Monday, September 3, 2018

The Holiday Oddly Called "Labor Day"

By Robert Wenzel

You have to give it to socialists, lefties and interventionists in general, they are pretty slick when it comes to naming key elements of their movement.

Take for example the word socialism, what the hell exactly is social about socialism?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary includes in its definition of social:
marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates
living and breeding in more or less organized communities especially for the purposes of cooperation and mutual benefit
None of this has anything to do with socialism. Socialism is about authoritarianism. The control of some over others. It is not about mutual benefit. It is about required action determined by authorities, backed up by force---since it is so distant from mutual benefit. If it was about mutual benefit, coercion wouldn't be involved.

Socialism is many things but it is not "pleasant companionship" if the way you desire to act is in conflict with socialist leaders' demands.

Then, of course, there is the word, progressive, used by interventionists who favor putting limitations on free markets and the accompanying advances. It is in fact regressive.
This brings me to today's holiday here in the United States and Canada, Labor Day, which was created by anti-labor group leaders, that is, union leaders.

From Wikipedia:
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. "Labor Day" was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City....
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, different groups of trade unionists chose a variety of days on which to celebrate labor. In the United States, a September holiday called Labor Day was first proposed in the early 1880s. Alternate stories of the event's origination exist.

According to one early history of Labor Day, the event originated in connection with a General Assembly of the Knights of Labor convened in New York City in September 1882. In connection with this clandestine Knights assembly, a public parade of various labor organizations was held on September 5 under the auspices of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York. Secretary of the CLU Matthew Maguire is credited for first proposing that a national Labor Day holiday subsequently be held on the first Monday of each September in the aftermath of this successful public demonstration.

P. J. McGuire, Vice President of the American Federation of Labor, is frequently credited as the father of Labor Day in the United States.

An alternative thesis is maintained that the idea of Labor Day was the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, a vice president of the American Federation of Labor, who put forward the initial proposal in the spring of 1882. According to McGuire, on May 8, 1882, he made a proposition to the fledgling Central Labor Union in New York City that a day be set aside for a "general holiday for the laboring classes". According to McGuire he further recommended that the event should begin with a street parade as a public demonstration of organized labor's solidarity and strength, with the march followed by a picnic, to which participating local unions could sell tickets as a fundraiser.
But unions are not pro-labor. They are protection rackets set up to protect some laborers at the expense of the general labor market. Minimum wage demands, licensing demands are just two well known anti-labor demands of unions that prevent the general laborer from competing against those protected. And, of course, those "protected" generally have no say in whether they want to be "protected" and have no ability to opt out of the protection fee, that is, union dues--so union leaders are also running a shakedown racket.

Further, it is an odd thing to celebrate labor on its own. It is not much different than celebrating water by only celebrating hydrogen and forgetting the equation is H2O.

It is implying that labor plays a key role in the advancement of the standard of living, when in fact it plays a necessary but subservient role in the standard of living advancement.

We must remember that ever since Adam and Eve took the bite from the forbidden apple, man has been at labor.

Even a lone man on an island, Robinson Crusoe, must labor for food.

Labor is thus not heroic but a necessity for survival.

What advances man beyond the stage of a land-labor existence is when capital and entrepreneurship are added to the equation especially when capitalists and entrepreneurs are allowed to operate freely in a complete laissez-faire environment.

But the scam wouldn't work for unions if there was a day celebrating capitalists and entrepreneurs. And so we get the clever honoring of  "labor."  Where union men march in parades "celebrating" labor, labor that their very union bosses attempt to block for those outside the protected unions. Clever.

For the general masses, Labor Day is mostly a day of hot dogs, hamburgers and cookouts marking the rapid end to summer. With few realizing that it was the acts of capitalists and entrepreneurs that made the hot dogs, hamburgers and charcoal so readily available so that one can rest from labor.

Without capitalists and entrepreneurs, today would be a day just like any other of scrounging for food.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of


  1. I agree entirely. Why don't we have an "Entrepreneur Day" to celebrate the type of person who has actually advanced human prosperity over the past two hundred years? Labor is but one input into the productive process, and without someone to take risk under conditions of uncertainty to direct the laborers what to do, and to experiment with different mixes of natural resources, capital equipment, and labor, not much useful productive activity would take place (see, Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.).

    Or, if statists can't bring themselves to actually recognize the entrepreneur, at least re-name "Labor Day" to "Input Day."

  2. To see the truth is a worthy and satisfying end in itself whether or not others see it. When you discover that others see it who didn't see it before, well, that's like whip cream on strawberries.

  3. It's clearly too late to switch names at this point, but Austrian Economics with its emphasis on voluntary mutually beneficial exchanges deals primarily with SOCIAL matters. It's the commies who think that inanimate objects which make up the capital structure have magical powers over society, which makes them Magic Capital-ists. Austrians think that the capital structure results from social interaction.

    Plus, the regressives love SWAT teams to punish average people in order to force them to follow their edicts. A swell bunch of people.

  4. I’m reminded of Ron Paul espousing the importance of words having specific meaning.