September 1, 2014

FOD - Labor Day Edition

FOD being a Monday tradition means that it falls on Labor Day, a holiday meant to celebrate the American laborer, and their contributions to society.  In fact, the Department of Labor has a webpage dedicated to the holiday, and defines it thusly:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The page goes on to paint a picture of some national espirit de corps in celebration of the working man.  This is a lovely bit of glossy spin on the bloody riots and violent labor strikes of the late 1800's.  Ironically, one of the most well known events was the Haymarket Affair, a 'peaceful protest' by striking workers that ended up pitting protesters against police, and resulted in the deaths of 7 police officers and 4 civilians, in Chicago.

Even today, if you Google 'Haymarket Affair/Riot/Massacre', you will find modern day sources that are clearly motivated by union influences.  If you replaced 'race' with 'labor' in Ferguson, the story would read much the same, and 128 years from now, the facts of the situation would still be a point of contention, as are the facts of the Haymarket Affair.

Eight years after the Haymarket Affair, there was a national railroad stirke, the Pullman Strike.  The country was in a depression, the Panic of 1893, which, incidentally, was caused by a railroad bubble.  When the Pullman company had to lay off workers and reduce wages, those still living in the company town felt that their rents should also be reduced, basic economic principles be damned.

If you have made it this far, thanks for sticking with me, here is the FOD connection...

Economic depression and labor strikes were the key components of social unrest then, while today I would say economic depression recession recovery and racial tension are the story of today.  The difference is a Democratic president, then, that was noted for honesty, integrity, common sense, and a desire to keep the country moving forward.  He intervened when unrest affected the country at large.  He appointed people to government office based on ability, not political affiliation.  He believed in upholding the Constitution.  Some didn't agree with his interpretation, but isn't an interpretation better than complete disregard for the document?  In fact, there were any number of actions and policies that Cleveland implemented that weren't and aren't favorably viewed, but he could defend his actions by sound thought and reason.

Cleveland enjoyed fishing and hunting, he had a rifle he named 'Death and Destruction'.  He is also known for consuming large quantities of beer.  And, while there is one or more golf courses named in honor of him, I find no record that he ever played the game.  And, we have him to thank for this day off.

No comments: