Wages in the US are at a 40 year low when compared to investor profits. And average workers today make less than workers 40 years ago adjusted for inflation. The capitalist revolution has largely succeeded. Convincing workers that they are indeed undeserving of a decent wage.
So, let’s celebrate Labor Day.
The labor of the slaves was responsible for the southern economy. Free labor, of people stolen from their homes in Africa, was the driving force behind the plantation system that south fought so hard to maintain. It is hard to fail when you have free labor at your disposal. Easy to build a “good life” for the master and his household. So, the economy of the south was built on free labor. Happy labor Day
The labor of the “white slaves”, the indentured servants, was hardly different. Indentured labor was slavery of a different sort. English and Irish “peasants” or “criminals” stolen from their homeland. Some by force, others by the force of the English law. Taken to America where they labored for 7 or 11 or more years to pay off debts. And to pay for their own passage to slavery. Many died before their indenture was over. No recourse to the law. Happy Labor Day.
The labor of the Chinese came next. Railroad builders of the great transcontinental rail system. Stolen from their homes in China or “shanghaied” from the ports of China. Sold by their families into indenture. They built the railroads and for many the rail sidings were their graves. Mass graves when the work was done and they were no longer welcome. Happy Labor Day.
The labor movement of the early 20th century saw a massive number of workers seeking to unite. The US government called it treason. Any strikes for better wages were met with government and company violence. Workers were required to live and pay rent to their employer. To buy everything at the “company store” Were paid in scrip rather than dollars. Any organizer was labeled a “communist” or a “traitor”. Eugene Debs,when he became too powerful, found himself behind bars. Happy Labor Day.
The post -WW2 labor union boom. Wages increased. Working conditions became safer. benefits were seen as an integral part of the labor contract. And as union wages increased, the wages of non-union workers went up as well due to the upward pressure of job mobility. And corporations thrived . Millions were made. And workers could buy homes and save for the future. Then came the Reagan years and the worker became evil. A parasite on the “job creators”. Mr Reagan’s first act (after ripping the solar panels from the White House roof) was to bust the traffic controllers union. The trend was set. Government was once more the enemy of labor. Union busting was the goal of government. Happy Labor Day.
The Mexican and Guatemalan and Honduran immigrant labor. Doing jobs no US citizen will do. For low wages. No benefits. No protection from the boss if he decides not to pay. Picking grapes. Washing dishes. Busing tables. Doing construction. Weeding lettuce. Cheap labor. And in return they are blamed for wanting to work. For doing jobs that US citizens refuse to do. they keep food cheap and profits high. Happy Labor Day.
Happy Labor Day. Remember the slaves, the Chinese, the white slaves, the wobblies, the unionists, the immigrant. All of whom have made America what it is. No matter how much “capital” is invested, nothing happens without labor. Nothing gets built. No one gets arrested. No computers are programmed. No one is taught. No garbage gets picked up. No potholes get filled. No electric lines get repaired. No one is cured. No packages are delivered. No food is grown.
Happy Labor Day. Now get back to work.