This snip from Wikipedia will fill you in on all the historical groundwork to this being a holiday and anchor our following discussion:
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, different groups of trade unionists chose a variety of days on which to celebrate labor. In the United States a September holiday called Labor Day was first proposed in the 1880s.
An early history of the holiday dates the event’s origins to a General Assembly of the Knights of Labor convened in New York City in September 1882. In conjunction with this clandestine Knights assembly a public parade of various labor organizations was held on September 5 under the auspices of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York. “
Resuming – at double time, too, since this is a holiday…
Secretary of the CLU Matthew Maguire is credited for first proposing that a national Labor Day holiday subsequently be held on the first Monday of each September in the aftermath of this successful public demonstration.
An alternative thesis is maintained that Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor put forward the first proposal in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. There was disagreement among labor unions at this time about when a holiday celebrating workers should be. Many advocated for May 1st. However, President Cleveland was concerned that a labor holiday on May 1st would be a commemoration of the Haymarket Affair of May 1886, as it eventually was under the name International Workers’ Day. In 1887, he publicly supported the September Labor Day holiday. In 1887 Oregon became the first state of the United States to make Labor Day an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.”
Which is why most of our readers, the stock and bond markets, and most of government is shut-down and non-op for the day. Which is to say, even more non-op than usual.
There are two points about Labor Day that I think are missed by people because we’ve come to look at this as just “a day off” – like so many “holidays.” Nothing more than breaks to get house or yardwork done, wash the cars, get last minute back to school shopping done, and maybe fix a big family meal…two martinis at the lake and a last jet ski outing would be nice, too…
Put on your black arm bands while you do it because the Union Movement is dead.
Oh, not completely, but look at this data set that suggests unionism has been in collapse since the Eisenhower presidency:
Not only is union membership one-third of what it was (once-upon-a-time) but there has been a major industrial shift, as well.
You see, back in the post-Depression era, outfits like the Teamsters (under Dave Beck) and the Steelworkers had tremendous gains. And who doesn’t remember ILWU greats like Harry Bridges?
Things we take for-granted today – like the 40 hour work-week, paid medical plans, vacation, seniority, and even apprentice programs – all had their roots in the honorable, though not necessarily gentle, history of American Trade Unions.
But it arose during an industrial shift. What I mean by this is that as workforce automation came to Big Steel, and truck driving was seriously deregulated, the odds of making a good, solid living were still there, but the benefits were diffusing.
In its place, the unions were migrating into things like Government – which when you think about it, is a HUGE change. In a sense, it put unions on a collision course with We the People.
Historically, civil service was a lower-paid professional track than the for-profit sector. In return, though, it was a job for Life. And you can’t beat that with a stick.
But this is no longer the case, except in C-Level upper management. Government was easy picking for unions since already Civil Service offered job security; something totally missing from some careers.
Today, unions don’t represent a wide swath the real laborers in America – those who write, cut code, manage budgets, or acquire goods for manufacturing. Our working conditions, pay, and benefits are all riding, essentially, on the coattails of organized labor.
Hotel workers, agricultural workers? The unions have retrenched into the lowest-paid and most seriously “taken-for-granted” classes of workers. In doing so, they have forfeited their economic base.
That’s our first holiday perspective: The role of unions has changed from mainstream rank and file working people to the underclasses and those who are most easily screwed-over. Farmworkers, for example. Maids in hotels, wait staff. The workers who set up conventions and work for a union on the day-labor rate schedule.
The second perspective is broader and one to mull with the coffee this morning. It, too, is a “Macro Labor Wave” to be thinking about. More longitudinal, though.
Let me wander up to the whiteboard and (after a huff or two of the marker to wake up!) write down some bullet points for your consideration:
- The Labor Movement arose concurrent with the Industrial Revolution because of dangerous machines.
- Over time, Labor has been replaced by more and more specialized machines. Ever see an automated assembly line?
- This left Labor less total tangible work to be done, so many laborers sent their kids to school. Intellectual capital’s rise was on the horizon.
- As these worker’s kids graduated, they were able to gain higher incomes – but only for a while – due to their extra helping of brainpower.
- With the invention of the handheld calculator, and then the computer, and then mass storage, and then databases, and lambda networks, and now with artificial intelligence showing up, we underscore:
- The offloading of manual labor onto machines (from humans and animals to the internal combustion engine and electric power equipment) resulted, at least in part in America’s first Great Depression.
- The present period before us is now engaged in a further “unburdening” of humans by off-loading mental processes (math, memory, creative functionality) to computer-based systems. Did I mention whole libraries of C and other code such that software is becoming drag and drop, too?
With manual labor offloaded in the previous depression, and with the offloading of high-value human thinking outputs in the pending one, we are decidedly pessimistic about the outlook for the “laboring and/or thinking human” in coming years.
Today, (a statistical non-work day) I would urge you to consider this is the macro problem that the Elites and the PowersThatBe grapple daily. They are trying to keep 7-billion people from rising up and casting off the chains of bullshit (formerly “oppression”).
In a feedlot, we’d call this an economic “squeeze chute.”
What exactly is it that humans can do than cannot be offloaded, for which there is growing demand, and for which a high premium pay may be demanded?
I ask in all sincerity because we have already seen how the U.S. (and other Western/idiotic countries) are only able to Monetize “the apparent.”
The “apparent” includes the monetization of racial divides; along with the monetization of gender, sexual persuasion, age, and educational attainment.
Imagine for a moment that you were to wake up on a planet where this divisiveness has been taken to its unsustainable extreme.
Two sexes, times three options (straight/gay/bi) times three socioeconomic/educational strata (high, middle, low), times ten major global racial haplotypes and we imagine a world of (2 x 3 x 3 x 10) 180-basic tribes and, at least in the USA, these are somewhat regionally distinct. We might use 50 states as a starting point, but no: let’s toss in Puerto Rico, too, and call it easily discernable 9,180 domestic tribes.
It doesn’t stop there, however. Thanks to the Obamanation and the idiots which call themselves congress, we also have perhaps another 20 countries that are actively feeding new arrivals into America from most of the Middle East, North Africa, South and Central America, and a bit of Asia.
In the analysis, we have the same 18 basic groups times another 20 so call that 360 on top of 9,180 for a minimum gross tribal count of 9,540.
And that’s before we toss in the political divisions (another fine cleaving of people to “keep them stirred up” to they’re “manageable“) which would give us 19,080 tribes and that’s before third parties and secessionists.
Now, gently open Ure eyes.
This is the world: At least 20,000 tribes. Being stripped of meaningful work by machines previously, the mental side is being stripped off, too.
Are we living in a galactic feed lot and this is how to fatten us for the killing room?
We are well on our way to being stripped of meaningful thought and mental activity by computers.
Yes, the same computers that killed the secretarial pool, the filing room, and those glorious women featured in the movie Hidden Figures who in today’s world would not have a job. Great, or not, that capacity to think is being offloaded from humans.
I would strongly recommend you watch that movie, if you haven’t seen it already. Sure, sure, there’s a racial angle to it, no question.
But to me, on this Labor Day, the movie has a second meaning, perhaps more important than the first: How much more can we “offload from humans” before the entire planet blows up?
When there is a high degree of specialization, there are good wages. But when virtually all the important aspects of labor and thinking are being offloaded, what does that imply for our shared future?
A dark rumination this morning, admittedly, but it’s sadly our bottom line:
When the opportunities for individual excellence decline in a serious way, such that opportunity to improve one’s Life fades, you can expect 7-billion people to fight over the “table scraps” of what’s left of humanity.
It’s not a science fiction writer’s vision.
It’s a simple “Open your eyes.”
This is our path and collapse lies not too much further along.
Write when you get rich (but will it be in time?)