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Pullman strikers outside Arcade Building in Pullman, Chicago. The Illinois National Guard can be seen guarding the building during the Pullman Railroad Strike in 1894. (Public Domain, Wiki)

Labour Day, a day that “…celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.” (Wiki). Labour Day in the United States became a national holiday in 1894.

“Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with Reyes, leader of the labor movement. Fearing further conflict, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day.” (Wiki)

The establishment showed its appreciation for labour by destroying the movements of the left and the unions after World War II. In the 70s corporations began to show their appreciation for labour by laying off workers and moving operations overseas.

The number of unemployed workers in this country may well be as high as 23 million people. They’re your parents, spouse, siblings, friends or neighbors. I’d have to say that if you don’t know somebody who’s unemployed you don’t get out much.

Do you think politicians are capable of putting people back to work? TheBenBernanke wants to buy more securities to address the unemployment problem. My question to TheBenBernanke is how in the hell is buying, or selling, securities going to increase the aggregate demand for consumer goods? Until the 60s-70s we were a manufacturing powerhouse. Since then we have become a country of consumers. Seventy-five percent of our economy is consumer driven. We make weapon systems, big airplanes and cars. Want a washing machine? Maytag makes theirs in Mexico. What used to be good paying jobs in the heartland are now $2-3 a day jobs in Mexico. Maytag may be making a hell of a profit on its products but its former workers have run out of unemployment insurance and many have lost their homes and a minium wage job at MickeyD’s is better than nothing.

If companies want to hire more workers they need more people buying their products. When American companies no longer make anything, e.g., Nike, where are the jobs going to come from? Apple has never made anything. It provides the design and overseas companies manufacture the components and finished products.

Do you really want a change? Well, neither the President (regardless of who or what party), the House nor the Senate is going to give it to you. Those august bodies are looking out for the super wealthy and corporations whose big donors keep them in power. If you think the government is going to get us out of this depression you still believe in the tooth fairy. The government is in no way going to apply a Keynesian solution to the problem. As George Carlin said, “They don’t give a fuck about you.”

I’m not much of a theorist. I don’t have anything more than general ideas of what needs to be done and those ideas come with a lot of questions I can’t answer. I read a lot and try to flesh a lot of those ideas out with information from people a lot smarter than I am in this business.

I’m particularly interested in the worker owned company concept. This isn’t an overnight solution. It would take decades to get to the point where it would have an impact on national numbers but it can be done starting in communities, your community. I think it’s a concept worth spending time investigating and analyzing.

Late last year Rick Wolff had Gar Alperovitz on his weekly Economic Update radio show. Wolff asks Gar to discuss his book, America Beyond Capitalism. Listen to what he has to say and give it some thought.

Enjoy the holiday, take in a ball game, don’t burn the burgers and remember that the 8-hour day came via the left and the unions.