Labor Day isn't what it used to be.
Parades are less prominent, Jerry Lewis has been ousted from the MDA Telethon, summer weather seems to drag into mid-October and even the "no white after Labor Day" fashion dogma has crumbled.
And our day-to-day lives have made the once-great notion of a day honoring the working people of America a farce.
When you think of how much the welfare state has grown since Jerry first sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," (and how many able-bodied individuals are milking the disability system), you feel more like punching a brick wall than a timecard.
There are still workplaces where management and labor have mutual respect and are in sync for a common goal. There are also employers who forget the role of providing capital, vision, and inspiration and instead merely dump unreasonable expectations on underlings, cut corners and practice a "see no evil" philosophy, under the auspices of rubber-stamp directors.
Politicians pay lip service to the working men and women who made this country great, even as they keep the masses stirred up with self-serving class warfare rhetoric. Of course they have to save time to craft tax laws and regulations that send jobs overseas and entice undocumented workers from across the border.
Workers like to have a sense of significance and contribution. But when you realize that every cent of income tax you sweat to generate -- and every cent the other wage slaves in your department generate--won't pay for ONE frivolous flight by Government Official X, you feel like posting a "Zero Days Worked Without Feeling Like An Insignificant Loser" banner.
Who honors the working person? Unions? No, they've "gotten above their raising" and forgotten that "price us right out of a job" isn't part of their job description. At one time the unions fought bravely for causes such as keeping coal mines from collapsing. Now they now fight to keep Sen. Phogbound's reelection campaign from collapsing. Instead of doing the hard work of collective bargaining, they extract union dues to promote wind-powered transgendered wedding chapels in the nation's wetlands or some such obviously work-related project.
Working class people don't even take up for each other. When you show up for work hung over, it leads to lost productivity, product recalls and a diminishment of the money available for raises and bonuses. When you curse a clerk because his store has (gasp!) policies, arrive at closing time or stiff a server on a tip, it's just one more nail in the coffin of the ideal of Labor Day.
Is home a refuge? I wish there were stats on the number of wage earners who drag their carcasses home only to be greeted by unappreciative grunts from the family's texting/videogame crowd. It's like "Yeah, you're the breadwinner, but I'm on a gluten-free diet."
Can Labor Day be saved? Should Labor Day be saved? Reams of rules and regulations, employee manuals and arbitrated contracts are not the answer. Labor Day's hope lies in the simplicity of the Golden Rule.
If you ENJOY being exploited, ignored, overworked, or manipulated, keep on treating workers that way. If you don't, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" and make Labor Day mean something.
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades." Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.