Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reader's Month - Labor Day

Welcome to Reader’s Month on Being Frank.  The topics for September’s blogs have all been suggested by my awesome readers.  Thank you to everyone who submitted!  If you don’t happen to see your topic discussed during the month of September, never fear, I plan to periodically plug in the remainder of the topics in the following months.  If you didn’t get a chance to make a suggestion, email me at, send me a tweet @fxciv, or facebook message me.  Thanks again!
The first Labor Day parade ever.
As we all enjoy our three-day weekend, I would like to take a moment and point out the history behind the holiday.  Labor day is a celebration of what has made The United States of America great - the worker.  The holiday began as a celebration in New York City organized by Labor Unions in the 1880s.  The popularity of the holiday caught on and quickly expanded, becoming a Federal Holiday by 1887.  Labor day was a celebration of the hard working spirit of the American worker, of the progress industry was making, and the brotherhood that workers the nation over shared.  They featured parades sponsored and organized by local labor unions, picnics, and speeches, calling attention to Americans that the worker is what has driven the United States to enjoy such lengthy prosperity.
Unfortunately today, we are in the midst of a shortage of jobs.  The August jobs report was neutral with employers hiring as many new workers as they eliminated.  July wasn’t much better.  Fears of a double-dip recession are prevalent even though the economic growth hasn’t reversed.
Interestingly enough, we are caught in an odd cyclical pattern.  Corporations are scared to hire because demand for their products is too low, demand is low because consumers are unwilling to spend, consumers are unwilling to spend because of the insecurity of the job market, the job market is insecure because employers refuse to hire, employers refuse to hire because . . .
See how that works?  We are like a skipping record, repeating the same bit of music over, and over, and over, and over.  When this happens on a record player, you pick up the needle, reset it, and the music plays again.  Historically, the government has been the entity to do this, resetting the needle through an infusion of cash.  The end of the Great Depression came as the result of the combination of social work programs and the military industrial machine.  Tons of money dumped into our economy, workers found new jobs, pockets were stuffed with cash, demand jumped, and the cycle was broken.
The 1980s broke their recession in a different manner, choosing to infuse cash through supply-side economics - cutting tax rates on the wealthy, simplifying the tax code, and reducing capital gains taxes.  The only similarity between the two is the military-industrial complex.  Regan’s administration mirrored that of FDR’s by expanding the military budget funneling money into the private sector through military spending in an attempt to break the back of the USSR.
The problem we face right now is no different than either of the two situations before, the only difference is that our political leaders refuse to find middle ground.  The New Deal was paid for by a historic tax increase on the wealthy, filling federal coffers through taxation, enabling the government to support federal spending increases without incurring debt.  Reganomics was paid for through deficit spending, increasing the publicly held debt by a factor of 3 during Reagan’s two terms.   
Our current political situation won’t allow either of these options.  Maybe we should take matters into our own hands.  If every household in the US could find an extra $50 to spend each month (which I know is probably asking a lot), we could generate nearly $70 billion in spending over the next year.  While in the larger picture, $70 billion is not an incredible amount of money, if that money was spent entirely on employment, it would create 1.75 million $40,000 a year jobs over the next year ($40,711 is the national  wage average), lowering unemployment by approximately 1%.
We have the power to control our own destiny.  Too often, we bend our wills to those we have placed in political office, choosing to believe everything they tell us, respecting their opinion without consulting the facts or our own conscious first.  
We shouldn’t wait until next November when we can make a change now!
The first change I think many of us need to make is to find joy in our own employment.  As many teachers broke their summer mentality and made the trek back to their campus, they were forced to suffer inservice after inservice.  Facebook lit up with complaints about being forced to sit through meetings, alterations in campus policies, and general educational malaise.  While I can certainly empathize with every one of these complaints as I hated inservice, I hope everyone can keep perspective - you have a job.  Enjoy the fact that you can hate inservice, you can hate the TAKS, you can hate STARR, you can hate your admin, your counselors, your band parents, your staff, your students, etc.  Revel in that hate in as positive a spirit as you can because you have gainful employment.  
If you consider that there are approximately 100,000 other teachers in Texas alone, and 14 million people in the US who envy your situation, I would hope your feelings might change.  And, if you dislike it so much, take the leap, get out and let someone else have a job - I did.  If you want to stay, and this goes for anyone who works, make the best of it.  Find joy in things you can control and let go of the things you can’t.  Make your job a place you look forward to going to.  If you can’t, at least it is a paycheck, and find happiness in that.
Choose to control your circumstances and feelings.  On this Labor day, celebrate the workers - both those who have jobs and those who want them.  Find a way to help the situation both internally and externally.  You might find that you are more powerful than you thought.

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