Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Alexander: America’s economic strength derives from its work ethic

by BIZ Magazine

I know the temptation for many of us to view Labor Day as a three-day weekend after the oppressive heat and multiple other weather events we have endured this year.  We’re simply happy to turn the corner and turn the page as we greet the Fall.  However, Labor Day deserves our acknowledgement.   

The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. (U.S. Dep. of Labor). 

It has further been acknowledged that “American labor has raised the nation’s standard of living and contributed to the greatest production the world has ever known and the labor movement has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.  It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership—the American worker.” (U.S. Dep. of Labor).

As a result of the “great American work ethic,” the American free market economy has been the envy of the world and—in creating an enormous amount of wealth—has lifted millions from poverty and servitude. 

There is obviously great merit to those sentiments, and I would add only that the significance of Labor Day is perhaps even greater than a well-deserved recognition of the American worker.

It is, of course, true that America’s economic strength is derived from its historically unparalleled work ethic, but this economic strength is also the very foundation of our military strength, national security, and clout in the world.  Without America’s economic strength we would not be able to project force—and calm—in the world.  We would not be able to keep an always volatile and dangerous world generally in check without the threat and promise of our military strength standing quietly but directly behind our diplomacy.

Currently, we are in difficult economic times so it may be harder for us to be hopeful about the economy right now.  America will no doubt continue to have to grapple with and solve many challenges that face our country.  We will need to overcome the largely self-inflicted economic pain and international vulnerabilities directly caused by some of our government’s breathtakingly poor policy choices, along with other struggles.  We will also need to overcome the difficulty of the Covid lockdowns and government-subsidized standstill that our national economy–and millions of American workers–were forced to navigate.

Yet, I am encouraged at the thought of the tremendous talent and ingenuity of American workers and entrepreneurs and the stunning ability of the free market and free people to adapt to tough times, as we have so many times in American history. 

That thought should fortify and encourage us as we observe this historic day.

Royal Alexander is a Shreveport attorney

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