Labor Day

Lincoln on Labor and Capital

 

 

It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class–neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families–wives, sons, and daughters–work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

From Lincoln’s Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861

Rosie the Riveter

 

Something for a Labor Day weekend.  Rosie the Riveteer.  Written in 1942 the song celebrated the fact that with some sixteen million American men being called into military service, American women were going to have to pick up the slack if America was to win the battle of production, the decisive battle of World War II.  Women, especially young women, were absolutely critical in this task.  In 1944 1.7 million unmarried men were involved in war production, compared to 4.1 million women.  The war of the factories was won for the US by middle aged married men, many of them World War I veterans, and young women, many of them daughters of the older men they labored beside.  Below is a film, Women on the Warpath, made in 1943 by Ford honoring the women involved in assembling B-24 bombers at the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Continue reading

Opus Dei

LarryMcClarey2012

King David: That soldier who laid his hands on the Ark – he was only trying to be helpful.

Nathan the Prophet: It is not for us to question the ways of the Lord.

King David: I question nothing, yet the sun was hot that day, the man had been drinking wine, all were excited when the ark began to fall. Is it not possible that the man might have died naturally from other causes?

Nathan the Prophet: All causes are of God.

Screenplay, David and Bathsheba (1951)

 

 

Not that Opus Dei.  When my son Larry died on May 19, 2013 he had just completed high school on the Friday before he died.  He had one day of rest and then he died.  I had always wondered about what work I could find for Larry to do after he graduated from high school.  Because of his autism he could never have held down a regular job.  I planned for him to come to my office, although I wondered just what we could have him do.  It is quite possible he would have spent most of his days in a spare office room, watching TV and playing computer videos.  My secretary Chris painted the office room a deep orange, a color chosen by Larry, and I purchased a large new couch and had it put into the room.

Larry never spent a day in the room.  I assumed that God had work for my son to perform in Heaven, and I thought it had something to do with speech.  Larry died on Pentecost which struck home with me.  In life he was only able to answer yes and no questions and state the names of items.  It was impossible to carry on a normal conversation with him.  In the next world I was certain this would not be the case, so I had inscribed on Larry’s tombstone, “In Heaven He Speaks of God’s Love.”

At the time of my son’s death, my secretary Chris was recovering from her first bout with breast cancer.  The cancer came back in November of last year and Chris died from it on August 28 of this year.  She worked throughout as she battled this terrible illness, taking daily naps on the couch in what would have been Larry’s room.  Hours before she died, Chris was talking to Larry, she having been quite fond of my son during his life.

A mass was said in my parish for Larry yesterday, a date chosen at random by our priest, one of several masses we have had said for Larry since his passing.  I was stunned by the first and third readings:

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Isaiah 35: 4-7

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Mark 7: 31-37 Continue reading

A Great Victory Courtesy of the American Worker

 

Seventy years ago American industry was converting from wartime to peacetime production.  American workers during the War had performed a miracle.  The figures of the items produced are absolutely stunning.

During the War the US produced 324,000 military planes, 102,410 tanks, 2,382,311 other vehicles, 257,390 pieces of artillery, 105,055 mortars, 2,679,840 machine guns, 124 carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 245 submarines, and 35,000 landing craft.  These figures only scratch the surface as the US also had to produce the tens of thousands of other categories of items, ranging from uniforms to Liberty transport ships, without which American, and Allied, forces would have ground to a halt. Continue reading

Worker Songs

 

Something for a Labor Day weekend.  A parody of The Internationale, the marching song of Communism.   In America, the most popular songs about working tend to be fairly apolitical.  Sixteen Tons, written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1946, became a million record seller with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rendition in 1955:

 

Clearly stating the terrible conditions for many mine workers in the forties of the last century, it does not call for revolution or, indeed, any sort of political action.   There are much more political songs about working in the US of course, but they are of limited popularity.

 

My personal two favorite work songs are from Disney:

 

Continue reading

End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

It’s the unofficial end of Summer and it’s my annual gratuitous post of myself day.  The pic below was taken in mid-July, but I waited to fix the feed to The American Catholic in order celebrate the Summer.  Needless to say, it’s fixed and the Summer is almost over.

