A More Perfect Union: Obama Labor Day Love (& Hate) Fest

I would really like to thank the President for helping to tee up this article for me. I was busy this weekend and I was trying to figure out how to bring my disparate thoughts together about Labor Day for an article.

Thank you, Mr. President, for…

  • Participating in an event organized by labor unions in a city that has been decimated by them (Detroit)
  • Getting on the same stage as a union leader who had just exhibited thuggery in a profane rant
  • Attempting to perpetuate the idea that labor unions have been great for the country, historically
  • Signalling that your “jobs” speech later this week will say nothing new
  • Telegraphing that despite all evidence, you believe in a centrally planned and controlled economy

The aforementioned disparate thoughts I’d had about Labor Day were, strangely enough, related to all of the above. First, I simply wanted to share a little bit of information about the holiday. It had occurred to me that, of all the national holidays, Labor Day seems to be the only one that is not the subject of those it’s-a-holiday-so-it’s-a-slow-news-day-so-we’re-going-to-tell-you-its-history puff pieces on TV.

Labor Day…the holiday nobody really understands but everybody loves. Labor Day…the holiday which is the bookend to Memorial Day. Labor Day weekend…the last time campgrounds bulge, BBQ grills are emptied for the purpose of using up the last bit of propane in the tank, and white pants and shoes make their frantic last appearances.

I thank the President and his event organizers for putting the LABOR back in Labor Day…with a vengeance. We don’t hear a lot about Labor Day’s history, because it ain’t so pretty in a few uncomfortable ways, much like, coincidentally, the history of labor unions and again, coincidentally, too many labor union members’ conduct under the “right” circumstances.

The origins of the holiday

A few links…

An interesting read, sourced: The Ugly But True History of Labor Day

I do NOT agree with this one, but it’s telling: May Day – The Real Labor Day

Free market perspective: Unions or the Division of Labor

History of labor unions

Comprehensive, free market perspective: A History of Labor Unions from Colonial Times to 2009


We’re going to bring this one local, through a couple of pictures (one to which we’ve linked, one embedded), to illustrate that too many union members’ conduct, curiously, is rather uniform and predictable.

In August 2009, the Lincoln Education Association (LEA), which is the local teachers’ union, in conjunction with AARP, the White House, and others, organized a pro-health care “reform” rally at the Capitol. Linda was in attendance along with about 20 other counter protestors. The story version is, despite attempting to remain slightly separated from the rally crowd, quiet, and respectful, union attendees could not leave well enough alone, and Linda and one of her sons found themselves in the middle of a circle of very angry people who are were yelling in their faces and tugging at her sign. We don’t have pictures of that, but, Lincoln Journal Star captured one that is of a similar ilk, featuring the local AFL-CIO president.

In February of this year, we convened a counter-rally to the labor unions’ “Save the American Dream” rally. We decided, after observing local union behavior in 2009, that we’d only counter-rally in a separate location. We obtained a permit for a different side of the Capitol and stayed put, but the union people did not; they decided to conclude their event by marching around the corner, down the street, and straight through our group.

We sang patriotic songs and Christian hymns as they marched past. A subset of the passersby decided to plant themselves a few feet from us and to chant various insults and other absurdities. We attempted to chant back with common sense. (Lesson learned: Don’t engage, not worth it, waste of time.)

And this is how it ended, just before security came and told these last few die-hards — finally — to move along:

This is unfortunate and unfortunately typical. We saw nothing less “civil” at the Labor Day rally in Detroit from a no less “esteemed” personage than Jimmy Hoffa, the Younger.

Our President has long embraced such groups, and reaffirmed his continued intent to do so. I might, too, if I were Barack Obama at this point. Unions may well be the only groups to break into chants of “Four More Years!” that can be found anywhere.

As noted above, the President showed that his embrace of unions continues because of his reliance on their support. Further, the President let us all know that his central command economic ideology did not get left behind in Martha’s Vineyard this summer. We can expect more of the same from the President this week when he fascinates us with yet another “major” speech on jobs.

While many of us feel as if we’re living in a bad movie at this point, we’re actually witnessing what has happened throughout the ages. History is repeating itself, as it does. What we largely have here is the New Deal, the 2011 version.

While I don’t think that Time intended to help people like myself to prove such points, I do thank them, just the same:

The standard histories about the New Deal weave a fairy tale of a Keynesian utopia that has elevated Franklin Roosevelt to the top of Presidential rankings lists. The reality is that a decade-long depression gripped the nation as a result of the interventionist policies begun by Herbert Hoover, devastating decisions by the Federal Reserve, and the continuation and multiplication of Hoover’s policies by FDR.

Does any of this sound remotely familiar?

If, like most Americans, you’ve only heard or read the standard histories about FDR and the New Deal and want to understand some of today’s phenomenon, you might want to check out the video, below, wherein Hillsdale College Professor Burton Folsom explains much, based on the work in writing his most excellent book, New Deal or Raw Deal:

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