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May Day—International Workers Day—has chaotic history, common aims

The Anarchist Riot in Chicago in May, 1886 when workers demonstrated in hopes of an 8-hour workday. A bomb made of dynamite exploded among police; some workers were executed for participating. The riot is often called the Haymarket Affair or Massacre. [U.S. Library of Congress; drawn by T. de Thulstrup from sketches and photos furnished by H. Jeaneret. Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, v. 30, (1886 May 15), p. 312-313.]
On May 1, 2012, the movement media have dubbed ‘Occupy ____” will hold demonstrations in cities throughout the country. Those demonstrations will be paralleled in cities around the world where International Workers Day is observed. Aligned with the Left politically and praised by Democrats like Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Occupy workers and college students will likely be joined by anarchists if history is a guide.

Violence has often occurred in such demonstrations. On Tuesday morning The Atlantic reported the destruction of personal and private property like car windows and store fronts in San Francisco. Large urban areas may be hotbeds of activity, but smaller cities will also play host to demonstrators.

A pivotal event in the history of U.S. labor was the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, beginning May 1, 1886 when workers demonstrated across the U.S. to demand an 8-hour work day. We often forget how hard our forebears worked compared to our present time. Labor unions certainly had an impact on workers’ rights, although those groups have changed to include white collar employees of government agencies.

Traditionally labor efforts were a blue collar affair, and there’s no argument that many of the workers in times past faced brutal, unrelenting circumstances.

Today many labor unions function in a manner similar to government, dispensing carrots and sticks. Union workers often get a better benefit package, but they are in many states forced to join and cough up dues as well as align themselves with political influences they may not personally agree with.

Much of the problem in our current market rests on government’s influence over our economy. The U.S. government pretty much controls banking, student loans, healthcare (directly or indirectly), real estate/mortgage lending, credit, natural resources and energy (by legislation or regulation) and agriculture.

In boom years, government expanded because it could. That is what governments do. However, as our economy has declined—the current administration’s policies actually suppress it—the cost of living for average Americans has increased substantially when it comes to food, shelter and clothing. Luxuries like TVs have become less expensive even as the food we put in our mouths has become more expensive and our household energy bills are, as President Barack Obama promised, “skyrocketing.”

Twenty-somethings have seen their credit dry up, their home values shrink compared to indebtedness and the job market contract. Yet the government continues to import a surplus of workers even as young people struggle to pay off education debt. Somehow the current administration manages to escape accountability for that policy.

Our economy is manipulated by select corporatists aligned with the political class. Many of them rely on taxpayer dollars to stay afloat—auto manufacturers, alt-energy companies, banks, manufacturers like GE have all benefited from the output of U.S. workers. Obama often talks about getting taxpayer money back. That is a myth. We taxpayers do not get our money back; rather, it is dispensed to those the government deems needy or worthy.

Class warfare is wielded as a political weapon by the Left because the greatest danger to oppressive government comprises a people who are unified in a common aim. Skin color, sexual orientation and gender are part and parcel of the pillar as well as lip service to workers’ interests—all pawns in the interest of advancing political ideology.

Daily we witness outrageous acts by government workers that would put an average person in jail. Junkets to Las Vegas and luxury cars paid for with taxpayer dollars, private flights from Washington to officials’ home states, banquets and conferences where no expenses are spared for the political class—the worker has subsidized the outrage. Fraud within our government infrastructure is rampant.

Only the political class remains intact, enjoying privileges and rewards the rest of us do not. How many in government have broken laws yet escaped paying for their misdeeds?

Even in the private sector there is shrinkage of value for the worker’s efforts. After all, we have more workers than jobs and the gate remains open to all. The taxpayer and worker will subsidize the excess workers and the idle as well, with entitlements given to those here legally or otherwise.

The Occupy demonstrators are likely a mixed lot—some are there for personal reasons to be part of a thing greater than themselves and others are there at the urging or diktat of the labor union and political groups.

It is likely the various workers' movements around the world are the same: a collection of interests rather than a single entity.

In Russia, Pravda marked National Truth Day with an essay praising the benefits of socialism compared to current times in that country where the cost of living has increased dramatically. The essayist missed a key point, however. Socialists, as the saying goes, eventually run out of other peoples’ money to spend. The current times are a product of times past, with today’s workers paying for benefits conferred on workers of the past. The same thing is happening in the U.S. where the baby boomers so vilified are paying for programs begun by Leftist politicians in wealthier times and those programs include benefits to citizens of foreign nations.

As May Day, 2012 evolves there is one thing we could all agree on. At the moment, the term “fair share” falls flat as a piece of sheet metal because there is little in our government or much of our private sector that is truly “fair.” Therein lies the anger and it is not new.

The history of the worker is the history of man.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/May 1, 2012)

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