During the Summer I asked my fellow blogger Don for some book recommendations for the French Revolution.  Of the few he did mentioned, I picked up Simon Schama’s ‘Citizen’.  The reading is in-depth, interesting, and balanced.  I’m a bit over halfway finished of the 948 pages and am so far impressed.  Considering that we are in the post-Cold War era, I wanted to know a bit more on the French Revolution since their errors have already engulfed Europe and has almost metastasizing here in the United States.  The book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens.

My opinion on the subject is that the French Revolution is the confluence of anti-Christian ideas emanating from the so-called era of enlightenment.  These very same ideas unleashed the short-term devastation of the rape of nuns, the execution of priests, and the degradation of houses of worship.  The long-term affects have furthered the cause of eliminating God from all aspects of life blossoming further in the Communist Revolution in Russia and continued to bear the fruit of death in World Wars I & II.  From this compost grew what we now call modern liberalism & democratic socialism.

End of Summer Tito Edwards Simon Schama Citizens 500x625Happy Labor Day!

 

A Chesterton Poem For Labor Day

Saint Joseph and Christ
King Alfred was but a meagre man,
          Bright eyed, but lean and pale:
          And swordless, with his harp and rags,
          He seemed a beggar, such as lags
          Looking for crusts and ale.

          And the woman, with a woman’s eyes
          Of pity at once and ire,
          Said, when that she had glared a span,
          “There is a cake for any man
          If he will watch the fire.”

          And Alfred, bowing heavily,
          Sat down the fire to stir,
          And even as the woman pitied him
          So did he pity her.

          Saying, “O great heart in the night,
          O best cast forth for worst,
          Twilight shall melt and morning stir,
          And no kind thing shall come to her,
          Till God shall turn the world over
          And all the last are first.

          “And well may God with the serving-folk
          Cast in His dreadful lot;
          Is not He too a servant,
          And is not He forgot?

          “For was not God my gardener
          And silent like a slave;
          That opened oaks on the uplands
          Or thicket in graveyard gave?

          “And was not God my armourer,
          All patient and unpaid,
          That sealed my skull as a helmet,
          And ribs for hauberk made?
Continue reading

Kipling for Labor Day

 

 

 

 

The twenty-seventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here and here.

Two frequent targets of Kipling’s ire over the years was Kaiser Wilhelm, who Kipling viewed as a buffoon and a menace long before World War I, and anything that smacked of socialism.  In the poem An Imperial Rescript (1890), Kipling got to attack both his bête noirs when the Kaiser unveiled a program of social reform to “help” working men.  I rather think the Kaiser’s heart was in the right place on this occasion, even if his head was not.  Kipling viewed the plan as rubbish since most men, the acolytes of Alfred. P Doolittle (see video above) excepted, work for the well-being of their families, a well-being that he thought governments would prove ill-equipped to preserve, and therefore they would work as hard as they were able for the wife and the kids.  It is an arguable point, although Kipling’s view is directly contrary to what passes for the common wisdom of our day, which could mean that Kipling might very well be correct!

 

Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need,
He sent a word to the peoples, who struggle, and pant, and sweat,
That the straw might be counted fairly and the tally of bricks be set.

The Lords of Their Hands assembled; from the East and the West they drew --
Baltimore, Lille, and Essen, Brummagem, Clyde, and Crewe.
And some were black from the furnace, and some were brown from the soil,
And some were blue from the dye-vat; but all were wearied of toil.

