Labors of the Mind Deserve Attention
Whether one credits Peter J. McGuire, the general secretary of the carpenters and joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a machinist and later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., with the origin of Labor Day, it is proper that a day has been set aside to acknowledge the contributions of the American laborer.
There can be no question that without the sweat and toil of labor, opportunity would be greatly diminished.
From our highway systems and diverse methods of transportation, to our homes, our clothing and household appliances (at least the ones that still say “made in America”) we owe it to labor. Sprinklers, sidewalks, medicines and healthcare appliances, books we read and the food we eat – all are at our disposal because of our labor force.
But there is another component to the labor force we recognize on Labor Day. That is the labor of the mind. I in no way wish to minimize the laborer – my mother was a housekeeper; my father was a union head. My family is composed of brick layers, steel workers and county workers.
I know and understand labor.
But labor without the creative mind would not have given us the standard of opportunity we enjoy today. There are laborers the world over, yet the world as a whole does not enjoy American opportunity.
In the 18th and 19th centuries we had laborers, but few enjoyed the standard of opportunity we enjoy today. My point is that we have always had laborers, but we have not always had the quality of life or opportunity that we enjoy today – or, for that, matter that many of our parents enjoyed.
The creative and inventive mind has labored to find new ways of production, thereby ultimately creating opportunity for labor.
Consider, with the harnessing of electricity came thousands upon thousands of jobs. The development of hydraulic systems for heavy equipment created the need for labor, not only to produce heavy equipment, but to produce hydraulic systems.
Laborers were needed to make the wheels and tracks the equipment moved on – this created a need for tool and die shops, which led to a labor need to produce tools.
If someone had not figured out how to safely build skyscrapers, there would be less need for several thousands of construction workers in Philadelphia alone. The marriage of the mind and labor led to the introduction of safer work environments, which ultimately led to more labor.
In many instances it was the mind of the laborer that created/invented the gear or machinery that led to the need for more labor – which brings me back to my point: Whether one labors with back and hands, or with the mind and computer, they still labor.
In the best of scenarios, their labor leads to the creation of the need for more labor.
While we can with ease acknowledge the practical benefit of the marriage relationship between the mind that creates the need and the labor need/opportunity that results, there is an element among us today that resents the fact that, in most instances, the mind that creates the need benefits more than the labor.
There is an element that would have us believe that it is somehow unjust for creators to benefit from the labor of their minds versus the labor of their backs.
So my suggestion is that we let the Obamas, Gores, liberal-socialists, and others in Washington who make their incomes on the backs of the proletariat and taxpayers have their way – let’s punish the creator for benefiting from their creation.
Let’s convince the creative mind that it is unfair for them to benefit from their creativeness. Let’s punish them to the point of discouragement.
Wanna bet how long that scenario keeps our labor force on top?