Labor Day is a celebration of American work. It sometimes seems like an anachronism, a holdover from a day long gone when people worked in factories and churned out widgets with mechanical precision. That image often comes to people in dirty sepia tones like a faded old photograph of grandpa at his bench. Yet those days were more than grime and hard work, they were times when the US was at the height of its power around the world. No matter how you want to look at what we celebrate on Labor Day, scorn or longing, hard work went strong arm and arm with the power of this nation.
The accelerated decline of manufacturing in the last decade shows how our current unemployment problem has a lot to do with the simple fact that we stopped making stuff. It’s not a big leap to see that our power and prestige has gone away with those jobs.