And the young King said: -- "I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak:
With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood -- sign!" Continue reading 

Saint Joseph the Worker and Dad

Saint Joseph and Jesus

 

 

 

Every Labor Day weekend two men always pop up in my mind:  Saint Joseph the Worker and my Dad.  When I was growing up I always associated Saint Joseph and my father.  I thought of Saint Joseph as the strong, silent type.  The Gospels recall no speeches or quotes of Saint Joseph, but it does remember his actions:  the refusal to expose Mary publicly when he initially assumed that she had betrayed him, his leading his family into Egypt on the warning of the Angel, the years of Christ’s growth to manhood when Saint Joseph labored to support his family.  That was my father, a man of actions and not words.  My father was not a talkative man, he simply was always there when anything needed to be done.  From going off each day to cut steel in the truck body plant where he worked, to repairing broken items around the house, to fixing a furnace for an old widow who couldn’t pay a professional to come to fix it and then asking my mom to buy the widow a sack of groceries because he saw she had no food in her house, to defending me from a child hood bully, I grew up under the protection and inspiration of my silent father. Continue reading

The Yorktown, the American Worker and Three Days

We must have this ship back in three days!

Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz

 

On Labor Day we honor the American worker and the repair of the USS Yorktown tells us why.  Badly damaged at the battle of the Coral Sea, it was estimated that the Yorktown would take three months in drydock to repair.  That was unacceptable.  With the battle of Midway looming the Yorktown had to be gotten back into action if the US was to have any chance at all against the Japanese fleet with its heavy advantage in flattops.

What happened next was a true miracle.  1400 civilian dockyard workers and sailors swarmed over the Yorktown, working night and day for 72 hours.  Hawaii Electric staged rolling blackouts in Honolulu to generate the enormous power necessary for the mammoth repairs.  The Yorktown sailed for Midway on May 30, 1942 with civilian workers still on board, completing the repairs.  At Midway, four days later, Yorktown’s role in the victory was absolutely crucial,  her planes sending the Japanese carrier Soryu to the bottom before the Yorktown herself was sunk. Continue reading

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Something for the weekend.  The video above supplying music and images to the prayer to Saint Joseph seemed very appropriate for a Labor Day Weekend.  There was a reason why God chose as His guardian and the husband of His mother a humble carpenter, instead of some great and powerful king.  God does not see as we see.  We judge too often by outward appearance while God judges by the soul and character.  A simple concept one would think, but one that is hard to live by as we too often judge people by their jobs or clothes or any of the other superficial differences between us that loom so large on this earth and which are less than nothing in eternity.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Stone

On Labor Day it is good to recall Saint Joseph the Worker.  When God decided to partake in our humanity, He could have had anyone for His foster father, and He chose a humble carpenter, a man who worked with his hands.  Why?

The Bible gives us no indication that Saint Joseph was intelligent, brave or resourceful.  He may have been all these things, but the Bible does not tell us.  We know that he was of the House of David, but judging from all indications in the Bible he lived in humble circumstances.  What made Joseph stand out to God other than the fact of his heritage?

Kindness I think, simple human kindness.  This was graphically demonstrated at the very beginning when Saint Joseph first is mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 1:18 and 19:

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.

Continue reading

Subsidiarity at Work

dilbert subsidiarity

Everyone here at the American Catholic hoped that you all have had a happy Labor Day weekend.

The principle of Subsidiarity states that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.

Pope Leo XIII developed the principle in his AD 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum.  The principle was further developed by Pope Pius XI in his AD 1931 encyclial Quadragesimo Anno.

_._

To learn more about Subsidiarity click here.

To read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum click here.

To read Pope Pius XI‘s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno click here.

For more Dilbert funnies click here.

Saint Isidore the Laborer

Saint Isidore the Laborer

On this day on which we celebrate the workers of America, it is good to recall a simple day laborer who became one of Spain’s most beloved saints.  Also known as Saint Isidore the farmer,  he was born around 1170 and lived his entire life in the vicinity of Madrid, in service as a farm laborer to the family of Juan de Vargas.  Some of his fellow workers complained to Vargas that Saint Isidore was late for work due to his habit of attending Mass each day.  Checking up on his worker, he found Saint Isidore praying while an angel was doing the plowing!  Eventually Vargas made Saint Isidore bailiff of his entire estate.  Tales of miracles surround Saint Isidore.  One relates how he brought the daughter of his employer back to life.  Another tells how he found water during a time of drought.  He was noted for his charity to the poor and to animals.

Continue reading

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