Labor Day 2011

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By Optic Editorial Board

On this day to celebrate the hardworking men and women who keep this country going, we  can’t help but wonder what’s in store for this great nation. Is the American economy teetering, as some are suggesting, on collapse? Normally, we’d consider such a view to be hyperbole — spoken by fearmongers with a vested interest in the illusion of catastrophe — but this time there seems to be ample evidence that America is indeed in dire straits.

America has become deeply divided. In the political arena, which holds sway over policies that can make or break the U.S. economy, the debate is being dominated by the draconian notions that taxes and government are evil. The Republican Party, in an effort to rein in the federal deficit, is demanding budget cuts without any sort of revenue increases. The result is that, even in a year of great weather catastrophes, FEMA can’t even get extra funds without a political battle. It’s a sad state of affairs when government emergency workers can’t even help their fellow Americans without first negotiating for more money.

Of course, the people who suffer from these cuts in government spending are the nation’s working people, the lower and middle classes, the backbone of our national economy — the ones who are supposedly being honored today.

Also in the national debate is a misinformed idea that if government refrains from taxing the wealthy, the rich will take their handsome profits and create new jobs. But that’s just not happening. The money is not being circulated back into the economy, at least not in the form of more jobs. As corporate profits grow, job creation remains stagnant.

Meanwhile, middle class Americans — the people who are hanging on to the few good jobs out there — are breaking their backs just to keep what they have. For the average working man and woman in America, it isn’t hard to imagine losing it all. For many, they’re just a paycheck away from their own personal catastrophe.

More and more, there are three Americas. The rich, the almost secure, and the lost. It’s tearing this nation apart. It’s leading us down a slippery slope. We may well become yesterday’s greatest nation.

How do we stop this decline? Maybe we should insist on a government that acts more like Americans do. We are a generous people. Not greedy.

Generous. In the average American’s reality, neighbors help neighbors.

We don’t complain when we’re asked to give our fair share, we just give.
Working people understand sacrifice, but many politicians don’t. They only understand money and power. If the real America could just take that power back, then maybe we could use the money right — as a means to a better life for all.

America was built on the backs of the working people. It’s time to claim this nation as our own.