Happy Labor Day to American workers

Published 9:58 am Thursday, September 2, 2010

It’s the end of summer and time once again to celebrate the American workforce. The timing seems especially appropriate with the sluggish recovery on everyone’s minds as we enter the third quarter, which is often the most perilous. The steepest downturns often occur in this part of the year.

However, there are also signs that while it’s sluggish we’re still headed out of the Great Recession and not double-dipping.

Growth continues at a snail’s pace that’s almost imperceptible and unlike 2008 there are at least some industries that are hiring, such as financial and automotive.

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They were hit so hard in the downturn that record numbers were laid off. New factory orders for cars and money returning to the financial markets are forcing them to look for new employees.

Housing sales, which were doing better due to the tax incentive for first-time buyers, have slumped again. That only points to the need for more stimulus packages to encourage people to get on with their lives.

Let’s try something that worked so well before and offer veterans of any age more of a break and tailor it to different groups of veterans.

Currently, there are 23.2 million veterans in America according to the 2008 US census.

There are 9.2 million older than the age of 65 who could probably use some help with a decent retirement home.

It’s a chance to not only reward their service but can serve as an example to a younger generation that we can do the right thing long after the sacrifice to country has been met.

Or there are the 1.9 million veterans under the age of 35 who could benefit from being able to buy a home and get a college degree. There are also 5.2 million who served in the Gulf Wars and are just as caught up in the recession as the rest of us. Start there and create a domestic job corps that even includes the arts.

There was a renaissance of every art in America after the Great Depression as a direct result of the federal government hiring writers, photographers and filmmakers to document what was happening all around us.

FDR not only ended up putting a lot of talented people to work who would have been hard to employ he ended up helping to create an amazing record of that era in our country that continues to inspire new generations.

Whenever large groups of people are willing to risk their life and limb so that we can buy three dollar coffee at Starbucks and argue about who’s going to make the playoffs while worshipping at the place of our choosing, there ought to be some amount of gratitude in return that goes far above where we’re comfortable, just like the sacrifice.

This holiday became national in 1894 when Grover Cleveland was trying to calm a nation troubled over labor clashes that had left dead workers in its wake. He was looking for a way to acknowledge the efforts of labor and bring America back together again.

That’s exactly what we could all use right about now. American consumers are continuing to spend less, which isn’t all bad considering the way we were rushing out to buy the latest googaw on credit.

So, instead of more stuff to fill our homes just to spur the economy, let’s start a national bond that we can all buy that will pay for education and housing for veterans of all ages.

It’s not a tax and completely voluntary and will go straight to the veteran for payment toward either of those services without being slimmed down by too many administrators.

Shake the sand out from your shoes, get the grills fired up one last time for the season and raise a lemonade to all of the people who continue to work to keep America not only free but full of opportunities and just think about what would happen if we spend just a little money for the right reasons.

Martha Randolph Carr is a freelance writer whose column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.