Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day - 2009

Labor Day 2009 is now in the books. It comes as little surprise that this past Labor Day saw the American labor force in a bad spot. The U.S. Department of Labor reported the national unemployment rate for August rose to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent in July, with Georgia experiencing a rate of 10.3 percent, Nevada at 12.5 percent, and Michigan reporting 15 percent. With 7.4 million people unemployed since December 2007, it seems we have little to celebrate this holiday. Even with $12 billion in stimulus money, there were only 500,000 to 750,000 jobs saved or created (emphasis on "jobs saved") not much when compared to 7.4 million jobs lost.

Combining increasing jobless rates, falling stock prices, and failed banks with dismal housing market sales means less money in circulation. Less money means taxes must be raised in order for states to honor their obligations. Take Illinois for instance. It now taxes candy and soda pop at up to 10.25 percent -- up from 2 percent in the past. But, candy that contains flour, such as Twizzlers® is still taxed at 2 percent -- fun in Illinois. Illinois is just one example of how every state has had issues funding projects and programs. Teachers have been laid off in every state, roads have gone un-repaired, and state governments are on the brink of collapse -- threatening shut down. Prisons will be emptied, schools will be closed and police will be laid off. This is not a good future.

The federal government is also trying to get a handle on economic woes, but dairy farmers are losing money, new energy taxes are being considered, and health care is causing a rift not seen before in America -- sometimes with an agitation that even expresses itself with violence at rallies. A projected $9 trillion debt is hard to imagine. I lose track when it gets over a $1,000.

So what can we celebrate? How about we celebrate 91 percent employment, increases in human longevity, freedoms no other country in the world has, or the fact we can speak our mind without fear of jail? How about we celebrate our freedom to travel freely and safely around this vast and beautiful country? How about celebrating even that heart disease and cancer -- the one-two punch of death for Americans -- can be prevented by a good diet, exercise, and avoiding certain behaviors like smoking?

Can we celebrate that we have the only universal educational system in the world? We will educate anyone -- no matter where they're from, even if they're not citizens. Is that not a good thing? Perhaps we can celebrate that we have the freedom to gather, worship, or stand on street corners and share a vital message? This past Labor Day I thanked God for the gifts He has given me, roasted a hot dog on the grill, and prayed for our future. It was a good celebration.

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