things that matter to us as individuals, which benefits society as a whole. Here is something Richard Nixon said during his Labor day address in 1971 (emphasis added by myself):
Recently we have seen that work ethic come under attack. We hear voices saying that it is immoral or materialistic to strive for an ever-higher standard of living. We are told that the desire to get ahead must be curbed because it will leave others behind. We are told that it doesn't matter whether America continues to be number one in the world economically and that we should resign ourselves to being number two or number three or even number four. We see some members of disadvantaged groups being told to take the welfare road rather than the road of hard work, self-reliance, and self-respect.
It is not surprising that so many hard working Americans are wondering: What's happening to the work ethic in America today? What's happening to the willingness for self-sacrifice that enabled us to build a great nation, to the moral code that made self-reliance a part of the American character, to the competitive spirit that made it possible for us to lead the world?
Today's work environment is very competitive, to say the least. We're lowering our standards in order for people who care nothing about being able to compete to be able to compete. This is hurtful to us and we're not doing ourselves any favors. I am always striving to improve myself in some form or another, physically (not so much here lately), mentally and financially. It's in my DNA to be competitive and to improve myself. By doing so my employer gains and I gain and then society around me gains. When I improve my financial standing I actually donate more to local charities, help feed someone who is less fortunate and hire people to do tasks around my house that I am unable to do (electrical work, usually a shocking experience for me) or don't have the time to do. This helps those people help themselves (which seems to be an alien idea here lately).
I am a firm believer in individual freedom, keeping the fruits of my labor, providing for my family, contributing to society and the people who can't help themselves (i.e. elderly, physically and mentally handicapped and those just having a hard time). However, given the current environment of the one of the highest corporate taxes in the world, businesses going out of business and no one willing to take on the risk or expense of hiring someone, I find it extremely difficult to provide for my family and also contribute to society, so I mainly provide for my family at the time. Some might call me selfish, but that's the way I was raised and is how I'm raising my children. You take care of your family first and when opportunity knocks grab on with both hands and take the risk if it's not too high. If opportunity doesn't knock.... then make your own opportunity and go out and do for yourself and your family first. If anything is left over be sure to help the people in your community. All of this is made possible by someone who starts a business and hires people, as without the entrepreneur we have no hope of improving ourselves in any way (unless of course you want to go back to only living off the land).
I didn't mean for this post to turn into a rambling rant, but these are some of the things I'm thinking about because of Labor Day. Let's stop pointing fingers and blaming others for our lot in life and step up, take control of our personal lives and do what's needed to make ourselves successful in whatever endeavor we are pursuing. The community all around you, your family and your friends will all be better because of your success. Let us also remember that having a job (good or bad), starting a business or bringing an idea to fruition and success is not a right but something you have to go out and fight and compete for and always has a chance of failing which is usually higher than it's chance for success.