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I will not wish anybody a 'Happy Labor Day' until these 6 things are figured out. There, I said it.

Those little cartoon drawings in the video? That's really his artwork!

I will not wish anybody a 'Happy Labor Day' until these 6 things are figured out. There, I said it.


Labor Day at Union Square, New York, 1882. Image public domain.


Labor Day began at a time when working people in the United States were working 12-hour days, seven days a week to survive.

(Hmmm. Sound familiar?)

Children — some as young as 5 or 6 — were working, too, at a fraction of the adult wage. And there were no safety standards, so deaths and injuries on the job were just accepted as a risk of trying to feed yourself and your family.

Unions were beginning to take hold, fighting back against all of this and the Gigantosaur Companies, too.

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took to the streets in New York and marched from City Hall to Wendel's Elm Park — the first Labor Day parade.

Why did they march? For the eight-hour work day. They were tired of working all day and all night.

It actually took 12 years for it to become a national holiday, after a massive strike was put down by federal troops, and Congress decided it was time to appease working people.

Miners with their children at a Labor Day celebration in 1940 Colorado. Image from Library of Congress.

In the video below, economist Robert Reich illustrates what we need in order for Labor Day to have real meaning again in this country. Here are the six things:

1. A living wage

$7.25 is nowhere close to a living wage for anyone. I post things regularly about minimum wage on my public Facebook page, and a consistent pushback from the haters is, "It was never meant to be a living wage."

Oh, yeah? The architect of the minimum wage, none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said some things about that in the years leading up to it first becoming law in 1938:

"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."

And this:

“By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living." — FDR's Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act, 1933

Image from NHLaborNews.com, used with permission.

The real dollar value of the minimum wage has gone down from a high (in 1968, of about $11) to what it is today, $7.25. Remember that thing about people working 12-hour days, seven days a week, 130-some years ago? People today working for minimum wage frequently have to do exactly that in order to survive.

This doesn't even begin to touch the fact that some tipped workers make $2.13 an hour minimum. Not even kidding.

(And another bonus: When we raise the minimum, it floats all boats.)

GIF from "Oprah."

2. Earned Income Tax Credit

This is something that some politicians are trying to eliminate in some states. What does it do? Basically, it gives tax credits to low-to-moderate income workers, especially those with kids.

3. Child Care

Access to affordable child care is something that working people — moms, especially — need (and frequently don't have) in order to be able to do their jobs and even to rise to better-paid positions in the companies and organizations where they work. Bringing your kid to work sounds like something fun to do maybe one day a year, but otherwise ... umm, no.

GIF from "How I Met Your Mother."

4. Good Schools

Schools make a difference in the lives of the kids who go there, and attacks on education that started with the Great Recession of 2008 continue even today. We need to change our priorities, folks.

5. Health Insurance for all

Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, is working and making a difference in the lives of millions of people. But the real solution is a universal health care system — something that the ACA took the place of.

6. Union Rights

Union membership in the private sector is the lowest it's ever been, and good union jobs in the public sector have been under attack for at least a decade, if not 30 years. One primary way we can fix that is through card check recognition — that is, if enough people at a company or work location put their signature on cards that say they want to be members, the company signs off on it and that's it; no campaigns to threaten workers, no long, drawn-out election processes where some workers can be fired (and therefore the rest intimidated).

Here's economist Robert Reich to break it down:

So how to help? Spread this around, first of all. Let's get some people talking about these issues on Labor Day.

And here's a link if you want to sign Reich's petition.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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